Welcome to #TheQuickSixInterview with Ashleigh Barton!
What a delight it is to welcome best-selling author Ashleigh Barton to the blog with her spooktacular middle grade novel; the second in its series – Solomon Macaroni and the Vampire Vacation. What a spine-tingling thrill, set in fang-tabulous Paris, with Solomon’s numbskull family unleashing mayhem all over the streets. Can’t wait to get my teeth stuck into this one! Thanks, Ashleigh! 🙂
About the Author
Ashleigh Barton is a bestselling children’s author from Sydney, Australia. After completing a law degree, Ashleigh decided she preferred books and spent the next six years working in publishing where she ran marketing and publicity campaigns for internationally renowned authors and illustrators. Now she writes books of her own, in between looking after her three small children and freelance copywriting. Her picture book What Do You Call Your Grandma? has been shortlisted in the 2022 CBCA Book of the Year Awards.
Visit Ashleigh Barton at her website: Ashleigh Barton | Children’s Author | Australia
Solomon Macaroni and the Vampire Vacation can be purchased via UQP online and in all good bookstores.
WHO wrote, illustrated and published this book?
WHAT is it about?
This is the second adventure of Solomon Macaroni, the very polite and friendly nephew of the famous Count Dracula. In this instalment, Solomon and his cousins head to Paris on a family holiday but, like any good family holiday, things don’t go according to plan. When the kids decide to steal the Mona Lisa to cheer up a miserable Uncle Dracula, they accidentally unleash magic back on Paris and chaos ensues.
What is your favourite part of this book?
Choosing a favourite part is super difficult! I had so much fun writing all of it. I love the pranks in the beginning, exploring Paris (both a real-ish version and a magical version) and giving the characters new challenges. Poor Uncle Dracula goes through a lot in this book, and I really enjoyed making Solomon question his morals.
WHEN did you begin writing this book?
I started writing this book in about January 2022.
When is its release / launch date?
3 October 2023.
WHERE did the inspiration for this book come from?
The inspiration for this book started with the first book. I wanted to connect the two stories without it being essential to read the first one to understand the second. I chose one minor element from the first – the reason the Mona Lisa is significant to the family – and made it the focus of this second adventure. I also wanted to set the story in another real-world location that I could twist like I did with the Hoia Baciu Forest and so a trip to Paris became the basis of the plot.
When writing the story, I drew a lot of inspiration from my own life, the things I know about Paris from both having been there myself and from all the research I did to write the story. I also drew on other things in my life – for example, my brother is a big prankster so I always think of him when I’m writing the pranks, and, as in book one, I’ve included a few homages to pop culture, Home Alone being the most obvious one.
WHY is this book meaningful to you?
This book is important to me because Solomon is a character I invented as a child. I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, and if my eight-year-old self knew that the character she scribbled in her notebook would be in a real book one day she would be ecstatic.
When I wrote the first book, and this one too, I wanted to create something that would mostly be fun and funny – some good old-fashioned escapism, with a bit of heart and soul added in as well.
Why would its message resonate with readers?
I think a lot of us can relate to at least one of the themes in this story – wanting to belong, the importance of family, dealing with grief and when the lines between right and wrong begin to seem a bit blurry.
HOW do you feel about the illustrations / cover design? How do they convey the feeling or mood you envisioned?
I love the cover and illustrations and think they do a great job at conveying the fun and fantastical elements of the story. I love how Sarah has incorporated so many details from the book like the box of chocolates Solomon is holding as well as the book Lucy is reading. These things hold significance in the plot that only someone who has read the book will understand.
How have you promoted this book and how can we find it?
The amazing team at UQP have done lots of different things to promote the book (like this interview here!). I mainly promote through my social media and website, as well as presenting to readers in schools and libraries, which I absolutely love to do.
You can find the book online or at your local bookstore.
OTHER information or experiences you’d like to share?
One of the fun things about writing is sneaking in things that are meaningful to me, even if no one else is going to know about them. For example, there’s a scene where Lucy and Solomon are given a code (I won’t say more for spoilers) and I used part of my birthday to make up those numbers. I also love to research, so it was a lot of fun incorporating things I’d researched into the story, like different mythical creatures from French folklore and Parisian history.
What a fun, spooktacular series! Thank you, Ashleigh! 🙂
BONUS! Check out UQP’s Facebook Page for a chance to WIN Ashleigh’s book in an awesome prize pack!
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