• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Giveaways > Interview with Hollow Earth author, Carole Barrowman!
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    April 11, 2014:
    Fall 2014 Children's Sneak Peek
    A peek at forthcoming middle grade books (as well as picture books and YA books) in a round-up from Publisher's Weekly. First printed in the February 22 issue, but now available online. Time to add to your to-read list. Read more ...

    April 9, 2014:
    How many Newbery winners have you read?
    You could make a traditional list of all the Newbery Medal Award-winning Children's Books you've read, but there's something so satisfying when you check them off and get a final tally on this BuzzFeed quiz. Read more ...

    March 28, 2014:
    Middle Grade fiction is hot at 2014 Bologna Children's Book Fair

    For the second year in a row, publishers are clamoring for middle-grade, reporters Publishers Weekly. "I’ve been coming [to Bologna] for 12 to 15 years, and I’ve never had as many European publishers asking for middle-grade," said Steven Chudney of the Chudney Agency. Read more ...

    February 14, 2014:
    Cybils Awards announced
    Ultra by David Carroll (Scholastic Canada) wins the Cybil for middle grade fiction; Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Disney Hyperion) wins for Speculative Fiction. Read more.

    January 27, 2014: And the Newbery Medal goes to ...
    Kate DiCamillo won the Newbery Medal for "Flora & Ulysses"; Rita Williams-Garcia won the Coretta Scott King Author award for "P.S. Be Eleven." Newbery Honor awards to authors Vince Vawter, Amy Timberlake, Kevin Henkes and Holly Black. For all the exciting ALA Youth Media Award News ... READ MORE

    November 12, 2013:
    Vote in the GoodReads semifinal round

    Readers' votes have narrowed the middle-grade semifinals down to 20 titles. Log in to your GoodReads account and vote for your favorite middle-grade (and in other categories, of course). Read more ...

    November 9, 2013:
    Publishers Weekly Top Children's Books of 2013

    Middle-grade and young adult titles selected by the editors of Publishers Weekly as their top picks of the year. Let the season of "top ten books" begin! Read more ...

    October 14, 2013:
    Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids debuts January 2014

    Shelf Media Group, publisher of Shelf Unbound indie book review magazine, will launch a new free digital-only publication for middle-grade readers. The debut issue features interviews with such notable authors as Margaret Peterson Haddix and Chris Grabenstein as well as reviews, excerpts, and more. Middle Shelf will be published bi-monthly beginning in January 2014.
    Read more ...

    September 19, 2013: Writer-in-Residence program at Thurber House

    Dream of time and space to focus on your own writing project? Applications now being accepted (11/1/2013 deadline) for The Thurber House Residency in Children's Literature, a month-long retreat in the furnished third-floor apartment of Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Read more ...

    September 18, 2013: Vermont College of Fine Arts Scholarship opportunity

    Barry Goldblatt Literary launches The Angela Johnson Scholarship, a talent-based grant for writers of color attending the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program at VCFA. Up to two $5,000 grants will be awarded each year. Read more ....

    September 16, 2013:
    National Book Awards longlist for youth literature

    For the first time, the NBA is presenting lists of 10 books/authors on the longlist in each category. The 2013 young adult literature list includes five middle grade novels and five YA. Read more ...

    Sept. 13, 2013: Spring preview
    Check out Publishers Weekly roundup of upcoming children's books to be published in spring 2014. Read more...

    August 21, 2013:
    Want to be a Cybils Award Judge?

    Middle grade categories are fiction, speculative fiction, nonfiction. Applications due August 31! Read more ...

    August 19, 2013:
    S&S and BN reach a deal
    Readers will soon be able to find books from Simon & Schuster at Barnes & Noble. The bookstore chain was locked in a disagreement with the publisher over how much it was willing to pay for books. Read more ...

    August 6, 2013:
    NPR's 100 Must-Reads for Kids
    NPR's Backseat Book Club asked listeners to nominate their favorite books for readers ages 9 to 14. More than 2,000 people nominated titles, and a panel of Newbery authors brought the list to 100. Most are middle grade books. Read more ...

    July 2, 2013:
    Penguin & Random House Merger

    The new company, Penguin Random House, will control more than 25 percent of the trade book market in the United States. On Monday, the newly formed company began to take shape, only hours after a middle-of-the-night announcement that the long-planned merger had been completed. Read more ...

