MacKids Spotlight: Christian McKay Heidicker

This month, we’re interviewing Christian McKay Heidicker, author of 2020 Newbery Honor book Scary Stories for Young Foxes! This fall, the series continues with Scary Stories for Young Foxes: The City. This next installment chronicles the adventures of three fox kits desperate to survive the terrors of a frightening new world.

Christian shares more about his inspiration for the story and what he hopes young readers will learn here.

When describing Scary Stories for Young Foxes: The City, what’s your elevator pitch?

Christian McKay Heidicker: The City is a retelling of modern horror stories through the eyes of real-world foxes in an urban setting. I don’t want to spoil anything, but in the original book, which retold classic horror stories, a rabies outbreak was a zombie story while a woman who taxidermied animals was a witch story.


Did you have the idea for The City before or after winning a Newbery Honor?

Christian: Long before! This companion novel was meant to be the latter half of the first book, telling the tales of the original heroes’ descendants. But like the frisky fox kits they are, Mia and Uly snatched up the story and scampered away with it, and I was only too happy to let them. So now, this entire second novel is dedicated to their kits’ kits’ kits’ kits’ kits’ kits’ kits.


Tell us about a librarian or educator who made an impact on you.

Christian: Amy Miller was the first teacher who encouraged me to be experimental in my writing. I was struggling through an assignment and started typing out the lyrics to an R.E.M. record and adding my gut reactions. She gave me an A (even writing her favorite R.E.M. lyrics in the margins), and I thought ‘Whoa . . . I didn’t think that would work.’ That gave me a lot of freedom.


What is the first step in your creative process?

Christian: I recognize a lack on the bookshelf, come up with an Absolutely Ridiculous Idea that Would Never Sell, and then find a way to make that idea human enough to speak to readers.


What advice would you give to young writers? 

Christian: Be bold. No, wait. Be bolder.


What’s your favorite scary story?

Christian: The Graveyard Book! Wait, no. Spooky Old Tree. Wait! Head Full of Ghosts. Wait. Swamp Thing. Wait…


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Christian McKay Heidicker reads and writes and drinks tea. He is the author of the Newbery Honor-recipient Scary Stories for Young Foxes, as well as Cure for the Common Universe and Attack of the 50 Foot Wallflower. With William Shivering, he wrote Thieves of Weirdwood and Ghosts of Weirdwood. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Scary Stories for Young Foxes: The City by Christian McKay Heidicker, illustrations by Junyi Wu
Ages 9-12
On Sale 8/31/21

From Christian McKay Heidicker, author of the Thieves of Weirdwood trilogy, comes the heart-stopping companion to the 2020 Newbery Honor recipient Scary Stories for Young Foxes, chronicling the adventures of three fox kits desperate to survive the terrors of a frightening new world.

Fox kit O-370 hungers for a life of adventure, like those lived long ago by Mia and Uly. But on the Farm, foxes know only the safety of their wire dens and the promise of eternal happiness in the White Barn. Or so they’re told. When O-370 gets free of his cage, he witnesses the gruesome reality awaiting all the Farm’s foxes and narrowly escapes with his life.

In a nearby suburb, young Cozy and her skulk are facing an unknown danger, one that hunts foxes. Forced to flee their den, they travel to a terrifying new world: the City. That’s where they encounter O-370, and where they’ll need to fight for their lives against mad hounds, killer robots, and the most dangerous of all creatures: humans.

Award-winning author Christian McKay Heidicker once again surprises, delights, and terrifies with eight interconnected stories inspired by classic and modern horror tropes and paired with haunting illustrations from Junyi Wu.

Prepare to be scared.

Praise for Scary Stories for Young Foxes: The City:

A Booklist 2019 Editors’ Choice Selection
A Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List Selection

“Clever and harrowing.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Into the finest tradition of storytelling steps Christian McKay Heidicker with these highly original, bone-chilling, and ultimately heart-warming stories. All that’s needed is a blazing campfire and a delicious plate of peaches and centipedes.” —Kathi Appelt, Newbery Award honoree and National Book Award finalist

“These tales are not for the faint of heart. And once you start, you cannot stop until you’ve reached the end…Terrifying and wonderful. A nightmare book you’ll want to return to repeatedly.”—Betsy Bird, Fuse8 Productions

“A weird, creepy and thoroughly entertaining romp for readers of all ages! Highly recommended!”—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times-bestselling author of Rot & Ruin and Mars One

“Heidicker has written the next Watership Down.”—New York Times-bestselling author Jessica Day George

“Gather around this collection of finely written stories that will raise your hackles and tingle your whiskers. But reader, beware. The dangers within this book are very real. Fortunately, so is the bravery of foxes.”—Matthew Kirby, Edgar Award-winning author of Icefall and The Clockwork Three


Read more author Q&As here!