Suzanne Cordatos will appear at Bank Square Books in Mystic this Sunday afternoon, August 2nd, at 1:00 p.m. Copies of The Lost Crown of Apollo will be available for purchase/signing. This event is free and open to the public. More information can be found online. Location: 53 W. Main St.
Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Suzanne Cordatos.
Ms. Cordatos is the debut author of The Lost Crown of Apollo (Sunberry Books, $12.99). She has a degree in English Literature from Bowling Green State University and a master’s degree in International Administrative Studies from Ohio University, and currently recruits international students for Sacred Heart University. Ms. Cordatos has visited 18 countries—including Greece, and the island of Delos, which largely inspired her first adventure book for children.
Praise for The Lost Crown of Apollo:
“An exciting adventure in the sunny Greek Islands! This is a fun summer read — a likeable (sic) main character, a funny pelican, a mystery, lost treasure, and a touch of danger!”—Amazon reviewer D. Austin.
From the publisher:
Climb aboard for an adventure to the Greek islands of past and present! You’ll meet creatures of land and sea-and if you think pirates are a thing of the past, you might want to keep an eye on your valuables. Meet Elias Tantalos, an almost-eleven year old bad luck magnet who escapes the most dreadful school year of his life by boarding a boat in the Aegean Sea where there are, happily, more rocks than people. When he discovers a two-thousand-year-old good luck charm-the gold leaf crown meant for the sun god Apollo-he is sure the worst is behind him. Antiquity thieves are rummaging around the ancient Greek ruins, however, and when they kidnap his sister Elias knows he holds the perfect bait to lure the thieves away… but if he gives up Apollo’s legendary Crown of Victory will sixth grade be even tougher than fifth? Can he find the inner strength to do the right thing?
Now, Suzanne Cordatos takes readers inside her island adventure …
1) What inspired you to write your debut novel, THE LOST CROWN OF APOLLO – and how did the process of doing so compare to your expectations?
I studied English Lit in college and always enjoyed writing, but I didn’t write stories until after my children were born and re-read some childhood favorites. THE LOST CROWN OF APOLLO started out as a picture book idea, just a few pages long, inspired by a family vacation to pre-economic crisis Greece. (More on that below!) At a New England SCBWI writing conference (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), the short story was critiqued by a former Scholastic editor who suggested she’d like to spend more time in the setting with the characters, and would I consider re-writing it as a novel? Overwhelming idea, but it has been a great adventure diving deeper into the work. I’ve always liked puzzles, and putting together a novel-length plot is a terrific puzzle.
2) The book is targeted for 7-12 year-olds. What are the challenges of writing for children – and how do you hope that readers might relate to Elias and his sister?
It is a challenge to write an interesting, rich story for children this age without being too difficult or too condescending. THE LOST CROWN OF APOLLO offers a “bridge” choice for kids who are at a reading level between the fun and easy, time-traveling Magic Tree House Series and Rick Riordan’s fantastic Percy Jackson series. The main character in THE LOST CROWN OF APOLLO feels like the world’s worst bad luck magnet. It doesn’t help Elias to know that his younger sister, Lily, seems luckier and more self-confident. The novel explores value, cost and self-confidence. What is a thing worth? When is something priceless? Is money or fame the solution to problems? When one has nothing left but a sliver of a prayer, can one count on faith? Finding one’s inner strength can be very powerful, especially for kids who might be bullied, or have lost self-confidence, or for those who are afraid that the things they own don’t measure up.
3) Why did you choose the Greek islands as the backdrop for this adventure – and how do you see this setting as being its own character within the story? Greece, and in particular the islands, are a powerful character in THE LOST CROWN OF APOLLO.
My husband grew up in Greece, and his family is there. In pre-economic crisis Greece, his sister’s family spent vacations living on their small motorboat and treated us to a day trip in the Aegean Sea. We arrived on the “mini Pompeii” island of Delos just as the tourist ferry pulled most visitors away. On the day of our visit, I wandered the ancient ruins virtually alone with the temples, marble columns, headless statues and lions that populate the pages of LOST CROWN. As a twin, I was especially interested in the twin’s story of Apollo and Artemis, whose birth mythology places on Delos. My imagination ran around as fast as the lizards that were everywhere on the uninhabited island, which is today an open-air museum. The cosmopolitan island of Mykonos is also featured in the novel, as a contrast to the ancient ruins. Readers get to sample Greek food, music, and the lively island scene.
4) You have a twin sister, Sonja, who is also your writing companion. How has your shared love of storytelling influenced your creative ambitions – and what would you say are the benefits of developing a support network for (aspiring) writers?
My sister, Sonja, and I often say we can’t imagine writing for publication without a twin. We “bookend” the USA—she lives in Seattle and I am here in Colchester—but we remain supportive through email, phone and coffee time over Skype. We submitted our queries to Sunpenny Publishing separately, and when the publisher asked us to send full manuscripts for review we revealed we were related. The publisher was delighted and said, “I hope I love them both.” And she did! It’s been special to share this next step in our journey as writers. I’m also inspired by travel and meeting young people from around the world. I recruit international students for Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. Long plane rides are also very good for writing!
A twin is fantastic for brainstorming, commiserating over the frustrations of writing contest results, editor rejection letters, and cheerleading each other to keep trying.
I would encourage everyone who writes to start telling people you’re a writer and join one of the many writing associations out there like SCBWI. You’ll make writing friends and improve each other’s craft.
5) In your opinion, what is the role of the bookstore within its community – and how can author events enhance the reader/writer/bookseller relationship?
I was fortunate to grow up in the small town of Hudson, Ohio with a wonderful independent bookstore, called “The Learned Owl”. In addition to being a great place to browse, small bookstores are staffed by avid readers who can make knowledgeable suggestions. Reading and writing are usually solitary activities, so an author event (such as my upcoming book signing in Mystic’s charming Bank Square Books on August 2) make for a fun time for both sides. Readers get to ask questions or maybe share that they, too, hope to write a book someday. It’s powerful for kids to see that dreams can come true if you work at them and don’t give up.
6) Leave us with a teaser: what comes next?
A picture book series beginning with the title, SNEEZE-FIRE, will be released from 4RV Publishing in time for the holidays. SNEEZE-FIRE tells the winter story of a young dragon with a bad cold. When Willard sets out with friends for a fun day in the snow, his hot, fiery sneezes melt the snowy fun and fuel his friends’ anger. A sequel for THE LOST CROWN OF APOLLO is in the works, and I’m about to submit a manuscript for a novel featuring twin princesses who have a pair of identical secret wishes. It’s a big job for Star Fairy to sort out, but she seeks help from a poor village girl who also wishes for two things: pretty-as-a-princess hair, and a sister of her own.
With thanks to Suzanne Cordatos for her generosity of time and thought.
Don’t forget: The author will appear at Bank Square Books in Mystic this Sunday, August 2nd, at 1:00 p.m.