    March 28, 2013: Big at Bologna

     This year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the focus has shifted to middle-grade.  “A lot of foreign publishers are cutting back on YA and are looking for middle-grade,” said agent Laura Langlie, according to Publisher's Weekly.  Lighly illustrated or stand-alone contemporary middle-grade fiction is getting the most attention.  Read more...


    March 10, 2013: Marching to New Titles

    Check out these titles releasing in March...


    March 5, 2013: Catch the BEA Buzz

    Titles for BEA's Editor Buzz panels have been announced.  The middle-grade titles selected are:

    A Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson

    Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    The Fantastic Family Whipple by Matthew Ward

    Nick and Tesla's High-Voltages Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

    The Tie Fetch by Amy Herrick

    For more Buzz books in other categories,


    February 20, 2013: Lunching at the MG Roundtable 

    Earlier this month, MG authors Jeanne Birdsall, Rebecca Stead, and N.D. Wilson shared insight about writing for the middle grades at an informal luncheon with librarians held in conjunction with the New York Public Library's Children's Literary Salon "Middle Grade: Surviving the Onslaught."

    Read about their thoughts...


    February 10, 2013: New Books to Love

    Check out these new titles releasing in February...


    January 28, 2013: Ivan Tops List of Winners

    The American Library Association today honored the best of the best from 2012, announcing the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz awards, along with a host of other prestigious youth media awards, at their annual winter meeting in Seattle.

    The Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Honor books were: Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz; Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin; and Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

    The Coretta Scott King Book Award went to Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

    The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award,which honors an author for his or her long-standing contributions to children’s literature, was presented to Katherine Paterson.

    The Pura Belpre Author Award, which honors a Latino author, went to Benjamin Alire Saenz for his novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which was also named a Printz Honor book and won the Stonewall Book Award for its portrayal of the GLBT experience.

    For a complete list of winners…


    January 22, 2013: Biography Wins Sydney Taylor

    Louise Borden's His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg, a verse biography of the Swedish humanitarian, has won the Sydney Taylor Award in the middle-grade category. The award is given annually to books of the highest literary merit that highlight the Jewish experience. Aimee Lurie, chair of the awards committee, writes, "Louise Borden's well-researched biography will, without a doubt, inspire children to perform acts of kindness and speak out against oppression."

    For more...


    January 17, 2013: Erdrich Wins Second O'Dell

    Louise Erdrich is recipient of the 2013 Scott O'Dell Award for her historical novel Chickadee, the fourth book in herBirchbark House series. Roger Sutton,Horn Book editor and chair of the awards committee, says of Chickadee,"The book has humor and suspense (and disarmingly simple pencil illustrations by the author), providing a picture of 1860s Anishinabe life that is never didactic or exotic and is briskly detailed with the kind of information young readers enjoy." Erdrich also won the O'Dell Award in 2006 for The Game of Silence, the second book in theBirchbark series. 

    For more...


    January 15, 2013: After the Call

    Past Newbery winners Jack Gantos, Clare Vanderpool, Neil Gaiman, Rebecca Stead, and Laura Amy Schlitz talk about how winning the Newbery changed (or didn't change) their lives in this piece from Publishers Weekly...


    January 2, 2013: On the Big Screen

    One of our Mixed-up Files members may be headed to the movies! Jennifer Nielsen's fantasy adventure novel The False Prince is being adapted for Paramount Pictures by Bryan Cogman, story editor for HBO's Game of Thrones. For more...


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Interview with Hollow Earth author, Carole Barrowman!

Giveaways, Interviews

Hollow Earth takes readers on a classic fantasy-adventure featuring twins with the power to bring art to life, Animare, and a secret society determined to use that ability at any cost, including the twins’ lives.  Written by real-life brother and sister Carole Barrowman and John Barrowman, the story ranges from the National Gallery in London to the remote shores of Scotland to a place called Hollow Earth, where demons and devils are trapped for eternity.  Carole is Professor of English and Director of Creative Studies in Writing at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  John may be familiar to fans of Doctor Who as Captain Jack Harkness.  Carole was kind enough to take a few moments to visit us on the Files.

Hollow Earth US

The author’s note says that you and John cooked up the characters and plot while on a trip together.  Had you ever worked together before?  What was your process like?  (Did you ever pull rank as big sister?)  

