Friday, December 12, 2014

Interview with a werewolf (and, um, Babe Ruth's underpants)

I'm a fan of the sibling writer team of Heather Brainerd and David Fraser. Their Josie Picado mystery books are a fun hoot-and-a-half. Here in the Midwest, we usually only accord one hoot, so you know the books have gotta' be good. Recently, they launched a new MG series that's fun for all ages. I had to hit 'em up about it.

*Stuart: Shadows of New York seems tailor-made for my geek sensibilities. There’s a werewolf nanny, a cad of a vampire, an awkward leprechaun, not to mention a wraith wreaking havoc across New York City. Not a question, but thank you!

*Heather: Um, you’re welcome. We just write what we like. It’s a happy coincidence when other people like it, too. 

*Stuart: You're giving me that "geek" look, Heather. Whatever. I'm used to it. Anyway, I enjoy how you and your brother, David, don’t write down to kids. It reads well for adults, too. 

*Heather: Between the two of us, we have five tweens/teens. (The teens were tweens when we started writing The Manny (its working title back then). So we kind of know the age group pretty well.

*Stuart: Josh seems like a well-adjusted kid for having basically “absentee” parents. I think that’s kinda’ cool. Still, he has a penchant for pushing, spying, prying where he shouldn’t. Frankly I think his “manny” is a little too lenient with him. Maybe a good time-out is in order?

*Heather: Yeah, Josh could do with a trip to the naughty stool, as we used to call it. But this is Aiden’s first full-time nanny gig. He’s still getting the hang of things.

*Stuart: Speaking as a parent, boy needs more than the naughty stool. Take away his iPhone! Just sayin'. Rosemary, on the other hand, speaks and acts like she’s Katherine Hepburn in a screw-ball comedy. I’ve never met a six-year-old like this. Please TELL me she’s not based on one of your children.

*Heather: Actually, I think she’s an awful lot like Dave’s younger daughter. My niece loves sparkly fashion, Disney princesses, and Doctor Who. A girl after my own heart.

*Stuart: Doctor Who? Yay. Sparly? Ugh. So, is Brad Pitt a werewolf or vampire groupie? I saw him pop up in the book.

*Heather: Werewolf, since they make great nannies. Plus, he’s trying to forget the whole Interview with the Vampire debacle.

*Stuart: Aren't we all? Moving on..."Babe Ruth’s underpants!” Lol. And explain. 

*Uh-oh, here comes Dave: Hi, everyone. This is Dave hijacking this answer. The sad fact is that it was just one of those things that show up from out of nowhere. There was no real thought process. However, that seems like a lame answer, so I'll come up with a better one. Here we go...

I live a little over an hour from Cooperstown, NY, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. I try to get there once or twice a year, usually coinciding with something like an old timer's game. One visit happened to be at the same time as a special exhibition entitled, "Major League Skivvies: The Uniform You Don't See." They had things there from George Hendrick's socks to, you guessed it, Babe Ruth's underpants. I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. A day or two later, I was working on The Manny. I needed something that a New Yorker might yell when shocked and Babe Ruth's underpants were still fresh in my mind.
 We now return you to your regularly scheduled interview.

(To the left are the people responsible for writing this thing. For once, you can't blame me).


*Stuart: (I think Dave's a lil'...well..."psycho-killer". I'll never forgive the interview he did with me!). There’s a chapter where there’s a detailed walk-through of a video game. It had me worried at first, thinking you or Dave, your sibling writing partner, were getting their nerd on. But you do tie it in to the tale quite cleverly.

*Heather: Thanks. That scene was totally Dave. I am so not a gamer. But I love the way he handled it.

*Stuart: Figures. Back on track, I was concerned about some of the characters’ names. I mean, “Larry Fancypants?” But I should’ve had faith. You explain it in a funny and surprisingly logical manner. One of the things I really like about the world you and Dave have created is the coherence and how it all hangs together. Did you guys create the Imaginary World first, plot later? How’d it come about?

