Carlie Sorosiak

Shadow Fox
Carlie Sorosiak

About Author

Carlie Sorosiak writes books about magical summer camps, missing people, and the inner life of dogs.  She grew up in North Carolina and has an American dingo (Google it!) who is her writing companion (but she doesn't let her type on the keyboard!).  By day, she's a creative writing professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. Not gonna lie, it's pretty awesome.

 

Interview

Shadow Fox  (Nosy Crow)

April 2024

In this new novel by Carlie Sorosiak, we meet a fox called Shadow who, together with his friend Bee, is charged with saving a magical island from destruction by greed-driven humans.  The story provides much to explore around humanity's exploitation of nature but also reminds the reader of nature's incredible beauty.

We found out more about the inspiration behind Shadow Fox from Carlie Sorosiak, author of I, Cosmo and My Life as a Cat.

Read a Chapter from Shadow Fox

Review:   'Carlie Sorosiak has a gift for creating non-human narrators and reviewing the oddities and imperfections of the world of humans from an animal's perspective.'


Q&A with Carlie Sorosiak introducing her magical new book, Shadow Fox

"Looking back, I think that all my books have been leading to this - showing, through the eyes of a wild fox,
just how much animals need their natural environments."


1.    Can you tell us a little about yourself and your life as a writer? What have been your writing highlights so far?

I live in a wooded neighbourhood in Georgia, USA, with plenty of hawks, possums, cats, and other animals in my backyard. They're a constant inspiration for me. I usually wake up every early to write, and even earlier now that I have a baby (who is often awake at 3am!). On the weekends, you can find me at the local free-roaming cat shelter, Good Mews, working on the adoptions team.

Hearing from readers - and meeting them in person - is always a highlight for me. One of my books, Always, Clementine, was also a recent book club pick for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. I got knocked out of my school's spelling bee, in fifth grade, during the final round - so this felt like redemption!


2.    Why do you enjoy writing stories about animals? What can animals bring to stories that you can't do with human characters?

Growing up, dogs were my best friends; I have always loved the companionship of animals - both real and fictional. Writing animal stories is another way to feel close to them, and to share that love with others.

In my spare time, I run a book club for middle grade readers, and we often talk about what animals bring to stories. It's a completely different way of seeing the world. For example, dogs experience their environments with their noses! They sniff, then see. Understanding this builds empathy; not everyone on Earth moves though life the same way.


3.    What is your new book, Shadow Fox, about?

It's about a wild fox who actually has . . . quite a bit of magic. Shadow the fox and a girl named Bee might be the only ones who can save a secret magical island in the middle of a lake. Can they pull it off?

I was inspired by the idea of a 'chosen one,' which - in fantasy stories - is almost always a person. I thought to myself, wait a second, what if the chosen one turned out to be a fox?


"Foxes are sharp, cunning and witty, the perfect storytellers. I also needed a truly wild animal
to uphold the narrative's environmental themes."


4.    When you start a story, do you begin with the animal, or an idea? Why did you want to put a fox at the heart of this story, and to tell it through their eyes? 

Most of the time, an animal, but for Shadow Fox, I started with the 'chosen one' idea. In the original pitch to my editor, 'Shadow' was a weasel named Poe! Turns out, not many people are as fond of weasels as I am (go figure!), so my publisher proposed a list of other possible animals. A fox worked best; foxes are sharp, cunning and witty, the perfect storytellers. I also needed a truly wild animal to uphold the narrative's environmental themes.

I have a long story about trying to give medicine to the foxes in my neighbourhood for their skin issues, but I won't talk about it here! Let's just say I have some first-hand experience with foxes. The personality of Shadow, though, comes from my American dingo, Dany, who is equal parts loving and prickly.


5.    There is also a wonderful grandmother figure in the story; why did you decide to focus on a grandchild / grandparent relationship in Shadow Fox? 

I knew that I wanted to set Shadow Fox in Grand Marais, Minnesota, the wildest place I've ever been. It also happens to be where my grandmother lives, in a rambling house by Lake Superior. Thus, adding Nan into the story felt very natural. A child's relationship with a grandparent can be such a magical bond; I'm seeing that right now with my son, Leo, and his 'Nana'.


6.   Do you often bring magical elements into your stories, and how do you 'root' it into the real world, to make it believable - for example, Shadow's ability to conjure spoons, puddings and snow birds?!

This is the first time I've ever written magic! In other people's stories, I like it when magic is a bit silly, and takes elements from everyday life. What's more everyday than a spoon?

The snow birds, I love. They just popped into the story out of nowhere. Every time I see a small, plump bird outside my window now, I think of them.


"As humans, we need the wilderness, too! It's the greatest source of magic."


7.   There is also a serious note in the novel about human's impact on the environment. Why did you want to explore that through this story, and with a magical element?

Looking back, I think that all my books have been leading to this - showing, through the eyes of a wild fox, just how much animals need their natural environments. As humans, we need the wilderness, too! It's the greatest source of magic; therefore, I thought that magical elements might be the best way to bring the story together. In the state of Minnesota alone, the forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. Where is all the wildlife going to go?


8.    Can you tell us more about the setting for this story, and why you chose it? Does it help you to know a real place before you start to write about it?

Yes! It had to be an island off the coast of Grand Marais. That was so clear in my mind, as it's a place of such fantastic natural beauty. Especially in the snow, it is a living fantasy novel - ice-capped and glistening.

Visiting somewhere 'real' before writing about it is so helpful to me, and I used to visit my grandmother in Grand Marais frequently. I loved skipping rocks by the lakeside and watching the kayakers paddle into the sunrise.


9.    If you could meet, and chat with, any of your animal characters, which one would you choose?

What a great question! I'd probably choose Leonard from My Life as a Cat, as he has the most knowledge of outer space. I'd like to ask about his travels!


10.    Do you have special places in nature - or elsewhere - where you go for inspiration?

When I have the opportunity, I love walking around Hampstead Heath. I used to live quite near there. Now that I'm in the states, walking around my neighbourhood is a delight; currently, the Bradford pears are blooming, and there are pink and white flower petals all over the sidewalks.

 

Carlie Sorosiak introduces Always, Clementine  (Nosy Crow Books, September 2022)

Read a Chapter from Always, Clementine

Carlie Sorosiak's Always, Clementine takes us into the mind of a lab mouse, Clementine, and what happens when she is set free but also parted from her best friend in the lab. The book, which is aimed at readers aged 8+, explores the world through the eyes of a small but hugely intelligent mouse, as well as friendship and communities. Author Carlie Sorosiak tells us more.

 

Author's Titles