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Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books


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The Nimpentoad authors at San Diego Comic-Con

My fellow Nimpentoad and Twignibble co-authors and I had a great time wandering the Exhibit Hall at the San Diego Comic-Con. Here are a few pictures.

SDCC_PlantVZombie

Nothing starts your day like meeting a zombie from the Plants vs. Zombies game my boys enjoy playing.

SDCC_PeterBeagle

For us older folks, it was a real treat to meet Peter Beagle, author of “The Last Unicorn”.

SDCC_KenMeyer

Here are my co-authors with comic artist Ken Meyer, Jr.

SDCC_KatieCook

Here are my co-authors with Katie Cook, who writes “My Little Pony” for IDW Publishing, and has also done licensed illustration work for DC, Marvel, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.

SDCC_HappyHobbit

Proving again that timing is everything, we just  happened to wander in front of the Badali Jewelry booth, when our friend Cliff Broadway from TheOneRing.net was conducting a Lord of the Rings trivia quiz. Have I mentioned that I am a Lord of the Rings Rainman? It will then come as no surprise that we won the quiz, and left laden with terrific Tolkien booty, much as Bilbo ended his Hobbit adventure riding a pony burdened with treasure. As a bonus, we got to meet the Rice sisters, who write and star in the weekly Happy Hobbit video that is shown on TheOneRing.net.

SDCC_EvangelineLilly

In the foreground, my co-author Harrison. In the background, the smoking hot Evangeline Lilly, who will be appearing in the upcoming (second) Hobbit movie. We also saw Sir Richard Taylor, who heads up Weta, the company that makes props for Peter Jackson’s movies.

SDCC_Domo

Here my co-authors pose with the largest Domokun I’ve ever seen.

SDCC_Azog

An enormous Azog the Orc in front of the Weta booth was not nearly as welcoming as Domokun…

SDCC_AndrewHuerta

At the IDW Publishing booth, we spoke with several comic book illustrators. As it turned out, fate smiled upon us again. We have a friend Sohaib Awan, who writes the comic JINNRISE. His illustrator, Andrew Huerta, was there and graciously offered to sketch Nimpentoad !

SDCC_NimpByHuerta

Here is the wonderful end result he knocked out in no time flat.


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SDCC interview with comic book artist Ken Meyer, Jr.

Ken Meyer, Jr. has been doing art of one kind or another since he was a kid. He started drawing by tracing comic books using carbon paper (ask your grandpa). He became interested in more realistic comics, and then in illustration and painting. He has done some short Marvel comics pieces, but most of his comic work was done for smaller publishers like Caliber and Revolutionary. Today, the lion’s share of his art is painting.

Ken has graciously to tell us a bit more about himself and his work. In the photograph, he is the one on the left…

MeyerKen

For what age audience do you illustrate comics?

It has varied. The Marvel comics I’ve done are for all ages, while the Caliber work was more mature (but still able to be read by all ages). I have done a lot of horror art and some horror themed stories, so I guess the audience would depend on how much they could handle!

Henry: Challenge accepted!

Tell us about your latest work.

Lately, my work has been either doing altered Magic cards (Magic the Gathering is a collectible card game, and people send me the cards I have done to paint new images on them, making them more collectible), illustration for various uses, or portraits and other types of art. I also do “sketch covers,” which are actual comics with totally white covers (aside from the logo). They are made that way so fans can get their favorite artist to do drawings on the covers. I have done several Avengers (the movie character versions), and Walking Dead covers, with more to come.

Henry: Note to self: order one of these from Ken.

What aspect of illustrating do you find most challenging?

It depends on the job, to some degree. In comics, the most fun part is the initial layouts/thumbnails, where I am working out the composition of the page, what the best viewpoint for any given panel would be, etc. Considering I tend to use a lot of photos and models for reference, the most challenging part is probably getting people together and shooting the actual photos. If I am doing the strip completely out of my head, the most challenging part is probably doing any given viewpoint (worm’s eye view, bird’s eye view, etc.) correctly. Oh, and horses.

Henry: Note to self: do NOT ask Ken to paint the Riders of Rohan.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned?

