Sara Codair is joining us today to talk about their novel, Junk Junction. Here’s the publisher’s description:
Lonely non-binary 12-year-old Edi has collected antiques and ghost stories for as long as they can remember. Some old objects buzz with history, and when Edi touches them, they see fragments of the item’s story. But are the visions real? Edi desperately wants to believe in the supernatural until a mysterious ghost transforms their mom into a mannequin.
Helped by Delilah, a thirteen-year-old psychic, Edi researches local hauntings to untangle how and why their mom became a mannequin. At first Edi doesn’t like Delilah’s bossy, overconfident attitude, but as they search for answers and explore abandoned, haunted places, they become friends. When Edi finally employs their ability to see an artifact’s history, they learn the terrifying truth.
The ghost that turned Edi’s mom into a mannequin wants to resurrect herself, and she doesn’t care how many people she murders in the process. If Edi doesn’t put her spirit to rest by the end of the summer solstice, dozens of people will be forever mannequinized, including Edi’s mom and Delilah.
What’s Sara’s favorite bit?
This summer, I had the privilege of seeing a story inspired by my childhood imagination come alive in print. Junk Junction is a spooky middle grade novel in which a non-binary kid’s mom becomes a mannequin, and that kid has to team up with a haunted doll, a scruffy terrier, and a young psychic to save her.
My favorite bit about writing anything that blends a contemporary setting with the supernatural is taking the mundane and making it magical.
I love taking ordinary places and tasks and adding some kind of supernatural element to them, infusing them with magic and strangeness. I’m always thinking of ways that I can do this.
I’ll be driving and see a leaf blow across the road, and I’ll imagine it’s a little fairy trying to cross the street without getting hit by drivers who can’t see its true form. If I see a chipmunk, I envision an invisible creature riding on a chipmunk’s back.
In Junk Junction, I based the settings off of places I visited as a child antiquing with my mother and places I’ve explored on weekend trips as an adult: antique stores filled with treasures, abandoned places decaying on the side of the road, and windy trails through New England forests. Each place the characters visit is inspired by a hodgepodge of similar places and is not entirely based on one place.
I found the magic for these places in my childhood.
My mother was an antique dealer. On week-days in the summer, when other kids were at camp or stuck in their houses, my mom and I had adventures. She’d take me antiquing with her. To keep me from getting bored as we drove from antique store to antique store, she’d play imagination games with me. I don’t remember all the details or rules, but I do remember that in one, you couldn’t look in a mannequin’s eyes or you became one!
I never forgot that one little detail and eventually, I had to write a story about it.
Like many of the speculative stories I write, Junk Junction started with a series of “what if” questions.
What if ghosts haunted mannequins and dolls? What if one ghost was malicious, but the other was friendly? What if a mother got turned into a mannequin? What if her kid had to save her? What if that kid had magic powers?
Soon, my favorite antique stores were filled with specters and their rich histories. Objects held secrets and magic my characters could use to save their mothers. My favorite trails led to haunted, abandoned places filled with mystical secrets.
A mundane place became supernatural, magical.
Junk Junction contains everything I love about contemporary fantasy: local gems infused with the supernatural, young-people forming deep friendships on adventures, and monsters that are scary but not unbeatable.
So join me in Junk Junction, an antique shop where the items have stories, the dolls move on their own, and it’s best not to get too close to the mannequins.
Sara Codair writes weird sci-fi and fantasy. They partially owe their success to their feline writing partner, Goose the Meowditor, who likes to “edit” their work by deleting pages. Their newest novel, Junk Junction, comes out in August. Find Sara online @shatteredsmooth or saracodair.com.