Review by Jenna Zerbel, Orange Hat Publishing | Ten16 Press
This August, we’d like to shine a light on David Malone, whose debut middle-grade novel The Wordsmith is launching on October 17, 2023!
The Wordsmith tells the story of twelve-year-old Evie sine Wittington, who craves adventure . . . as long as it is safely contained between the covers of one of her fairy tales. But when Evie unwittingly discovers that nearby Babeltown’s Wordsmith has been kidnapped by the mythical Wordragon, she is thrust into an adventure of her own! Armed with the Wordsmith’s magic dictionary, Evie and Babeltown’s apprentice baker, Myles von Wicker, depart on an adventure across the Great Kingdom.
To hear more about David Malone and his witty, action-packed book, check out this excerpt from our interview!
Congratulations on being just months away from the launch of your book! With so many new experiences happening in your life, it must be hard to describe what you’re feeling. Want to take a crack at inventing a new word, just like the Wordsmith does in the story?
I would have to steal a word that the Wordsmith has already created: “anteadventium.” It means “the nervous excitement felt before a big trip or journey.” While it isn’t a literal trip or journey I’m about to embark on, this whole process has been a journey, nonetheless.
Where did you get the idea to write The Wordsmith?
I am fascinated by language and word origins, and there were only so many times I could go to my wife and tell her (what I perceived to be) an interesting word origin before I couldn’t ignore her eye rolls anymore. (For example, did you know “peninsula” comes from two Latin words that translate to “almost an island”?) I decided, why not try to work this interest into a story? At this time, my wife was pregnant with our first kid, so it just felt natural to try and make it a children’s book.
This book is full of laugh-out-loud jokes but also heartfelt, tender moments. How do you find a balance between the two while you’re writing?
The way I look at it is, you can be much more liberal with the addition of humor throughout a story than the heartfelt moments, especially in a children’s book. Humor tends to build on itself and enhance the funny moments—both the ones that come before and the ones that follow. Too many heartfelt moments, on the other hand, can work in the opposite way by cheapening what comes before or after. Fewer heartfelt moments create larger impacts, which is what you want. Plus, an abundance of silliness and whimsy are two of the best qualities kids have that far too often dissipate as we get older, so I like to play it up as much as I can. And like Dr. Seuss said, “Why is humor so important? Without humor we’d have nothing, I don’t think.”
About the Book
Twelve-year-old Evie sine Wittington craves adventure… as long as it is safely contained between the covers of one of her fairy tales. But when Evie unwittingly discovers that nearby Babeltown’s Wordsmith has been kidnapped by the mythical Wordragon, she is thrust into an adventure of her own. Armed with the Wordsmith’s magic dictionary, Evie and Babeltown’s apprentice baker, Myles von Wicker, depart on an adventure across the Great Kingdom to rescue the crotchety old coot. Evie quickly realizes real life is not a fairy tale. She cannot hide from danger by closing a book. She cannot rescue the Wordsmith by skipping ahead. A happy ending is not guaranteed. Evie must face and conquer any dangers that confront her (like, say, a sentient forest and a curious gatehouse guarding an upside-down mountain), lest the Wordsmith remain imprisoned forever.
Article originally Published in the September / October / November 2023 Issue: Global Reads.