Happy Friday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for TWELFTH! I’m so excited because today I have an interview with Janet Key to share with you! This book is truly amazing and I’m so excited to for you to find out more about it!Twelfth by Janet Key
Published on May 17, 2022 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Genres: Contemporary, Middle Grade, Mystery, Queer
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Twelve-year-old Maren is sure theater camp isn’t for her. Theater camp is for loud, confident, artsy people: people like her older sister, Hadley—the last person Maren wants to think about—and her cinema-obsessed, nonbinary bunkmate, Theo. But when a prank goes wrong, Maren gets drawn into the hunt for a diamond ring that, legend has it, is linked to the camp’s namesake, Charlotte “Charlie” Goodman, a promising director in Blacklist Era Hollywood. When Maren connects the clues to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, she and her new friends are off searching through lighting booths, orchestra pits and costume storages, discovering the trail and dodging camp counselors. But they’re not the only ones searching for the ring, and with the growing threat of camp closing forever, they're almost out of time.
What would you do if you spent the day with Maren? Where would you go to eat, hang out, relax, etc.?
It would have to be in the Berkshires! TWELFTH is set during the summer, but I think western Massachusetts is at its finest during the fall, particularly October, so I imagine Maren and I could have a road trip with the windows flung wide open, stopping in the little towns and villages en route to seeing some theatre. I’m partial to Stockbridge, MA, where I had a writing fellowship and where a cell phone dead zone first gave me the idea of setting a mystery there, but I also love Lenox for their stellar theatre company Shakespeare & Co; Great Barrington, for the fun shops and amazing restaurants; North Adams for MASSMoca and nearby Williamstown for their Theatre Festival.
If Maren were to hang out with other fictional characters, who would they be and why?
Huh, I’ve never thought about that before… I think there’s a little bit of Katniss in Maren because of their intense love for their sisters, but I’d rather not put either of them in Panem. Maren is a bit of a homebody, so I can also see her getting cozy with the March sisters, maybe stage managing one of Jo’s plays in the attic. But I think she’d have the most fun with (or maybe just feel awed by) Enola Holmes and her famous older brother, cracking through mysteries and learning some history along the way.
If there was one fictional place you could travel to for a day, where would it be and why?
It’s not a place so much as a method of travel (and a total cheat to this question, I admit), but I’d love to be able to open and move through the tesseracts to different worlds like in A Wrinkle in Time. It was one of the first books I remember truly loving and rereading by myself, so in a way I also feel like I’ve already spent many days there. I also recently read Deva Fagan’s The Mirrorwood and loved how creative the magic in her world is – I certainly wouldn’t mind spending a day in a library with flying books, though maybe I’d feel differently if I encountered the Withering beast that eats things and people out of existence.
If you buried a time capsule with three items inside, what three items would you choose and why?
Since TWELFTH is a treasure hunt story, it seems only fair that I fill any time capsule with personal treasures: one would certainly be my first childhood journal, which I started when I was too young to write and so would dictate to my mother each night. It never fails to bring me to tears of laughter and genuine sentimentality to read (in my mother’s handwriting) my preschool thoughts about how “mean my mom was” that day. Another personal treasure is my great grandmother’s ring. I think it’s an orange citrine gemstone, so not valuable like the diamond in the book, but it has a lovely story behind it. My grandmother put the ring on layaway and then saved her wages from her first job as a teenager to buy the ring for her mother, my great-grandmother, who never had an engagement ring. My grandmother wanted to give it to her mother for Christmas, but she hadn’t earned all the money in time; when she went to the store crying, the owner let her take it on faith she would come back and pay. So much love in one gift! The ring itself is a little big on me, so I don’t wear it too often for fear of it falling off somewhere, but I put it on for special occasions or days when I feel I need a little extra love. As for the third and final thing…would it be unforgivably vain to add a copy of my book, TWELFTH? Probably, but in all honesty, this book is full of so much of my love – as well as my blood, sweat, tears, and time to get that love on the page. I can’t help seeing it as a precious personal artifact, one I can’t wait to share with readers now and in the future.
What was your favorite bit of research you ended up not using?
I did a lot of research on queer and feminist history, particularly in Los Angeles, and I was hoping to figure out a way to fit in stars like Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn who broke the mold of what traditional feminine beauty looked like on screen. There wasn’t quite an easy way to fit actresses like them in, mostly because of the timeline, but also because they have their own complicated stories that would have taken too much time on the page. I’m still happy I have other icons like Dorothy Arzner and Helen Gahagan Douglas in the book, even if only in passing.
What is your favorite quote, scene, or moment from Twelfth?
There are several revelations near the end of a book where a character reveals themselves and then gets a surprise not even they saw coming. It’s a span of pages that took a lot of patient work as a writer trying to get them just right, but it’s such a joyous moment for the characters that any time I found myself editing those pages, even if it was just to look at something small like a comma placement, I would catch myself reading on and enjoying the characters’ well-earned enjoyment. I also get a kick that, while a few readers have said they saw one of the twists coming, no one has yet claimed to see both (or, really all three…or four??), which makes me feel like I did my job as a writer to both set up the reveal but still offer a dash of the unexpected along the way.
What do you think about Twelfth? Have you added it to your tbr yet? Let me know in the comments and have a splendiferous day!