Tales of the Forgotten Founders
by C. W. Allen
GENRE: Middle Grade Fantasy
Zed and Tuesday ought to be living the good life. After all, it’s not every day two kids take down an evil dictator and their mom gets put in charge of an entire dimension. But after moving into Falinnheim’s palace, they learn that life as royalty isn’t as carefree as they’d imagined.
Mysterious hidden passages aren’t the only secrets lurking within the palace walls. When the siblings discover a stash of banned books, they realize everything they’ve been told about Falinnheim’s history might be a lie. And though contact between worlds has been cut off for centuries, returning home might not be as impossible as their parents claim.
Could the adventures of a runaway monk, a reluctant viking, a silent ambassador, and a rebel librarian hold the solutions to both problems? To find the truth, Tuesday and Zed will have to learn the stories of Falinnheim’s forgotten founders.
For some odd reason, Bastian started laughing. “Now you’re just messing with me,” he said, wagging an accusing finger at Tuesday. “London’s imaginary!”
Tuesday stared at him, perplexed. “No?”
“Oh come on,” Bastian insisted, “London’s in a bunch of stories. Peter Pan and Sherlock Holmes both talk about London, and they aren’t real either, you know.”
“Wait, now you know Sherlock Holmes, too? He wasn’t in any of the books you showed us.”
“That’s because he’s not from a book,” Bastian said with a shrug. “Here, see for yourself.” He scooted over to the jumble of papers on the crate shelves and pulled out a dog-eared magazine. He flipped past several black and white illustrations until he found the page he wanted, then handed it to Tuesday.
“The Valley of Fear,” she read aloud, “a new Sherlock Holmes story by A. Conan Doyle.” Her eyes flicked to the page heading. “The Strand magazine. January, 1915.”
“See?” said Bastian smugly. “London’s just a place from stories. Like Oz, or Neverland.” He laughed again. “I mean, it’s not like there’s really a land called India full of talking animals, just because The Jungle Book says so.”
Zed tried to break the news to Bastian without making him feel stupid. “Look, we know the stories are made up, but those are all real places. Well, not all of them—Neverland and Oz are imaginary—but India and London are real.”
“Have you ever been there?” Bastian argued.
“Well, no,” Zed was forced to admit. “But I’ve seen them on maps.”
Bastian just rolled his eyes. “Stop trying to prank me. Next you’ll be saying there really are giant wind storms in a place called Kansas.”
“There are!” Tuesday protested.
Writing Middle Grade: The Power of In-Between
by C.W. Allen
While I have published a few short stories and essays for adults, my true love and the bulk of my publishing effort is definitely with middle grade novels, especially stories with a mystery or speculative angle. It’s what I read in my free time, and it’s where my storytelling naturally drifts. There’s a mantra that goes around the writing community: “Write the book you want to read.” This is definitely true, since a writer will need that fire for the story to keep slogging through the long writing process, and the often unforgiving publishing process after that. But I think there’s an extra layer of meaning to the mantra, that it’s a privilege to contribute to the body of work that sustained me through my own tween years (and beyond). There’s no feeling in the world like seeing your own story on the same library and bookstore shelves as your heroes.
I so vividly remember what it felt like to be my readers’ age. Being a tween is equally frustrating and magical. On one hand, there’s a sense of being stuck in-between: too young for teen privileges, but old enough that adults have more expectations of you. On the other hand, being in-between can be a kind of superpower: middle grade readers are capable enough to do things independently, but still young enough to have a sense of wonder, creativity, and idealism that the world often leeches out of people as they age. I think this dynamic creates a lot of interesting opportunities for characters to have independent adventures while still seeing the world differently than adults do. It also presents some unique challenges. An adult character is in charge of their own money, schedule, and transportation. They don’t need permission to do things. Even if their decisions might have negative consequences, doing what they want is still a matter of simply choosing to. Kids have a lot more restrictions, which creates more interesting plot hurdles for the characters to get over.
I have another mantra I try to apply to all my writing: I want to create “stories where kids succeed because they’re kids, not in spite of it.” I want my characters to show off the superpowers kids have, the skills adults forget about, rather than pulling off their successes “okay for a kid, I guess.” I hope my readers will see themselves in the characters’ struggles and cheer their victories, and take away some extra confidence about fighting their own battles, whatever they may be.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
C.W. Allen is a Nebraskan by birth, a Texan by experience, a Hoosier by marriage, and a Utahn by geography. She knew she wanted to be a writer the moment she read The Westing Game at age twelve, but took a few detours along the way as a veterinary nurse, an appliance repair secretary, and a homeschool parent. She writes long stories for children and short stories for former children. When she’s not writing, she helps other writers hone their craft as a board member of the League of Utah Writers.
Her debut novel Relatively Normal Secrets is the winner of the Gold Quill Award, being named the best children’s book of the year by a Utah author. The Falinnheim Chronicles series continues with The Secret Benefits of Invisibility (Cinnabar Moth, 2022) and Tales of the Forgotten Founders (Cinnabar Moth, 2023). She also has shorter work published in numerous anthologies. Keep up with her latest projects at cwallenbooks.com.
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