Claire Legrand is the author Cavendish Home fore Boys and Girls, a middle grade horror novel available now.
Kat, Archer and I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with the awesomely hilarious Claire Legrand, author of Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. We talked about her influences, fears (Chucky! Gah!) and gigantic cockroaches. Probably best not to google anything mentioned in this interview at night. #justsaying
Kat Kennedy: Steph, Archer and I saw a van offering free candy today. Seemed legit at the time, but turns out instead of Candy, was Claire Legrand.
So we decided to chat with her instead!
Stephanie Sinclair: Also, I love candy.
Claire Legrand: I ALSO love candy. I will strive to be as yummy as candy. And less caloric!
Kat Kennedy: Yeah, that was kind of surprising.
Claire Legrand: Also, you will find no shady vans here. I’m not a fan of shady vans, although I do have a story about shady vans that perhaps I can share later!
Adam Archer: Told you that van didn’t have any candy… but would you listen? Noooooooooooooo…
Kat Kennedy: Yeah, folks, don’t get fooled like us. Damn shady vans.
So, Claire Legrand, author of Cavendish Home for Girls and Boys,
When did you first realize that you could harness the power of children’s screams?
Claire Legrand: Well, see, I wrote this book, and it was fun and all, but it wasn’t getting me anywhere, professionally. So I put it aside, and then I was like . . . you know what this career needs? More scaring the batootie out of younguns. When I was a youngun, I loved having the batootie scared out of me. Hence, CAVENDISH was born.
Kat Kennedy: Ha!
Claire Legrand: And to write a properly batootie-scaring book, I had no choice BUT to harness the power of children’s screams, with this cool photon-powered harness device I fashioned. Just on a whim one night, you know. As one does.
Kat Kennedy: So can you clarify whether or not you’re Henry J Waternoose from Monsters Inc?
Claire Legrand: *ahem* *casually slides blueprints beneath unicorn collection*
Kat Kennedy: Because that would make a lot of sense.
Claire Legrand: Totally. Except less crablike and much sparklier.
Kat Kennedy: I knew it! Busted, Claire.
Claire Legrand: Sigh. Five minutes in and you’re already uncovering my darkest secrets.
Must be more devious.
Stephanie Sinclair: Speaking of monsters, what monsters scared you as a child?
Claire Legrand: Oh god. Okay, this is not so much a monster, but it was the scariest thing in the WORLD to me as a child.
I mean, it’s kind of a monster.
You know that movie Child’s Play? With the possessed doll Chucky?
Kat Kennedy: Oh yes!
Stephanie Sinclair: OMG, YES!
Claire Legrand: Oh. My. GOD.
Adam Archer: I still don’t like dolls cause of that flick.
Claire Legrand: So, to this day, I still haven’t seen any of those movies.
One day I went to Blockbuster (remember those? ah, the good ol’ days), and I saw the movie sitting there, and that COVER, with angry Chucky ready to stab the crap out of someone.
Stephanie Sinclair: I can’t look at doll babies the same.
Kat Kennedy: Chucky it just… ruined so much for me.
Adam Archer: Chucky was on a par with Pennywise for childhood damage.
Stephanie Sinclair: Remember when he would just turn his head to look at you? *shivers*
Claire Legrand: GAH.
Seeing that movie cover traumatized me for LIFE.
I started having all these nightmares and kept imagining Chucky, like, sneaking into my room to murder me.
Oh, wait! One more thing about Chucky that will be interesting for anyone who sees the dedication at the front of CAVENDISH.
Kat Kennedy: I’m scared…
Claire Legrand: To, I guess, help me deal with the Chucky demons? I started telling “Chucky stories” at my lunch table in sixth grade.
Stephanie Sinclair: Someone hold me.
Adam Archer: I’m Intrigued.
Kat Kennedy: You know I have to sleep after this interview, right?
Claire Legrand: IT’LL BE OKAY I SWEARS.
Kat Kennedy: HOLD ME!
Stephanie Sinclair: Is that Michael Myers music playing?
Adam Archer: *holds his co-bloggers*
Kat Kennedy: No Archer, I meant Claire. I want Claire to hold me…
Adam Archer: *pushes kat away* Fine.
Claire Legrand: So I would tell these Chucky stories that would involve my lunch table friends, and Chucky, and him trying to kill us, and us being total BAMFs and being in peril for a little bit but then totally kicking his possessed creepy ass.
Claire Legrand: *snuggles Kat, as Barry White plays*
*I mean, what? ahem*
Kat Kennedy: Nice.
So you obviously have a long history with horror.
Claire Legrand: So, eventually my friends would start requesting Chucky stories. And that’s why CAVENDISH is dedicated to my sixth-grade lunch table, who liked my scary stories.
