Saturday, January 12, 2013

Midnight at the Taj Mahal by Brynn Olenberg Sugarman: Character Interview

Today we have a Character Interview with Hailey Copperman, age 13, of “Midnight at the Taj Mahal.”

Where do you dream of traveling to and why?


I don’t have to dream: I’m doing it! I’m happy to be right where I am: exploring India in the craziest way possible. But even without Shah Jahan’s diary and the time travel prophecy, India is an adventure!


Tell us about your family.


My mother, Amanda, has eyes on the back of her head. She is into yoga so you’d think that she was relaxed, but she is actually intense. My dad says that it’s because she’s a red head, full of fire. She’s a great mom: always there for Zach and me. My dad is a total astronaut. And Zach, my twin, loves to find ways to embarrass me, but he’s still my close friend.


You just won a huge lottery: what is the first thing you'll buy?


Well, I wouldn’t need to buy a time machine, because I already have one of those – LOL! I wouldn’t buy anything: I’d donate it. I really love animals. It’s one of the great things about India: seeing monkeys and cows in the streets. I volunteer at the Humane Society back home, so I would give my money to them.


As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?


Hey, I’m still a kid, but I know what I want to be: a veterinarian (couldn’t you tell from my volunteer work at the shelter, and my imaginary lottery donation?!)


What group did you hang out with in high school?


Hmmm, I’m not in high school yet! But when I get there, I’ll only care about hanging out with kids with whom I feel a special connection, the way I feel connected to Sushil, and to my friend Anna, back home. If they are the popular kids, that’s fine but it’s also fine if they aren’t.


Do you play any sports?


Not really. I can’t walk around on my hands like Sushil, and I’m not on a school team like Zach, who wrestles. But after our adventure into the past, I am now a pretty good fencer. Maybe I’ll be able to find a fencing team when I get back to Eugene?  After all, I don’t want to forget how to parry and thrust! 

Tell us about your favorite restaurant.


Not one particular restaurant but the kind of food which I’m crazy about now: Indian! I’ve had so much fun discovering it here in Agra: give me a hot chai tea or cool mango lassi shake any day. “Eat your vegetables” takes on a whole different meaning when they are swimming in curry!


What is the next big thing?


Our next stop: Jerusalem. It’s really ancient and modern at the same time, and from everything I’ve read, it’s a mysterious place, with thousands of years of history. But I’ll miss Sushil. It’s funny: just three months ago, I didn’t know that he existed – and now I can’t imagine being without him!
With books and me, it was love at first sight. I remember standing on a stool to reach the counter in the local library. I was four and proud that I could sign my name, and get my very own library card, a passport to all of those great books on the shelf.

     For seventh grade English, I wrote about 13-year-old twins who go back in time and meet their mother as a kid. I guess that writing assignment was at the root of Midnight at the Taj Mahal. Thank you Mrs. Unschuld of I.S. 181 in The Bronx!

     I love to travel and have been to many places, including Vietnam, where I adopted my daughter Rachele. My first book, Rebecca's Journey Home, is based on that exciting adventure.
I love old buildings which have survived the past – and ancient ruins, with stories sealed in their silent walls. I now live in Israel, a land oozing history. If only stones could talk!

     So, why the Taj Mahal? When I visited India, saw the stunning Taj Mahal, and heard the story of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, I knew: it doesn’t get better than this!

    Midnight at the Taj Mahal is the first book in the Out of School Adventures. Stay tuned for the next adventure as the Copperman family continues their year abroad. Next stop: Jerusalem!

Here's a link to a blog post that Brynn wrote for “Times of Israel” about “Midnight at the Taj Mahal” and publishing via Createspace/Amazon:



Hailey and Zach are out of school on a year long adventure. First stop: India! The excitement begins the moment they step off the plane. Hailey and Zach are entrusted with the magical diary of Shah Jahan, legendary builder of the Taj Mahal, and are whisked off on their first real adventure. The Taj pool shimmers in the full moon, and suddenly the twins are not just traveling the world but traveling back in time, sent on a mission to free the shah and his princess daughter from their prison tower. With the help of their ingenious friend, Sushil, anything seems possible. Can they help the shah win back his rightful place on the throne? Will they change India's history forever? Time is running out! Will they succeed before their parents' work in India is done, and it's time for them to move on?

Amazon *

(this includes a “Look Inside,” i.e. excerpts).



Darlene ysaguirre said...

Thanks for the giveaway *fingers crossed*

teena3940 said...

Grandson will like this book..Thanks for the chance to win..