Friday, January 3, 2014

Author Interview with Mary Casanova

The DMS was lucky enough to interview Mary Casanova. We picked The Klipfish Code as one of our top books for 2013, and we are excited to learn more about her story. So, without further ado... take it away, Mary!





What inspired you to write The Klipfish Code?

Ever since I read The Diary of Anne Frank in 3rd grade, I’ve wondered how brave I’d be living under something as frightening as a Nazi occupation. Sometime in my adult years, I was surprised to learn that Norway, too, had been invaded by Nazi Germany in WWII. With Norwegian ancestry, and a keen interest in this time in history, I decided to tackle writing about Norway during WWII--a daunting undertaking, to say the least.

How long did it take you to write The Klipfish Code?

I worked on The Klipfish Code on and off for five years.

You must do a lot of research for your historical fiction books. What was your research process like for The Klipfish Code? Was there any aspect of your research that was the most interesting?

I always go to the locations I use in my stories. For this novel, I researched resistance activities and certain geographic hotspots of underground efforts, and then planned my trip accordingly, focusing largely Alesund and the neary islands on the western coast.

Where did you come up with the main characters: Marit and Aunt Ingeborg?

Marit presented herself from the moment I started writing. She’s idealistic about standing up to the Nazis, until she starts to understand how great a price she and others might pay. She learns that in war there are no easy choices.

Aunt Ingeborg serves two roles in Marit’s life: her classroom teacher, and her aunt (and mother figure while Marit’s own parents have stayed behind to help the resistance.) By increasing Aunt Ingeborg’s presence in Marit’s life, she is a character we care much more about when the Nazis round up 1 in 10 teachers, of which Aunt Ingeborg is one.

What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?

I was an active, outdoorsy kid and struggled to finished many books I checked out from the library. I was smitten, however, by E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web as well as Nancy Drew books, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and A Wrinkle in Time.


As an adult, I read Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and loved its northern setting, so  similar to where I now live. That’s when I shifted my dream of writing novels for adults to writing for younger readers. My first book, Moose Tracks, is about a boy in northern Minnesota struggling to save an orphaned moose calf from poachers.

If you could live during any time period in history, when would it be? Why?

I don’t believe there were any good old days. Just about any time in history has its intrigues and harsh realities. That’s why I love writing historical fiction. I get to “time travel” to a distant time and place, explore and try on its gritty challenges, and then return to my own bed each night.

If you could befriend a character from any of your books, who would you befriend? Why?

Marit certainly is a character I feel great empathy for, though I believe I feel similarly about all my characters. But there is something so utterly terrifying about living under Nazi power. As my friend, Johanna Moe said (who grew up in Norway in WWII and was exactly Marit’s age when the bombs first began to fall)... Johanna said, “for five years, I lived in constant fear.”
I would put my arms around Marit and tell her she will survive--even this.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?

I live in northern Minnesota, which is frightfully cold this morning at 26 below zero, and yet it’s home.


When it warms to zero, we’ll hitch up one of our horses to our cutter sleigh and ride through the wintry woods, (think One-Dog Sleigh and Wolf Shadows) and then return to read for the evening by the woodstove.



And summers, there’s nothing like the mournful cry of a loon, the slap of a beaver’s tail, the playful antics of otters to keep me here . . . (think Utterly Otterly Day, or my YA novel set here in 1920 on Rainy Lake, aptly called FROZEN.)

Are you currently working on a book? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

I’m working on a three-book project for American Girl, but that’s all I can say about it.

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22 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness I had no idea of this invasion of Norway either. Sounds like a great read, I'm away to add it to my wish list.

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    1. Tracy- I didn't have any idea about the invasion of Norway either. This was a fantastic book! Hope you get to read it soon. :)
      ~L

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  2. Another awesome and interesting interview!

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  3. The Klipfish Code sounds really interesting, and Marit sounds like an awesome main character!! I'll have to add this one to my TBR. I loved Mr. Popper's Penguins and Charlotte's Web when I read them in 2nd grade -- I still do ;) Fantastic interview and great answers!! <3

    ~Katertot @ A Belle's Tales

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    1. Katertot- Marit is a great character and my heart went out to her. What a tough life she had! So glad you enjoyed the interview. :) ~L

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  4. Amen to that time traveling comment! I write historical fiction as well, and I agree: there is no ideal time to have lived.

    I love the setting and time frame for this book. Super intriguing. See, I need to be that organized with my research--so I can actually go on a trip and absorb everything while prepping to write a book.

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    1. Crystal- I imagine writing HF is great because it gives you a chance to travel "safely" back in time. :)

      The Klipfish Code is an excellent book. A unique setting and interesting time frame. I hope you get to go on a cool research trip soon. :)
      ~L

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  5. What an ambitious task to write not only an historical, but one about Nazis and the WWII. I'm so impressed. The interview was awesome! Minnesota sounds too cold for me, but I'd love a sleigh ride! Wishing Mary much success! :-)

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    1. Lexa- HF must be fascinating and time consuming to do research for, np matter the era. WWII is an interesting time period to read about! So happy that you enjoyed the interview. Minnesota is cold in the winter, but the summers are beautiful. Thanks for visiting!
      ~L

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  6. Sounds like an intense book. I can't even begin to imagine the research involved in this one. Best of luck to Mary.

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    1. Kelly- It is an intense book! I have to imagine that a lot of research went into writing it. :) ~L

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  7. I love the setting and inspiration behind the Klipfish Code. We currently live in Nebraska and can sympathize with your current weather. Wonderful interview and I added this to my wishlist.

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    1. Kimba- I think you will love this book! It is fascinating. :) Hope you get some water soon out there in Nebraska.
      ~L

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  8. What a wonderful interview! I love that you got to travel and see where you placed this novel. Hope you're keeping warm! :)

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    1. Thanks, Meradeth! Isn't it cool that Mary gets to travel and work on novels. :) ~L

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  9. I knew of Norway being invaded (I read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, and it said that Sweden was the only country free in that area.). The 1 in 10 teachers thing was new to me though. I love history. :_

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    1. Erik- Good job remembering what you learned in Number the Stars. I was shocked to learn about the teachers being taken by the Nazis. History is awesome! :) ~L

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  10. This comment should be on your most recent post but I can't get it to 'stick'.
    I loved Gone girl by Gillian Flynn. It's one of those books that stays with you long after you’ve read it.

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    1. Barbara- Sorry you couldn't post your comment on the correct post, but thanks for posting it here! Gone Girl was a fascinating read. I read it in one day! I had my mom read it so I could talk about it with her. :) ~Stephanie

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  11. The plot and characters sound captivating. We haven't read much about Norway in WWII so this would be something fresh for the young readers. I can't imagine the depth of research it must have taken Mary to get through!

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    1. Claudine- It is definitely a captivating book! It was a fresh setting and story line for me. Thanks for stopping by! :) ~L

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