Starting Points: Lee Edward Födi discussing Kendra Kandlestar and the Door to Unger

An ongoing series wherein CWILL BC writers and illustrators connect a picture or an item to one of their books.


During the two summers I was working on the second book in my Kendra Kandlestar series, I spent a significant amount of time in England. It was here that I found particular inspiration for what would become Kendra Kandlestar and the Door to Unger, a book that is currently being re-released in a new edition by Simply Read Books.

Included here is a picture of me in the maze at Hampton Court, the palace once inhabited by King Henry VIII. This maze is infamously difficult to escape—and my experience there gave me one of the central ideas for my Kendra sequel: a labyrinth that preys on the emotions of its victims, turning them against themselves.

I returned home and worked all that year on the text and pictures of the book. Then, the following summer, I was back in England. During one portion of my trip, I was sitting on a rocky beach in Cornwall. I get bored on beaches, so I took out my sketchbook and began doodling. It was at this moment that I came up with the sketch shown here.


I’m not sure why this image popped into my head at this time. All I know is that it intrigued me because of its ambiguity; Kendra, with her braided head poking out of the sack, looks as if she either being kidnapped or whisked away to safety. (Incidentally, my readers always seem to have the same comment when they see the final illustration that appears in the book).

As it turned out, this sketch directly connected to my first idea about the maze and caused me to redraft the entire second half of my manuscript.

There were many other experiences in England that helped inspire this book, such as a trip to Stonehenge and a moment of claustrophobia descending a turret in the Tower of London. In any case, it seems I owe a lot to that island for this book!


Kendra Kandlestar and the Door to Unger is written and illustrated by Lee Edward Födi, and published by Simply Read Books. Release: September 2013

Lee Edward Födi loves to explore castles, tombs, catacombs and mazes—not to mention the tiny places tucked between Here and There. He likes to think of himself as a professional daydreamer. When he’s not daydreaming himself, he teaches it—mostly to kids who, it seems to him, are already pretty good at it, though they just haven’t yet learned how to put it to good use.

About Dan Bar-el

I am a children's writer. I write picture books, middle grade novels and graphic novels. Also angry tweets, once in a while.
This entry was posted in books/writing, juvenile fiction, new publications, Starting Points, Uncategorized, writing process and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Starting Points: Lee Edward Födi discussing Kendra Kandlestar and the Door to Unger

  1. Interesting to hear how Kendra’s adventures were inspired by your own, Lee!

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