John Claude Bemis is a writer from North Carolina who writes for children and middle grade readers. Growing up, Bemis enjoyed reading fantasy and stories that contained American folklore. As an adult, he taught third grade and noticed most of the fantasy books available for children (and even adults) were based on myths and legends from Europe, but couldn’t find any that contained American legends. So, he wrote his first book, The Nine Pound Hammer, taking several legends from American history, including that of John Henry. The book is a mix of fantasy and steampunk and is the first in a trilogy.
I was recently able to hear Bemis speak a couple of months ago at a meeting for the Charlotte Writers’ Club. He read a bit from The Nine Pound Hammer. (I wanted to put my hands over my ears and scream, ‘spoiler alert’ as I had just checked the book of the library to read, but I refrained). He also introduced his newest book, Out of Abaton, The Wooden Prince. In this book, Bemis takes a well-known fairy tale, Pinocchio, and creates a new world, a fantastical Venice. (Pinocchio is known to many of us through a Disney movie, though the character is originally from an Italian book written in the 1800’s). In this tale, an automa named Pinocchio finds himself locked in a trunk and sent to a wanted criminal and alchemist by the name of Geppetto. Soon, Pinocchio begins having feelings and thoughts of his own; not the behavior of an automa. Before he and Geppetto can unravel what is happening to him, Pinocchio is kidnapped. He faces many dangers, meets new friends, and has several adventures before he can find Geppetto again.
If you’re looking for some fun, adventurous stories for children and want to learn more about Bemis–his books and the workshops he offers–visit his website at: http://www.johnclaudebemis.com/