To be honest, the most powerful lesson I learned is that it is very hard to actually make a living as a comic artist. You have to put a lot of work and time into comics, and the pay is not usually proportional to all that work (which is why a lot of people go into other fields such as animation or games). If you are in comics, most likely you are in it because you really love the genre.

What’s been a memorable experience that you’ve had?

I really love music, and several times, when I knew I was going to a concert by someone I really liked, I would do a painting ahead of time and take it to the show to try to meet the musician. It worked several times, and I met some of my favorites (Elvis Costello, Bruce Cockburn, Loudon Wainwright, Tori Amos and several others). Those were memorable for me!

Henry: And memorable for them too. That is certainly a unique way to get their attention. Well played, sir.

What advice would you give to aspiring comic or graphic novel illustrators?

The most crucial advice, and the advice you almost always hear, is just draw draw draw. Keep drawing, practice all the time, draw everything (not everything is skin tight-clad superheroes), and then draw a lot more. I had a professor who was an incredible draftsman, and he said the only reason he would be considered a better artist than us is that he had gotten a lot more terrible drawings out of the way. Of course, it helps to look at your favorite artists. See how they handle problems, the way they compose a panel and page, etc. Copy them for awhile, eventually you will come into your own style. Look at books and online sources. Draw from life. Just draw.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

“I am an artist you know … it is my right to be odd.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

Henry: It does seem to come with the territory. 🙂

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you illustrate?

Does painting with a chicken on your head count?

Henry: Yes. Yes it does. Best. Answer. Ever.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

It would be the superpower to mimic all other superpowers. If there is a void of superpowers, then perhaps the good old standby, flight. If I am feeling altruistic that day, then it would be the power to manufacture any amount of food out of thin air.

Henry: Good for you for thinking of others!

If you could have three illustrators over for dinner, who would it be?
Oooooh, tough one! I will say Alphonse Mucha (to talk about his big Slav epic mural series), Bob Peak (an illustrator popular in the 70’s mostly, who did magazine illustration, movie posters, etc), and comic artist Bill Sienkiewicz (who started in comics as a clone of then very popular realistic comic artist Neal Adams, but went to to become one of the best multimedia artists ever, and is still creating amazing work today).

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

When I was young, I was a huge fantasy/heroic fiction fan, and read stuff like The Lord of the Rings, Edgar Rice Burroughs (John Carter of Mars), Conan, etc, non-stop. So, you are talking about a lot of imaginary creatures to choose from! I guess I will say the Sirens…you might drown, but you would have fun doing it.

Henry: Always the ladies’ man, eh?

What do you like to do when you’re not illustrating?

I have several activities that siphon good working time away from the desk, unfortunately. I play tennis frequently, for example. I read a fair amount (but have become selective, choosing authors I have already read a lot of, such as Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, John Irving, etc.), plus tons of music magazines. I would say “listen to music,” but I do that all the time anyway. I probably watch too much TV (shows like Game of Thrones, Dexter, Breaking Bad, Stewart/Colbert/Maher, and like to see as many films as I can as well. So, you can see the easel has to do its share of fighting for attention!

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

“There was no shortage of art created, and no amount of time wasted!”

Where can readers find your work?

If you want to search in the comic book stores (which nowadays, means going online), I have a graphic novel called “Gustave, PI.” I have a few Marvel stories in comics, such as Open Space number 4, Marvel Portraits of  Universe 1, and Midnight Sons Unlimited 4. Caliber comics I have done include about seven issues (and about 11 covers): Kilroy is Here, stories in the anthology Negative Burn, and many covers. I also have many covers for Revolutionary Comics (music- and sports-related). You can search out the Tori Amos RAINN benefit calendars I put together between 2005 and 2009 (as well as her tour book for the “Dew Drop Inn” tour). I have a ton of work in various White Wolf game books, mostly for the lines of Vampire the Masquerade, Demon, Wraith, etc. I have also done a lot of cards for their Vampire the Eternal Struggle series (originally known as Jyhad). The game Magic the Gathering has card art by me, mostly in the Arabian Nights and Ice Age expansions. You can, of course, always go to my website if you have a few weeks to waste (there is a lot there, but I will be revamping it soon), or other websites that have my work for sale, such as Fine Art America. I also have a DeviantArt page.

Ken will be at San Diego Comic-Con in Artist Alley table II-6.

