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 FRESH FROM THE INKWELL 

U: UNITY

What makes this book hold together like glue? Like staples? Like saddle stitching? Not literally, but figuratively speaking. I named it RIDDLE OF THE SAMOVAR. So, the samovar has to take center stage (or at least make its presence felt) throughout the story. The discovery and decoding of its contents must drive the plot. Maryam, Tammie, Grant, cousins, teachers, and the “Alice” cast, if they are to participate at all, must somehow fit into the unifying principle – the riddle of the samovar. Read More 

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J: JEWELS

Deep in the belly of an antique samovar nestles a little bag of something precious, concealed inside a bag of Persian soil. Is it a necklace belonging to Maryam’s grandmother? Did her Cousin Ahmad steal it, or was it (as he insists later the story) a gift to help him pay for college in the US? All Jandy and Cal have in chapter one is a note stuck in the chimney of the samovar, asking them to look after it “until we meet again” - with a list of numbers and letters on the back which they suspect is a coded message.

No amount of wrestling and brainstorming on my part has persuaded the samovar to cough up its secrets. Like Congress passing a bill so they can read it, I can’t answer these questions until I write the book. That’s how the process worked for SECRET OF THE SEVENTH GATE and ARROWHEAD’S LOST HOARD. May the genie of the samovar be kind to this humble weaver of tales. Read More 
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A IS FOR ART

Art is Jandy Graham's obsession. The first chapter of Secret of the Seventh Gate showed her walking home from school, hugging a sketchpad. Its sequel, Riddle of the Samovar, begins in a similar way. But now the Grahams are back in Texas, forced out of Iran by that country's Revolution, leaving behind her best friend, Maryam. The only bright spot for Jandy, as she readjusts to American life, is the opportunity to take art as an elective - but only if the counselor approves. Characters are not based on real people, but I do see a bit of myself and my daughter in Jandy's passion for art. It will drive the story and may help her solve another mystery with her brother, Calvin. Read More 
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