For more information on the fair, you can check out the official site here. And now, I’m excited to introduce you to my guest for today.
Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn has never fit in on The Hill, an ordered place seriously lacking a sense of humor. After his school’s headmaster expels him for a small act of mischief, Matty’s future looks grim until King Hadrian comes to his rescue with a challenge: answer a question for a master’s diploma.
More than a second chance, this means freedom. Masters can choose where they work, a rarity among Regents, and the question is simple.
What was January Black?
It’s a ship. Everyone knows that. Hadrian rejects that answer, though, and Matty becomes compelled by curiosity and pride to solve the puzzle. When his search for an answer turns up long-buried state secrets, Matty’s journey becomes a collision course with a deadly royal decree. He’s been set up to fail, which forces him to choose. Run for his life with the challenge lost…or call the king’s bluff.
Wendy let me steal her main character for a quick interview today.
AEH: So, Matty, is it okay if I call you Matty?
Matty: Please do.
AEH: Thanks for meeting me for coffee. I was really interested in the story that Wendy wrote about you.
Matty: I thought it was interesting. I’m glad other people agree.
AEH: What’s it like, having such an important portion of your life written up like that?
Matty: A little weird. I mean, I’m only eighteen. I don’t know about in your century, but today it’s rare that a kid does something worthy of a book. I didn’t think what I was working on was worthy of other people’s notice until it was over.
AEH: Did you feel she shared too many details about your relationship with Iris, or was it what people needed to see to understand how the two of you work?
Matty: I wish she could have shared a little more. Iris is very special to me and there’s a lot more to us that just the king’s puzzle. But, when I take a step back and look at it as a reader, think she shared what needed to be. And I think she told it in the right way.
AEH: In the story Wendy tells about you and a mystery called January Black, you’re given a problem to solve by the king, but the problem is more than it appears to be. What kept you from giving up when so many obstacles presented themselves?
Matty: You have to understand that I’ve always been smarter than everyone around me. I’m not saying that there haven’t been wiser people, or better people, because there have been plenty. My parents, my grandparents, and certainly a few schoolmasters. Iris is a wiser and better person than me. And this is going to sound egotistical, but in terms of raw intelligence, there hasn’t been anyone in my life that’s come close. My brain calculates on it’s own, really. I don’t think much about it. I see a ball falling and I know where it will land and when. *Matty shrugs.*
Anyhow, Hadrian–the king–he asks me this question. “What was January Black?” And I think he’s joking. He’s going to give me a master’s diploma to answer that?! It’s the ship that brought our ancestor’s to Columbia when your civilization was collapsing. Every kid in my kingdom knows that. Not so long ago, if you had looked up “January Black” in our databases, that ship was the only answer. So, when Hadrian told me that’s not the answer he wants, it was game on. I’ve never lost a game, and I wasn’t going to lose that one. I’m smart, but not necessarily wise.
AEH: Well, Matty, I’m not sure, but I think the first step in wisdom is acknowledging your lack of it, so it sounds like your on the right track *I wink at him*. Thanks for being with me today! It’s great to hear a little more from your perspective.
Find January Black:
Wendy S. Russo got her start writing in the sixth grade. That story involved a talisman with crystals that had to be found and assembled before bad things happened, and dialog that read like classroom roll call. Since then, she’s majored in journalism (for one semester), published poetry, taken a course on short novels, and watched most everything ever filmed by Quentin Tarantino. A Wyoming native transplanted in Baton Rouge, Wendy works for Louisiana State University as an IT analyst. She’s a wife, a mom, a Tiger, a Who Dat, and she falls asleep on her couch at 8:30 on weeknights.
Vote for Flight of Blue in the Reader’s Choice Award category: Middle Grade Fantasy. Click here, find the Middle Grade Fantasy category, and select Flight of Blue from the drop-down menu. Thanks!