The Concoctions of Caux: Interview With Susannah Appelbaum

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The Poisons of Caux: The Hollow Bettle is Susannah Appelbaums first installment of the series that introduces The Kingdom of Caux. The land of Caux is wrought by poisons and ruled by the befittingly nefarious King Nightshade.  In response to the rampant presence of evil elixirs is The Taster’s Guild. Members are the dedicated first-line defense against deadly poisons. Although poison poses a constant threat throughout Caux, there are some who cultivate the healing aspect of herbs. Cecil Manx is an esteemed apotheopath who trains his niece, Ivy, to follow in his footsteps despite her curiosity towards the darker side of herbal magic. Ivy’s talents and her tendencies are soon tested when her uncle disappears during a secret expedition. Armed with the powerful bettle and a chummy cohort by the name of Rowan, Ivy sets out on a fantastical adventure fraught with poisons and prophecies.

1) What inspired the The Poisons of Caux series?
I had an early exposure to the world of poisons when I ate the wrong sort of plant from my aunt’s garden, resulting in a trip to the hospital. And then, of course, I read a lot growing up—in particular I read mysteries. Agatha Christie was fond of killing people with cyanide, and as soon as I read that it had the smell of bitter almonds, I was hooked. The world of Caux—rife with poisons and poisoners—evolved naturally from this.

2) Did you do a lot of research on herbs and poisons prior to writing the story?
I did. I love research; it is where the story comes alive for me.

3) What types of books did you read growing up?
I loved fantasy, as well as mystery. I was not choosey. I adored Narnia, and the books of Edward Eager and P.L. Travers. I gobbled up fairy tales, and the Wizard of Oz books. Greek myths and Aesop’s Fables—I read everything I could get my hands on…and then I took out a pencil and paper and tried to write my own stories.

4) What was the process like in getting your book published? What advice to have for other upcoming children’s book authors?
It took eight years to write the first of the Caux trilogy, because as the initial book in the series, I needed to have a map of where the other books were going to go. My advice? Wake up early. Write. Find a good agent.

5) What’s next for the Caux characters? What other projects are you working on?
The second book, The Tasters Guild, is finished and due out next summer. In it, Ivy and Rowan journey inside the sinister Guild, deep within the bowels of its catacombs, and battle the sinister Vidal Verjouce. They meet new friends, and lose a few along the way. I am hard at work on the third, and final installment.


Written by corvusblue

September 8, 2009 at 9:25 pm

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