This is our fourth book together, but our first novel. We’ve also collaborated on a comic (adapted from one of my short stories and featuring the character, Captain Jack, that John plays on television) so we have a good working relationship. We outline together, brainstorm etc. and then I return to Milwaukee and I do the writing. When I have a solid draft, I send to John for comments etc. I’m the big sister. Of course, I try to pull rank… some things never change no matter how old we are.

You said it!  You have two fascinating mythologies in your book – the idea of Animare, or people who can bring their own drawings into existence, and Hollow Earth, a place where mythological beasts are kept.  How did you come up with these ideas?  

Many of the books we love have strong mythologies (The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter series, The Golden Compass, etc.) and we wanted to create something that had some weight to the adventure, something that connects the twins to more than their immediate family. We also both loved Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl as children so we also wanted to make the stories epic adventures or sorts. I’m also a fan of William Blake and John Milton so their mythologies influenced us too.

William Blake - poet, painter and middle-grade inspiration

William Blake – poet, painter and middle-grade inspiration

That’s a fabulous range of influences.  Did anything happen during the course of writing the book that surprised you, i.e., a character or a plot twist?

Oh my, yes. Solon was not supposed to stick around, but as I wrote he just kept coming back and so when I sent the finished draft and sent it to John we knew we had to keep him.

You write about the Art of the Mystery for The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  How do you think the traditions of mystery-writing in adult fiction translate in kid fiction? 

Although there’s also a significant supernatural element, there’s certainly a mystery at the core of Hollow Earth. By its nature, the mystery genre is about moral dilemmas and questions of life and death and loss and I think lots of great kidlit has adapted the traditions and the conventions of the mystery.

Well put! What are some of your favorite kidlit mysteries?

I’m a fan of many of the books that I think follow the conventions of traditional thrillers and mysteries like Anthony Horowitz Alex Rider series.

I think readers who enjoy the adrenalin rush of Alex Rider will feel quite at home with Hollow Earth.  I noticed that you have two distinctly different covers – one with a bird on the cover, and one featuring the twin main characters.  Is there a story behind this?  Do you prefer one over the other?

Buster Books first released Hollow Earth in the UK and they put the caladrius on the cover. The twins and the peryton are on the US cover. Most books have different covers when published in UK and US.

Hollow Earth - UK Edition

Hollow Earth – UK Edition

You’ll have to read the book to find out what role the peryton plays.  Hollow Earth definitely ends with the reader wanting to know what happens next!  What should readers expect next?

John and I imagined a trilogy so the second book (Bone Quill) will be released in the UK in February of 2013 and in the US in July/August. Our plan is a book a year if there are readers…

Bone Quill

I’m sure there will be many readers, including one lucky winner on the Files!  To enter to win a copy of Hollow Earth, post a comment below on what famous painting you would bring to life if you were an Animare.

Wendy Shang would get lost in the swirls of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.



  1. Betsy Thompson  •  Feb 22, 2013 @6:19 pm

    I would love to bring to life New York Movie by Edward Hopper. The lush velvets, the pensive usherette, the enticing staircase, the glimpse of the movie screen offering undetermined delights to the shadowy theater goers…all this intrigues me . Good luck on your series!

  2. Jill  •  Feb 23, 2013 @8:48 am

    I have to admit I have no idea of paintings or art or things like that (sheepish face). Nevertheless, I find this book interesting and I love the author’s range of influences (Dahl, Narnia, etc). Sounds like a worthwhile read. Great interview and thanks for the giveaway offer.

  3. Lisa  •  Feb 23, 2013 @10:03 am

    I’d love to be in the world of the Johannes Vermeer painting Young Woman with a Water Pitcher. I’d love to know what outside her window she was looking at, the sounds in the street or countryside below and what she had planned for that day. There is a map on the wall behind her and I wonder about its importance, and a jewelry box with a string of pearls…what is her story?

  4. PragmaticMom  •  Feb 23, 2013 @5:12 pm

    I would bring Sunflowers by Van Gogh as I assume I’d get to meet the artist too.

  5. Carolyn Brady  •  May 12, 2013 @12:04 am

    I’m somewhat behind in my blog reading so only just saw that Wendy got to interview Carole Barrowman :D We saw her and her little brother plugging Hollow Earth at Alverno College last winter – They are quite the double act as you can see from the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLITel5Jaxw&list=PLNgRS6u11MQEyo36o0hFFOvOLsFcJMtZr And we got our copy of Hollow Earth signed by both of them :)