Kathie: Hi Lorelei, and welcome back to MG Book Village! The last time we chatted, you were preparing to release your debut novel, THE CIRCUS OF STOLEN DREAMS. Today we’re discussing your new middle-grade novel, THE EDGE OF IN BETWEEN, which came out on April 19th. Can you tell our readers a bit about it, please?
Lorelei: Absolutely! THE EDGE OF IN BETWEEN is a spooky, magical reimagining of The Secret Garden.
ABOUT THE EDGE OF IN BETWEEN
A spellbinding tale of magical realism and superb, twisty retelling of The Secret Garden, where twelve-year-old Lottie’s colorful world turns suddenly gray when an unexpected accident claims her parents, and she is uprooted from her home to live with an eccentric uncle she never knew she had—on the border that separates the living and the dead.
Lottie lives in Vivelle—the heart of a vibrant city where life exists in brilliant technicolor and nearly everyone has magic. And Lottie is no exception; she can paint pictures to life in every shade and hue imaginable. But at the sudden loss of her parents, all the color is stripped from Lottie’s heart and the world around her. Taken in by her reclusive, eccentric uncle, Lottie moves into Forsaken, his vast manor located in the gray wasteland between the Land of the Living and Ever After, the land of the dead.
The discovery of a locked-up garden, a wise cardinal, a hidden boy, and a family whose world is full of color despite the bleakness around them begins to pull at the threads of what it means to live in such a near-dead place, slowly returning some of the color to Lottie’s private world and giving her hope that life is worth experiencing fully, even while one carries sorrow.
But as time runs out, Lottie must find a way to thaw both the world and the hearts of her uncle, cousin, and those she has come to know and love in her new home, or all of Forsaken—including Lottie herself—will be absorbed by Ever After long before their time.
Kathie: I love your writing, but I admit I was initially skeptical about reading this book because I’m not a fan of The Secret Garden. Your book stands so well on its own, though, and doesn’t require any knowledge of the original story. How did you choose what elements to keep from The Secret Garden and how to put your own spin on it?
Lorelei: I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I worked really hard to tell a story that could be appreciated by anyone, whether or not they’re familiar with the original story (or even if they don’t really like it!). Early on, I decided that I would have a counterpart to each of the characters in the original, but that I would take a fresh angle on their personalities and dynamics. I also decided to keep some of the major plot markers in place, namely, that my main character moves in with her uncle, discovers she has a cousin, and finds a hidden garden. I hoped to then build on that foundation to create a world brimming with magic, and that delves into navigating grief and finding one’s way to hope and healing again in a more nuanced and layered way. I also wanted to write a story completely free of the racism, ableism, and colonialism of the original book.
Kathie: Lottie is my favorite character. Can you use three words to describe her, and in what way do you wish you were more like her?
Lorelei: I love Lottie so much! She is resilient, open-hearted, and incredibly creative. I love how she fights to see the good in people, even if it isn’t apparent at the start. One thing I admire about Lottie is how she lets herself feel the way she is feeling- if she is sad, if she is angry, she doesn’t try to hide it. She accepts those feelings as part of herself, and I think I sometimes struggle with trying to put on a brave face when maybe being more vulnerable would actually be the healthier choice, because that opens you up to support from those who love you. On the flip side of that, when Lottie is happy, the whole world knows it, and that joy spreads to others. I’m also working harder to be like Lottie in pausing to appreciate how far I’ve come.
Kathie: One of the things I most enjoy about your stories is how you explore grief and loss but how hope balances out those themes. How does writing fantasy allow you to explore these emotions differently from a realistic story?
Lorelei: This is such a great question. Writing in magical worlds in a strange way allows me to face certain aspects of grief more head on or even more concretely than I maybe could in a realistic story. In The Circus of Stolen Dreams, I got to give Andrea the chance to go back and save the one she had lost, which I think is something so many of us wish for when we experience loss, but can never achieve. It was incredibly healing to write that possibility for her. In The Edge of In Between, there’s a scene where Lottie cries in the frozen over garden, and she’s worried it will make the garden deteriorate even more. But when she looks down, flowers have sprouted up in the places where her tears hit the earth. It can be tough, sometimes, to understand that sadness is not only acceptable, but a necessary part of the path toward healing. Inside the magical world of Forsaken’s frozen garden, I got to show that in such a concrete and visible way. My hope is that readers will remember that scene and carry it with them for the day when their tears need to fall.
Kathie: Color plays an integral part in this story. What is your favorite color, and how do you use color to express yourself in your life?
Lorelei: I recently decided that my favorite color is that pinkish orange hue the sky takes on just as the sun is setting. There are roses that are that color, and I’ve always been drawn to them too.
I use color in my life, especially in my home, to set up the feeling of different spaces in our house. There are rooms that are in calm and peaceful blues with pops of yellow, there are rooms that have gray walls and pink flowers and brown wood. We have four kids, and things are generally noisy and filled with movement, so I tend towards gentle colors in the spaces I’m in. I appreciate beautiful color combinations as well as the feelings they can evoke and the comfort they can bring. I also love setting up little book arrangements by spine color as decor in different rooms of the house to coordinate with the seasons. Red and green for Christmas, bright yellow during the spring, etc.
Kathie: People often say writing a second book is more challenging than writing the first. Was that true for you?
Lorelei: Oh my goodness, absolutely it was. It took some time to get used to writing my first book from scratch that was under contract, and the expectations and deadlines that came along with that. This was also just a deeply personal story for me, and there was a point three rounds into revision with my editor where I realized I had to scrap everything and start over. With my editor’s blessing, I opened a blank word document and began again, and rewrote the whole thing in about three and a half weeks in order to turn it in on time. It was very scary in the moment, but so worth it in the end.
Kathie: What’s one thing you wish someone would ask you about this book?
Lorelei: I would love to be asked about the little cardinal in the story! In the original book, the bird that leads Mary Lennox to the garden is a robin. But I chose to use a cardinal because there is a legend about cardinals being messengers for loved ones that we’ve lost. I’ve seen a lot of art and cards about that sort of idea, and it just enchanted me from the very first time I heard it. How lovely it would be to have a messenger like that be a sign for someone who has lost a loved one. I was able to take that story and very easily adapt it to fit into my imaginary world and use the cardinal to bring comfort to my characters in a way that some readers may find familiar.
Kathie: Where can our readers go to find out more about you and your writing?
Lorelei: Readers can head on over to www.loreleisavaryn.com! I’m on social media as well:
Kathie: Thank you so much for chatting with me today, Lorelei. I truly enjoyed this story, and I wish you all the best with its release.
Lorelei: Thank you so much Kathie! And thank you for taking the time to chat!
Lorelei Savaryn (loreleisavaryn.com) is an author of creepy, magical stories for children. She holds a BA in creative writing and is a former elementary teacher and instructional coach. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time amidst the beautiful chaos of life with her husband and four children outside of Chicago. She is also the author of The Circus of Stolen Dreams. You can follow her on Twitter @LoreleiSavaryn.