When The 39 Clues® series launched in September 2008, we just couldn’t wait to read the first one! But when we found out that the series was not just made up of ten adventure-filled novels written by seven of the best children’s authors today, but that it was also a multiplatform series that combined books, collectible cards, and an online game, we were absolutely floored! There was nothing like it on the market and we just knew that kids were going to go wild for this interactive way of reading–we were right!
Two years later, the groundbreaking series comes to an end with Book 10, which releases nationwide next Tuesday, August 31. In it, Margaret Peterson Haddix picks up the quest of Amy and Dan Cahill as they face their final challenge on a mysterious lost island. Margaret, who is also the author of the exciting Shadow Children series, agreed to speak to Book Talk about her experiences writing this final installment of The 39 Clues®. We can’t wait to get our hands on this one!
One-on-One with Margaret Peterson Haddix:
BT: What branch of the Cahill family do you belong to?
BT: Which member of the Cahill family would you team up with on the hunt?
MPH: Oh, definitely Amy and Dan!
BT: If you could change the identity of the man in black from Book 9, who would he be and why?
MPH: Interesting question! I think if the man in black weren’t…uh…who he really is, I would want him to be Amy and Dan’s grandfather. Partly this is because I feel so bad for Amy and Dan that all their closest relatives (except each other) are dead. I’m not sure how it could be explained why everyone thought the grandfather was dead—or where he’s been for most of Amy and Dan’s lives—but it might be fun to try. Or, possibly the man in black could have been their grandfather on their father’s side, so it would turn out that they have Cahill connections on both sides….
MPH: Still having exciting adventures.
BT: If you could join Amy and Dan on one of their adventures, which one would it be and why?
MPH: The one in Book 10. Because they know the most about what’s going on then.
BT: Did you work with the other authors of The 39 Clues® series in planning/writing Book 10?
MPH: Rick Riordan, who wrote the first book in the series, also wrote brief outlines for all the other books, including Book 10. But, given that he wrote it before the other books were finished, that outline was fairly sketchy, and I was happy that it left a lot of room for me to use my own imagination. I had a lot more contact with Linda Sue Park, who was writing Book 9 about the same time that I was writing Book 10. Linda Sue and I—and The 39 Clues® editor, Rachel Griffiths—had a long conversation early on to make sure that our character development and plotlines would work together. And then while Linda Sue and I were both in the writing process, we occasionally exchanged e-mails along the lines of, “Someone’s going to need to address this particular issue before the end of the series. Are you handling that in your book, or should I take care of it?”
BT: Did you have any input in the planning/writing of Books 1–9?
MPH: None at all with Books 1–8. But, as I mentioned in my last answer, Linda Sue and I did compare notes while we were writing Books 9 and 10.
BT: How was writing Book 10 different from writing other books you’ve written?
MPH: This was the first time I’ve ever written a book based on a situation and characters that someone else came up with. I was a little worried about being able to write from the perspective of certain characters who were very different from me—for example, the Holts or Jonah Wizard—but it turned out that their scenes were some of the ones that I had the most fun writing.
The other big difference was that this had to be a much more collaborative process than I’ve ever been involved in before. In one sense, this made me less decisive than I usually am as a writer, because certain things were outside of my control. But I also felt a huge sense of responsibility, because I absolutely did not want to mess up anything when so many other people were also working hard to make The 39 Clues® project great.
BT: How long did it take you to write Book 10?
MPH: It took two months to write the first draft of the book, then about another two months to revise. Then, for a couple months after that, I worked on the book for a few days at a time, here and there, to deal with line editing, copy editor questions, etc.
BT: Was it more difficult to write the last book of this EPIC series after so many other great authors (besides yourself, of course) had contributed to it?
MPH: Absolutely! After nine books of incredible, dramatic, heart-stopping action, it was really hard for me to think of something that hadn’t already been done!
We want to thank Margaret for so graciously agreeing to stop by our blog and Book Talk with us!
You’re invited to a LIVE GLOBAL WEBCAST EVENT for the release of The 39 Clues®, Book 10 on August 31, 2010!
The 39 Clues®, Book 10: Into the Gauntlet and the complete boxed set of Books 1–10 are being offered this September in the Arrow, TAB, and Teachers’ Picks catalogs! If you haven’t already, join the hunt!