Publishers' Preview: Fall 2021: Five Questions for Karla Arenas Valenti

This interview originally appeared in the September/October 2021 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Fall 2021, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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Life and Death are old friends and, as friends might do, they get together occasionally to chat about fate and free will, and to play cards, with Lotería as their game of choice in this middle-grade novel. The stakes for this round involve the fate of one young Mexican girl, Clara.

1. In ten words or less, fate or free will?

I choose a little bit of both.

2. Have you visited the Árbol del Tule? It sounds amazing.

I have. And it is! The widest tree in the world, El Árbol del Tule in Santa María del Tule, Oaxaca, will take your breath away. It is massive: its circumference is around 36 meters, or 119 feet!

3. Do you play Lotería?

I do. In fact, I played Lotería to determine key plots in the story.

4. I hear echoes of “The Snow Queen” in your novel — what’s your favorite fairy tale?

One of my favorite stories (though not technically a fairy tale) is the origin legend of the two volcanoes near Mexico City: Popocatépetl (the warrior) and Iztaccíhuatl (the sleeping princess).

5. Ever feel brushed by the supernatural? Like, I once saw God in a bush. (I’ll tell you about it sometime.)

I grew up in a house that had a tree growing inside it. I’m certain we shared the house with chaneques (nature spirits) who took care of the tree (and us)!

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From the September/October 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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