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I.J. Brindle

I.J. Brindle talks about her debut novel, BALTHAZAR FABULOSO IN THE LAIR OF THE HUMBUGS, and how she uses magic, humor and high adventure to reaffirm fundamental family values.

Please tell us about your new book, BALTHAZAR FABULOSO IN THE LAIR OF THE HUMBUGS.

The only nonmagical kid in a family of real-magic stage magicians, Balthazar has resigned himself to a being a permanent failure in his family’s eyes when his family suddenly disappears in a freak stage accident. Plunged down a rabbit hole of family secrets and dark rivalries, Balthazar uncovers a plot involving a mysterious, evil virus that will destroy all the magic forever.

Disbelieved by authorities and stuck with only his insane, flatulent uncle and his creepy girl nemesis to help him, Balthazar must use all the talents he has and hope for some new ones to surface if he is to stand any chance of getting his family back (and quite possibly save the world along the way).


What was the inspiration behind the book?

My first inspiration was this experience I had in seventh grade. I was staying in Quebec with a host family on some kind of a school exchange trip and they were nice and it was my first time away from home and their house smelled different from my house and the room I was staying in was really different from my room so I couldn’t really sleep. So instead, I spent all my nights reading this classic fantasy series I had with me. I absolutely loved it, but it left me with this out-of-sorts feeling. In part because I was homesick and sleep deprived, but also I couldn’t stop thinking about how, as much as I loved the world I was reading about, it was this somewhere-else world I would never, in real life, get to be a part of, and as much as I admired the hero, he was this mystical prodigy super-magic-genius that I would never be. I wanted a book that showed the possibility of the magic I often felt just floating beneath the surface of my own quirky, random, everyday life. So I wrote to try to do that for the seventh-grade me and for anyone else who ever gets that feeling.

It was also inspired by my firstborn, Theo, who believed in this book before it existed and grilled me about all the little nonexistent details until they became real, and by my sister, Mary, who has been drawing in sketchbooks since before I could scribble and who had the best knife collection, comic book collection and taxidermy animal collection of any kid in St. Catharines.

What makes this book special to you? What important message do you feel it brings to young readers?

A fancy-pants Russian novelist once wrote “any instant of life if deeply enough probed becomes a doorway to infinity.” I believe this idea holds true for people as well as instants. I would love it if young readers came away from this book being a bit more aware of the incredible power that lies in being deeply true to who you are, even if it’s not who anyone else wants you to be and even if you’re not even quite sure what that is yet.

What inspired you to write, and when did you know you would become an author?

I think the first clue I would become a writer was in preschool when I used to horrify unsuspecting adults by spicing up stories about my life with alarming details I borrowed off the news. Back then they called it lying. Then somewhere along the line I figured out if I did the same thing but called it fiction, I could have the same kind of fun without the scolding after. I always planned to become an author at some point—and also to buy an island that I’d specially set aside for authors and readers. I’m still working on the island part.

What advice do you have for aspiring young writers?

Read lots, watch carefully and be real—especially when you’re making stuff up.

About the Author.

I.J. Brindle was born and grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, a medium-size city famous for having the most doughnut stores per capita. She’s an actor, scriptwriter and story editor who has worked in film and television.

Theater-going, chicken keeping (tragically cut short by the hungry coyotes nearby), creating uniquely flavored ice creams, hiking, kayaking and exploring hard-to-get-to pocket-beaches with her two intrepid boys are her favorite things to do—and writing, of course. This is her first novel. She lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Books by I.J. Brindle

Balthazar Fabuloso in the Lair of the Humbugs, Trade Binding