1. How important is history to the rats of the Catacombs? How does their memory of the past shape their present actions and their plans for the future?
History is extremely important to them. Their tumultuous past is what drives them to change their future. They once had a peaceful existence, but were taken over by a horrible dictator--High Minister Killdeer. And after eleven years of oppression, the rats finally fight back.
2. Did you have any particular eras of American or world history in mind as you wrote NIGHTSHADE CITY? Did you model any of your characters on historical figures?
There is a very French revolutionary feel to them. Omar Rayyan, the illustrator picked up on that right away--they are ragtag in appearance, but charming all the same. I didn't model them after any historical figures in particular, but I'd say some of the main characters, specifically the bad ones, are an amalgamation of some particularly wicked rulers in world history. My editor says my rats are very Dickensian--they are quite well spoken, I must say!
3. When you were creating your rat society, how far back and in how much detail did you construct their history?
Their history goes back several generations, revealing how the Catacombs came to be and why they are so very dear to the rats that dwell within. KINGS OF TRILLIUM, Book II of the Nightshade Chronicles, goes even further back into their history, revealing why they are so unique compared to other rats--even other creatures.
4. What ideas would you like your young readers to take away from the book regarding the relationship of past to present?
I want readers to realize change is possible. No matter what odds are against you or how unattainable something seems to be--change can happen, but you have to make the change yourself. You have to step up and say, "No more." I want readers to realize that it's never acceptable for a few to decide the fate of many. You have a choice.
5. Are there any YA works of historical fiction you'd like to recommend?
Since I like novels with a creepy charm, I have to recommend An Acquaintance with Darkness by Ann Rinaldi. Post Civil War grave robbing--what could be finer? ;)
6. What are you working on next?
I have a new animal series in the works, which I cannot talk about, per my publisher--top secret stuff and it couldn't be more different than NIGHTSHADE CITY! I'm also thinking about Book III of the Nightshade Chronicles, which will reveal the rats' full history, with some shocking twists about where they came from and what they really are.
Thanks so much for having me, Julianne. The history in my book is so important to the story and I never fully realized how my rats have such a deep, intricate history and at times quite a messy one! ;)
Be sure to visit Ms. Wagner's website for more information about the book, including a lengthy excerpt.
NIGHTSHADE CITY is available on-line, at Barnes and Noble stores nationwide and Indie Booksellers as well.