The Frame-Up

June 5th 2018

The Frame-Up - Bookcover

The Frame-Up Book Launch!

 

It was a beautiful sunny day for Lord Beaverbrook Day at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, and the perfect day to launch The Frame-Up!

Almost 300 people showed up to cheer Mona and the book on, and I was so touched!

If you want to hear my remarks, click here. I start speaking at about 11:30.

 

 

There was so much going on, it was hard to keep up: actors dressed as Mona Dunn, Madame Juliette and Col. Edmund Nugget,  selfie station, scavenger hunt, sweet treats, special tours, and all kinds of art activities!

Some of my favourite moments:

 

Mona and I! How about that costume!!!!

 

 

 

Madame Juliette, Mona, and Edmund Nugent – clearly Edmund is in his youth here, given the state of his facial hair…

 

Mona Dunn’s real-life grandson, Arifin Graham, speaking at the launch. What a lovely man!

 

wrap your head around this: grandmother and grandson!

Selfie Station!!! Kids loved going behind the frame!!!

 

During my tour, some of the kids and Arifin hopped down to get the “proper” perspective on Santiago el Grande!

 

It took me an hour to sign all the books!

 

It was a wonderful day and not one I’ll soon forget!! Only one more week until The Frame-Up publishes!!!

Interview with FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES Blog

 

It was such a treat to be interviewed about The Frame-Up by one of my favourite authors, Patricia Bailey!

 

 

 

You can read the whole interview here!

 

 

I was also thrilled to see that FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES included THE FRAME-UP in its list of fun summer reads!

 

 

 

To read more about it, click here!

 

SO happy to see The Frame-Up getting some pre-release love!!!

Book Launch!

 

The Frame-Up Book Launch is this Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery!

 

 

Expect tasty goodies, surprise appearances from some of the paintings, an author tour of the paintings that appear in the book, and much more!

 

The event takes place during the gallery’s annual Lord Beaverbrook Day festivities. To learn more about the other activities that day, click here.

 

HOPE TO SEE THERE!!!

The Frame-Up Characters and Locales: Mona Dunn

 

I always knew who the heroine of my book would be.

I’d seen her many times over the years, and always felt drawn to the mysterious golden girl of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.

 

The real-life Mona Dunn was once described as the most beautiful girl in England, and when you look at the face above, one can hardly doubt the veracity of the statement.

But artist Orpen has painted her looking pensive; there is no sense of the devil-may-care girl who was a master equestrienne.

Though I read about Mona while preparing to write the book, the characters is almost entirely made up; I leave it to her family to tell her real story.

But there was never any doubt that this would be the girl who wold change the gallery forever, and who would attract the attention of Sargent Singer.

 

Mona scooted forward and began to pull on her stockings and shoes. “You startled me,” she corrected. She stopped tying a shoe to look up at Sargent. “Please . . . promise me you won’t tell a soul you saw me here. I will be in such trouble!”

 

In the book, it is Mona’s curiosity, and desire to interact with the world in front of the frames, that propels the story forward and forever changes the lives of the residents of the gallery.

What struck me as I wrote about Mona was how tedious it would be to be thirteen years old for the rest of your life.

As far as Mona can tell, nothing is ever going to change. And the arrival of Sargent, with his intensity and friendship, makes her question how she can possible do that for centuries more.

 

“Nothing’s wrong, it’s just . . .” Her voice trailed off. Panicked, heart sinking, Sargent stayed silent, afraid to upset her more. Finally she stopped sobbing and wiped her eyes. “It’s just I forgot how much I missed this world. In the gallery, I can go inside paintings and feel the sun on my face, walk in the grass, swim in the ocean, but somehow, it never feels quite like this.”

 

In the end, Mona becomes the symbol for a newly re-energized Beaverbrook Art Gallery campaign. I can only hope the same occurs for the real-life portrait of Mona Dunn. She is much more mysterious and enchanting than the Mona Lisa, and deserves nothing less than her due.

 

 

On the cover, Mona is looking away. But she will be discovered soon enough.

Giveaway!

Okay Canada – this one is for you!

Since Canadian residents weren’t able to enter the latest Goodreads Draw, I wanted you all to have a chance to win a book from me!

Leave me a message before May 31st and you’ll be automatically entered to win my last The Frame-Up ARC!

The Frame-Up - Bookcover

 

GOOD LUCK!!!

