Hello everyone, and welcome to our stop on the Juniper Berry official blog tour! Today we are thrilled to have debut author M.P. Kozlowsky over to celebrate the release of his YA/MG novel – a tale of terror and temptation.
Ladies and gents, please give a warm welcome to M.P. Kozlowsky!
I picture a parent reading to a child. This is what I do when writing a children’s book like Juniper Berry. It is where I find the narrator’s voice, the rhythm of the sentences. I picture a room without distractions – no tv, no electronic devices, no video games, toys neatly tucked away, lights turned down low – just a child in bed with the covers pulled up to his or her chin, and a mother or father sitting in an adjacent chair, rocking slowly back and forth, licking a finger and turning the pages one by one. The stars are out, maybe a dog is curled up on the floor. A clock ticks. Imagination is rampant. It is an ideal situation. It has a certain beauty to it, a delightful charm. There are hundreds, thousands of stories to be found in that hypnotic voice, forever reading to the child in our minds. This is the basis of great storytelling.
Sometimes, I picture myself as a child in that bed – what did I enjoy, what did I want to hear? Granted, my childhood was atypical. Often, I found life to be dangerous, perplexing, mysterious, sad. Craving escape, I gravitated toward darker fare – books like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and Treasure Island; movies like The Dark Crystal and Return to Oz, Labyrinth and Edward Scissorhands. I write to captivate that boy once again. I write to convey the dangers of the world and the light hidden deep within it – there is always a way through the oppressive gloom and a child must know that. Juniper witnesses this terror first hand; she is pulled in dark directions, all seems lost; there is great temptation. Only the path of truth will bring her where she needs to be.
But where I write first for the child, I am always acutely aware of the adult sitting bedside. After all, as C.S. Lewis once said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” And every great children’s book written since has loudly echoed this statement with the power behind their words, the complexity of their emotions and underpinnings. Even films have adopted this aphorism as their own – Where the Wild Things Are, Spirited Away, Rango, and just about any Pixar movie, among a plethora of others, will serve as excellent examples. I take this quite seriously. I want the child to enjoy the book on one level, while the parent simultaneously enjoys it on another, wondering how the author managed to slip such a detail into a story seemingly written for grade schoolers. I want the child to return to the book years later, perhaps to even read it to his or her own child, and discover entire new depths in which to plunge. How did I miss this? they will wonder, developing a newfound admiration; it is almost as if there are two books. It is why in Juniper Berry alone, there are quotes and allusions to T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland,” references to the philosophy of Kierkegaard, history and satire, science and sociology, mythology, numerology and pop culture. These are clearly my adult influences merging with those of my youth – my lifelong quest through reading coming full circle.
It is not difficult to find inspirations and influences, and it never should be. They are attracted to us more than we are attracted to them. They seek us out, attach themselves, and guide us through life whether we are aware of it or not. No need for a desperate search, they are in everything we do. We are our inspirations and influences. We have been from the beginning.
More About the Book:
Check out the official Juniper Berry book trailer:
Also, to celebrate the release of M.P. Kozlowsky’s debut novel Juniper Berry, Walden Pond Press is inviting all writers aged 9-14 to write his or her own tale of terror and temptation in at least 500 words. One grand prize winner will receive an iPad and a library of Walden Pond Press eBook, paperback and hardcover novels and his or her story published online at walden.com. Author M.P. Kozlowsky will select the winner. To learn more: www.walden.com/win/juniperberry.
About the Author:
M.P. Kozlowsky was a high school English teacher before becoming a writer. Juniper Berry is his first book. He lives in New York with his wife and daughter.
Courtesy of the publisher, we have ONE copy of Juniper Berry up for grabs! To enter the contest, simply leave a comment here answering this question (in the spirit of the book): what single temptation would you consider (if only for a second!) giving up your soul for? The contest is open to residents of the US and Canada only, and will run until Saturday May 21 at 11:59PM PST. Good luck!