This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.


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Interview with NY Times Bestselling ‘Babymouse’ & ‘Squish’ author Jenni Holm

Jennifer L. Holm is a New York Times bestselling children’s author and the recipient of three Newbery Honors for her novels ‘Our Only May Amelia’, ‘Penny from Heaven’, and ‘Turtle in Paradise’. Jennifer collaborates with her brother, Matthew Holm, on two graphic novel series — the popular Babymouse series and the bestselling Squish series. ‘Babymouse for President’ is an Eisner nominee.

Thanks for interviewing me. I have a personal San Diego connection. I was born here! (At the Naval Hospital). And my family and I attend Comic-Con every July, so we love San Diego.

Henry: Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with us. And for our readers, the Newbery Medal is given to the author of “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. The Newbery (along with the Caldecott) is considered one of the most prestigious children’s literature awards in the United States.

HolmJenni

For what audience do you write?

I write middle grade fiction (‘Penny from Heaven’, ‘Our Only May Amelia’, ‘Turtle in Paradise’) and graphic novels with my brother, Matt Holm (The Babymouse series and the Squish series).

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is ‘Squish: Game On’. It actually features a comic convention.

Henry: Amazon helpfully adds “a hilarious, action packed graphic novel series from the award-winning creators of Babymouse! Filled with superheroes, comics within comics, and gross-out science, Squish is perfect for fans of Dav Pilkey’s ‘Captain Underpants’, Dan Gutman’s ‘Weird School’, and Jarrett Krosoczka’s ‘Lunch Lady’.

Beep! Beep! Squish can’t get enough of his awesome new video game Mitosis! (Mitosis is what happens when cells divide. Who says video games can’t be educational?) In fact, he may even be obsessed! He plays at home . . . at school. . . even in his sleep! Are video games taking over Squish’s life?! And can Squish’s favorite comic book hero, Super Amoeba, stop the Creeping Black Mold that’s taking over Small Pond?”

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

Kids today have to deal with the challenges of different media (video games, etc.) This book tackles what is a common situation a lot of kids face.

Henry: The heartbreak of unwanted mitosis?

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

It’s hard to live in your own head all day.

Henry: Some heads more than others. The voices. The voices!

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

The impact you can have on a child. A book can really change someone’s life.

Henry: I admit it was delightful to hear that after reading ‘Nimpentoad’ one of my little readers will now eat mushrooms. A small victory, perhaps, but we take them.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

I probably wouldn’t be able to wear pajamas to work.

Henry: And fuzzy slippers?

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Read! Read! Read!

Henry: Yes. I heard this great saying at a SCBWI conference, “Just as the lion is the product of all the zebras she’s eaten, the author is the product of all the books she’s read.”

Do you have any favorite quotes?

Keep calm and revise on.

Henry: Good one. I don’t think all aspiring authors realize how much revising is required.

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

I generally don’t like to discuss whatever I’m working on. I worry I will jinx myself. (I’m pretty superstitious).

Henry: How do you feel about black cats walking under ladders on Friday the 13th?

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

The ability to make the house be instantly clean (I have two kids).

Henry: So, you’d be exercising that power frequently. Very original superpower. Well played, Jenni. Well played.

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

Lloyd Alexander (my childhood hero), Bill Watterson (my whole life hero) and Hal Foster (my Prince Valiant hero).

Henry: Wikipedia helpfully adds, “Lloyd Chudley Alexander was a widely influential American author of more than forty books, primarily fantasy novels for children and young adults. His most famous work is The Chronicles of Prydain, a series of five high fantasy novels whose conclusion, The High King, was awarded the 1969 Newbery Medal for excellence in American children’s literature.”

Hal Foster was a Canadian-American illustrator best known for his comic strip Prince Valiant. And of course, we all know and love Bill Watterson from the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

The dragons from Anne McCaffrey’s “Harper Hall” series.

Henry: Dragons. It’s always dragons. There has to be some deep psychological root for our affinity.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I have recently taken up fencing and I love it!

Henry: Touche!

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

She Liked to Revise

Henry: Or “She Liked to Revise”, then “She Liked to Edit” underneath, then “stet”.

