Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Book Tour: Maggie the Cat Who Came Home for Christmas by Julia Russo @RABTBookTours

Children’s Book

Date Published: Sept. 14th 2023

Publisher: Jan-Carol Publishing, Inc.

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Delightful illustrations bring you inside Grandpa Charlie Green’s mountainside farmhouse. Join Maggie the cat, Pip the goat, Grandpa Charlie Green, Daddy, and of course, little Wilhelmina Olive Blessing, as she tells us this sweet wintertime story. What do they do to get little Maggie home? Join the fun. Read out loud yourself or read along with others! You will love the story of Maggie, the cat who comes home for Christmas.


Interview with Julia Russo 

How many books have you written and which is your favorite?

This is my very first book ever. It brings me such great joy to actually see the book in print and to be able to share it with lots of others.

If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?

Yes! I would love that. Pip’s Thanksgiving Surprise will be about Wilhelmina going back up to Grandpa’s farmhouse to all celebrate Thanksgiving together. The little goat, Pip, who is Maggie the Cat’s best friend, has a Thanksgiving surprise. What exactly will it be?

Grace Metzger-Forrest’s wonderful illustrations will continue to bring us all back up to Grandpa’s farmhouse.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I hope for three books all about Wilhelmina back up at Grandpa’s Ellijay farm. One takes place near Christmas, the second around Thanksgiving and the third near Valentines Day. I love cold weather, little cats and little goats, little white lights, everyone being together, apples, people who know and speak their minds and are kind and generous, mountain farmhouses, and especially cozy fires in the fireplace.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

About twenty-five years ago, my next door neighbor’s cat, Maggie, ran away. Several weeks later, Maggie came back home and did so at Christmas.  Also, as a little girl of about 7, my cat, Chubby Checkers, was gone and my mom encouraged me to go outside and call her every night. A few weeks later my mom said, “Julia, get the picnic basket”. I knew that meant we were going to pick up Chubby because we always carried him in the picnic basket. We brought him home from the vet where he had recovered from getting hit by a car. He and I were both very, very happy he was healthy and had come home!

How long did it take you to write this book?

Fast. About three months. The ideas for the book started way back on the day Maggie ran away twenty-five years earlier.

As to actually writing the book, It all happened so fast. After years of thinking about it and saying I would write Maggie, I did it. I had finally retired and had taken some time and a little money to fix up my somewhat neglected home and make it really how I wanted my home to be for me.

> I thought now that that is done if I am ever going to write Maggie I better do it soon. Christmas only comes once a year and if it is not ready by say, March, then essentially I would have to wait another year. 

> My little dog of 18 years had grown old and was dying. I kept her close to my side and close on a leash when walking outside while writing. 

> I didn’t tell anyone i was doing it. I figured they would all say… Maggie again? Finally, my husband said. ‘What are you doing? It’s like you have this secret life.

> Grace Metzger-Forrest, who is the illustrator, and I created this wonderful multi-generational happy and cozy world. We talked and laughed about what Whilhelmina would say and how she would look and dress. Certainly no little poplin shirts for her—and always boots! The farmhouse started as an actual old house in a historic neighborhood near the train. Maggie became the sweet cat who visits Grandpa Charlie Green in Ellijay, Ga. Ellijay is near the small cabin Kent, my husband, and Chloe and Kitty Cat and I spent many cold nights for a period of over twenty years.

> Grandpa was my Grandpa Sam with a sprinkling of my older neighborhood friend, Charlie. Writing was an absolute joy and made me so, so happy. I just really came to love the entire family and of course, to love and cherish little Maggie and Pip!❤️

What does the title mean?

Little Maggie DOES come home. It’s a happy, happy day and Maggie’s return is the best Christmas present ever!

What did you learn when writing the book?

I write like I’m talking out loud. I was a first grade teacher many years ago and I absolutely love hearing children read aloud. I also learned that a children's storybook can be like a folksong or a country song and one that has a comforting refrain.

What surprised you the most?

How much Grandpa reminds me of all the goodness and of my own Grandpa. For example, he called me baby and taught me how to play the harmonica with him. He used to say—Rag it baby. And I did! What also surprised me was how easily the story and the sweet characters came about.

Have you ever killed off a character your readers loved?

Since this is a children’s story, all the characters live a very long and happy life.

The problem really is that I can’t get out of their heads. I really miss them when the story ends. Hence, the three story series.

To conclude, I want to thank you so much for spending time with me and I am so happy so many children and others will learn about the book through your very interest. Thank you so much again.

About the Author

Julia spent many winters in the mountains along with her little dog, Chloe, and her sweet husband, Kent. She continues to live in Atlanta, but her heart is really in those woods. 

One of her favorite things ever was hearing her first graders read aloud. She sometimes wrote for the government and companies, and later wrote descriptions of homes. She even spent time as what is called a roustabout!

Today, she presents her first ever storybook! She hopes many children will read the story aloud! She continues to visit her mountainside cabin often. She lives in Atlanta along with Kent and two sweet cats named Rigby and Linus. One of these days, she’s hoping to get a little goat.


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