Hello everybody! Today, I’m ever so excited to be on the blog tour for Ewa Jozefkowicz’s new release, with both my review and an interview with Ewa. Onto the post!
A new book from Ewa Jozefkowicz is always a treat, and her first foray into fantasy was no exception. It follows a boy named Kon, who is navigating his grief over his dad’s death, and his new friend Maya as they are pulled into the world of a Polish folk tale. They decide to try and change the story and save the dragon in it from being killed, as they thought his death was unfair.
Kon and Maya are both such easy characters to empathise with as they’re going through their own struggles, and both the friendship they form and their experiences in the world of the Dragon of Wawel Castle show them how strong they are collectively and as individuals, and changes their lives forever as a result. On this note, the book handles topics like grief and loneliness with sensitivity and care.
The fantasy worldbuilding really made me feel like I was there, right alongside the characters, and as ever, I find it fascinating to learn more about the legends, myths and folk tales of other cultures. The focus on bookshops and the idea of everyone having a character who matches them almost completely is beautiful too, and I’m sure Ewa’s next book will be amazing once more.
1. Hi Ewa, thank you so much for being here today, and for coming back to do another interview as well! To start us off, how would you describe THE DRAGON IN THE BOOKSHOP in 5 words?
Thank you! I would say it’s mysterious, mythical, historical, exciting and uplifting. Or at least I hope it is! It’s what I was aiming for.
2. The book follows Konrad and Maya, who end up in the pages of a Polish folk tale, trying to change the narrative of what happens. What made you want to write a book about this story specifically, and are there any other Polish legends you’d particularly like to base a book on?
My parents used to read me Polish legends when I was younger and this one, about the Dragon of Wawel Castle, particularly stuck with me. It’s all about a dragon who terrorises the inhabitants of Kraków – the whole town is desperate to get rid of him as he’s eating them out of house and home. But I always felt like the legend was slightly missing the point. Nobody was focusing on why the dragon had arrived on Wawel hill in the first place. Perhaps he wasn’t quite the baddie that everyone thought he was? I wanted to explore this idea through The Dragon In The Bookshop.
But yes – there are loads of brilliant Polish legends. Another one that I might like to explore in the future is about Wars and Sawa – a fisherman and a mermaid who together founded the city of Warsaw.
3. The bookshop, run by Konrad’s recently deceased dad, is such a big presence in the book, as well as one of my personal favourite parts. What are some of your favourite bookshops you’ve been to? Did you base the one in the book on any or is entirely fictional? And what are some bookshops you’d love to visit that you haven’t yet?
I’m a huge fan of bookshops! My dad was a bookseller, so this bookshop in the story is partly inspired by the first one he worked in, which sadly closed down several years ago. But there are so many brilliant ones. I love Pickled Pepper Books in North London – they do fantastic children’s events. And I’m a huge fan of BookBar in Highbury for adult books. I’m soon going to visit Bookbugs and Dragontales in Norwich, which I’m really excited about!
4. Another bookish element of the story is Kon’s dad’s belief that there is a different character out there which is almost an exact match to each unique person. So, have you found yours yet? And if so, who is it?
I haven’t yet! I’m still looking. I had some near matches though. When I was around 6 or 7 I thought that Pippi Longstocking was my character. We had a lot in common. I liked sleeping upside down with my feet on the pillow, just like she did.
5. In one of the press releases I was sent about the book it mentions the connection with the charity Grief Encounter. Can you talk a little bit about the work they do and why it’s so important?
Yes, of course. Grief Encounter is a wonderful charity that supports children who have lost someone close to them. It provides counselling, a Grieftalk helpline, workshops, retreats and family days. Most importantly, it unites people who have been through similar experiences and who might otherwise feel very alone. Having spoken to members of the team, I was blown away by the impact of their work. I would have loved for it to have been around when I lost my dad as a teenager.
6. Kon is very much struggling with the loss of his dad, and his friendship with Maya is truly life-changing for him. What are some of your favourite special friendships in fiction, whether that’s in books or movies or on TV?
Ah, there are so many brilliant ones! But top of my list might be the friendship between Sophie and the BFG (from Roald Dahl’s ‘The BFG’). One of my favourite films of all time is ‘Stand By Me’ based on the book by Stephen King. I think the relationship between the four main characters in that story is extra special.
7. As I think you know, I’ve been reading your books for quite a few years now and something I love about them is that although you transcend genre, your books always feel very distinctly you, if that makes sense. What would you say the key components of an Ewa Jozefkowicz book are?
Thank you so much for reading them! I think some of the key components are: a good mystery to solve, some great friendships that help characters through tough times and a (hopefully) exciting journey for readers to go on.
8. Now, question 8 is generally always the same around here, but as you’ve been here before, you’re getting the extra special question saved for repeat visitors. If you could have written any book by another author, which would you choose and why?
I have absolutely fallen in love with Phil Earle’s ‘When The Sky Falls.’ I’ve read it three times and have recommended it to everyone I know. So that would definitely be my choice. It’s a true gem.
9. Finally, can you tell us anything about working on at the moment or will be releasing next? Whatever it may be, I can’t wait to read it!
Yes, I’m in the early stages of writing a new story! I can’t say too much about it, but I can reveal that it will feature twins. I have twin girls and I find twin relationships really fascinating.
Favourite ice cream flavour? Chocolate
Last movie you watched? ‘Encanto’! If you haven’t seen it, you must.
Mythical creature you’d most like to be for a day? Obviously a dragon. Who wouldn’t want to be a dragon?
Top 3 books of 2022 so far?
‘When The Sky Falls’ by Phil Earle
‘When Life Gives You Mangoes’ by Kereen Getten
‘Twitch’ by M.G. Leonard
3 books that aren’t out yet which you’re looking forward to?
‘The Wildstorm Curse’ by Eve Wersocki-Morris
‘It’s the End of the World and I’m in my Bathing Suit’ by Justin Reynolds
‘While The Storm Rages’ by Phil Earle.
Thank you so much for reading! Are you a fan of Ewa’s books? What’s your favourite bookshop to visit? I’d love to chat in the comments!