Monday, May 30, 2016

Two Brothers, One Redhead, and a Stolen Giraffe by Sarah Mandell

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sarah Mandell will be awarding 5 of her handmade laser etched wooden pendants that she is launching as a new collection in conjunction with the release of the book to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Welcome to Books in the Hall, and thanks for answering some of our questions. Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?

The teen years are the best of times and the worst of times. There are ups and downs that only happen during that chapter of life, and you begin to figure out who you are and what you want for the very first time. You start to make choices for yourself (good, bad, or otherwise), and so much of the world is still unknown, so I like writing fiction that features young adult characters because there’s so much good emotional material to work with.

Pretend your protagonist is at school and opens his/her locker – what will we see inside?

Books, books, and more books. Nothing but the classics for Daniel McElroy! You’d find Ernest Hemmingway, and Joseph Conrad, all overdue from the library by several weeks.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

I always wanted to be an interior designer. I remember constantly rearranging my dollhouse as a kid after I was supposed to be asleep at night. It was way more fun to move the furniture around and repaint the walls than it was to pretend dolls were living in the house. I enjoyed arranging the spaces, and filling them with beautiful colors and textures.

Funny story, I went to school for interior design and have worked in the field since 2005. It was the only job I could ever picture myself doing, and I didn’t have a back up plan so I’m glad it worked out!

What book is on your nightstand currently?

The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno by Ellen Bryson.

Hunger Games or Twilight? Why?

Hunger Games. Easy.
Katniss is badass, and whats-her-face is not.
The end.

Sum up your book for Twitter: 140 characters or less.

A quirky coming-of-age story about the complications of love, loss, and newfound independence.

You’re stranded on a desert island—which character from your book do you want with you? Why?

Josephine Larsen: she’s self-sufficient and clever, so I think having her there with me would triple my chances of survival. She can tell which way is north, start a fire, and gut a fish, definitely a girl who knows how to get by on practically nothing. I’m never really sure which way is north, the only fires I’ve started are by accident, and I would probably cry if I had to gut fish. I wouldn’t last very long on a desert island by myself!

Playlist for your current book.

So glad you asked! I’ve been working on this playlist for Two Brothers, One Redhead, and a Stolen Giraffe since 2011. I think…maybe…it’s finally ready to share. Writing this book actually changed my taste in music, and all of these artists (except Sam Beam and Doug Burr) are new to me since 2011. I had very specific background music in mind when I was writing and editing the book several years ago, but at the time I had very little to choose from that suited the story, so I listened to Iron and Wine and Doug Burr the entire time. From there, thanks to Pandora and Spotify’s suggestions, I discovered a brand new world of music and have become a huge fan of Noah Gunderson and Damien Jurado, just to name a few.

Who was your teenaged crush? Why?

Pretty much any guy in a rock band who wore eyeliner (Christopher Hall from Stabbing Westward, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails, Dave Navarro from Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc.). I can’t even begin to explain this...

Favorite class in high school. Why?

Art: I absolutely love to work with my hands, and to this day, creating art is something I look forward to. Art classes in high school led to art school, which led to a creative career in interior design, which led to a little side hobby turned small business called Once Again Sam. So much of my life is what it is today because of those art classes in high school!

The McElroy brothers find trouble easily. Dylan plunges headfirst into it, while Daniel cleans up behind him. That’s the way it’s always been, ever since their mother left them to be bounced around the foster system, causing trouble wherever they went. The soon-to-be euthanized giraffe they just stole from the Northside Animal Park may be their biggest predicament yet, in more ways than one, but there's no undoing what's been done.

Lost in Nebraska without a plan, clueless how to care for the ornery old beast in the back of the trailer, the well-meaning brothers stop to rest at an abandoned-looking barn. A pretty redhead with a snappy temperament and a shotgun discovers the boys and their sixteen-foot stowaway. Her name is Josephine, she lives on this farm with her father who is spoken of, but never seen, and her root cellar has more locks than a bank vault. She’s got a way with animals and plenty of secrets, not to mention the interest of two brothers who swore they’d never let some girl come between them.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Daniel and Dylan McElroy snapped their eyes open only to be blinded by a billion-watt flashlight aimed in their faces. It might as well have been the sun. They scrambled to their feet, unable to see who or what was behind that blazing white light. They shielded their faces, begging for mercy.

A female voice came from behind the painful brightness. She managed to get out, “What in the hell…” before the beam of light shifted upward, illuminating Millie’s unimpressed face. The giraffe’s long eyelashes blinked downward, inspecting the people below. Her nubby horns cast strange shadows on the ceiling of the barn.

While the beam of light from the girl’s torch shown upward still, locking Millie in the spotlight, Daniel got a good look at the person holding it. She was a teenager with fiery red hair all mussed up from sleep that fell well below her shoulder blades. Her eyes were pale in color, but he couldn’t be sure if they were blue or hazel in this severe lighting. She had delicate features, a snobby little nose, and a pair of pink lips parted in astonishment as she gazed upward at the out-of-place creature. This girl, a member of the Larsen family perhaps, was a pretty thing, but she was not in good spirits being woken in the middle of the night only to find two strange young men and a reticulated giraffe in her family’s barn. She had a shotgun at her side, which she now raised up and aimed at Dylan.

Daniel cleared his throat, ready to say just the right words to save young Dylan from certain death. Again. “We didn’t mean to cause no trouble,” Daniel explained, palms open with vulnerability. Daniel had always been the spokesperson when trouble found them, or more likely, when Dylan found trouble. He was the explainer of the mischievous pair.

“Am I hallucinating, or is that a giraffe?” the girl demanded to know.

“That?” Daniel asked, glancing upward in hopes she was referring to something else. “Uh. Yeah. That would be Millie. Millie the giraffe.”

About the Author:
Sarah Mandell is a professionally trained artist with a background in commercial interior design. She's also the brains and busy hands behind a thriving indie craft business called Once Again Sam in Greenville, SC. Even with an ever-expanding collection of creative outlets, she's truly the happiest when she's writing. Two Brothers, One Redhead, and a Stolen Giraffe is Sarah’s second novel. Her debut novel was Celia on the Run (Untreed Reads, 2012).

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