Where can readers find your work?

www.jenniferholm.com and www.babymouse.com. And I hope to see everyone at San Diego Comic-Con!

This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.


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Interview with ‘Herobear’ comic author Mike Kunkel

Mike Kunkel has been a cartoonist for as long as he can remember.  He spends his time writing and drawing stories for animation, comics, and children’s books.  He has won the Annie Award for Best Character Design in an Animated Series.   And he is the 2-time Eisner Award winning creator of the comic series “Herobear and the Kid”. While working daily in the animation industry, he is creating new books for release through his company The Astonish Factory.

Despite all the preparations required for San Diego Comic-Con, Mike has (heroically) made time to answer some questions.

KunkelMike

For what age audience do you write?

To be honest, I truly try to write for all ages. I want to create stories that are enjoyed from little kids to grandparents. It means a lot to offer stories that all ages can enjoy.

Henry: Indeed, we all have a kid inside us, struggling each day to remind us to not be too serious.

Tell us about your latest projects.

I have two brand new projects… The first is a brand new “Herobear and the Kid” adventure. It’s called “Picture Day”, and it is a fun one-shot story about Herobear and Tyler (the kid) saving the bridge in their town of Simpleton from an attack by the villain Von Klon and his “Sub-of-Doom.” “Herobear and the Kid” is a very nostalgic series with superhero origins.  It’s written with the feeling and tones of Wonder Years and A Christmas Story.  So with this story, I had fun writing about the memory of our school picture days and added in the adventure of fighting maniacal metal piranhas.

The other book I have coming out is a new children’s picture book entitled “Timmy and the Moon Piece.” It is the story of a little boy, named Timmy, and his fat little guinea pig, named Ton, that find a piece of the moon in the front yard one night. They decide to build a little rocket with their red wagon and fly the piece back up to glue it back to the moon.

Henry: I’m struggling to integrate “tone of Wonder Years” with “maniacal metal piranhas”. Well played, sir.

What do you hope readers will get from reading it?

My hope would be that with both these books, the readers enjoy the time they spend with my characters on the adventures.  I hope at the end, they have a smile on their face.

What aspect of writing or illustrating do you find most challenging?

Sometimes it’s the scheduling and balancing of regular life that is the hardest to juggle with the writing/illustrating responsibilities.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from your career?

Make sure you love what you’re creating. Don’t do it to please others, because you can’t please everyone. So make sure you love your creations first. That will then come through to the readers…your “tribe.” Enjoy the process and value your results. Don’t rush through your projects and not enjoy the the creating of them.  And always celebrate the end result.

Henry: That is very sage advice.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer/illustrator?

The opportunity to have traveled to Angouleme, France with my family. An overwhelming experience that was made even more amazing because I could share it with my wife and kids.

Henry: Travel is great. We just got back from Europe. One of our stops was the Belgian Comic Strip Center. You gotta’ love the Belgians. They put a comic museum inside an Art Nouveau building designed by Horta! We’ll be posting about our visit tomorrow.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors or illustrators?

The simple advice is “don’t give up.” But really that covers so much. Stick to your dreams…go after them daily…even if you make teeny, tiny progress, keep at it. And the foundation for all of this is when you have a dream, make sure you also have plan toward that dream. And the plan may change or adjust, but make sure you have one to follow and don’t give up.

Henry: Many people mention persistence. But you bring up other important aspects: plan and adapt. “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” — Field Marshal von Moltke

Do you have any favorite quotes?

A couple that I really like are by Ray Bradbury… “Do what you love, and love what you do.” “Build your wings on the way down.”

Henry: The latter seems a tad risky to me.

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write or illustrate?

Hmmm, not that I know of… Though my kids say that my eyes “bug out” a little bit when I get really into a drawing.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Definitely flying. I would love to be able lift up off the ground and fly through the clouds.

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

Dr. Seuss, C.S. Lewis, Stephen King, L. Frank Baum, Stan Lee, Ray Bradbury. . . Each one of these has inspired me tremendously in different ways. I’d love to get the chance to talk personally with them and see them all interact.

Henry: I said “three.” Clearly, two of them have crashed the dinner. My first Lewis read was, of course, Narnia, but his “Mere Christianity” knocked my socks off making cogent logical arguments for religious beliefs.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Traveling with my family, waiting impatiently for football season to start…and considering I’m always writing and drawing, I do like to sleep every once in a while.

