|Goodreads Author Page|
About you, bio, etc:
I grew up in Connecticut and ran track and played in the marching band before those things were retro and cool. (or maybe they’re still not cool)
What made you bring Atlantis into a post-apocalyptic world?
I find climate change scenarios pretty scary. I’m a science guy (former science teacher, biology major in college), so I tend to believe scientists and research. Some of the global warming theories are pretty frightening, and could lead to all kinds of societal ramifications. That was on my mind when I was thinking of Owen and the Eden dome.
As to Atlantis: A lot of people have speculated as to how Atlantis could have actually sunk. In addition to the theory that it was an island/continent that sank due to an earthquake or something, there’s speculation that it could also have been a coastal city that got hit by a tsunami, or was the victim of some other natural disaster. Then, there are theories that the ‘flood’ of the Bible (and appearing in the myths of many ancient cultures) may have been caused by sea level rise. According to ice core samples, there was a spike in global temperatures roughly around that time in history. So I liked the idea that Atlantis was facing climate change and was ruined by it, just like we might be. The idea of cycles permeates everything and seemed to tie the idea together.
The final piece was a conversation with a friend who, after I told her about the basic gist of the book, wondered if there was a way that Owen could actually have a chance to ‘save’ the world from climate change. She noted that her own kids felt very powerless about global warming. That led to the concept of ancient technology that could alter the climate.
What was the hardest part about writing Owen’s story?
Getting Owen to see himself differently in a way that felt true to his age and his character was the biggest challenge. Fourteen is a hard age. Your body is changing (in Owen’s case, gills), and it’s almost like you’re a machine under someone else’s control (like how Owen imagines technicians in his mind). You’re becoming an adult, but in many ways a kid. Owen starts out as a bullied weakling, and his biggest fault is that he doesn’t take ownership of his life. In a way, he’s his own biggest obstacle with all of his doubt and uncertainty. He sort of knows this is a problem, but he doesn’t have the tools to really face it until he starts to develop his Atlantean powers, and, importantly, actually make some friends. But I didn’t want him to just ‘change!’ on a dime because that wouldn’t feel true to Owen’s character, or to how life goes for kids that age.
How much input did you get into the cover?
Not too much, but I had some. There’s always a push pull between the author/editor side and the sales side. I am not, as a rule, a ‘faces on the cover’ fan, and yet every book I’ve published except for one has them. I also think the models look a touch too old (even though teens tend to picture themselves as older than they really are) but that said, I think the cover strikes a balance of what the book is. There’s a partnership/romance between Owen and Lilly, a sense of water and mystery and ancient symbols, an ethereal element to the text that hints at the sci-fi and futuristic elements, and then that completely nerdy underwater glowy temple. If it had been up to me to design the cover, my instincts would have favored mostly the nerdy elements, and maybe more of the camp piece.
If you could ask one thing of your readers, before or after they read your book(s), what would it be?
I should probably say something about saving the environment, but I’ll just say: read the second book! I’m so completely excited about it. It feels wild and unexpected and I think it makes the first one better when you see where it’s going. That said, I am sure some people will not like where I went with book 2.
Other than the writing itself, what is the hardest part of being a writer?
I think it’s tough to manage the feeling that you have to be thinking about everything at the same time. You need to be thinking about promoting and marketing but still about craft and art and then also about the laundry and what about that email from that fan from last week? And oh no did I tweet yet today? It can feel like a cyclone. The truth is you can get everything done, but it takes some wicked discipline, and also the knowledge that if you can’t summon that discipline that’s a sign that you need to take a break. Sometimes the hardest part of writing is to stop writing/promoting and do something completely different. Often when I stop and do something else, I end up having the key ideas I needed.
If you weren't a writer, what would your dream job be?
Scientist at an Antarctic research station. Martian colonist. Actually, teaching middle school. Middle school kids rock.
Besides your own, what are some of your favorite books?
Tons, but here are three: Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech, Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, and I preferred the Three Investigators to The Hardy Boys.
Can you give us a hint at some future projects you’re working on?
I have a middle grade book coming out in January called The Fellowship for Alien Detection. It is near and dear to me and has two of my favorite characters that I’ve ever spent time with. Also, I’m working on a book about a kid starting his first band that I’m really excited about.
This or That:
Chocolate or Vanilla
Spring or Fall
Ocean or Mountains That one was really tough. In Seattle (where I live) it’s the mountains. In New England (where I grew up), it’s the beaches.
E-book or tree-book Unless I’m traveling international. Then I want one tree book along, and a bunch of junk on the e-reader.
Organized clutter or neat & tidy but I never achieve it.
Soda or pop. Pop is a sound not a drink.
Where can readers find out more about you and your books and/or hunt you down online?
Anything else you’d like to add?
Yes, tons, but I’m late (as usual) on a deadline. J