One fun thing about my new book coming out from Tu Books (a new imprint of Lee and Low) is that I’m virtually hanging out with their other new authors (some not at all new to publishing and some brand new) and getting to check out their books too. I recently finished Vodnik by Bryce Moore, the other Spring book and WOW did I really love it.
First off, you should know that I am a total sucker for fairy tale type of stuff. And that I know WAY more about fairy tales and myths than the average person should or could know. Like, I’ve studied them. I can tell you about Cinder Lads and crazy creatures like Fuaths. But most of my knowledge is based on classic European / American stories and myths. It was really refreshing and just plain cool to read a book that has an entirely different mythology system. New creatures, etc. Vodnik has that since it is set in Slovakia. There’s stuff about the Roma (oftentimes called Gypsies, generally in a derogatory way) too. And did I mention Death? And Death’s Assassin? Yeah, cool stuff. You should definitely check out the book.
I also got to chat with the author, Bryce Moore. We “traded” interviews (you can read mine here on his blog). And I got to ask him some questions as well:
So, I understand you’re a fan of The Goonies (yes, I stalked you on Twitter a little). Who’s your favorite character?
It’s such an ensemble cast–really hard to pick a favorite. I mean, when I was younger, it was Data hands down. Those pinchers of power are just awesome. And Chunk is so funny. Love his confession speech. But in the end, I’d have to go with Sloth. Yeah, he kinda freaked me out when I was little, but I’m at the point now that I just think he’s awesome–especially when he tears his shirt open to reveal the Superman sign. Who hasn’t wanted to do that? And he tops it off by saving the kids’ lives. Awesome guy. I like to think he and Chunk are next door neighbors today, still living it up in the Boondocks.
And are you really going to recreate the Truffle Shuffle? (If you do, I wanna see it.)
I will totally do it, if I actually ever get 1000 Twitter followers (Kimberly’s Note: Dudes! Go forth and follow him!) and/or Facebook likes on Vodnik’s page. Of course, that might not ever happen, but what can I say–I dream big. And I’m not above publicly humiliating myself when the occasion calls for it.
Tomas, the main character in Vodnik, is a Roma boy. For those who don’t know what that is, can you explain it? What kind of research did you do?
Most people know Roma by the non-PC term, Gypsy. (That’s considered a racial slur, though I’m pretty sure most people who use it aren’t aware of that.) I know that here in America, many people think of Roma as characters from fairy tales–not real people. Over in Slovakia, the story is much different. Roma are seriously prejudiced against. It’s a complex situation, with many Roma on state aid, feeling like the country doesn’t support them, and Slovaks feeling like Roma just feed off the system. Too complex to go into here in a simple interview, but I wish more people would make themselves aware of what’s going on in the rest of the world.
As for research, my wife of ten years is Slovak, and I’ve been over to the country many times for long visits–sometimes as much as a month. So I’ve seen much of this first hand, although the Roma situation in western Slovakia isn’t nearly as bad as the situation in the east.
You’re also a librarian. That’s gotta influence your writing. How does it?
I’m a librarian and an author for the same reason–I love books. I love working with them, I love reading them, and I love writing them. As for how being a librarian influences my writing, I think it’s made me a much pickier reader. I only finish a book if I’m enjoying it–when I wasn’t a librarian, I felt obligated to finish everything I read. These days, I read a lot of Advance Reading Copies. Or rather, I start a lot of them. A book has to be pretty decent to get me to stick with it, mainly because I see firsthand just how many new books are coming out all the time. I’d like to think that’s made me more demanding of myself as a writer, too. But maybe that’s wishful thinking.
You also call yourself a some-time scholar…what’s that mean exactly? What are your scholarly pursuits?
Well, I double majored in English and Linguistics at BYU, then got an essential double Masters at BYU in American Literature and Creative Writing. (I completed all the coursework for both, although BYU doesn’t let you get two Masters degrees at the same time. Shucks.) I then went on to dual emphasize in my Library Science program at Florida State (Kimberly’s Note: Hm. I went to the University of Florida, but I won’t hold this against you), focusing on Knowledge Management (general librarianship) and Youth Services (librarianship for teens and children). Now I work at a university. I love the learning process, and really enjoy working in an environment where I can contribute to it on a significant level. I don’t get to take as many classes these days, but I try to when I can. (Just took a fascinating class on the history of Beethoven. Good times.)
What’s the book you’d write if you didn’t have to concern yourself with any external factors (getting a publisher, finding readers, etc., etc.)?
Actually, I’ve already written it. I wrote a lot before I was published, and my personal favorite is a book called Ichabod. It’s an adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, as told from the point of view of characters living inside a book. The magic system is all book-based. (For example, characters can transport themselves between places automatically. It’s called expositioning.) You have racism based on major characters vs. minor characters–all sorts of fun stuff. I have no idea where it would find a home, but I had a blast writing it.
And finally…WHY should people read YOUR book? Someone asked me that the other day and at first I was like ACK but then I finally came up with an answer.
I write to entertain. I would hope that anyone would read my book and have a good time while doing so. Not that I don’t include themes and complex characters, but when I personally sit down to read a book, I want to be wowed. Hopefully Vodnik does that for other people, too.
So. Me again. Dudes, get thee forth and check out this book. And yeah, it’s from my publisher also and all that, but I wouldn’t recommend a book I didn’t like. I ain’t that kind of person. I also really, really liked Tankborn by Karen Sandler, another Tu book I recently read (though somehow I only managed to review it on Goodreads and not on my blog for some reason). What can I say? Tu’s editor has good taste. <grin>