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Video: Author on ‘Septimus Heap’

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    >>> this morning on "al's book club for kids," magyk " by emily sage. wizards try to save their world. ten years ago, a baby named septimus was stolen and a girl with mysterious eyes appeared. author angie sage is here along with our book club kids, ian goldstein, danielle azalina, tatiana perry, melvin spencer wong, mr. dellroy brockett, and of course, we've got all of them gathered here to talk about this great book by angie . angie , nice to see you.

    >> you, too.

    >> you basically worked on picture books before this. what made you decide to take on this saga?

    >> it was something i've wanted to write for a long, long time, and suddenly, i realized, if i don't write it, it's never going to be written.

    >> so, you take a lot of inspiration from your hometown in england, and you traveled a lot through europe. tell us about that.

    >> well, my inspiration is really where i used to live when i first wrote " magyk ," which is cornwall, and there's something about cornwall. it's a land surrounded almost by water. it's misty, magic. and it was there that i really got the ideas coming for the whole series.

    >> wow. and this is going to be -- this is the first book in a book of seven.

    >> yes.

    >> i mean, that's a lot of work.

    >> it is a lot of work, but it's great. the world has just grown, and i really feel like i want seven books to write about all the people in it, all the things that are going to be happening.

    >> wow. well, we've got a lot of great questions from our book club kids, so let's start off. first of all, ian, what would you like to ask angie ?

    >> in the book, i really liked all the interesting creatures like the boogert and the swamp python. how did you come up with the ideas for them?

    >> i love writing creatures, i do. i think they're so much fun. i think the way i get the ideas is i think about a creature they're mainly like. the boget reminds me of a cross between a seal and a dog, i think, and then i go with that, but it's strange. i don't quite know where they come from or how they first arrive.

    >> treasure, what's your question? you said you had a good one.

    >> did you have another name in mind for the baby that sadly is found in the snow instead of jenna ? if not, why did you name her jenna ?

    >> why did i name her jenna ? well, in england, jenna is an unusual name, and i think it's a really strong name , too. i realize over in the u.s., jenna is kind of -- there's a lot of people called jenna .

    >> yes, we have a jenna here.

    >> it's a good one!

    >> it's a good name.

    >> good name, solid name.

    >> so, it felt right.

    >> is the character a little nutty?

    >> hey!

    >> a little cuckoo ? okay. tatiana, what's your question?

    >> what made you decide the seventh son of the seventh son?

    >> oh, i love that kind of mist logical thing. it's a really old, old idea that a seventh son of a seventh son is magic. and i think it's an irish tradition. so, what i did with a lot of magyk was i took bits that really interested me from various legends, and there's a big thing about that goisevens going on in the book, so that fit in really well.

    >> well, we don't have time for every question, but it just goes so fast. we need magic to stretch out the time. angie sage , book club kids, thank you very much. the book is called " septimus heap ." now, the next pick "where the mountain meets the moon" by grace lynn. the chinese tale is a story of a girl searching for the man in the moon and instead she runs across a crazy anchor woman named jenna . anyway, tim mcgraw

TODAY books
updated 10/23/2009 10:33:32 AM ET 2009-10-23T14:33:32

The seventh son of the seventh son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby's father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a newborn girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus?

“Magyk” is the first book in the “Septimus Heap” series by Angie Sage. Read this excerpt, and follow a fantastic journey filled with quirky characters, charms, potions and spells. An excerpt.

Chapter one: Something in the snow
Silas Heap pulled his cloak tightly around him against the snow. It had been a long walk through the Forest, and he was chilled to the bone. But in his pockets he had the herbs that Galen, the Physik Woman, had given him for his new baby boy, Septimus, who had been born earlier that day. Silas drew closer to the Castle, and he could see the lights flickering through the trees as candles were placed in the windows of the tall narrow houses clustered along the outside walls. It was the longest night of the year, and the candles would be kept burning until dawn, to help keep the dark at bay. Silas always loved this walk to the Castle. He had no fear of the Forest by day and enjoyed the peaceful walk along the narrow track that threaded its way through the dense trees for mile after mile. He was near the edge of the Forest now, the tall trees had begun to thin out, and as the track began to dip down to the valley floor, Silas could see the whole Castle spread before him. The old walls hugged the wide, winding river and zigzagged around the higgledy-piggledy clumps of houses. All the houses were painted bright colors, and those that faced west looked as if they were on fire as their windows caught the last of the winter sun’s rays.

The Castle had started life as a small village. Being so near to the Forest the villagers had put up some tall stone walls for protection against the wolverines, witches and warlocks who thought nothing of stealing their sheep, chickens and occasionally their children. As more houses were built, the walls were extended and a deep moat was dug so that all could feel safe.

