Deborah Hopkinson's new middle-grade novel is A Bandit's Tale. From her Q & A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: How did you come up with the idea for A Bandit's Tale and for your main character, Rocco?--Marshal Zeringue
A: I have written two previous historical fiction books for young readers: Into the Firestorm was set in San Francisco and The Great Trouble takes place in London, and I wanted to place the next story in New York City. Rocco grew out of reading accounts of young street musicians, including a boy who had run away to Central Park.
Q: The book includes some historical figures. What did you see as the right blend between history and fiction as you were writing the novel?
A: I wish I knew the right combination! Often I have to cut out aspects of history that are absolutely fascinating to me, but don’t necessarily move the story forward.
It just so happens that sometimes events coincide, though. Henry Bergh, the founder of the ASPCA who does appear in A Bandit’s Tale actually did die during the Blizzard of 1888, just as he does in the book.
And apparently during that same storm Jacob Riis, the pioneering photojournalist whose photographs of the tenements on the Lower East Side captured the public’s attention, hatched the idea for...[read on]