This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a backlist ebook copy to a randomly drawn winner at every stop during the tour and a Grand Prize of a $25 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during this tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
Why YA (or Middle Grade) fiction? What draws you to it?
Look, I’m going to be completely honest with you—making UP THE TOWER a YA book was by and large a marketing decision. As an indie author, I saw the numbers and noticed that I had a much larger chance to have a bigger share of the market if I marketed my book as Young Adult Science Fiction (where there are not a lot of indie writers, but a large amount of profits) than just Science Fiction (where there is a surplus of indie writers fighting for a meager amount of profits). I love writing; I love creating fiction; but, at the end of the day, I am trying to feed myself and my cat and my dog with this business. My wife can probably feed herself; she is pretty smart.
Now, the really interesting part is that to make my book YA compatible didn’t really take much work. My book was never very graphic to begin with, and the adult issues I did try to tackle, I portrayed in fairly straightforward fashion. So, it’s easy to give it a surface read as a big rollicking adventure (which I encourage!); but, if you want to look at it as examining some very real social issues like the militarization of police forces, the propagation of a surveillance state, and the ever-widening expanse of corporate control in the government, that’s there too. In the same way, something like THE HUNGER GAMES is a great surface-level read about a young woman discovering how powerful she can be as an independent agent in her life, but it also does a lot of exploring of the way an over-exertion of governmental power can be disastrous, and how gender roles can often be inappropriately used to define people (another of my favorite subjects explored in my novel!).
None of this is to say I don’t love and respect YA fiction. One of my favorite novels that I’ve read in the past couple of years—and one that in my mind is a sort of cultural cousin to UP THE TOWER—is China Mieville’s RAILSEA, an excellent YA romp through a crazy steampunk world.
What books were your favorite as a youth and why?
The first “real” book I read was J.R.R. Tolkien’s THE HOBBIT. So, of course, right away, that blew me off my seat. I then tried to get into THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, but those were a lot denser and a lot harder on my mind at the time. I ended up maneuvering over to David Eddings’ BELGARIAD series, which is probably about as classic as medieval-society fantasy gets. One thing I loved about Eddings’ books was how there weren’t just these whole societies of elves and orcs and whatnot. All the differences between the different cultures were national. The Drasnians are all spies, and all the Chereks are huge crazy warriors, and so on. Now, that had its own flaws as a system of categorizing people, but it was still really cool and different to me at the time.
Favorite TV show from your childhood?
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers! I used to raise absolute terror if I wasn’t home RIGHT at 4:30 to catch the episodes as they came on. When I watched it, it was completely uncool to do so, so I had to keep it a secret from all of my friends for fear of being made fun of. I had one good friend who loved them with me, but we were always sort of afraid the other would quit liking the Power Rangers first, and so there was always this weird tension when we played with the Zords.
Sum up your book for Twitter: 140 characters or less.
Endless corpocracy. Dystopian slum. Catastrophic earthquake. For six deadly strangers, there’s just one way out…UP THE TOWER.
Favorite hot beverage. Why?
I feel like this is almost self-explanatory, but basically every stage of my operation is fueled by coffee. The book I wrote? Coffee. My blog? Coffee. My twitter feed @jplantern? Coffee. This very blog post? Coffee.
I have the sort of personality that feels better when things get done, and coffee makes that happen a little easier.
Ideal summer vacation.
This summer I was very lucky to travel to Maui, and then Seattle, and then Big Sur. My wife and I had a long two weeks where we were with each other, with family, and with friends. It was pretty terrific. The only bad thing about it was that we weren’t with our pets the whole time. We are pathetically attached to them. So, I think my ideal vacation would be to go back to Seattle for a week, and then spend another week just at home hanging out with our pets.
Favorite class in high school. Why?
My favorite class in High School was a European History AP course I took as a senior. I found every aspect of it just completely fascinating. My teacher was in love with French culture, and spent two or three days one week just talking about the Louvre and Versailles. I learned just an enormous amount about everything about the way we currently view the world and why so much of our problems and ideas are shaped the way they are.
About the Author:
Full of adventure and discovery, these stories examine complex people in situations fraught with conflict as they search for truth in increasingly violent and complicated worlds.
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