Chris Eboch Interview
January 17, 2011
the author of The Well of Sacrifice
It was a pleasure to have Chris Eboch visit the blog on January 17, 2011. Chris is the author of The Well of Sacrifice, a novel for young readers about a brave and intelligent Mayan girl in the ninth century.
Eveningstar Macaw's culture seems very strange for modern readers, but she herself is easy to relate to. What do you think people today have most in common with the Maya?
Although specifics of religion, social structure and politics often differ across cultures and over time, I assume all people are motivated by the same basic emotions: love, fear, greed, insecurity, pride, piety, etc. In The Well of Sacrifice, Eveningstar is jealous of her older sister and adores her older brother. She’s nervous about going to a party and wishes she had nicer clothes. She’s growing up and discovering that she can’t always trust the system and can’t rely on others to take care of her. All that could happen today. It’s mainly the setting that’s different.
Looking at those basic human instincts helps keep historical fiction relatable. It also allows writers to address current issues. The story of the Mayan collapse touches upon environmental concerns and the dangers of believing that others -- the government, religion, the rich -- should be responsible for our happiness and safety. There are lessons for today.
Have you received letters from young readers about The Well of Sacrifice, and did any of their reactions surprise you?
I most often receive letters from students who have read the book in the classroom. Sometimes an entire class will share projects they’ve made based on the book, which is great fun to see. Some teachers like to have students write their own versions of what happened after my book ends. Their answers can range from marriage and happily ever after, to massive death and destruction. That probably says more about the students’ personal tastes than about my book.
One pleasant surprise is that some students say they really like the descriptions of the historical time period. It's nice to know we have some young history fans! I've also had students say they think the book should be a movie, but unfortunately I don't have much control over that.
What particularly draws you to write for young readers?
It's sometimes said that children's book writers write for the age that was most important and powerful for us. When I was 10 my family moved from Saudi Arabia to Colorado, and two years later we moved to Alaska. Big changes! I was shy and found comfort in books, so maybe that's why I gravitate toward that age range. I also think some of the best literature of recent years has been for young people. Kids have high standards.
Review of The Well of Sacrifice by Chris Eboch
See listing for The Well of Sacrifice at Powell's Books
See listing for The Well of Sacrifice at Amazon.com
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