2K18 Member Spotlight: Kamilla Benko
BOOK TITLE: The Unicorn Quest
RELEASE DATE: February 6, 2018
About THE UNICORN QUEST
An enchanting, exciting fantasy about a real-world girl searching for her sister in a land full of magic and strange creatures, blending the timeless feel of A Wrinkle in Time with Frozen’s powerful themes of identity, enchantment, and sisterhood.
Claire Martinson still worries about her older sister Sophie, who battled a mysterious illness last year. But things are back to normal as they move into Windermere Manor . . . until the sisters climb a strange ladder in a fireplace and enter the magical land of Arden.
There, they find a world in turmoil. The four guilds of magic no longer trust each other, the beloved unicorns have disappeared, and terrible wraiths roam freely. Scared, the girls return home. But when Sophie vanishes in the night, it will take all of Claire's courage to climb back up the ladder, find her sister, and uncover the unicorns' greatest secret.
Kamilla Benko spent most of her childhood climbing into wardrobes, trying to step through mirrors, and plotting to run away to an art museum. Now, she visits other worlds as a children's book editor. Originally from Indiana, she currently lives in New York with her bookshelves, teapot, and hiking boots.
WHAT INSPIRED YOUR BOOK?
Many, many things! A 15th century tapestry, a painting from 1999, a few favorite books, a childhood dream—and of course, my little sister.
BEST ADVICE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?
Read – read everything! Fiction, non-fiction, magazine articles, text books, documents. Read poetry. Read history. Read fantasy series and science journals. You never know what will stick, and how your brain will begin linking together all these seemingly random bits of information into a new, utterly unique story that only you can tell!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR FURRY WRITING SIDEKICK.
Gigi (or Gigirella, if we're being fancy) is a rescue kitty who shows her Brooklyn Hipster roots at dinnertime: she absolutely loves kale! And stalking green beans. And luxurious naps.
WHAT DOES FEARLESS MEAN TO YOU?
Fearlessness is facing a vast blank page, and choosing to put down the first word that will reveal your own insecurities, dreams, and terrors in the hopes that maybe your book will help a child with their own insecurities, dreams, and terrors.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE AS A TEEN?
I'm not too dissimilar from my teenage-self today! Teenage Kamilla and Adult Kamilla share many things in common: we work a lot, we're eager to please, and we love to hang out with friends—as long as there is downtime with a book afterward. But one area where we really differ is that teenage Kamilla could not stand her hair. I have heaps and mounds of curly hair, and as a teen, I hated it. Loathed it. All I wanted was straight hair that could, for lack of a better word, shimmy down my back as opposed to cloud above my head. As an adult, I'm much more accepting of my curls; in fact, I love them. Which is why the main character in my book, Claire, has curly hair. Curls in literature tend to belong to princesses with "raven-wing tresses" that never friz, even if they're on a quest. (And if you have curly hair, you know how impossible that is.) Teenage Kamilla would have loved seeing more realistic curly girls, and so I will write curly-haired heroines.
WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?
Heights, centipedes, and losing my loved ones.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH FEAR IN THE WRITING PROCESS?
I remember a quote by author Shannon Hale: “When writing a first draft, I remind myself that I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”