About The Misadventures of the Magician’s Dog
Peter Lubinsky doesn’t even like dogs and can’t understand why he asked for one for his birthday. But it turns out that this pet, whom Peter calls The Dog, can talk and do magic—and he needs Peter’s help. In return, The Dog promises to teach Peter conjuring and to help him bring his father home from the Middle East, where he is deployed with the air force. Soon Peter finds himself flying through the air on a mission to rescue The Dog’s master. But as Peter’s magical powers grow, he finds himself filled with a dark anger.
A bedroom full of dinosaur fossils, a waiter who was formerly a mouse, and an epic battle of magician’s make for a thrilling read. This imaginative middle-grade fantasy is about the power of enchantment and love.
Frances, welcome to Paperback Writer.
Hi Rebecca! Thanks for hosting me!
1. I wanted to start by telling you how I came to write The Misadventures of the Magician’s Dog. I got the idea for the story more than ten years ago, when a friend adopted a very scruffy and badly behaved mutt. He had one redeeming quality: he truly adored my friend’s daughter, who was five and had some pretty serious health problems at the time. At one point, my friend’s daughter asked me where the dog had lived before he came to her. I explained that the dog used to belong to a magician and that he could talk and do magic.
2. For years after that, I thought about writing about a dog that used to belong to a magician. The rest of the story didn’t fall into place until our country went to war, though. I kept reading about the children of deployed service people: so many kids were growing up with their parents absent—and potentially in danger—for long periods of time. It occurred to me that I could write a novel about the son of a deployed pilot who adopts a magician’s dog. Suddenly the whole book fell into place.
3. One of the main emotions I explore in the book is fear. Peter Lubinsky, my main character, is scared of dogs, but he adopts one anyway. He’s scared of conflict, yet he ends up fighting an evil magician. He’s scared that his beloved father will be hurt or killed, and he wants more than anything to use magic to keep his father safe. Yet in the course of the book, he realizes that flying planes for the air force is an important part of his father’s identity—one that Peter can’t wish away.
4. My book also focuses a lot on anger. The dog Peter adopts offers to teach him magic—and of course Peter says yes. Who wouldn’t? But in order to do magic, Peter has to think with a special part of his brain (two inches behind his right temple, to be precise), and he can only use that part of his brain when he’s angry. As a result, he has to confront all of the unacknowledged anger he feels about his father’s absence, his own loneliness, and his general sense of powerlessness in the world.
5. Finally, in this novel, I explore the way love can go hand in hand with other emotions. One of the things Peter learns in the course of his adventures is that he can be angry at his father and yet still love him: in fact, although his anger may feel overwhelming, his love is still the more powerful emotion. In telling this story, I wanted to write about a close-knit family whose members care deeply about each other. Peter’s younger sisters are also an important part of the adventure, largely because of their efforts to keep Peter safe.
6. Hmm… Two more points to go. How about this? In this book, I wrote about all the fun stuff that fascinated me as a child. Peter gets to fly, which I’ve always wanted to do. He battles dinosaurs—and I would LOVE to see real dinosaurs. He also gets to wander around in a spooky, magical house. That’s the sort of thing I used imagine doing when I was twelve!
7. Last point: The prologue and epilogue of the book are both written from the dog’s point of view. I wrote these long after I’d written the rest of the book—and I love them! My dog is snarky and sarcastic, but he has a big heart. It makes me very happy to know that Peter has him as a friend.
About Frances Sackett
My debut novel, The Misadventures of the Magician’s Dog, is the story of Peter Lubinsky, the son of a deployed air force pilot who adopts a dog that used to belong to a magician. Needless to say, adventures ensue! I’m a strong believer in the idea that novels for kids can be fun and exciting but still deal with complicated emotions. In The Misadventures of the Magician’s Dog, I wanted to write a page-turning fantasy that also explores Peter’s complex feelings about his father’s absence.
My favorite part of being a writer is when kids talk to me about my characters as though they’re real people. That’s exactly how I felt about all my favorite books when I was a child. I love the idea that kids might get to know Peter, Celia, Izzy, and The Dog the same way that I used to “know” so many wonderful children’s book characters when I was first discovering the magic of books. I’m pretty sure that these books shaped who I am now as much as my real-life experiences.
I am a writer, a writing teacher, and an editor. I’m also the mother to two lovely children who inspire me every day to want to tell the best stories I can.
2 copies of The Misadventures of the Magician’s Dog – 1 US winner and 1 non-US winner (Intl, ends 10/18)