John Claude Bemis is a Hillsborough children’s book author, presenter and writing instructor. He is the author of the “Clockwork Dark” trilogy and the “Out of Abaton” series.
Recommended read: “The Secret Horses of Briar Hill” by Megan Shepherd. I’m a passionate fan of children’s literature because of the sense of wonder, heart and adventure these stories possess. Shepherd’s novel follows Emmaline, a girl who discovers winged horses living in the mirrors of the hospital where she and fellow WWII refugees are being treated. The magic of childhood and heartbreak of war are pitch-perfect from beginning to Shepherd’s unforgettable ending.
What favorite book from childhood have you kept? “The Jack Tales” by Richard Chase. My beloved 7th grade teacher Mrs. Peacock knew I adored myth and legend, and she first steered me to these hilarious folktales of the trickster Jack outsmarting giants and witches in the Appalachian Mountains. The book has had a huge influence on my writing.
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What is your favorite book that nobody’s heard of? “The Kalevala.” It’s a Finnish epic poem. Fans of myth and white-knuckle adventure should discover this relatively unknown masterwork.
What is your favorite reading memory? My wife Amy Gorely and I still read to our 9-year old daughter every night. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything in the world. To see my daughter’s sense of anticipation for “When will the kids meet Aslan?” or to hear her gasp when Voldemort appears is all such a thrill. Nothing makes this writer and parent happier than to see her engage so deeply with great stories.
Where do you go for book recommendations? Word of mouth is always best. But lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts on books and writing. My favorites are KidLit Drink Night, Imaginary Worlds, and The Writer and the Critic.
The Secret Horses of Briar Hill
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 240 pages