The Frame-Up Characters and Locales: Patsy Ryder

 

Much as I love Mona Dunn, I love Patsy Ryder even more.

 

Painted in the late 1940s by New Brunswick artist Jack Humphrey, Patsy is a visitor to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 

“Bonjour, Patsy,” said Juliette. “My name is Juliette. Do you know how you have come to be in this room? I do not believe we have met before.”

Patsy’s voice sounded far away, as if the paper covering her was a heavy dampening curtain. “I just arrived. I don’t think I’m supposed to be here. I was dropped off to be appraised by Director Singer.”

 

It is the fact that Patsy is a visitor that makes her so valuable to the story, as well as her bravery when called to action.

The decision as to whether to use an imaginary or real painting as the the visitor character was never in question: Patsy Ryder is a portrait of my mother.

This is one of a few easter eggs I’ve put in the book, and the most meaningful to me. Even better, on the day of my book launch at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery on May 27th, my mother, who passed away in 2001, will be there, hung on the wall for everyone to see.

I couldn’t be more proud.

 

My mother, at the age she was painted, with her childhood friend, Donald Sutherland. Yes, THAT Donald Sutherland.

 

So when you read the book and reach the part about Patsy, remember: the real one grew up to be someone very special!

 

Love you Mum!

 

 

I’m Presenting at The Writer’s Federation of New Brunswick’s WordSpring Festival this Weekend

 

I’m doing the morning’s keynote address at WFNB’s WordSpring Festival this weekend, and I am so excited!

 

 

I’ll be talking about being a late bloomer in the publishing world, then doing a workshop on writing compelling children’s literature. The festival takes place in Quispamsis from May 11th to 13th.

So excited and pleased to be invited!

The Frame-Up Characters and Locales: The Cotterell Family

 

I’m not going to lie: I LOVE The Cotterell Family

 

 

One of the things that struck me as I was “casting” The Frame-Up was that most of the portraits contained only one person.

But a family forced to live together for three-hundred-and-ten years? Now that was interesting.

And a family forced to live with four rambunctious children, including a baby? It makes me shiver to think about!

Meet the Cotterells: Sir Charles, Lady Cotterell, Baby Frances, Lizzie, Clem and Charles.

 

 

The Cotterells are important to the story: Clem is Mona Dunn’s best friend, partner-in-crime, and desperate to be like every kid who visits the art gallery rather than being stuck wearing foppish seventeenth century clothing; and Sir Charles, the bellyaching patriarch frustrated to find his portrait in a provincial backwater (he’d expected to live in the Louvre) who discovers a passion for movies.

 

Clement Cotterell intercepted Mona on her way to meet Max. “Come and find me tonight. Unless you’re grounded,” he added saucily. “I want to share some sick beats I’m working on.”

 

The idea of a young book from the seventeenth centre wanting to be like all the kids who visit made Clem real to me. Imagine watching other kids with their smart phones, and walkmans before that. How difficult it would be to see how childhood is changing, and yet deep down, Clem is not really any different from Mona or even Sargent and the other kids.

And Sir Charles? He is the curmudgeon who becomes a pussycat.

“I have not witnessed anything as wondrous in three hundred years,” Sir Charles said, bowing deeply. “Truly, I thought the only magic in this world was paintings coming to life. But moving pictures are spectacular. Please, tell Mr. Ben Stiller that I hold him in the highest esteem.”

Sargent laughed. “I don’t actually know Ben Stiller.”

 

What I love best about the Cotterells is how great a family they are, despite sometimes getting on each other’s nerves. And they adore Mona, and worry about her getting hurt because of her friendship with Sargent.

 

Can you spy Clem on the cover?

 

 

 

I can’t wait for you to meet The Cotterells!

The Frame-Up Characters and Locales: Lieutenant Colonel Edmund Nugent

 

How dashing is this painting?

 

Lieutenant Colonel Edmund Nugent, Thomas Gainsborough, 1764, Oil on canvas

 

In the story, Mona needed a friend who was dashing, chivalrous, and larger than life. The romantic ideal in a scarlet officer’s coat. Enter Edmund.

In real life, the painting is nearly eight feet high. It dwarfs the viewer. The subject is sure of himself, elegant, and yet masculine all at once.

I love the idea that the residents are able to expand or contract depending upon the painting they are in. It is fun to think of Edmund being engaged to the tiny Madame Juliette, and yet when they are in the same painting, they are a perfect fit.

 

He takes up a whole wall!

