D. H. Timpko is a long-time reader of science fiction, fantasy, and mysteries. She and her husband, who she met at a science fiction convention, own over ten thousand books. They also own over a hundred paintings and prints. After working for many years as a writer and editor for publishing companies, associations, and corporations, Timpko retired. Now she writes fiction and nonfiction full-time. She is a member of Broad Universe and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).
She describes The Firma Twins and the Flute of Enchantment:
Twelve-year-old Electra Firma plans to become an Olympic champion when she’s old enough. Her coach knows she has the talent. That’s the problem. Electra’s talent comes from her part-alien heritage, which gives her superhuman abilities, and her parents forbid her from training. Depressed, Electra rejects her inheritance and refuses to hone her alien skills. A new threat by an enemy alien race forces Electra, her identical twin sister Isis, and their best friends to infiltrate the aliens to find the Flute of Enchantment and protect humanity. If Electra doesn’t master shapeshifting, she and her best friend face imminent death.
Did something in the real world inspire The Firma Twins and the Flute of Enchantment?
The Firma Twins adventures are loosely based on stories I wrote when I was twelve. The story evolved and the only things I kept from the original stories were vampires and the Purple Staff of Death, an alien weapon.
In the Firma Twins, two sets of warring aliens crash on Earth ten thousand years ago: the Squrlon and their mortal enemies, the Vympyrym. Both are shape shifters and immortal. The Squrlon often appear as gray squirrels and the Vympyrym as human-size rats. The Vympyrym are vampiric to the Squrlon and, in a pinch, to humans, although human blood is inferior.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin inspired some of the backstory. The Squrlon crashed in Asia, hundreds of miles from where the Vympyrym landed. Serafin, the oldest of the Squrlon, carried the Flute of Enchantment, which mesmerized the Vympyrym, and the Purple Staff of Death, which vanquished them. Serafin rescued a tribe of Paleo-Indians from their enemies and the Squrlon led them across the land bridge to North America.
In the first book, The Firma Twins and the Purple Staff of Death, identical twins Isis and Electra Firma learn they are part-human, part-Squrlon. They’ve inherited special powers and Serafin’s ability to use the Staff and Flute.
The Firma Twins and the Flute of Enchantment, the second in the series, revolves around Electra, who must develop her powers and shapeshifting abilities. The problem is Electra resents being part alien, ignores the rules for shapeshifting, and takes unnecessary risks.
What is your favorite scene in The Firma Twins and the Flute of Enchantment?
My favorite scene is when the main character, Electra Firma, shapeshifts into a cardboard box and Isis prevents their father from crumpling and throwing her into the recyclables bin. This scene capsulizes Electra’s main fault: she likes to act first and think later. She knows she’s not supposed to shapeshift into an object because objects aren’t living. The risk is she might remain an object forever.
What was your writing process like as you wrote the book?
I like to write the synopsis first, which means thinking through the plot thoroughly. I need to know the end of the book and all the key plot points to get there. However, my one-sentence outline for the book left lots of room for creativity along the way.
What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?
The Firma Twins and the Flute of Enchantment received a five-star review from Readers’ Favorite. Because the review occurred before final production, I was able to include a quote on the cover of the book. Since the book is aimed at boys as well as girls, having “fast-paced” appear in the blurb is invaluable.
Although I’ve sold the book at the Broad Universe table and read a few pages at Rapid Fire Readings at a couple of conventions, I haven’t had much time for promotion. Now that I’m recovering well from my third surgery this year, I’m starting promotion and quite glad to participate in this interview!
What do you have planned next?
I’m writing the third book in the series, The Firma Twins and the Paisley Egg, in which Isis encounters the ghost of Blackbeard and discovers the ultimate destiny of the Squrlon and the Firmas.
The Firma Twins adventures are an open-ended series. That is, I can write as many books as I wish. In the history of the Firma family, there are many Firma twins in the past and future. I have several more books in the series planned.
After the third Firma Twins book is complete, I plan to rewrite a middle grade science fiction book called Stranders in which Mariah, a twelve-year-old girl who has telekinetic ability, and her abusive family find themselves deserted on an unstable planet.
You can pick up a copy of The Firma Twins and the Flute of Enchantment from
Follow D. H. at her website: www.dhtimpko.com.