Congratulations to Marina Cohen for her new book, THE INN BETWEEN. I read it and totally enjoyed it. Even though it is technically a middle grade book, it is a book that will appeal to teens and adults. I gave it five stars.
All you have to do to get in the running for win Marina’s new book, is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Please make sure you check back on June 8th to discover the winner. Make sure I will be able to find and email for you, too.
Eleven-year-old Quinn has had some bad experiences lately. She was caught cheating in school, and then one day, her little sister Emma disappeared while walking home from school. She never returned.
When Quinn’s best friend Kara has to move away, she goes on one last trip with Kara and her family. They stop over at the first hotel they see, a Victorian inn that instantly gives Quinn the creeps, and she begins to notice strange things happening around them. When Kara’s parents and then brother disappear without a trace, the girls are stranded in a hotel full of strange guests, hallways that twist back in on themselves, and a particularly nasty surprise lurking beneath the floorboards. Will the girls be able to solve the mystery of what happened to Kara’s family before it’s too late?
INTERVIEW WITH MARINA:
- Is this your first book? If not, how many books have you published?
THE INN BETWEEN is my 6th published novel—but my first published in the USA.
- Were your other books published by Canadian Publishers?
Yes. My first two novels, SHADOW OF THE MOON, and TRICK OF THE LIGHT, were published by a small press who, unfortunately, closed their doors to children’s publishing back in 2011. My next three novels were published by Dundurn Press, a Canadian publisher, and are only available for purchase in the US only via Amazon.
- When did you start writing books?
I started and stopped various manuscripts from about the age of 20 onward. In 2002 I was able to complete the first draft of a manuscript that would go on to become SHADOW OF THE MOON.
- How did you connect with your agent, John Cusick of Folio Literary Management/Folio Jr.
When I completed my sixth manuscript I decided I would try my luck at getting an agent. Since I held little hope, I decided to begin with my top 5 agencies. John was working for Scott Treimel at the time and my querry landed in his lap. It was the luckiest day of my life—and proof that you, too, can make it through the slush pile!
- Was the INN BETWEEN the manuscript that got John interested in representing you?
Actually, no. I querried John with a manuscript that will be published in 2017. It’s now titled, THE DOLL’S EYE.
- Did John help you shape your book?
Absolutely! I don’t know what I’d do without him. DOLLS was a tricky manuscript that required a great deal of work and John helped me through several re-writes until I finally got it right. He was also instrumental in shaping THE INN BETWEEN. There is a series of flashbacks throughout the novel that tells a portion of the story and ulitmantly connects with the main narrative. The flashbacks in the first draft were completely different and frankly, very cliché. John inspired me to take the story in a completley different and far more exciting direction—which, in turn, helped me shaped my main character’s emotional journey.
- Where did the idea for this book start?
I love music—especially songs that tell a story. One such song is The Eagles’ Hotel California. That, plus a drive I took years ago through the Mojave Desert set my wheels turning.
- How long did it take you to write the manuscript and revise until John submitted it?
It took me about 9 months to write INN, then another 4-5 months of revisions for John before he felt it was ready for submission.
- The cover of your book is beautiful. Do you know who did it?
Yes! A wonderful illustrator named Sarah Watts.
- Both of your main characters are eleven years old, which categorizes it as middle grade. Where you concerned that the concept might be over eight to twelve year old heads?
I think I just write stories as they come to me without worrying too much about the audience. It’s true, in terms of marketing, you have to keep your target audience in mind. But I just set out to write a creepy story that could, hopefully, appeal to a wide audience. There are definitely MG readers who love creepy stories and are capable of handling some pretty frightening concepts. Personally, I would have been one of those readers.
- Did you consider making the characters older? I think it still would have worked? Was there a discussion with the publisher about this?
No—there was never a discussion with my editor as to changing the novel from MG to YA. I did, however, consider it briefly after I’d written the first three chapters. But no matter what I tried, the voice kept coming out as MG.
- Who was your editor at Roaring Brook Press?
My editor at Roaring Brook Press is the awesomely fantastic Emily Feinberg.
- I read more YA than MG, but none of the middle grade books I have read varied chapters from one time line to another with different chapters. You see this all the time in YA. Are you the first to do that in MG? It is brilliant since it goes with the theme of being in-between – the past being in-between the present chapters.
I don’t think I’m the first MG writer to jump between past and present, though I can’t think of another MG novel that does this off the top of my head.
- I see that Amazon does not give a recommendation for the age level. Was that on purpose? Either way, I think that was a good move because I think this book would interest all ages.
Thank you! I’m glad you think so. I was my goal to write a good ghost(ish) story that would appeal to various ages. I did not know that Amazon doesn’t give it an age recommendation—I’m not sure why.
- You mentioned to me that you are doing school visits. What grades have you been visiting and what do you discuss?
Since my first novel was published in 2007, I’ve done approximately 100 school visits. I’ve spoken to elementary audiences of grades 4-6, middle school grades 7-8, and high schools to grades 9-10. I don’t mind large audiences—have spoken to 200+–but I always prefer to keep these three age groups separate so as to tailor the presentation to them. I have a few different presentations but the two I do the most are called, “My Path to Publication” and “The Facts in my Fiction.” The idea is to make your talk relevant to the particular audience to grab them and hold onto their attention—much as you would do in a novel!
- Have you gotten reviews?
I’m thrilled to have received a starred review in Kirkus. THE INN BETWEEN is also a Junior Library Guild Selection, and Amazon Best Book for March. There have also been several very positive reviews by great bloggers. I’m so pleased with the novel’s warm reception.
- What’s next on your writing agenda?
I just completed the first round of copyedits for THE DOLL’S EYE, and I’m working on another—what else—creepy MG!
- Do you have any tips on finding an agent or finding a home for your manuscript?
Perhaps the best advice I can give other writers seeking representation is to make your submission the absolute best it can be. Receiving feedback from other writers, attending conferences and workshops, and examining other successful novels will help you as you revise. Don’t be afraid to take your story in new and exciting directions. Craft a simple, yet powerful, query letter and then let your writing speak for itself. If I can make it through the slush pile—so can you!
Marina Cohen was born and raised in the suburbs of Toronto, Canada. She has a Master’s Degree in French literature and is an elementary school teacher.
INN BETWEEN is Marina’s sixth novel, her first published by Roaring Brook Press. It will be followed by THE DOLL’S EYE in 2017. Her novel, GHOST RIDE was voted 2011 Ontario Library Association Red Maple Honour Book. From a young age, Marina delighted in creepy tales set in dark forests, deep wells, decayed and derelict buildings—stories that presented a meaningful human experience via the magical and the macabre.