A very warm welcome to Marissa Moss! Her novel Home Sweet Rome, the second installment in her Mira's Diary series, came out earlier this month!
How was your experience of writing Home Sweet Rome different than writing its prequel, Lost in Paris?
The experience was as different as being in Paris compared to Rome. I know both cities well, having lived in each for a year, but they have very distinctive personalities and I hope those characteristics found their way into the books.
The Mira's Diary books are formatted as a sort of sketchbook. Could you tell us a little bit about the process of creating an illustrated novel?
For me, it's easier than straight writing because the illustrations can get across a lot of information, freeing me from the burden of too much heavy-handed descriptions. Whenever art will get the point across as well as words can, I prefer to use a picture. Plus I love to draw, so that part of the book is pure fun.
What made you decide to write about time travel?
I love history and I thought time travel could be a way of making particular times and places come alive for readers. I wanted to tell historical stories in a way that would seem relevant to people today. At least, that's what I hope I'm doing with these books!
What sort of research did you have to do for Home Sweet Rome?
A huge amount! I read a lot of books on subjects ranging to 17th Century daily life in Rome to the philosophy of Giordano Bruno. Plus I watched an Italian documentary on Bruno (complete with re-enactment of his death) and I explored the archive of secret documents housed in the Vatican at a special exhibit in Rome. Some of my research was simply walking the streets, sketching things that would make interesting Touchstones.
What is the most interesting thing you learned while writing Home Sweet Rome? (This can be about yourself, about writing, or anything at all).
I'd have to say the more I read about Giordano Bruno, the more fascinated by him I became. He was such an unusual thinker, really a lot like a modern-day physicist, except in the 17th century that kind of work was considered philosophy. It was striking that at that time, there weren't the same kind of separations as we have now between science and religion, art and philosophy. They all had to do with a search for the truth, for better understanding the world around us.
What is the most rewarding part about being a middle grade author?
The biggest compliment I get is when kids write to me that I've inspired them to write themselves—or encouraged them to read when before they thought books were boring. That kind of response is deeply rewarding!
If there was one thing you could change about Home Sweet Rome, what would it be?
I wanted to have more sketches of Rome. The city is so rich visually, I ended up with far more drawings than fit into the book. I wished they could have all gone in!
What are you working on next?
Mira goes to London next, during WWI, where she meets some interesting authors as well as suffragettes. It's another period full of juicy stories that I want to somehow fit in to the book.
(1) lucky winner will receive Mira's Diary: Home Sweet Rome by Marissa Moss
courtesy of Sourcebooks
- US/Canadian mailing addresses only.
- Contest ends 4/26/13, at 9 p.m. EST.