Oh yes. I was a veritable Stephen King in those days.
Kat Kennedy: Hahah!
I can imagine.
Adam Archer: So, with Horror flicks and trauma in mind. Is horror your favourite genre or was this just the story you had to write?
Claire Legrand: Horror is NOT my favorite genre. That would be fantasy.
But CAVENDISH just had to be told.
And all of my stories, regardless of genre, have a lot of dark, twisted, macabre elements in them, so all the scary stuff in CAVENDISH does come naturally.
Adam Archer: This is just teasing now. I already want this book.
Stephanie Sinclair: So along with Stephen King, who else influenced your novel?
Claire Legrand: Well, actually, I have yet to read any Stephen King stuff. *ducks and covers from the shame*
Kat Kennedy: Oh my god!
Claire Legrand: But I’m familiar with his oeuvre. (Do you like that Kat? My fancy word? I’m trying to seduce you, FYI.)
Adam Archer: What? Not even Different Seasons?
Kat Kennedy: I am so impressed. Your fancy words are having an effect!
Claire Legrand: And I have seen Carrie and The Shining.
But . . . I haven’t read them.
Some huge influences on this book in particular are Neil Gaiman (*bows down*), Roald Dahl *continues bowing*), and R. L. Stine (*bows but also curses for having traumatized me with Slappy the ventriloquist doll*)
Are you seeing a theme here? Dolls or doll-like items = No bueno.
Kat Kennedy: Those are some pretty impressive influences!
Adam Archer: Gah Slappy… Kill it with fire!
Claire Legrand: I mean . . .
Adam Archer: You do realise some of us are sleeping after this right?
Kat Kennedy: So Cavendish revolves around a girl, Victoria, investigating the disappearances of her classmates while their friends and family seemingly have forgotten about them.
She seems like an interesting characters – straight A’s, competitive etc – do you share any similarities with her?
Oh god…. I just clicked the link. *Hides under bed*
Claire Legrand: SORRY. (Or am I?) I couldn’t help myself.
Kat Kennedy: You can’t! You saucy minx!
Claire Legrand: Anyway, heavens, YES. Victoria and I are practically the same person.
I mean, I exaggerated a lot of qualities of my 12-year-old self.
I was not nearly as snotty as she is, and I had lots of friends, whereas she only has one (and even that’s pushing it, for her).
Kat Kennedy: You have friends?!
After you scare them all with your horror stories?
Claire Legrand: Unthinkable, right? Clearly they are all masochists.
Kat Kennedy: Luckily, so are we.
Stephanie Sinclair: She has doll friends.
Claire Legrand: *pets the doll friends*
*I mean, what?*
*I totally meant unicorns; sparkly, sparkly unicorns*
Kat Kennedy: *Shudder* You just had to go there…
Claire Legrand: So, yes, Victoria is a lot like me. I was similarly obsessed with getting good grades, and I could be quite bossy, like in group projects and dance rehearsals and ordering food, whatever.
Kat Kennedy: Without being killed and stuffed a la psycho…
Adam Archer: Eyes doll friends nervously wishing for an axe. I’m curious though. With Victoria being so young do you think that older readers will still be able to relate to her?
Claire Legrand: Oh, absolutely. That’s why I wanted to include stellar YA blogs on the tour, as well as MG blogs. I think there’s a lot of crossover appeal in CAVENDISH to YA and adult audiences.
First of all, I don’t pull any punches.
It’s scary and dark, and there are Real Stakes for these kiddos. Things aren’t magically made right at the end like a time-travel Star Trek episode or something.
Kat Kennedy: Considering you have us locked in your van, that doesn’t sound good..
Claire Legrand: Disclaimer: I totally do NOT have the Cuddlebuggerers locked in my van. That would just be felonious of me. Not to mention creepalicious. *whistles innocently*
Adam Archer: Scary and dark… I’m seeing a recurring pattern. Did we just turn left?
Kat Kennedy: Help! Help! If you’re reading this, please call the police!
Claire Legrand: But, Kat, then we couldn’t keep cuddling like this.
Kat Kennedy: Oooh, you’re right. This is really nice cuddling.
Okay, I’ll stop calling for help now.
Claire Legrand: (dying over here)
And, yes, I think readers of all ages can relate to Victoria specifically because, while she is young and snotty, she’s also very brave and covers up a lot of heart with that icy exterior of hers.
Stephanie Sinclair: Were there any scenes in CAVENDISH that scared you while writing it?
Claire Legrand: Oh gosh.
Only, like, all of them.
Three come to mind:
1) There’s a scene in a library with Victoria, one of her professors, and . . . a whole lot of bugs.
Stephanie Sinclair: Gah! BUGS!