 

Edmund is adventurous, but he is also the voice of reason for Mona.

 

“Do buck up,” Edmund said, patting Mona on the head. “He struck me as an affable chap. Even if he does suspect you are alive, I’m sure he will not break your confidence. That would be most ungentlemanly.” Nothing outraged Edmund more than a loose tongue.

 

Given his engagement to Madame Juliette, Edmund is also Mona’s romantic ideal.

 

Edmund, in his red military frock coat with the golden piping and brass buttons, was the epitome of dashing, thanks to his chivalrous eighteenth-century manners and his elegant oak walking stick.

 

But soon, not even Edmund can reason with Mona, whose desire to live a larger life and be friends with Sargent Singer threatens the gallery residents’ way of life.

 

I love how artist Ian Shoenhorr dips the Edmund on the cover in red:

 

 

The Frame-Up Gets Some Wonderful Reviews!

 

I’m happy to report that The Frame-up is getting some great reviews!

 

 

Booklist gave the book a starred review:

 

 

School Library Journal is also very positive:

 

Gr 3-6–Inspired by the author’s lifelong love of art and the moving portraits in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, this inventive fantasy gives a second life to its painted subjects. For the past 100 years, Mona Dunn has watched the world go by. Like the rest of the pieces at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, she is alive but only allowed to interact with the other painted inhabitants of the gallery. Communicating with the real world is strictly forbidden. These rules keep the gallery’s secret safe but make life lonely and boring for the eternally 13-year-old Mona. So boring, that one afternoon she is caught recklessly moving in front of the gallery director’s son, Sargent. Sargent’s own loneliness prompts him to develop a friendship with Mona. Their mutual insecurity with peers is relatable despite the magical circumstances. Readers will delight in the canvas world that exists on the other side of the frame. Mona’s gallery neighbors are equal parts quirky and endearing, while a sinister threat propels the plot forward. The book includes a full-color insert of the masterpieces referenced, which could be a great starting point for readers to imagine stories and worlds of their own. VERDICT Not just for art enthusiasts, this middle grade read paints fantasy, humor, and mystery into a satisfying tale about the power of friendship.–Sophie Kenney, Vernon Area Public Library District, IL

 

 

Even Kirkus had some nice things to say:

 

“A girl in a painting and a boy visiting the gallery she hangs in foil art thieves. …MacKnight entices with art critique and technique. …For anyone who’s wondered about the people inside the frames.”

 

Keep The Frame-Up love going! If you read the book and love it, please leave a review on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Chapters.ca and Barnes and Noble and Goodreads. Those reviews really help!

And if you haven’t yet pre-ordered, click here and learn about the great contest I’m running!

 

 

The Frame-Up Characters and Locales: Hotel Bedroom

 

It is a haunting portrait.

 

Lucian Freud’s Hotel Bedroom, painted in 1954, is one of the most popular and valuable paintings at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, and it is also one of the most perplexing.

 

Lucian Freud, Hotel Bedroom, 1954, Oil on canvas

 

If you wanted to cast a villain for your story, really could there be anything better than this smoky-hued man, hovering in the background, staring down at the vacant-eyed woman in the bed?

In The Frame-Up, he is appropriately named Mr. Dusk, Lord Beaverbrook’s right-hand man, who spends his evenings spying on the other residents on behalf of the boss.

 

But Freud had painted Dusk as a grey, shadowy figure, and because of that, most of the residents of the gallery gave him a wide berth.

 

In the story, Mr. Dusk is a thorn in Mona’s side, who may or may not be out to get her.

 

She was back in the blank canvas when she spotted Dusk in a landscape a few paintings away. Did Max know he was breaking the rules? As if he sensed her presence, Dusk turned and looked in her direction. Then he disappeared, and she heard his footsteps coming towards her.

 

Dusk plays a pivotal role in the book, and is responsible for quite a few twists and turns in the story. And just like in the book, his placement on the cover makes him look mysterious and creepy.

 

 

 

I can’t wait for you to meet him!

 

 

I’m Presenting at the NCTE Annual Convention!

 

I, along with Teacher and MG Book Ambassador Extraordinaire Corrina Allen, have been accepted as presenters at this fall’s annual NCTE Convention!

 

 

Our topic:

Culturally Responsive Classrooms and the Arts: Poetry Visual Arts, and Storytelling
Scheduled for: Friday, November 16, 2018 12:30-1:45 p.m.

