Do you have a moment? I’d love to hear your thoughts on Caroline by line. Please fill out this brief survey and enter to win a signed copy of MAY B. Thank you, friends!
THE RAVENS OF SOLEMANO — Eden Unger Bowditch
age range: middle grade
genre: steampunk / historical fantasy
setting: Italy, 1903
Science news, inventions, and free books! Join the Young Inventors’ Guild!
Please tell us about your book.
The Ravens of Solemano is the second book in the Young Inventors Guild trilogy. The books take place at the turn of the last century, beginning in 1903. There are five kids from the ages of 6 to 13 who find themselves on a strange adventure. The children are each both scientist and inventor. Using their formidable wits, they attempt to discover why they have been taken from their parents (and why their parents were taken from them) and what is the terrible truth behind their nemesis and the strange mysterious men in black who are either protecting them or keeping them prisoner.
In this book, the children find themselves in an ancient village in the mountains of Abruzzo in Italy. This village, too, is shrouded in mystery and the children set about uncovering the truth wherever they can.
What inspired you to write this story?
My eldest son loved the Harry Potter series but said, after reading them all, that it’s a disappointment because magic isn’t real. This was so incredibly sad to me because I believe magic is real. A tree grows out of a tiny seed. We create things that make us breathe underwater, fly into space, bounce, turn green, cure, kill…there is magic in science everywhere! Invention is a kind of conjuring. And suddenly, there were five brilliant children in front of me, waiting to tell me what would become of the Young Inventors Guild.
Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching?
I LOVE research. Historic research is like being a detective and solving mysteries. I always try to include historically accurate information to paint a clear picture of the time. Once I have a piece of the puzzle, I want to know all I can about it and fill in the missing pieces.
Since I live in Cairo Egypt, I get to investigate many ancient places that will be more present in the last book but certainly helped feed the story. I spent time in Abbruzzo and discovered so much mysterious and ancient places The Ravens of Solemano just began to unfold.
What are some special challenges associated with writing historical fiction?
A big challenge is that I live in Egypt. While many things are available on the web, there are really no libraries outside of schools. It was a challenge just putting all the research together. In addition, Book One, The Atomic Weight of Secrets, was released during the revolution in Egypt and our internet and mobile service was cut off totally. It was a big problem for Bancroft Press (my publishers). We could not communicate at all for weeks. They didn’t know what was happening until we finally evacuated to Berlin.
One thing I love is finding an old mystery and solving it myself, in my own way. Create a story around that is a challenge since I really REALLY want to be accurate with facts but create a narrative that includes invention.
At the heart of the Young Inventors Guild is a true story from long ago. I read a story that, to me, was really a mystery. While history books said one thing, I began to see a different story, things that weren’t said, questions that were not asked. It is from these pieces that I put together the heart of the tale. From that heart, the body grew.
An interesting thing I discovered- the books are considered to be part of the ‘steampunk’ world. I didn’t even know what that meant but it refers to a style and concept of Victorian aesthetic and invention. It’s really cool and I have since come to embrace the idea. I was on a ‘steampunk panel’ at a bookfair last year with (Matt Kirby (author of The Clockwork Three) Kelly Link (Pretty Monsters) and her husband, Gavin Grant. Kelly and Gavin published Steampunk! An Anthology. It was great fun!
What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?
I have been very fortunate that some teachers have created cross curriculum projects related to the books. There is a core curriculum program being designed by a teacher in the US.
SCIENCE– since the children in the story are scientists themselves, there are many science projects that can come from the book. In addition to investigations in physics and chemistry, the inventions in the book are all made with items from an era long ago so many similar creations can be made easily in the classroom.
HISTORY– While this is fiction, there are certainly characters throughout the book who really did exist. In addition, there are events throughout the books that were actually happening at the time the books take place.
SOCIAL STUDIES– The children are from all over the world. Each introduces different things from his or her culture. There are very important people in history that seem to get less of the limelight than others. I’ve brought some of these people into the story.
WRITING– I have done many classroom visits, with kids from K-12, where we do creative writing projects. It is great fun! I have a presentation called “Why Is Humpty Dumpty Like A Ceiling Fan?”