Claire Legrand: 2) Also, a scene in Lawrence’s house with creepy piano music and parents who . . . are no longer quite right.
3) And a scene at the end that I cannot divulge because SPOILERS. But if you re-read this chat, you will find clues.
Adam Archer: Yeah speaking of the that. I understand 10 legged cockroaches are involved in your story. Why? Do you hate us? Are you siding with the cockroaches in their nefarious schemes?
Claire Legrand: Haha.
Well, I tend to write about what scares me because I think that makes for the most genuine horror.
And bugs . . . I can’t take bugs.
Especially spiders and cockroaches.
Kat Kennedy: I can handle spiders.
But cockroaches… ugh!
Claire Legrand: Like, I see one and I start sweating and panicking. It’s so stereotypically girlie.
Adam Archer: Kinda like Batman… You want readers to share your dread?
Claire Legrand: YES.
Adam, you hit the nail on the head.
I might have to turn my affections to you now.
Stephanie Sinclair: Google titan beetle. You’re welcome.
Kat Kennedy: DIE STEPH!
No! Don’t leave me!
Stephanie Sinclair: Heh.
Adam Archer: I see your Titan Beetle and raise you one Golden Orb Weaver.
Claire Legrand: STEPHANIE. WHY.
Adam Archer: I am a very good cuddler.
Claire Legrand: Ohhh I have totally looked up the Golden Orb Weaver before. Much to my UTTER DISMAY.
Kat Kennedy: We’ll cuddle you later Adam.
Claire Legrand: *bow chicka bow wow*
Kat Kennedy: I think I’m not the only one insanely excited for this novel now.
I actually love a good horror story.
Claire Legrand: Yay!
Stephanie Sinclair: I’m scared, but I think I like it.
Adam Archer: Join the club with that one. I’ve been jonesing for a good horror for a while.
Claire Legrand: It is definitely horror, but there’s also a lot of humor and heart. The main friendship in CAVENDISH is still to this day one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. It’s just so sweet.
Kat Kennedy: So before we actually wrap up this interview – are you going to let us contact our families first? Or just whisk us away on a wild adventure?
Claire Legrand: Oh, I’ll absolutely let you contact your families. I may be cuddle-abducting you, but I’m still practical and organized. (Victoria is nodding along in my brain, approving.)
Kat: Ha! I like your style, Claire.
Stephanie Sinclair: I like adventures.
Kat Kennedy: I don’t think we’d object to being cuddlenapped by you.
Adam Archer: Why do I find that more disturbing than “No you can’t?”
Claire Legrand: Although . . . the spontaneous thing has a certain appeal, a certain . . . je ne sais quoi.
I’m the kinder, gentler, cuddlenapper.
Stephanie Sinclair: Can we leave the gigantic cockroaches behind?
Claire Legrand: Ugh, yes. Although I have fake ones! I made them into barrettes and whatnot. We can dress up. Bug makeovers: It’s the new black.
Stephanie Sinclair: Cuddlenapper, lol. Reminds me of the Hamburgerler.
Claire Legrand: Ha!
I should brand this.
Or maybe open a business.
Kat Kennedy: You totally should.
Claire Legrand: Extra income.
Kat Kennedy: The best damn cuddlenapper I’ve ever met!
Adam Archer: Claire Legrand – Cuddlenapper extraordinaire.
Claire Legrand: Cuddlenappers ‘R’ Us: Need a Cuddle? Call the Cuddlenapper!
Stephanie Sinclair: LOL!
Kat Kennedy: Well, thank you so much for luring us in your van of fantasticalness. And for taking the time to talk to us before cuddlenapping us.
Claire Legrand: But, yes, thank y’all so much for chatting with me. This was FUN.
In fact, I’m loathe to let you go. *shifty eyes*
Kat Kennedy: Before you go, when does Cavendish come out so that we can read it?
Claire Legrand: Ah yes! August 28th.
Kat Kennedy: So close! excited.
Claire Legrand: As in, 10 DAYS, as in, no I’m not freaking out at ALL.
Stephanie Sinclair: Awesome, we’ll be sure to check this out. Sounds like a good time! Or at least a scary one…
Adam Archer: 10 days… If I get a phone call saying “Seven Days” I’ll assume it means the book.
We want to give a huge thank you to Claire Legrand for the interview!
Check out the rest of the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls Blog Tour here!
Don’t forget to check out Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, out now!
At the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, you will definitely learn your lesson. A dark, timeless, and heartfelt novel for fans of Coraline and The Mysterious Benedict Society.Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster—lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does too.)
But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out…different. Or they don’t’ come out at all.
If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria—even if it means getting a little messy.
To win a hardcover copy of The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, fill out the form below! Contest is U.S./Canada only. Ends September 21st.
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