 

What is NCTE?

NCTE stand for National Council of Teachers of English.

Through collaboration and community, shared stories and shared experiences, NCTE supports teachers and their students in classrooms, on college campuses, and in online learning environments.

For more than 100 years, NCTE has worked with its members to offer journals, publications, and resources; to further the voice and expertise of educators as advocates for their students at the local and federal levels; and to share lesson ideas, research, and teaching strategies through its Annual Convention and other professional learning events.

 

Mission Statement

The National Council of Teachers of English is devoted to improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education. This mission statement was adopted in 1990:

“The Council promotes the development of literacy, the use of language to construct personal and public worlds and to achieve full participation in society, through the learning and teaching of English and the related arts and sciences of language.”

 

I can’t wait!!! See you in Houston!

The Frame-Up Characters and Locales: The Party-Goers

 

And a good time was had by all…

 

Philippe Mercier (French, 1689-1760)
Bacchanalian piece: Sir Thomas Samwell and Friends, c. 1733
oil on canvas

 

Imagine you were at a three-hundred-year-long party.

 

If you can do that (I can’t!), you can imagine the conviviality that exudes from this painting.

These gentlemen always remind me of the folks you see on a pontoon boat in the summer. They are here for a good time, not a long time. But alas, these fellows have been hanging out together for a LONG time…

Since imagining the world behind the frame these past years, I’ve been obsessed with what the lives of the residents are really like.

Is Sir Thomas Samwell regretting posing with his friends? Does he ever wish they’d go home? Do they simply slide under the table at some point in the evening, or does the “magical” elixir have no impact after all these years?

What I do know is that these gentlemen are lovely.

On the far left is Sir Thomas Samwell, then John Neal, Captain John Floyd, William Wilmer, William Piers, and Caesar, who started out as Sir Thomas’ servant, but after about six months in the painting, became everyone’s friend and now sits at the table. Last but not least, is General Louis deJean, who everyone calls the guitar general.

Mona likes everyone in this painting, but cannot keep the two Williams straight! Still, she trusts them with her philosophical questions:

Some with to interact with those outside the frame,” Caesar said, taking a melancholy sip of wine.  “We come into our paintings with our original souls and memories, but sometimes it does not seem enough. I miss the real world at times. Alas, it is impossible to return.”

“Do you not think Max is able to do it?” Mona asked. She’d often wondered how he knew everything that was going on at the Beaverbrook.

Caesar shook his head. “Max is larger than life, but he is not larger than his painting. No one can leave his painting.”

 

One thing you may have noticed amongst the older paintings are that almost none of them contain people of colour.

That’s because only rich people could afford to have their portraits painted.

It’s important to realize that up until a certain point in history, art galleries represented a white perspective on the world. That is changing now, which makes art galleries like the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, more interesting places to live for their residents.

 

Pre-Order The Frame-Up!

 

It’s Time to Pre-Order The Frame-Up!

 

Two months from today The Frame-Up hits bookstores!
 

But I’d love it if you pre-ordered it now! Why pre-order?

 
Pre-order sales really help sell books. When bookstores – either locally or online — receive pre-orders, it encourages them to buy more stock, reacting to the buzz. Online, it ranks the book higher, which also creates more buzz.
 
How can you help?
Ask your local indie bookstore to bring in a copy for you. (In Fredericton, that’s Westminster Books). Not sure who your local indie is? Order here: http://bit.ly/indiewmm
 
If you want an autographed copy, Westminster Books here in Fredericton will gladly ship anywhere in North America. You can call them at 1-800-561-7323.
 
Or, order online:
Chapters: http://bit.ly/chapterswmm
Amazon.com: http://bit.ly/frameupwmm
Amazon.ca: amzn.to/2G6Z7PJ
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/BNFrameUp
 

But there’s more!

Once you’ve pre-ordered, email me at wendy@wendymcleodmacknight.com to let me know. No receipt necessary.  Every pre-order will receive a personal note from me and 3 signed bookmarks. Plus, everyone who pre-orders will have their name automatically entered into a draw for the following:

 A T-shirt featuring the paintings of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, A Merrymaking Christmas ornament, a poster featuring most of the paintings featured in The Frame-Up, a Madame Juliette magnetic bookmark, a magnet of Edmund, and a Vincent van Gogh finger puppet! The winner will be drawn at end of day June 4th, 2018.
 

Thanks for pre-ordering!

 

Author of Children's Literature

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