Henry: “A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things. There will be sleeping enough in the grave.” – Benjamin Franklin

Where can readers find your work?

“Herobear and the Kid” can be found all this week at SDCC at the Boom Studios Booth. And both “Herobear” and “Timmy and the Moon Piece” can be found online at http://www.theastonishfactory.com.

This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.


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Interview with Ned Vizzini, NY Times Bestselling author of ‘House of Secrets’

Ned Vizzini is the New York Times bestselling author of young-adult books ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story’, ‘The Other Normals’, ‘Be More Chill’, and ‘Teen Angst? Naaah..’.. In television, he has written for MTV’s Teen Wolf and currently writes for NBC’s Believe, forthcoming in March 2014 from J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuarón. His essays and criticism have appeared in the New York Times, the Daily Beast, and the New Yorker. He is the coauthor with Chris Columbus of the fantasy-adventure series ‘House of Secrets’. His work has been translated into 25 languages. He lives in Los Angeles.

Henry: And yes, that would be the Chris Columbus who directed such movies as Mrs. Doubtfire, two Harry Potter movies, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, and Home Alone.

VizziniNed

For what age audience do you write?

I write for everyone! That’s an easy answer because you hope everyone — or anyone — will read your work. In terms of marketing terms, my books are young-adult books, which means they are for readers 13 and up. My recent project ‘House of Secrets’ is for younger readers, from ages seven to twelve, although I have photographic evidence that at least one six-year-old has read it. My work on Last Resort, the TV show, was adult-oriented, and Believe, the show I’m on now, is also for adults. (It will air on Sundays at 9pm.)

Tell us about your latest book.

‘House of Secrets’ is a fantasy adventure book in the tradition of ‘Redwall’ or the R. A. Salvatore books I loved as a kid. It’s about a trio of siblings — the Walkers — who move into a creepy house in San Francisco and learn that it used to be owned by an even creepier writer, Denver Kristoff. Kristoff is like an H. P. Lovecraft or Robert E. Howard; he wrote all these cult novels in the early 20th century that have been lost to time. When the Walkers anger the wrong person, they — and the house — get sent into a mixed-up world where all of Kristoff’s books come to life. So they have to fight to find their way home. Oh, and there’s a colossus who eats giant dragonflies.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

I hope that readers will have a good time reading ‘House of Secrets’.

Henry: I have a copy in my to-be-read pile.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

The most challenging aspect of writing is finding the time to do it. This is difficult because the world is a treacherous and horrible place.

Henry: Particularly when there’s a colossus who eats giant dragonflies nearby.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

I’ve learned that you can’t let anyone do your selling for you. Even though there’s a big apparatus at HarperCollins supporting ‘House of Secrets’ and they have done a fantastic job, a lot of the press that I’ve received for it has simply come from me asking for help.

Henry: You’re welcome. 🙂

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

I got a chance to speak at Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada for my book ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story’. Fort McMurray is very far north — like Arctic Circle-north — and the only way to get there is through the desolate airport.

But then once you arrive, the town is part of the shale oil boom and everything is super expensive! They have a Keyano College, and bars, and hotels… it’s like the tiny alternate-universe Canadian version of Dubai.

Henry: Hmmm. That gives me an idea for a sci-fi book plot…

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Start small. Don’t try to write a novel off the bat. Write a short story so you can feel accomplished before you tackle bigger things.

Henry: Note to self: write a board book. Maybe a horror board book – The Very Hungry Cthulhu.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

“The majority is always wrong; the minority is rarely right.” – Henrik Ibsen
“No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.” – Lily Tomlin
“I’m not well-read, but when I read, I read well.” – Kurt Cobain

Henry: I wonder if Dox Equis ad writers were inspired by Kurt Cobain…

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

I don’t believe in writing rituals; I think they hold you back.

Henry: Note to self: stop wasting time on Cthulhu-worship rituals. BTW, my spellchecker recognizes Cthulhu as a word. Now THAT’S how you know you’ve arrived.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

The power to stop time! For obvious reasons. At least I hope they’re obvious. Anybody who doesn’t want to stop time must be bored.

