INTERVIEW BY KELLY McCLYMERhttp://kellymcclymer.com/wordpress/2011/07/walking-through-walls-mg-novel-from-karen-cioffi/
1. What is the Chinese myth you based the book on?
I received a rough outline of the ancient Chinese tale Taoist Master of the Lao Mountain from a Chinese nonfiction author I met in an online critique group. It took two years of rewriting to create a children’s middle grade fantasy out of a tale involving adults.
But, writers can get books on tales or folktales from the library or online. It’s a great way to find a story you can rewrite for today’s children’s market. And, there are tales from almost every country and even every state within the United States.
Folktales can be a useful tool for us children’s writers.
2. What about that myth made you want to explore it for a middle grade audience.
I loved the morals and values the story dealt with: laziness, selfishness, greed, and deception. The story was too complex for a children’s picture book so I started writing it as a chapter book and then it evolved into a middle grade/young adult story.
3. What did you find most interesting about writing for middle graders? The most challenging thing?
I like the middle ground in writing for MG. You have the luxury of writing beyond the ‘under 1000 words’ limit of picture books. This is kind of freeing and allows you to explore different paths and to add extra layers to the story.
I don’t think I found anything exceptionally challenging in writing for MG. With all children’s writing, except pure YA, you have to watch word and storyline appropriateness.
4. Do you have any middle graders in your life/home who gave you feedback on this story as you wrote it?
I do have a 10 year old great nephew who I occasionally watch with my two and five year old grandsons, but I didn’t’ get any feedback from him on the book. I read a lot of traditionally published MG books and found a voice through that strategy.
One that particularly stood out for me is The Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. I love the flavor of that book and the author’s writing style.
Once I have the actual book in hand (by the middle of this month) I’ll give it to my great nephew to read. I’m looking forward to his opinion.
5. Thinking ahead to the fan mail (my favorite part of tween fandom is the handwritten letter, in brightly colored pen, with the occasional flower design drawn onto the paper): what would you most like to hear a middle grade reader say about your book.
I’d love to hear that Walking Through Walls brought him on an amazing journey and he felt like he was in the story as he read it. I’d also love to hear that it was easy to read.
I’m hoping that this story will encourage reluctant readers to jump in. Since it’s a short read, only 61 pages, and the words are geared for 5th grade, or there abouts, it should help eliminate some of the frustration reluctant readers may feel with books that are longer or that use difficult words.
Another aspect of the book geared toward the reluctant reader is the illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. This will help the child envision the protagonist’s world.
You can check out the wonderful reviews Walking Through Walls has already received:
INTERVIEW BY DEB HOCKENBERRYhttp://thebumpyroadtopublishing.blogspot.com/2011/07/walking-through-walls.html
1. Tell us about Walking Through Walls.
One of my favorite children’s books is The Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. I love the flavor of the book and the time period. I think my book has a similar flavor, at least I hope it does.
Walking Through Walls is based on an ancient Chinese tale and set in 16th century China. Twelve year old Wang dreams of becoming rich and powerful. He studies the legend of the Eternals, a group of mystics who are well known for their magical feats and power. When he is sure they are real, he journeys to their home in the Loa Mountain and begins an apprenticeship with the Master Eternal.
Unfortunately, Wang does not have the patience or moral fiber for the long and arduous undertaking. Before he leaves his apprenticeship, he gets the Master to teach him one magic formula – walking through walls.
2. In your author's notes you mention that you got the idea for your book from a Chinese
folktale. What was in the folktale that inspired you to write Walking Through Walls?
Absolutely. I received a rough outline of Chinese tale from a Chinese author acquaintance, Stone Fan. I loved the story.
The story involved a man who learned how to walk through walls with unscrupulous intentions. Ancient tales weren’t geared for today children’s market – they most often had adult protagonists and themes. And, they overtly demonstrated the morale of the story.
I knew it would make a wonderful children story. It took around three years from receiving the outline, to write the story, find a publisher, and have it available for sale.
3. When Wang fell asleep, he saw a magnificent dragon. Did he really see it or was he
LOL, you’re really analyzing the story. It’s a very interesting question. The answer is kind of yes to both. While it was a dream, it was somewhat in the realm of reality, induced by the Master Eternal. This isn’t something revealed in the story.
4. Does Wang ever find the Eternals?
Yes he does. Although his own efforts to find the Eternals didn’t pan out, his little sister was able to tell him exactly where to find them.
5. Is Wang's life as an apprentice much different from his fathers' life?
Another great question, and the answer is NO. When initiating his plan to find the Master Eternal and become an apprentice, Wang had no idea as to the hard labor that would be involved. The same kind of hard labor he was running from at home. Although the Master Eternal warned him the apprenticeship would be difficult, Wang didn’t comprehend.
6. Walking Through Walls is full of magic! Will Wang ever learn this magic?
It takes a while for Wang to finally learn just one magic formula, and at the time he’s happy with that. He views it as his path to riches.
7. In the story we see a black cat, a black raven and a silver snake with a purple tail. Do these three things mean anything?
The writing process is so amazing. The cat, raven, and snake were added after the story was finished, so I thought. I needed something to tie the dragon into the end and show how all of Wang’s endeavors were being monitored. And especially, I needed Wang to be able to put it all together and realize his destiny. Adding those three elements helped with it all.
8. Where can we purchase Walking Through Walls?
Walking Through Walls should now be available through online sources, such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as in book stores.
Order Walking Through Walls today at:
To find out more about Karen and her books visit: