Delphine and the Silver Needle is an enchanting and exhilarating adventure book that follows Delphine, an orphaned mouse who lives inside the walls of Cinderella’s château, as she searches for the truth of her heritage and the mysterious silver needle left with her on the doorstep. It’s a magical tale full of wonderful characters, adventures, and mystery fans are sure to love. We spoke with author Alyssa Moon about the inspiration behind Delphine, the quirky characters that join her on her journey, and more. Check out the interview below!
Nerds and Beyond: Firstly, congratulations on Delphine and the Silver Needle. It’s a fantastic book and your debut novel as well! Tell us a little about the inspiration behind the story.
Alyssa Moon: Thank you! The story of Delphine has been in my head for a very long time, in one form or another. As a child, I loved to imagine the lives of all the minor animal characters in the animated Disney films. What did their houses look like? What were their hopes and dreams? And the little mice in Cinderella’s château…how did they know how to sew? Not to mention that I read so much as a child, I practically lived inside books. All of those magical worlds and brave adventures inspired me to wonder what it would be like to be an everyday house mouse and then suddenly have a tremendous legacy – and threat – placed onto your shoulders. Delphine may be small, but she has so much heart and courage.
Nerds and Beyond: Did you do a lot of research, and was the legend of The Threaded based on any lore you found or was it all from your imagination?
Alyssa Moon: The Threaded are entirely from my imagination, but the idea of a group of powerful beings who pass their magic from generation to generation has been a theme in so many great stories. I spent time reading fairy tales from all over the world to research strong heroines and themes of identity and self-discovery. I also did a lot of research on France in the 1700s, since this is when the book is set, although I didn’t worry about being too historically accurate. After all, this is a world with magical mice!
Nerds and Beyond: I love the way Delphine’s story runs parallel to Cinderella’s but is very much an independent adventure. Was that the plan from the beginning?
Alyssa Moon: Yes, the plan was always to have their stories run parallel, but I played around a lot with how much Cinderella’s story would be part of Delphine’s. I came to the conclusion that this was really Delphine’s story first and foremost. I loved the idea of Cinderella’s journey being a thread that runs through Delphine’s story, and pops up from time to time in small ways that complement what’s happening to Delphine.
Nerds and Beyond: Early in her journey, Delphine is joined by Alexander, who is the polar opposite of her in many ways. Was it challenging to write his often over the top character in relation to Delphine’s practical nature?
Alyssa Moon: Alexander really wrote himself. He is so full of life and personality that I could practically see him running around on my desk whenever I was writing his scenes, swishing his cloak from side to side and shouting “huzzah!” at me. And I think you’re right – he could have overpowered a lot of other personalities during the writing process. But Delphine is so strong in her own ways that she becomes a perfect counterpoint for him. She brings him back down to earth, and he does the same for her. They’re the ideal pair.
Nerds and Beyond: Watching this unlikely duo grow together is a really special element within the story as well. Was portraying that growth both individually and together important to you?
Alyssa Moon: Absolutely. I wanted to tell the story of two very different personalities. Their journey together helps them to appreciate one another’s quirks, especially teaching Delphine to be patient with Alexander. They bring out both the best and the worst in each other. And let’s be honest, it was a lot of fun to put them into situations that pushed each of their personalities up to eleven, and then stand back and watch the sparks fly!
Nerds and Beyond: The mystery of Delphine’s ancestor is so engaging. Every new answer stirs up even more questions and a new destination to find those answers. Did you find it challenging to write the twists and turns in Delphine’s story?
Alyssa Moon: It was definitely a challenge, but in the best way. First, I had to figure out exactly what the ancestor’s story was. Then, I separated that story into puzzle pieces that Delphine could uncover bit by bit. And finally, all of that had to be plotted backward, along this topsy-turvy path that she travels across the kingdom. I spent a lot of time referencing my plot notebook to be sure everything lined up and would be clear to the reader.
Nerds and Beyond: We have to talk about her connection to magic and the moon. Was the idea to draw power from the moon inspired by your surname or is that a coincidence?
