I’m a sucker for a great art museum, especially if it has an audio tour that gets into the history surrounding the paintings. There is so much drama there, so much happening, but when I offer an art museum outing to my kids they look at me as if I suggested they eat glass. Which is one of the many reasons I love The Frame Up, Wendy McLeod MacKnight’s latest middle grade novel. Paintings come dazzlingly to life here in a fresh and oh so creative way that will make kids think about art in a whole new light. Add in modern friendship, family tension and creepy bad guys and I venture to guess you won’t be able to put this one down until you turn the very last page. I certainly couldn’t.
And lucky us, Wendy is here to answer some questions….
Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
Definitely from my mother. She was a voracious reader and we went to the library weekly and returned home with a stack of books!
My aunt wrote romance fiction, which I know influenced me, but I just always wanted to write from the day I learned how and I always wanted to write middle grade fiction.
I’m obsessed with The Frick Museum in New York City. I desperately want those paintings to come to life and tell me things! Is this idea of living art something you entertained as a child or is it recent?
I love the Frick, too! And the Frick is very similar to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, in terms of size and that it is a gift from a very wealthy person to a city they love. I’ve always loved art and wished I knew not only what happened on the day the painting was created, but what’s going on now, so I came with this idea of two worlds existing side by side, but never able to interact. Until one day…
I loved how you mashed together history and timelines by having paintings from different eras interact. How much research did you do to get the particular voices just right?
I read a lot of books from the eras to get the voices right and then just went for it! And I loved the idea of a kid from the eighteenth century hanging out with kids from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries! It was so much fun to do!
The Frame Up has a few great twists. Did you know exactly what was going to happen before you started writing?
I always knew the ending. But the twists required a lot of pretzel-like writing and fine-tuning of details, which is difficult for a person like me, who is NOT detail oriented!
Who are your favorite authors?
So many! The classics: L’Engle, L.M. Montgomery, Charles Dickens. Now I am obsessed with Neil Gaiman, Kim Brubaker Bradley, Jason Reynolds, Linday Eagar, Erin Entrada Kelly, Sally Pla, Claire Legrande, Karen Foxlee, Laurel Snyder, those talented Beasley sisters, Kate Milford, and there is no Tana French novel that I don’t want to drop everything to read! And that’s just scratching the surface!
What is your favorite thing to do when not writing?
I love to cook, garden, and travel!
What are you working on right now?
I’ve just passed in my next novel, about a girl who’s moved around her whole life, and has coped by copying kids in her new school. Until she starts the latest school, and actually becomes the people she’s copying. . .
How do you prefer readers get in touch with you?
I love talking to readers!