MEET THE AUTHOR
Kate Gordon grew up in a very booky house, in a small town by the sea in Tasmania. Now she’s the author of picture books, children’s novels, and novels for teenagers. We featured Kate at Alphabet Soup in 2020 with the publication of The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn. Today we’re pleased to have her back again to chat about the second book in this series about Direleafe Hall, The Ballad of Melodie Rose.
From the publisher:
When Melodie Rose is abandoned on the doorstep of Direleafe Hall, she realises she must be a ghost. Strangely, she is not sad. With the three other ghostly girls who haunt the school and a gloomy crow on her shoulder, Melodie has never felt more at peace. Finally, she has a place to call home. So when the Lady in White arrives with plans to flatten the beloved school, Melodie Rose must act fast to save all she holds dear. But what can one powerless ghost do?
On with the questions!
The Ballad of Melodie Rose is your second novel set at Direleafe Hall. Was it your original plan to write a series set in the same school? Or did you decide Direleafe Hall had more stories to tell after you wrote The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn?
It was always my intention to write it as a series. I wanted to explore Direleafe Hall almost as a character – how it was in the past, present and “future”. I wanted to show the hall ageing, growing old, falling apart and being pieced back together again. When I started Wonder Quinn, the hall was as much of a character in my mind as she was. I was travelling through the Midlands of Tasmania and looking at the old buildings there, in the middle of nowhere, and the line, Wonder Quinn sat on the roof of Direleafe Hall popped into my head. From there, the series came to me, almost fully formed. One book would be this dark-haired girl, Wonder. The next would be a girl with hair like flames (Melodie Rose). And the last would be a boy who was there in the past (The Calling of Jackdaw Hollow will be out in March 2022). I never imagined Wonder would be published. I’m so thrilled that UQP have decided to publish all three books.
The titles of both books reference singing in some form – do you like to sing?
I do but I’m terrible at it! This used to bother me, but it doesn’t now I have a kid. We sing together, loudly and joyfully and I don’t care any more what I sound like. Everyone should sing for the joy of it and not care what they sound like. People have been singing almost since people existed. It’s part of our souls. To deny yourself the right to express that because you can’t carry a tune seems really sad. Of course, I don’t inflict my voice on anyone else but my daughter.
You’ve mentioned before that The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn took five years to write. Was this second book faster to write? Do you find it easier to write when you can revisit the setting and some of the characters?
All of these books have taken years to write! I was tinkering with Melodie Rose and Jackdaw Hollow while I was writing Wonder! Of course, I had to revisit each of them and revise as I made changes to the other books. They feel a bit like living beasts, constantly transforming. None of them have been quick to write but all of them have come easily, if that makes sense? It’s never felt like a slog writing this world. I feel like it’s the story I’ve been wanting to write forever.
Can you tell us the title of a book you’ve read recently and enjoyed?
A picture book I adored was The Bad Bassinis by Clair Hume. It’s a bright, colourful, funny book that still seems to contain so much poignancy and the essence of parenthood and how having children changes us fundamentally. It makes me cry every time! A wonderful novel I’ve read recently was Paws by Kate Foster. This book is so chock full of heart and life-affirming joy, I wanted to hug it! But that would look a bit weird on the bus.
Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on next? (Will there be more Direleafe Hall books?)
Yes! The Calling of Jackdaw Hollow will be out in March 2022. I don’t think I’ll ever properly leave that world. I’ve also written a spin-off novel to Direleafe Hall, set in a circus of ghosts. I don’t know if it will be published. It was one of those “just have to write it” things. I’m also working on two more books in the universe of Aster’s Good, Right Things, another middle grade I had out last year.
The Ballad of Melodie Rose is out now! Ask for it at your favourite bookstore or local library.
Visit Kate Gordon’s website for more about her and her books