ND Wilson Reveals the Contents of an Unexplored Cupboard and Answers a Couple of Questions!

This is so exciting! I checked out ND Wilson's post at Mundie Moms yesterday and am thrilled to see that there seems to be a theme to the exploration of the cupboards, which is being done by one of my favorite minor characters from the 100 Cupboards Trilogy who I was really hoping to hear more from! It seems that, in an effort to impress Anastasia, his true love (you have to read The Chestnut King, review here Friday, to know the details...) Richard has decided to explore the cupboards and keep a diary of his exploits. So, peruse this wonderful map and then read Richard's entry. I do suggest you start at the blog Mundie Moms

From the Diary of Richard Hutchins, post:

Survival. Ha! I, Richard Hutchins, have done it. The compass knobs are a mess, and the door is half off its hinges, but the combination still had its effect. I crawled through the downstairs cupboard (not forgetting the rope!), and I didn’t die. At first, I thought I had crawled into dark emptiness, but no, not at all—my small doorway was hidden behind a heavy curtain. When I moved it aside, I was looking down upon (and smelling) a sea of gaping, unwashed people, pressed in tight, shoulder to shoulder, and completely filling a circular court open to the sky (with moonlight). And they were all looking at me. Or in my direction, for I was lying on my belly on a high stage (with my face peering out beneath the curtain). Also on stage, a man in black was talking to a skull in a very strange voice, and acting drunk . . . certainly mad. I could only just make out his words, when a hand caught me by the ear and I was dragged back beneath the curtain. Anastasia, did I scream? Did I squeal in fear? No. I am Richard Hutchins. I do not do these things. A hugely fat man spattered my face with a whisper. “Ophelia,” he said (I think). “Into your dress before I carve your face and eat your ears.” Clearly, he had mistaken me for someone else, but he was tearing at my shirt. I kicked him like a warrior (shin and groin!) and dove for my rope. And now I sit, writing safely, on the remains of your grandfather’s bed. A sun shines on the grassland beyond the empty windows. If possible, my courage has grown with this little adventure. It is time to choose another door.#44. Collected 1903. Greek Isles. Long oval. Horizontal grain, pull knob. Upper hinges (hatch). First report: Sailors claimed a captain who possessed a hatch to Hades. Too small for men, large enough for small animals, poultry, etc. They had tested it themselves. Swore that it had swallowed living chickens, turtles, cats, and even a monkey. No chance for confirmation. Boarded the ship, drugged the captain, removed his hatch by crowbar.

[Lab/Knoss/Alt Pas. back 4M?]

I admit, Anastasia, my nerves are tingling like tin soldiers. But I will do it.

And now, ND Wilson answers two of my pressing questions. For a more thorough interview, check out
Mundie Moms and A Fort Made of Books.

I've read a considerable amount of children's literature, fantasy especially, and there are so many unique qualities to your writing that I admire, however, one aspect that stands out in my mind are the very visual descriptions of the injuries and the physical suffering your young characters endure. This is something that I have not noticed, to this extent, in other fantasy books written for young adults. As a woman and a mom, I cringe and gasp for your characters but as someone who appreciates great literature, I think it makes your characters seem more real and the story seem more immediate. (I mean, really, when you go up against evil forces, someone is going to get hurt...)

Is this quality of your writing conscious on your part, or is it just the way your mind works? And, do you ever feel like you are being too graphic in your descriptions?

It is a conscious decision, but it is probably also how my mind works. The fiction I most enjoy engages with as many of the five senses (and a couple extra) as possible, and as much of the time as possible. Obviously, you can’t just go on and on about physical sensation, but when you do appeal to it in description, the story becomes far more real for the reader. It’s more absorbing, it’s more moving, and I think it’s more honest (and less dangerous). I had friends in school who actually jumped off the roof of their two-story house with pillow cases as parachutes. Why would they get hurt? Telling and teaching kids that they can do anything and overcome any evil without paying any physical price themselves (as a lot of stories do) doesn’t actually help them. My favorite heroes growing up were those who did the right thing (and overcame) regardless of the personal cost. But, I have to admit to a more superficial justification as well—it’s just more exciting that way.

Do I ever feel that I’ve been too graphic? Sure. But I deleted all those parts. Ha.

How did you choose the dandelion as the symbol of Henry's magical attributes, his power?

I wanted Henry’s strength to be something unexpected and not at all powerful (at first glance). I wanted him to be resilient, unquenchable not unbreakable. He can be crushed and beaten, but leave him nothing more than a sidewalk crack, and he’ll pop up again, just as golden as before. The dandelion is infuriatingly persistent—good luck getting rid of them—the perfect frustration to more intuitively powerful enemies. Symbolically, it also pictures a terrific resurrection. It doesn’t grow strong and then drop acorns. It dies in a frenzy. It burns up in its own fire and goes to ash. Out of its ash, its strength is multiplied in rebirth. Of course, it also helps that the dandelion is a weed. It’s lowly, but it’s still sweet and full fire. I like my lawn green and smooth, sure. But I have to admit, I love it when it’s full of bursting gold.

You can discover the contents of other cupboards or read other interviews with ND Wilson at these sites:

On 2/10/10 you can visit The Reading Zone for ND Wilson's thoughts on the life cylce of a writer.

On 2/11/10 you can visit Eva's Book Addiction

On 2/12/10 you can visit Fireside Musings and Becky's Book Blog

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