Soon the Castle was attracting skilled craftsmen from other villages. It grew and prospered, so much so that the inhabitants began to run out of space until someone decided to build The Ramblings. The Ramblings, which was where Silas, Sarah and the boys lived, was a huge stone building that rose up along the riverside. It sprawled for three miles along the river and back again into the castle, and was a noisy, busy place filled with a warren of passages and rooms, with small factories, schools and shops mixed in with family rooms, tiny roof gardens and even a theater. There was not much space in The Ramblings but people did not mind. There was always good company and someone for the children to play with.

As the winter sun sank below the Castle walls, Silas quickened his pace. He needed to get to the North Gate before they locked it and pulled up the drawbridge at nightfall.

It was then that Silas sensed something nearby. Something alive, but only just. He was aware of a small human heartbeat somewhere close to him. Silas stopped. As an Ordinary Wizard he was able to sense things, but, as he was not a particularly good Ordinary Wizard, he needed to concentrate hard. He stood still with the snow falling fast around him, already covering his footprints. And then he heard something — a snuffle, a whimper, a small breath? He wasn’t sure, but it was enough.

Underneath a bush beside the path was a bundle. Silas picked up the bundle and, to his amazement, found himself gazing into the solemn eyes of a tiny baby. Silas cradled the baby in his arms and wondered how she had come to be lying in the snow on the coldest day of the year. Someone had wrapped her tightly in a heavy woolen blanket, but she was already very cold: her lips were a dusky blue and the snow dusted her eyelashes. As the baby’s dark violet eyes gazed intently at him, Silas had the uncomfortable feeling that she had already seen things in her short life that no baby should see.

Thinking of his Sarah at home, warm and safe with Septimus and the boys, Silas decided that they would just have to make room for one more little one. He carefully tucked the baby into his blue Wizard cloak and held her close to him as he ran toward the Castle gate. He reached the drawbridge just as Gringe, the gatekeeper, was about to go and yell for the Bridge Boy to start winding it up.

“You’re cutting it a bit fine,” growled Gringe. “But you Wizards are weird. Waddyou all want to be out for on a day like this I dunno.”

“Oh?” Silas wanted to get past Gringe as soon as he could, but first he had to cross Gringe’s palm with silver. Silas quickly found a silver penny in one of his pockets and handed it over.

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“Thank you, Gringe. Good night.”

Gringe looked at the penny as though it were a rather nasty beetle.

“Marcia Overstrand, she gave me a ’alf crown just now. But then she’s got class, what with ’er being the ExtraOrdinary Wizard now.”

“What?” Silas nearly choked.

“Yeah. Class, that’s what she’s got.”

Video: Author on ‘Septimus Heap’ (on this page) Gringe stood back to let him pass, and Silas slipped by. As much as Silas wanted to find out why Marcia Overstrand was suddenly the ExtraOrdinary Wizard, he could feel the bundle beginning to stir in the warmth of his cloak, and something told him that it would be better if Gringe did not know about the baby.

As Silas disappeared into the shadows of the tunnel that led to The Ramblings, a tall figure in purple stepped out and barred his way.

“Marcia!” gasped Silas. “What on earth —”

“Tell no one you found her. She was born to you. Understand?”

Shocked, Silas nodded. Before he had time to say anything, Marcia was gone in a shimmer of purple mist. Silas spent the rest of the long winding journey through The Ramblings with his mind in turmoil. Who was this baby? What did Marcia have to do with her? And why was Marcia the ExtraOrdinary Wizard now? And as Silas neared the big red door that led to the Heap family’s already overcrowded room, another, more pressing question came into his mind: What was Sarah going to say to yet another baby to care for?

Silas did not have long to think about the last question. As he reached the door it flew open, and a large red-faced woman wearing the dark blue robes of a Matron Midwife ran out, almost knocking Silas over as she fled. She too was carrying a bundle, but the bundle was wrapped from head to toe in bandages, and she was carrying him under her arm as if he were a parcel and she was late for the post.

“Dead!” cried the Matron Midwife. She pushed Silas aside with a powerful shove and ran down the corridor. Inside the room, Sarah Heap screamed.

Silas went in with a heavy heart. He saw Sarah surrounded by six white-faced little boys, all too scared to cry.

“She’s taken him,” said Sarah hopelessly. “Septimus is dead, and she’s taken him away.”

At that moment a warm wetness spread out from the bundle that Silas still had hidden under his cloak. Silas had no words for what he wanted to say, so he just took the bundle out from under his cloak and placed her in Sarah’s arms.

Sarah Heap burst into tears.

Excerpted from “Septimus Heap: Magyk” by Angie Sage. Copyright (c) 2005. Reprinted with permission from HarperCollins.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive


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