*Heather: We don’t plot. Dave and I are total pantsers (though not of the fancy variety). We call our writing method “driving blind.” Makes for a fair bit of revision to create coherence, but that’s what works for us. Oh, and those wacky names? Our kids came up with them.

*Stuart: Kids. Whaddaya' gonna' do? In the book, we meet two different queens in the Imaginary World of Shadows of New York; the Queen of Shadows and the Queen of Fairies, both of whom I like. Tell me, in the sequel (there is going to be one, right?), is the Queen of Werewolves, Mira, going to play an integral role?

*Heather: Oh yes, Mira is an integral part of the next book in The Manny series. Or maybe not. We’ll see where it takes us.

*Stuart: The ending. Without giving anything away, I felt one of the villains didn’t get enough comeuppance and that the heroes were more forgiving than I certainly would’ve been. Now, I kinda’ think I know why you and Dave wrote it this way. Shadows is a MG book; bloody retribution probably isn’t the best thing for young readers. LOL. And it dovetails with a nice message about the nature of friendship. Am I on the right track here?

*Heather: Yes, you’re on the right track. And keep in mind that the villain in question will be serving penance for the next two centuries, so it’s not exactly a clean getaway.

*Stuart: Not enough penance in my opinion. So…Lady GaGa is the President of the Imagine Nation. LOL! A shame you couldn’t have used her “real” name. But it was a funny touch.

*Heather: We did use her real name until we begrudgingly changed it. It’s good to know that the President’s true identity is clear to readers.

Thanks for hosting us, Stuart! 

Stuart: Most welcome! 

What's it all about? In case you hadn't gathered yet:

What do you do when your view of the world gets turned on its head? Eleven-year-old Josh Cooper is surprised when his new nanny ends up being a dude, but that pales in comparison to how he feels when he learns the nanny, Aiden, is also a werewolf. Aiden teaches Josh about the Imaginary World, even introducing him to his friends Larry Fancypants (a suave-yet-goofy vampire) and Steve Lickerman (a tall-yet-meek leprechaun). This fascinating world seems harmless, until Josh learns of the shadowy wraith that’s stalking New York, attacking creatures and stealing their powers. As werewolves are ideally suited for fighting wraiths, Aiden is called upon to help capture the elusive Mr. Midnight, unintentionally drawing Josh even deeper into the strange and mysterious.

MuseItUp Publishing:



  1. Thank you for this great interview, Stuart and Heather. I'm currently reading Shadows of New York and enjoying it immensely. I also enjoyed listening to Heather on the blog radio show about Disney.

    1. Thanks, Matt! I'm so glad you're enjoying SoNY. And I'm thrilled that you tuned into my podcast guest appearance - it was fun!

    2. What's up, Matt? Definitely check out Heather and Dave's Jose Picado series as well. If you haven't already, of course.

  2. Great post Stuart and Heather. Sounds like a good read, but I am a fan of the writing duo. It's on my TRL
    HGreenis - The Natasha Saga

    1. Thanks, Heather G! Natasha's Legacy is waiting patiently for me, as well :)

    2. Heather, I, too, am a fan. (Gah, too many Heathers makes my little brain spin!)

  3. Loved your interview, Stuart and Heather. You both made me laugh out loud. We have a chocolate (candy) bar in the UK called Babe Ruth (do you have that?) I used to buy it for my daughter Ruth when she was little. Not sure what she'd say to a pair of underpants, tho'! Looking forward to reading Shadows of New York. It's waiting impatiently!

    1. Hey, Helena, glad you enjoyed the interview. I really like Heather and Dave's books. They bring a welcome sense of humor and fun in an ocean of angst in all their books. And, yep, we have Baby Ruth candy bars. Haven't had one in years. But, dang it, now you've got me thinking about it.

    2. Mmm...chocolate... Thanks for stopping by, Helena!