Saturday, October 02, 2010

Lost in Lexicon - Author Interview


Middle grade fantasy, ages 9-13.
Book trailer:
Author blog:
Books available on Amazon,, in stores or through the book website.

To my blog readers: I was fortunate to have read an early draft of Lexicon and found it a delightful and imaginative childrens book. What's particularly special with Lexicon is that Penny didn't just leave it at writing a great book. She's gone well over the extra mile.


Tell us about yourself, that is anything you're willing to admit to.

I'm an internal medicine doctor by training, I like math much better now than I did in school, and I have very curly hair.

What moved you to give up your medical practice to become a full-time writer/mom?

I have five children, and when the youngest was born, I stopped out to give each child a fair share of attention. I was also busy working with a family foundation on math and science education reform. When the older kids started leaving for college, I decided it was time to return to an old love, writing.

What was your inspiration for Lexicon?

As a child, I loved books that took their characters to a magical land. I also wanted to write something my son Damian would enjoy. Since he loves word games and logic puzzles, I thought a new world that brought word and number concepts to life in a funny way would be something we could enjoy together. As I thought about the project, I decided to set myself the challenge of giving math equal weight with language in this novel. I started the story off in a lighthearted way, but soon it carried me into more serious territory.

Are your characters based on any kids you happen to know? Tell us about Daphne, Ivan, Adelaide, and, especially, Emily (she's the one in the middle on the cover).

Daphne and Ivan both have some of me and some of my children in them. Daphne is impetuous and affectionate like my own daughters when they were young. She loves language, but unlike my daughters she doesn't feel comfortable or competent around math. Ivan is steady and responsible, comfortable with numbers but less so with words and especially writing.

Aunt Adelaide is a lot like my mother, strait-laced and upright, with high standards, a belief in imagination, and a deep mistrust of technology. Emily the talking thesaurus is inspired by the beautiful, gentle alpacas that used to live in the farm across the street.

Give us your pitch for Lexicon. Why should parents be pounding on your door demanding copies?

Deprived of their usual electronic amusements, thirteen-year-old cousins Daphne and Ivan travel to a land where words and numbers jumble and misbehave. The cousins have to use all their wit and imagination to straighten out villages, find clues, and track down the missing children of Lexicon. The book mixes math, language, and adventure in a way that makes it enjoyable for kids and parents alike. It's a great book for bright and curious children 9-12, and families can enjoy reading it together. Besides, where else can you meet characters like the Mistress of Metaphor, the chauvinistic Noun Man, grammatical bees, and the Mathemysticals of Irrationality?

How about the games and activities that go with the book? How were you inspired to go the extra mile with the extra material? (Note: Go to Penny's website to find the page on games)

I wanted to give kids the chance to play with some of the ideas in the book and take them further. I wanted to keep playing with the ideas myself! Family word games, anagrams, messages to decode, and a book club discussion guide can all be found on the book website. Parents and teachers can also write for a downloadable guide to putting on a full scale Lexicon event, with activities matching each of the villages in Lexicon.

What else do you have in the planning stages?

I have three more Lexicon books in various stages of imagining and writing, as well as an adventure story for older kids and ideas about a mystery for younger ones.

What are your hopes for this book?

What I'd really like to accomplish with Lost in Lexicon is to inspire kids to go outside, make things up, read, draw, put on plays, invent contraptions, be open to new friends, and imagine themselves some wonderful adventures.

Thank you, Penny. I do hope folks will take the opportunity to check out your Lost in Lexicon website.

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