Thirteen extraordinary children with mysterious powers.
Their loving and protective father.
And a sociopathic neighbor who knows them better than they know themselves.
When Capricorn Munch and her twelve siblings appear outside a children’s home, no one, including themselves, knows who they are or where they came from. At ten years old they stop aging, as she and her siblings develop powers that gift them with incredible abilities, like healing wounds and manifesting objects. They keep these powers secret and their adoptive father restricts their use. Capricorn strives to live a normal life, blissfully playing with her favorite sisters, witty and bold Allie, empathic and wise Breezy, and giddy and sweet Hazy.
But now a sudden threat has intruded on their carefree lives: Their next-door neighbor, a man who calls himself Big Boss. Capricorn watches fretfully as Big Boss encroaches on her family like a malevolent force, feeding hostility between her siblings and causing them to be reckless with their powers. Capricorn knows Big Boss is plotting something sinister and can only pray it doesn’t end in ultimate doom for her and her family.
About the Author
Candice Zee is a middle-grade and YA fantasy writer who first dreamed the idea of The Munchkins as a child while playing make-believe with her brother in Wilkes-Barre, PA. She is an early childhood teacher with an M.Ed. in Elementary Education and has taught for over twelve years in Pre-K, Kindergarten, and primary grade classrooms. Like Casey Munch in her book series, she is passionate about creating a more just and equitable world. She savors vegan food, loves board games and podcasts, relishes horror movies and novels, devours social science nonfiction, spontaneously belts out tunes from musicals, and does some of her best writing while drinking coffee at 1 AM. She lives in Cleveland, OH with her wife Dana and their dog companion Solstice. The Munchkins is her debut novel.
Q1. Hello, can you please introduce yourself? Readers would love to know more about you.
Hi, I’m Candice Zee. I’m a teacher and early childhood educator and I’ve worked with Pre-K, Kindergarten, and school-age children for over 12 years. Also, I’ve been vegan for over 23 years and I’m a long-time animal and social justice advocate. I love to read and I’ve written most of my life, mostly essays and articles for organization newsletters, and The Munchkins is my debut novel. I’m from Wilkes-Barre, PA and I currently live with my wife Dana and our dog companion Solstice in Cleveland, OH.
Q2. What were the key challenges you faced while writing ‘The Munchkins’ book?
Without a doubt, my key challenge was keeping the word count down. When I wrote the first draft of The Munchkins, I actually wrote the first and second book together. Then I took a look at the word count and it was over 300,000 words! That’s when I decided to split it up into two different books. But just getting the word count down to a reasonable level for the first book was very hard, and I spent countless hours editing. I think editing is much harder than writing because you have to make some tough decisions about cutting material you really like and want to keep, but you can’t save it all.
Q3. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
I read a lot of nonfiction in the social sciences genre, but when it comes to fiction I’ve been a huge fan of horror and thriller novels since I was a teenager. Two of my favorite horror authors are John Saul and Dean Koontz. My favorite author of all-time is probably Stephen King. I’ve read many of his books and short stories, and he’s definitely influenced my style of writing. The Munchkins is filled with elements of suspense, and Big Boss is like a villain straight out of a horror novel.
Q4. What’s your favorite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?
I would say anywhere near a large body of water, like a beach by the ocean or a cascading waterfall. I live by Lake Erie and I love to go there and just look out into the waves and the open sky. It’s a good reminder of how vast and majestic the universe is, and that humans are just a tiny part of it. It helps you instantly see the much bigger picture.
Q5. Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing a book?
Not really. When I wrote The Munchkins, I felt like something was writing through me. I had the words typed out before I could even think of them. I’ve had the idea in my head since I was a kid so I guess in a way I was preparing to write this story my whole life. The only thing to do was open my laptop and start writing it.
Q6. How long did it take you to write ‘The Munchkins’ book?
Oh boy, it took me years. I think I started writing it in 2012. At first I wasn’t too serious about it, and was unsure if I’d even publish it, so it was just a little bit here and a little bit there, then a long period of time would pass before I’d go back to it. Once I finally decided I was going to publish it and write a series though, I banged it out rather quickly. I’d go into a zone and spend whole weekends doing nothing but writing, staying up all hours of the night, only coming up for air to eat (and sometimes I’d forget to eat). And remember I originally wrote the first and second books together, so I would have been done a lot sooner if I just wrote the first book. But on the plus side, now the second book is already written, so it shouldn’t take me nearly as long to publish the next one.
Q7. On what all platforms readers can find ‘The Munchkins’ book to buy?
The ebook and paperback are available to buy through a number of different sites and stores. There’s Amazon of course, but in addition you can find the ebook on Apple Books, Google Play, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo, Scribd, and other digital retailers. If you visit books2read.com/themunchkins you will find links to all these stores. You can get the paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Target, Indiebound and Bookshop.org, and local book stores. You can also go to my website munchkinsbooks.com and find a link to order it there. I also want to encourage readers to sign up for the Munchie email newsletter list at https://www.subscribepage.com/p3s1g5 where you can stay updated on news about the book series and receive perks like book chapters, sneak previews, author Q&As, and book giveaway contests.
Q8. Tell us about the process of coming up with the book cover and the title ‘The Munchkins’ ?
When I was a kid, my brother and I would make up our own make-believe stories and play pretend, acting them out. Our favorite one we made up was about kids with magic powers who never grow up and the bad guy who wants their powers named Big Boss, and we called it “Munchkins.” I can’t even remember now how we decided on that name. The idea has been in my head since I was a child though, and I always thought to myself I should turn this story into a book someday, until finally one day I decided to just sit down and write it. I also had a vision for what I wanted the book cover to look like. It was really important to me to feature the Four Musketeers (Capricorn, Allie, Breezy, and Hazy) on the cover, to show how close they are and then also to have light coming off of them to represent their powers. I originally wanted all of the kids on the cover actually, but quickly realized they wouldn’t all fit. Then I also envisioned Big Boss’s silhouette standing in the background as this ominous figure. I love the cover of the book and I think my cover designer, Jeff Brown Graphics, did an amazing job depicting the Four Musketeers and bringing the story to life.
Q9. When writing a book how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?
I guess I’ll find out when I start revising and editing the second book. I’ll say this though: The second book is much much darker than the first one. It actually dives more into the YA category than middle-grade because of the very grave subject matter. So expect more of a YA novel for the second book in the series, titled Capricorn’s Journal: My Family’s Fight for Survival.
Q10. Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?
There are major limits to the Munch children’s powers. The biggest limit is that once they use a power, they have to wait for a certain period of time before they can use a power again. Their powers work almost like a battery and they have to recharge their energy after using them. This point becomes very important to the plot. Also, pay attention to Allie, a favorite character with readers. She is incredibly witty and has some of the best lines in the book. When things start to get too tense, Allie will make a sarcastic remark and bring instant comic relief.