Tell us about your book.
In Duke’s Den, Amelia is dreading the long boring summer in her new neighborhood when Duke, Gabriella, and their menagerie of rescued reptiles and animals move into the basement apartment. Amelia struggles to keep the animals a secret from her mother, who has a snake phobia, and also to help save the life of a very ill tortoise, Winston.
What was the catalyst for your story?
My story was inspired by my nephew, who runs a refuge for abandoned and sick reptiles from his home.
What was your favorite book as a child?
Jane of Lantern Hill by Elizabeth Montgomery
In your opinion, what makes a compelling story?
A compelling story engages me on the first page with the main character’s problems, and portrays all the characters in a realistic way. I like stories where children have adventures and solve problems without a lot of help from adults.
Does your book have a niche market it may appeal to?
My book will appeal to animal lovers. It could inspire children to become involved in organizations such as the SPCA or, perhaps, a local animal rescue refuge.
Do you gravitate toward a certain genre or type of writing?
I write for all ages, except picture books; however, I prefer writing middle grade novels. I think it is because I was in that age range when I fell in love with reading and writing.
What types of conversations do you hope will come out of your book?
I hope my book sparks conversations about the issues of keeping exotic animals for pets. It may also inspire conversations about coping with divorce and making friends in unlikely places. It could also lead to a conversation about the death of a loved pet.
Tell us a little known or interesting fact about yourself.
I live in two places—in the spring and summer, I live on a ranch in the Cariboo, and in the fall and winter, I live on an island.
Becky Citra is the author of over twenty books for children, ranging from early chapter books to novels for young adults. She was an elementary schoolteacher for over twenty-five years and began writing for children in 1995. Becky’s books have been shortlisted for and won many awards, including the Red Cedar Award, the Diamond Willow, the Silver Birch, and the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize. She lives in Bridge Lake, British Columbia. For more information, visit www.beckycitra.com.