Our most epic hurrays go out to Erin E. Moulton, whose YA novel Keepers of the Labyrinth is out today from Philomel/Penguin! We're delighted that she was able to stop by for a chat.
Courage is tested, myths come to life, and long-held secrets are revealed.
Lilith Bennette runs at midnight. She scales walls in the dark and climbs without a harness. She hopes that if she follows exactly in the steps of her strong air force pilot mother, she’ll somehow figure out the mystery of her mother’s death—and the reason why her necklace of Greek symbols has been missing ever since.
So when Lil is invited to Crete for a Future Leaders International conference, the same conference her mom attended years ago, she jumps at the chance to find some answers. But things in Melios Manor are not what they seem. Lil finds herself ensnared in an adventure of mythological proportions that leads her and her friends through the very labyrinth in which the real Minotaur was imprisoned. And they’re not in there alone. What secrets does the labyrinth hold, and will they help Lil find the truth about her mother?
Welcome, Erin! So, tell us . . .
What was the spark that ignited this book?
All stories seem to arrive in different ways, but this one really stands out to me. Sentences, phrases, words, pop around my head all the time. I’ll be hanging out the back computer at the library and all of a sudden hear: A MUTINOUS FORAY INTO THE AFTERLIFE! I’ll be washing dishes and a little voice will say Lord Teaspoon. I’ll be out on a walk and all of a sudden: Quit standing around like a pinball wizard. Sometimes, I write these down. Sometimes, I hardly notice them. Sometimes, I tell them to be quiet until it’s writing time. Keepers of the Labyrinth arrived with a loud phrase in a quiet house. It was a morning between projects and I was sitting on the floor petting the dog, when all of a sudden The Daughters of Ariadne appeared. I stopped petting the dog. I tilted my head. I said, “what’s that now?” I wasn’t sure who Ariadne was. It had certainly piqued my interest. From there, I had to run down the story. It was breathless and fun and filled with adrenalin. Chasing the mistress of the labyrinth was very much like following a thread without knowing where it was going to go.
Do you write in silence? If not, what’s your soundtrack?
Heck no! I always listen to music. Music gets me amped up enough to start working. This book was all about the Hans Zimmer. Pirates of the Caribbean was my favorite soundtrack, but I also liked pieces from Last of the Mohicans and Batman. Fast paced, epic. Turn it UP!
Tell us about something special you keep on your desk/wall as you work.
For this one, I have pictures of Crete! After I got back from the beautiful Greek Island, I surrounded myself with it the best I could. I made Greek food, read Greek books, placed pictures from my setting next to me. It helped me immerse into the scenery and even into the characters.
What unusual swag do you wish you could make for this book?
I think I might be going overboard, already! I made these symbols, so people could go and take the Keepers of the Labyrinth Personality test and then get their Keepers emblem. So I have the stickers for the Protector, Inventor, Historian and Artist. And this time, I am going to be sending out secret swag to a few random readers. Those who have the inventor symbol embossed in their copy, ordered from Water Street Books or An Unlikely Story. These will mostly be coins and bangles and other decoupaged homemade things. BUT if I were dreaming BIG! I would have Shire Post Mint make me a bunch of custom coins to give away at events. They would have the symbol on the front and then the Keepers of the Labyrinth motto on the back: Min Zeis Aplos. Zeis Tolmira, which means, Don’t Just live. Live boldly. It would be awesome. Someday, right?
Those would be awesome! Who were your advisors at VCFA?
First: Ron Koertge. Second: Ellen Howard. Third: Cynthia Leitich Smith. Fourth: Kathi Appelt. I feel like I got them each at the exact time I needed them.
How did attending VCFA affect your writing life?
VCFA was like the closet leading to Narnia, for me. Once I stepped through, nothing would be the same after. And I mean that in the best way. I walked into VCFA and came out a better writer, a person with a clear dream, skills, and a community of support. I probably would still be standing, uncomfortably on top of an A-Frame in a Boston theater, adjusting source 4s, indefinitely, if I hadn’t attended VCFA and realized that, maybe, I could give this crazy dream a shot.
What was special about your VCFA graduating class, the Unreliable Narrators?
Well, it might be what is special about all VCFA classes: The sense that you are with your comrades. That wherever you are in the world, they are your people. I feel this way about the entire VCFA community as well. We just get each other.
I hear that! :) Thanks so much for chatting with us, and congratulations on the release of Keepers of the Labyrinth!
You can visit Erin online at www.erinemoulton.com!