Wednesday, December 14, 2011

THE CASTING, a middle grade novel by Joyce Shor Johnson

Joyce Shor Johnson joined me a few weeks ago to talk about the kick off for her new small press, Pugalicious Press. Link here. As one of the first projects, Pugalicious Press will be publishing Joyce’s middle grade novel, THE CASTING. I invited Joyce to come back to talk about her book.

Synopsis for THE CASTING:

In The Casting meet Robyn, a twelve-year–old girl living in 350 A.D. Ireland, who must choose her future path before her coming-of-age ceremony at Samhaim.

In her time, most girls chose the more traditional roles of healing, midwifery or farming. Others less frequently chose to be warriors or go into Brehon law, but none of these choices appeal to her. Instead, Robyn yearns for red-hot crucibles full of molten bronze and the roaring fires of her father's foundry. She seeks the acceptance of the bronze casters, and the traditions of her father.

Unknown to Robyn, making the choice to be a bronze caster is the easy part—becoming a bronze caster will be the greatest challenge of her life. The biggest obstacle is Gilhey, her sister Lianna’s betrothed and her father’s top student. Gilhey convinces Lianna to turn away from Robyn, causing a rift between the sisters. Without the support of her sister, Robyn struggles to find her place among the other apprentices.

Robyn’s life changes forever the day she accidentally sets fire to the foundry, nearly burning it to the ground and causing great injury to her father. Unable to face the consequences, Robyn decides she must leave the community. Before Robyn has the chance to run though, Gilhey has her kidnapped by wandering Roman soldiers. 

When Finn, an unexpected ally, comes to Robyn’s aid, she finds it within herself to face the challenges ahead and survive the fight for her life. At the end of her journey, Robyn learns to accept herself for who and what she is: a bronze caster at heart, a girl learning her trade, a life just beginning.

K: I’m so excited for Joyce’s book, it’s a middle grade historical novel set in a time we don’t usually see for middle grade. You’ve recently decided to publish your Middle Grade novel THE CASTING as one of the first projects for the new small press, Pugalicious Press. Tell us a bit about THE CASTING’s journey to publication.

J: THE CASTING started with a conversation about the Bronze Age with some friends about 10 years ago. Then it became my MFA thesis. I sold it once, but that fell through and now I’m publishing it through Pugalicious Press.

K: I only recently found out about—I love the idea of giving people the opportunity to preorder your book while, at the same time, helping you get the project off the ground. Why did you decide to use this venue?

J: Unfortunately, I’m not independently wealthy, so being creative when it came to raising capital to print my book was critical. By offering copies of the book to those who pledge to the project, to me, is really just them preordering a copy. If you research a little, other publishers have done the same thing. Even TU books, now an imprint of Lee and Low began using Kickstarter
So if anyone would like to pledge $15 to preorder a softcover copy of The Casting you can do so at

K: When people support you through Kickstarter, they are also supporting the kick-off of a small business and many other great middle grade books to come. Can you tell us a bit about what else Pugalicious has in store?

J: Well we just signed Kell Andrews and her debut middle grade novel Deadwood. I’m very excited about this deal.

K: Congratulations to Kell and to you! How exciting. What made you start to write seriously?

J: I wasn’t any good at stand up comedy!
K: I beg to differ, I think you're very funny. But where do you find your inspiration?

J: They’re everywhere. You just have to be receptive, listen to the whispers, and trust yourself. Liking research helps.

K: Are you a full-time writer? What is your non-writing life like?

J: I’ve been a full-time writer, a part-time write, a sometimes writer, and an oh-my-gosh-I-have-to-find-the-time-to-write writer. I hope that in the next few years, I’ll be full-time four hour a day writer. My non-writing life is mother, wife, Learning Skills teacher, and publisher.

K: I can totally relate to that! There are so many distractions and "life" challenges that get in the way of our writing. What is your biggest challenge with your writing? 

J: Time, there is just never enough.
K: What are your favorite books?

J: I’d like to rewrite this question, it should be – what is your favorite book of the moment? I just finished Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, loved it!

K: And lastly, just for fun, do you have a favorite “guilty pleasure” you want to share?

J: A two-hour massage. To die for!

K: What did I miss? Anything else you’d like to share?

J: I just wanted to thank you for supporting me with your pledge for THE CASTING and for this interview. Come on everyone, kick me!

You're welcome, Joyce! Good luck to you and Pugalicious Press!


Laura Pauling said...

Great questions. Great answers! I've read this book and it's extremely well written and a terrific story!

Heather Kelly said...

What a cool idea! I like this spin on the art of fundraising. Joyce, what are your short term goals for Pugalicious Press this year?

Myrna Foster said...

The book sounds fantastic. Thanks for letting us know about it.