Hello friends and welcome to Color the Shelves!
Today I’m here to bring you an interview with Chantel Acevedo, the author of MUSE SQUAD: THE CASSANDRA CURSE, a very cute middle grade story about friendship, doing the right thing and what it means to be a hero. Centering a Cuban American twelve year old and laced with Greek mythology. This interview was so fun and I’m sure that if you didn’t already have this book your TBR you’ll now put it on it, and if you do, well, you’re gonna want to read it ASAP.
Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse is a mish-mash of a few different greek mythological creatures and stories, how did you come to mix all of them together?
At first, the novel featured only the muses and sirens, but my editor at Balzer + Bray, Kristin Rens, who is wise beyond measure, thought that it might be fun to expand the world. If muses exist, then why wouldn’t other mythological figures exist too? In this world, the Greek Gods are in retirement, though they still require some paperwork here and there;)
What was your favorite thing about writing each one of the muses?
My favorite thing about writing Callie, Muse of the Epic Poetry, is that she’s a Cuban-American, Miami girl, growing up much in the same way I did, with a single mom, in a multilingual city where so many people are immigrants, or the children of immigrants. Callie is unsure of herself in different ways, but being part of the Muse Squad helps her to find confidence. Thalia, the Muse of Comedy, was a treat to write because she’s the cut-up of the group, and I could always give her a good joke to soften scary moments. Nia is the Muse of Science, and what I loved about Nia was her passion for scientific ideals, and the fact that she struggles a little with her magic. It doesn’t always come easy for her, but she finds a brilliant work-around using her scientific brain. And sweet Mela is the Muse of Tragedy. I loved writing her because she was a wonderful conduit of empathy. Plus, she has a few surprising traits that I think readers will get a kick out of.
If all the muses, old and young, were all to have an ideal day together, far from saving the world, what would it be?
I love this question! I can imagine them strolling out of Muse Headquarters, which happens to be the V&A Museum in book one, and spreading out for a picnic in nearby Kensington Gardens. The nine muses represent countries from all over the world, so they’d each bring some delicious food (Callie would bring her mom’s arroz con pollo, of course), and they’d people-watch, sending little pops of magic to folks who strolled by, inspiring them to do positive and wonderful things in their lives.
What are some of your favorite myths and will you ever include some of them in your future works?
I DO have a favorite myth that is the central engine of MUSE SQUAD 2, but I should probably not say what that is yet;) The series is a duology, but if there were a chance to write a third book, I’d love to write about Pandora’s box.
And last but not least, what is something you’d like your readers to take away from your story or something you’d like to tell them?
Part of the idea behind MUSE SQUAD is the notion that even heroes have help. The muses themselves aren’t the heroes of the story. They’re the helpers. But that helping? THAT is heroic in itself. Mr. Roger’s famously advised children who were experiencing pain or trauma to “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” I think it’s important for kids to know this, and to know that when they stand up for a friend, or cheer them on, that they are being heroes, too.
About the author
Called “a master storyteller” by Kirkus Reviews, Chantel Acevedo is the author of Love and Ghost Letters (St. Martin’s Press), winner of the Latino International Book Award; A Falling Star (Carolina Wren Press), winner of the Doris Bakwin Award, The Distant Marvels (Europa Editions), which was a finalist for the 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and most recently, The Living Infinite (Europa Editions), hailed by Booklist as a “vivid and enthralling tale of love and redemption.” Her essays have appeared in Vogue and Real Simple, among others. MUSE SQUAD: THE CASSANDRA CURSE, is Acevedo’s new middle grade series forthcoming from Balzer + Bray. She is Professor of English at the University of Miami, where she directs the MFA program.
About the book
Publication date : July 7th, 2020
Publisher : Balzer + Bray| Harpercollins
Genre : Middle Grade |Fantasy
Page Count: 358
Synopsis : Callie Martinez-Silva didn’t mean to turn her best friend into a pop star. But when a simple pep talk leads to miraculous results, Callie learns she’s the newest muse of epic poetry, one of the nine Muses of Greek mythology tasked with protecting humanity’s fate in secret.
Whisked away to Muse Headquarters, she joins three recruits her age, who call themselves the Muse Squad. Together, the junior muses are tasked with using their magic to inspire and empower—not an easy feat when you’re eleven and still figuring out the goddess within.
When their first assignment turns out to be Callie’s exceptionally nerdy classmate, Maya Rivero, the squad comes to Miami to stay with Callie and her Cuban family. There, they discover that Maya doesn’t just need inspiration, she needs saving from vicious Sirens out to unleash a curse that will corrupt her destiny.
As chaos erupts, will the Muse Squad be able to master their newfound powers in time to thwart the Cassandra Curse . . . or will it undo them all?
That’s it until next time.
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.