YEM Author Interview: Izzi Breigh shares how SLEEPWALKERS: Round One was inspired by original fairy tales

Izzi Breigh is the author of SLEEPWALKERS: Round One. SLEEPWALKERS: Round One is a middle grade fantasy-horror novel. The book follows 11-year-old Ellie Dasher who is not a Sleepwalker. She doesn’t know who they are or what they do. She couldn’t find Inzien on a map or tell you what a Jaghound looks like. She’s just a kid, trying on a new town, with an imaginary friend who might not be imaginary. It takes one fateful night for Ellie to learn that dreams have sharp teeth and, yes, they do bite. YEM was able to speak with Izzi about writing for middle grades, how long it took her to write the book and what inspires her.

Young Entertainment Mag: When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?

Izzi Breigh: It wasn’t a singular moment. I’ve always enjoyed making up stories in my head and sometimes voicing them to others. I was good at it. Somewhere along the way I began to write it all down.

YEM: Your book “SLEEPWALKERS: Round One” is a middle grade fantasy-horror novel, what inspired you to write it?

Izzi: A great inspiration was the original fairy tales as told by the Grimm brothers and Hans Christian Andersen. Those tales had a darker tone and happy endings were hard to come by. The settings were dangerous places for characters to inhabit. Also, I’m a very curious person and I’ve always found the human ability to dream so compelling, how we go still and quiet and are completely lost to the waking world. We are essentially trapped and held hostage by our sleeping selves. I wanted to explore that mystery.

YEM: What is it about middle grades that makes you want to write for them?

Izzi: There is no limit on the imaginations of young people. They have a sincere longing to be swept away. I’m thrilled to provide an adventure and setting that hopefully accomplishes the task.

YEM: Were any of your characters inspired by people in your real life?

Izzi: Yes, but I wouldn’t say any character is an exact match to someone I’ve known. I’ve borrowed the traits, strengths, and flaws from many people in my life. 

YEM: How long did it take for you to write “SLEEPWALKERS: Round One”?

Izzi: It’s strange because I’ve had the idea for a very long time. The world and lore of Inzien have grown in my imagination over many years. Anytime I casually spoke to people about it, I was told to write it down! Once I got to work, it took about a year to finish the first book. It took much longer to bring it to market.

YEM: What were the most difficult parts of having “SLEEPWALKERS: Round One” made?

Izzi: Everything outside of writing. Writing is the small bubble I can control. All of the other logistics of preparing and releasing a book are daunting for me.

YEM: Do you have any advice for those who would also like to be writers?

Izzi: Yes, read! It doesn’t even need to be in the genre you wish to write in. Read what you love. It will always make you a better writer.

YEM: What is one thing you hope your readers takeaway with them after reading “SLEEPWALKERS: Round One”?

Izzi: I hope I engaged the reader’s imagination and they had fun on the journey.

YEM: Who is an author that inspires you?

Izzi: Agatha Christie. The way she can craft a brilliant and satisfying mystery in such a concise number of pages is unmatched.

YEM: What is your favorite book of all time?

Izzi: The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie. Is there another book out there with a spunky heroine that refuses to be called by any other name than Bundle?

YEM: Who is always the first person to read your work after you are done writing?

Izzi: I have a lovely cat who is also an avid reader. She never passes up an opportunity to get the first look.

YEM: What is your favorite line or scene from “SLEEPWALKERS: Round One”?

Izzi: At the risk of spoilers, all I can say is that it’s when our heroine meets a certain prisoner and experiences the full effects of what it’s like to be snooped on.

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