Timothy Power has written THE BOY WHO HOWLED, a middle-grade novel recommended for ages 8 and above. It is a humorous, contemporary story dealing with family and fitting in.
Tell us about your latest book.
In THE BOY WHO HOWLED, a little boy named Callum is accidentally left in the woods after a family camping trip. (His parents are extremely upset by it.) He is adopted by a pack of Timber wolves and raised by the rules of the Wild, but when he grows large enough to threaten the Alpha male, the pack kicks him out and he must travel to the city in search of his true family. It is a fantastical, funny, and occasionally touching tale. Not for the serious-minded! The book was published by Bloomsbury USA in hardback in 2010 and came out in paperback in 2013.
Henry: Not for the serious-minded? I’m your man! Kind of like a mash-up of Home Alone and The Grey?
What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
I hope readers enjoy many laughs and experience some excitement and suspense as Callum, the “wolf boy,” faces unexpected challenges along the way to rediscovering his human pack in THE BOY WHO HOWLED.
Henry: It is also to be hoped that parents will learn to be more careful when taking their kids camping. Always do a head count before leaving. Always.
What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?
For me, writing is mainly problem solving, trying to make sense of a jumble of words by setting them in the proper order without using too many or too few. It is most challenging when the proper order is not readily apparent, which happens all too often!
Henry: I’m reminded of the scene in Amadeus when the Emperor critizes Mozart’s piece as having “too many notes”.
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?
The most powerful lesson I’ve learned from being a writer is patience. For me, nothing good comes from rushing to make sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. Perhaps I am a little dense, for I have to sit with them awhile, long enough for light to dawn and the meaning to come through.
What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?
Receiving fan letters from young (and old!) readers who have come across THE BOY WHO HOWLED in libraries around the world has been my most memorable experience as a published author.
Henry: What about the paparazzi crashing your nights on the town?
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
My advice to aspiring authors would be to remember that the writing process—and the publishing one—is more akin to a marathon than a sprint. You mustn’t expend too much energy at the start, because the course is long.
Henry: So true. For more on this, read Einstein’s theory on time dilation.
Do you have any favorite quotes?
I can’t remember the actual quotes, but my favorite observation about writing comes from author Gertrude Stein, who said something about avoiding sentences that “leak.” She was an obscure writer at the best of times, but I think she meant a writer should strive to keep the energy in her writing by cutting out extraneous words. Verbosity tends to be leaky, and you really want the sense of the writing to stay afloat.
Henry: Ah, a nautical metaphor. This from a women who said, “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” Leaky!
Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?
I tend to seek out every distraction possible when writing. Surfing the Internet is not a strange ritual per se, but it brings surprises sometimes!
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
If I could have one superpower, I would choose to fly, in order to soar above the troubles of the world.
Henry: Flying would also save you fighting airport congestion
If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?
If I could have three authors over for dinner, I would invite Mark Twain, E. M. Forster, and Louise Fitzhugh. If all went well, Mark Twain would make me laugh, E. M. Forster—author of A ROOM WITH A VIEW, whose motto was “only connect”—would offer me writerly advice, and Louise Fitzhugh would tell me about the inspiration behind Harriet the Spy, one of my all-time favorite kids’-book characters.
Henry: Wikipedia helpfully offers:
“Edward Morgan Forster was an English novelist, short story writer, essayist and librettist. He is known best for his ironic and well-plotted novels examining class difference and hypocrisy in early 20th-century British society. Forster’s humanistic impulse toward understanding and sympathy may be aptly summed up in the epigraph to his 1910 novel Howards End: “Only connect … “. His 1908 novel, A Room with a View, is his most optimistic work, while A Passage to India (1924) brought him his greatest success.
Louise Fitzhugh was an American author and illustrator of young adult and children’s literature. Her work includes Harriet the Spy, its sequels The Long Secret and Sport, and Nobody’s Family is Going to Change.”
What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?
My favorite mythological creature would have to be a centaur, because I’m a Sagittarius. I also think knowing Pegasus the flying horse would be a wonderful thing.
Henry: I’m sensing a flying theme going on here.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I am an aspiring hermit, so what I like to do when I’m not writing is simply hanging out at my apartment in a friendly neighborhood in Los Angeles.
Henry: Will you be attending the SCBWI conference in Los Angeles in August? If so, look for me in the hotel lobby with a drink in hand.
What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
I think I would choose as my epitaph to use the immortal words of Snagglepuss, the animated mountain lion: “Exit, stage left!”
Henry: Heavens to Murgatroyd!
Where can readers find your work?
THE BOY WHO HOWLED can be ordered from any brick-and-mortar bookstore, and is available online at all book-selling sites. It is usually discounted on Amazon.com. The paperback is easier to find than the hardback, but the amazing jacket illustration on the hardback, by Spanish artist Victor Rivas, is worth the hunt. Also see Tim’s blog at www.timothypower.me
This article is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.