July 5, 2010

Author Interview with Alan Tucker

Author Alan Tucker just released his first book "A Measure of Disorder" and is currently working on his second book. "A Cure for Chaos", the sequel in the "Mother-Earth" series, should be available early 2011. I really enjoyed Alan's book and was excited that he took the time to answer some of my questions. Here is my review of "A Measure of Disorder" and a link to the books website where you can find an excerpt from the book.

Synopsis: High school will be a breeze for Jenni Kershaw - if she lives long enough to enroll, that is. Jenni's ordinary, eighth grade life becomes a thing of the past when her science class goes on a field trip. Armed with only their notebooks, MP3 players, and wits, Jenni and her classmates are unknowingly transported to another world. There they encounter amazing creatures, some of which think a kid shish kebab would be a tasty treat. But they soon find the greatest dangers they face may come from themselves ... Follow Jenni and her class on their extraordinary adventures in their fight to discover who - and what - they really are.

1) Why did you decide to write a book?

My "day job", if you will, is graphic design and advertising, so I've actually been writing fiction for some time ; ) — okay, okay, advertising isn't really fiction, or at least it shouldn't be! But I majored in English Literature in college and have always had the writing bug in the back of my mind at the very least. I wrote some poetry and short stories with some success in and after college, then moved on to other creative ventures. I've started several novels through the years, but never seemed to have the whole package until this project. I'd either have a great beginning with nowhere to go, or I'd have a terrific ending with no way to start. I found myself some time last summer when my younger daughter was away visiting relatives and decided to give this project a go. It flowed quite steady with only a couple of hiccups along the way.

2) Did you know that this would be a series when you first started?

I had several ideas for where I wanted the story to go and pretty quickly realized it would take more than one book to tell the stories I wanted. The biggest challenge was fashioning an "ending" for the first book, because I don't like reading series books that don't really have some resolution of their own. Of course there will be untied threads to lead into the next installment, but the reader should leave the story with satisfaction, not frustration in waiting for the next book.

3) Where did you get the idea of the characters finding their true identity in another world?

I came at that from a couple of different directions. One theme in the book(s) is that many myths in our world may have kernels of truth to them. Why do so many cultures have stories about fairies, goblins and dragons? Maybe the common elements came from somewhere in "fact". Then secondly, I wanted to explore issues that affect teens universally. One of those is puberty and the process of becoming an adult. What if that process involved physical changes on a massive level? Also, the themes of fitting in, class and gender roles, and genetics vs. environment play a large part in the story. Crank develops many of these from the "other side" so to speak.

4) Do any of your characters reflect people in your life?

Each of the characters probably reflect amalgams of people in my life rather than any one in particular. I think every writer forms characters in a similar way. Writing is based on your experiences as a person, so the characters naturally have a basis in that experience. I can recall a couple of teachers with qualities like those of Ms. Pap and Mr. Kain. Likewise, the kids have aspects of people I grew up with, along with kids my daughters have known through the years. Most of all, I wanted to make them all identifiable and relatable.

5) What was the hardest part of the writing process for you?

Interview questions! Definitely! ; ) — Getting started with something is always tough. I tend to mold and massage things in my mind too long. My family will tell you that I'm famous for over-analyzing, so forcing myself to just sit down and peck away at the keyboard is probably the hardest thing. I do a lot of writing and rewriting in my head and many times try to hard to have it perfect before I put finger to keyboard.

6) What were your favorite books growing up?

When I was little I loved Encyclopedia Brown. I always wanted to figure out the case before he did. My teen years were filled largely with the Flinx and Pip books by Alan Dean Foster. I fancied myself to be Flinx, all I needed was a mini-drag ; ) I had the red hair and smart-alec attitude already! Foster always wrote fun and intriguing stories and he has been amazingly prolific over the years.

7) Can you give us any hints about what is in store for the next installment in the “Mother- Earth” series?

The next book will be called "A Cure for Chaos" and the first chapter is included in the back of "A Measure of Disorder" It takes place about six months after the end of "Measure" and starts off quickly with Jenni getting into trouble, Crank finding his way in a new world and a new form, and many of the others gaining control and confidence in their abilities.

8) Is there any question that you never get asked that you want to answer?

Big Time Movie Producer: "Will you sign here, please?" My answer would most certainly be, "Yes!"

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