Alyssa Moon: I’ve felt a connection to the moon for as long as I can remember, for obvious reasons! And I wanted the magic to be tied to a natural source, a sort of twist on elemental-themed magic. So when I started thinking about the natural sources that mice might draw magic from, the moon that they see every night was a very natural place to start. There’s deep lore here with The Threaded, and here’s a hint for what’s to come in the future: the moon isn’t the only natural source of magic in this world.
Nerds and Beyond: The baddie in this story, King Midnight, is downright scary, and I love that you give updates on his hunt for the needle — that really highlights the gravity of Delphine’s situation. How did you settle on rats as the enemy force and also craft the evil King Midnight in just a few pages throughout the book?
Alyssa Moon: Just for the record: I actually love rats. My first pet as a child was a black and white rat. But in storytelling, they make terrifying enemies for mice who are much smaller and weaker by nature. For a mouse to beat a rat, she can’t just use brute strength – she has to be clever and cunning. That sets up a high-stakes dynamic for Delphine. As for King Midnight, Delphine is such a strong heroine that she really needed a formidable villain to go up against, and one that’s dangerous enough that the stakes are high enough to threaten the whole kingdom. Although he doesn’t appear on many pages, his presence is always felt. To me, he’s the quintessential villain.
Nerds and Beyond: Throughout the book, we’re also introduced to two characters from the past, Elodie and Rien. Why did you decide to tell their story alongside Delphine’s?
Alyssa Moon: The story of Elodie and Rien is in many ways a counterpoint to Delphine and Alexander. They meet when they’re very young and they care so deeply for one another, especially in how protective Elodie feels over Rien. Their story is sprinkled with clues that will ultimately reveal what led to the danger Delphine finds herself in today. I’m excited to see if readers can figure out how the two timelines are connected before Book Two is released.
Nerds and Beyond: Cornichonne is an instant favorite with her adorable quirks and unique features, and she’s based on your real life cat, Picklepop! What inspired you to pay homage to Picklepop in the story?
Alyssa Moon: Picklepop demanded it. She can be very persuasive.
Nerds and Beyond: Are Delphine and Alexander based on any real life people (or pets) as well?
Alyssa Moon: Delphine is a combination of Cinderella who is courageous, kind, and good with a needle…and me. I’m awfully stubborn and headstrong, and I’m not always very good at recognizing when there’s an easier way to do things once my mind is made up. Delphine and I both struggle with that trait! Alexander just sprang onto the page, fully formed, as a charmingly irritating character who has absolutely no idea how absurdly he comes across half the time. But his heart is very much in the right place, and that’s what counts in the end.
Nerds and Beyond: The way you describe Delphine’s connection to magic with the silver needle is downright… well magical! Will we continue to see her hone those skills in the next book?
Alyssa Moon: There’s so much more of Delphine’s magic to come in Book Two! But the reality of needle magic is that if it’s not controlled, it can boil over and become dangerous. We see this danger in Book One when she first uses the needle and capsizes their boat. That experience teaches her that the magic can be deadly if not controlled. And when she discovers how powerful King Midnight really is, she’ll have to struggle with the question of whether her magic is strong enough to defeat him.
Nerds and Beyond: Without spoilers of course, can you give any hints of what’s to come for Delphine, Alexander, and Cornichonne in Book Two?
Alyssa Moon: More mysteries, more strange new friends, more battles, and much more danger! In Book One, Delphine begins her journey thinking that if she can just solve the mystery of the needle, she’ll know how to defeat the rats and then she can go back home. This is far from the truth. There’s much more at stake than she ever realized, and ultimately the fate of the entire kingdom will rest in her paws. There are a lot of answers in Book Two to the questions raised in Book One, but even more questions come to light that will change everything.
Nerds and Beyond: Lastly, what do you hope young readers will take away from Delphine and the Silver Needle?
Alyssa Moon: Creating stories that touch the hearts of the next generation is a gift and a responsibility. I hope Delphine inspires young readers to believe in themselves and in the magic of the world that surrounds us all.
Nerds and Beyond: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me about the book, and I can’t wait for Book Two!
Alyssa Moon: It was such a pleasure! Looking forward to talking about Book Two with you!
Delphine and the Silver Needle is available in stores and online everywhere now!