Tricia Goss, reviewer and interviewer for Round Table Reviews, talks with TJ Perkins about her latest book, inspirations, and future works.
You said that this book was inspired by events which you actually experienced. Can you tell me about some of these events?MYSTERY OF THE ATTIC was based on my life as a 13-year old. I described the house, the members of my family, how I went to school, even the part about my uncle owning the town store (my cousin's husband actually owned the store, but recently sold it). Most of the scary walking sounds, as well as all but a little of chapter 6, is true . If course I didn't talk to spirits, that part is fiction, but I was hoping to blend the fiction and fact together so well that it would be hard for kids to tell which was which.Right now I'm half way through writing the sequel to this book. It will be entitled Mystery of the Attic II: On Forbidden Ground. I grew up as a country girl, living in either PA or MD, depending on my parent's choices. I was very close to my grandparents and cousins, and we kids always spent weekends on our grandparent's farms (they moved a lot, too). My grandfather, uncle and father were always the ones to sit around, after a meal, and tell spooky stories about people they knew - and they would swear everything they said was true . This kind of thing inspired and intrigued me. Through the years I developed my own way of telling suspenseful stories to other kids, and always managed to capture their attention. I was always a straight 'A' student in creative writing, language arts, etc. in school, and I've always had a huge imagination. Do you draw on personal experience for all of your writing? I don't always draw on personal experiences. Many things are developed from one simple question - "what if?" I may see a person doing something and suddenly an idea may spring to mind. I was at a middle school for an appearance and they kids had locker cleanup; I suddenly got an idea - what if something was in your locker, a monster of some sort, or something strange, that you didn't know was there? You see? That type of thing. I also use many of those creepy stories my grandfather used to tell years ago. Were you an only child? Who was the inspiration for Becky?Yes, I was an only child. But Becky really was my step-sister at one time. Her dad and my mom broke up after being together for 13 years! We never see each other anymore. What advice can you give to kids who, like you, have had to move frequently? I have no advice for kids that move all the time. It's no fun, and it's very hard to make friends. Just suck it up and deal with it the best you can. You mentioned your grandfather; were you close to him? Did you inherit your talent from him? No, I wasn't really close to my grandparents; I was around them a lot as a child, but not real close. Storytelling is strong in my dad's side of the family, as is art. My grandmother, my dad's mom, was into writing poetry and would always make up little stories, on a whim, to keep us kids sitting still for a short while. My Aunt writes poems and one of my cousins is trying to write picture books but won't stick with it. Are you paying homage to a real Mrs. Moore? Yes, there really was a Mrs. Moore. She was my high school art teacher, very cool, like a modern day hippie, very pretty, and all the kids felt comfortable talking to her and telling her personal things. Thank you for taking this time with me. Can you tell me a little about your next book? Will this be an ongoing series? Melissa is grownup and mysteriously gets invited back to the old house. She must confront the evil spirit of William in a final show down, but she must do it in a very unlikely place. I can't tell you too much without giving the story away, but I do describe the house how it looks now (since the new owners fixed it up, etc.), and I include one other fact about the old farm that I didn't mention in the first book. So, this book has a tiny bit of fact and a whole lot of fiction. This is the last book about the old farm. Kids have been begging for a sequel to my first book Wound Too Tight, and since my publisher has agreed to do a reprint of it, with proper editing and improvements done to it, I think it would be a good time to start. However, if I can't get a regular publisher to accept my mystery/crime series, that I've been working on for the past 6 years, then I'll let Publish America do the first couple books like they've agreed to do. I'm not sure how they'll feel about cranking out 3 books for me in 1 year, but we'll see how it goes.