Book Nerd Interview
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I was five years old and in kindergarten, and it was called Billy Bear’s First Day of School. I’ve wanted to write books ever since!
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
How to daydream! I spent countless hours telling myself stories instead of paying attention.
Can you tell my Book Nerd Kids Community a little about your new book, Wonder Light: Unicorns of the Mist?
Twelve-year-old Twig is falsely accused of a crime and sent to live at a pony ranch for troubled girls—on a misty island rumored to be haunted by ghost horses.
Lonehorn Island has been abandoned for ages, but now the Murleys, who’ve been foster parents forever, have carved a home out of the mist-shrouded trees and filled it with unwanted girls.
As soon as she sets foot on the island, ghostly glimpses of a boy on horseback have Twig considering swallowing her pride and begging her way off Lonehorn Island, whether her stepmother wants her back or not. But on her first night at the ranch, a mysterious mare with cloven hooves appears in the stable. And then, something even more incredible happens. Twig witnesses the birth of a baby unicorn.
The mysterious boy insists that the baby unicorn is now in Twig’s care. Twig is drawn so deep into the island and its secrets, there’s no turning back. She must protect the unicorn filly, the Murleys, and the cast-off girls of Island Ranch from the wild creatures bent on reclaiming the island. She must save the family and the future she never thought she’d have.
For those who are unfamiliar with Twig, how would you introduce her?
Twig is skinny and small for twelve. At the beginning of Wonder Light, she’s convinced her life is hopelessly messed up and she just wants to disappear inside her shell. She has yet to discover her talent, her courage, and her capacity to love and be loved.
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
You are significant, you are loved, and you have a purpose. Or, as Ben said to Twig in Wonder Light, “There is more to you than you think.”
What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
In high school I was a PBX operator for a fancy hotel by day, and a babysitter for their guests by night. VERY memorable!
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a kid?
I wouldn’t change being a (mostly) eighties army kid. Sometimes it was scary, but we had so much freedom to ride our bikes or walk around base.
What is your greatest adventure?
My husband and kids make life a great adventure. They’re full of energy and ideas, and I’m running along behind, trying to keep up!
When was the last time you told someone you loved them?
About ten minutes ago! I’m surrounded by kids. Gotta love ’em, gotta tell ’em.
Where can readers stalk you?
Twig is used to feeling unwanted. Sent to live on a pony ranch for "troubled" girls on a misty, haunted island, Twig is about to discover the impossible -- someone who needs her.
Jolted awake from a bad dream, Twig follows the desperate whinny of a terrified horse out to the stables. There in the straw is a bleating little scrap of moonbeam. A silver-white filly with cloven hooves and a tiny, spiraling horn.
A baby unicorn.
Now Twig knows what secret is hiding in the island's mist: the last free unicorn herd. And a mysterious boy named Ben who insists that this impossible creature is now Twig's to care for. That she needs Twig's love and protection. Because there's something out there in the deep, dense shadows that's hunting for them...
"R. R. Russell's Wonder Light dares to explore a world where unicorns are creatures of wonder and power, and girls can find both strength and courage to be themselves." -Robin Hobb, International bestselling author
What I enjoyed about the story is how Russell is able to take the unicorn legend into a whole new level. They are no longer your typical myth that is associated with princesses and all things “girly” but more along the lines as resilient and sovereign creatures that can defend and also cause damage. I thought this aspect of the book was a nice twist and gave readers, particularly young girls, that not all vulnerable things are weak and susceptible.
Speaking of vulnerable, Twig has built walls around her to shield herself from her troubled life caused by a broken family. She never felt like she fit in and always felt like an outcast wherever she was. It caused her to withdraw herself from others. But just as any twelve-year-old girl would do, she finds comfort and bonds uniquely with beautiful white mare. She realizes that there is something special about this horse that takes the meeting of Ben to actually learn the truth. Young readers will find so many relatable attributes towards Twig. It’s this sense of familiarity that makes the book an enjoyable read.
Russell’s writing style is able transport readers into this remarkable world of unicorns. Twig’s experiences on Island Ranch will transfer into beautiful visual representation through her descriptive texts. I find myself being slowly immersed into the story’s inevitable discovery of the unicorns and the battle that aims to destroy them. Russell is an incredible storyteller for readers who are seeking more than the average fairy tale. Wonder Light possesses many suspenseful and exciting moments that it makes the perfect companionship for bedtime story time.