The Art of Magic: An Interview with Author Hannah Voskuil

When ZuZu and Andrew discover a set of enchanted art supplies that allow them to create magical creatures, they find themselves drawn into a supernatural struggle for control of their town. Perfect for imaginative young readers, The Art of Magic: A Novel features a unique magic system set in the real world, with powers explicitly rooted in creativity.

Today author Hanna Voskuil joins us to discuss her favorite moments writing the book, her ideas for the book’s art, and a new scribble project to share with the classroom!

What was your inspiration for this book?

You know that scene in Cinderella, when all the woodland creatures gather ribbons and buttons and bits from around the house to stitch together a ball gown? This book is a little like that, for me; it has little pieces from my life mixed in with an invented story. One of those experiences that informed this book was moving a lot. Moving can be really hard! I still remember standing in a vast new middle school cafeteria with my tray, not having a single friend, looking at all the kids at their tables and wondering where I should sit.  A little magic sure would have helped that transition!  In this book, although I included a kid who moved a lot (Andrew), I was interested in looking at moving from the point of view of a friend who was left behind (ZuZu). Either way, losing friends isn’t easy.

What’s something you found difficult in writing this book?

I worried some about writing a character with Crohn’s. It’s a disease that can affect people pretty differently. Symptoms can be severe or mild, and vary based on what part of the digestive tract is inflamed. It’s easy for me to imagine someone suffering from Crohn’s reading about Andrew’s experience and thinking, “This isn’t what it was like for me at all!”  I hope even in such a case, this imagined person and I would still agree it’s good to raise awareness of this disease, for which, as of now, there is no cure.

There’s a lot of art described in this book. Where did the ideas come from?

I used to doodle scribbles in my notebooks in school, and then try to see a picture in them. I would turn the scribbles into new drawings, and the results were often things I wouldn’t have thought of drawing in the first place. You’d be surprised what a bunch of squiggles and loops can turn into! I think it could be fun to try it with a friend, too—to trade scribbles, and try to make drawings from them.

What part of writing this book was the most fun?

Writing Lynna’s snarky lines was unexpectedly delightful.

What do you hope readers will learn or discover from reading your book?

I guess I hope readers will make an effort to talk to the new kid—or the quiet kid— in their class, or invite that kid to sit with them at lunch! It might be the start of a beautiful friendship. At the very least, it could make a classmate’s day a little easier.

Free Educator Resources

Hannah Voskuil shares her artistic process with young readers in this new Scribble Art project! Watch the video and download the instructions to spark creativity in the classroom and beyond.

Download the discussion guide and more here!

Praise for The Art of Magic

“There are deliciously chilling descriptions of scuttling, otherworldly creations and resurrections gone awry, but there is also delight to be found in enchanted artwork and blossoming friendships. A thrilling introduction to a newfangled magic.”—Booklist

“A satisfying, compelling adventure with an original magical construct and bright, appealing protagonists.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Magical, musical, and mysterious. A delightfully haunting tale.”—Jennifer Blecher, author of Stick with Me

“[A] complex and magical adventure filled with heart and imagination.”—Karen Briner, author of Snowize & Snitch

Connect with Hannah

Hannah Voskuil is the author of numerous published short stories and the middle grade novels Horus and the Curse of Everlasting Regret and The Art of Magic. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two children.

Find more amazing authors and illustrators on the Lerner blog here!

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