Do you sometimes notice that some books you’ve read stay with you longer than others? For me, that appears to be the case with a book I read a couple of months ago, Maud & Addie, which I reviewed here. It’s a story about two sisters who don’t get along too well, but through tough circumstances, discover a friendship and even love for one another, which couldn’t have come any other way. It’s a story of hardship, survival, understanding and even family secrets – and it’s also one of the best books I’ve read in 2021. That’s why I’ve decided to spotlight this story again, and this time – interview the author, Maureen Buchanan Jones. Who wouldn’t want to ask ALL the questions about the book they’ve loved? So here we go! (Questions in bold are mine, paragraphs in regular text are Maureen’s. I’ve bolded some of Maureen’s answers at my own discretion for easier readability.)
An image of the cover of Maud & Addie – two girls in a boat at sea – on the PocketBook Color eReader, with a few twigs of blooming jasmine near it, jewelry, hair pins, bows and candy around it; photo by AvalinahsBooks
What was your inspiration for writing Maud & Addie’s story?
I think of the question in terms of where do stories come from? For me, stories come from emotions, feelings, moments we have experienced either directly or through someone else. We know a moment has meaning, and we transmute those feelings into art. Maud & Addie is essentially about the relationship of two sisters. I have five sisters and one brother. I was also deeply involved with all of them and witnessed their relationships too. How we understand each other and ourselves is a lifelong journey within a family, especially during times of transition and challenge. We are US and Canadian citizens, spending summers in Nova Scotia, climbing the rocks and wandering the tide pools.
There is quite a lot of detail to the experience of the girls – a lot about nature, plants and animals, and how to do things when you’re out there alone. Do you write from personal experience, or did you do extensive research on surviving in the wild?
I am a US and Canadian citizen, and spent summers in Nova Scotia, climbing rocks and wandering tide pools. The natural world in Maud & Addie was important to me to represent accurately, because it shapes who they are. I did research on the flora and fauna correct, especially the puffins! When I was in the early stages of writing the book, I spent a wonderful afternoon with my nephew, Jared, brainstorming the question of how two girls could survive on an island. Most of the natural solutions that the girls employ are his ideas.
The girls are so hardy in the story, despite having grown up rather pampered and in a well-off home – and they know a lot about nature. Do you think that perhaps the kids of those days were better equiped (knowledge-wise) to survive in the wild than we are today?
Maud, especially, is curious about how the world works and pays attention to concrete and practical elements like tools and basic physics. Addie reads everything she can get her hands on, so she has ideas from books. These girls are left on their own a great deal, even though they come from privilege, which means they have been allowed to explore, each in their own way. Kids who are given the space to touch the natural world and experiment would have a better chance at understanding the essential questions needed to survive. Maud and Addie have grown up beside the ocean, which is a powerful teacher.
How did you choose the setting for the girls’ unfortunate adventure? And especially the time the story is set in?
I chose Nova Scotia because it is part of my heritage and my childhood experience. It also offers a uniquely beautiful and often brutal setting for a survival story. Nova Scotia, because of its place on the Atlantic coast has a history of shipwreck, plane crashes and tragedy. Coastal people everywhere are part of this kind of loss and recovery. This tale would fit into that long story.
I really enjoyed both of the girls characters being so vastly different, and yet learning to settle their differences. Please tell us more about the message that you wanted to put into the development of their relationship.
Maud and Addie come to understand that they are not simple opposites. The learn their own and each other’s complexities. Families can create mythologies around each family member, and that mythology can limit how we perceive not only each other, but also ourselves. On the island, Maud and Addie are given the challenges and the freedom to be themselves and share that full self. My intention was to illuminate that a family narrative should be questioned especially when it is damaging.
Maud & Addie is considered a middle grade book, but for me it was so hard to pinpoint the age group – while it seems to definitely be aimed at a younger reader, at the same time it is so emotionally mature, in both the problems the girls experience, as well as what they learn on the way. Was it your intention to bridge the gap between a child and young adult with this story, maybe?
I didn’t write Maud & Addie for a particular age group. In fact, it never occurred to me to call it a ‘middle-grade novel.’ I simply wrote what made sense to me. In literature we have genres such as poetry and novels. But the truth is that there are no impenetrable walls between genres or between the categories of age groups for novels. I return to Frog & Toad and the Frances series for some of the best wisdom in literature. As a kid I read Dickens and Oscar Wilde. Good stories can transcend age.
Please tell us more about the other stories you have written, apart from Maud & Addie. What are they called and what are they about? Any plans for further stories in the future?
I am working on second and third Maud & Addie books. The second novel takes place in 1915. The girls embark on a transcontinental train ride only to be separated. Addie is abandoned in Quebec City, and Maud finds herself alone in Saskatchewan. The third book is set in 1917 in Halifax during World War I and the explosion. I’m also deep into a novel about a young woman in the 1970s who, through a series of crises, begins to explore ancestral patterns.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the interview! I know I’m overjoyed to hear that the books will be continued and I can’t wait to read more about the wonderful characters of Maud and Addie. I truly recommend this book to everyone!
I hope you will get a chance to read it, and if you’re curious, you can read the full review for Maud & Addie here.
I thank the publisher for giving me a free copy of the ebook in exchange to my honest review. This has not affected my opinion.
I’m Evelina and I blog about books that made an impression on me. I love middle grade, women’s, scifi and some literary too.