Henry: Stopping time is the most popular answer I’ve received from authors.

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

George Orwell, Michael Crichton, and Amy Sohn, because all of their writing made a big impression on me when I was a kid, and I’d like to see them bounce ideas off of each other.

Henry: Perhaps Crichton would develop a TV show about cloned farm animals…

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

Can’t go wrong with dragons!

Henry: Ah, a traditionalist. But which flavor of dragon: LeGuin’s, McCaffrey’s, Tolkien’s, or Martin’s?

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Go to the post office.

Henry: To mail manuscripts or receive royalty checks. Well played, sir.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

“Loving husband and father.”

Henry: Nice. My sense of self-preservation would have me add grandfather and great grandfather.

Where can readers find your work?

You can find ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story’ face-out at Barnes & Noble since it has “tipped” and become popular. My other work can be harder to find; you might have to ask for it. ‘House of Secrets’ is heavily discounted on Amazon. Your local independent bookstore should have my stuff in the young adult and children’s sections. The many articles I’ve written are here. Enjoy!

Henry: Usually when I’ve “tipped”, I’m face down. Ned will also be signing books at the Smart Pop Books booth (#4300) at the San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday, July 20 at 11 am.

This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.


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‘Game of Thrones’ as Saved by the Bell characters

George R.R. Martin’s ‘Game of Thrones’ (GoT) is a wildly popular fantasy book and HBO series. And fans can’t seem to get enough mashups of ‘Game of Thrones’ characters and other franchises. For example, GoT meets the Muppets (http://www.examiner.com/list/game-of-thrones-meets-the-muppets-by-ymercado). The latest GoT mashup we’ve found (thanks to Rebecca Pahle at The Mary Sue is by artist Mike Wrobel.

In a delightfully twisted way Mike Wrobel of Moshi Studio visually transported GoT characters into the late 1980’s. He says, “I grew up at a wonderful time when X-Files was THE show we couldn’t miss, Grunge music made us wear ripped jeans, and we still could find toys in cereal boxes.” Perhaps Hollywood will make a sci-fi time travel spinoff, with characters transported through by the Throne a la Dr. Who’s TARDIS…

Mike describes himself as “a French creative graphic designer based in Tokyo Japan. Well, something that could probably explain my vivid imagination and passion for pop culture is the fact that I grew up watching the X-Files, throwing Hadoken in Street Fighter, reading horror movie magazines, building some unlikely Lego spaceships and other stuff that made my childhood so awesome.”

Winter came and went! Enjoy these images from http://www.moshistudio.com/

Khal Drogo

khal

Per wikipedia.org:
“Drogo is a powerful khal, or warlord, of the Dothraki people, a tribal nation of expert riders and raiders in the steppes beyond the Free Cities. He is an accomplished warrior and has never been defeated in battle. In ‘A Game of Throne’s, Viserys Targaryen and Illyrio Mopatis conspire to marry Daenerys Targaryen to Drogo to get his support and warriors for the invasion of Westeros. Drogo approves of her and takes her as his wife. Despite his fearsome attitude toward his warriors, he proves to be a kind and sensitive husband. After a failed attempt on the pregnant Daenerys’ life, he vows to invade Westeros to reclaim the Seven Kingdoms for the Targaryens and his son. However, Viserys’ impertinence ultimately causes Drogo to kill him. He raids several villages and attacks other Dothraki hordes to gather supplies for the invasion and is wounded by an enemy khal. The wound festers and Drogo falls from his horse, causing most of his warriors to abandon him. Daenerys unwittingly sacrifices their unborn son to revive him, and he becomes an unresponsive shell of his former self. She smothers him out of pity, and the flames of his funeral pyre hatch her dragon eggs.”

Cersei Lannister

cersei

From wikipedia.org:
“Cersei Lannister of House Lannister is the older twin sister of Jaime and is the only daughter of Tywin Lannister. She is physically beautiful, but she is also greedy, cruel, manipulative, amoral and not very intelligent; she is also short tempered and quick to hold grudges, as well as often rushing into situations without pausing to consider the consequences of her actions. She shares her father’s belief that to be feared is better than to be loved; however, unlike her father, Cersei has never learnt to temper ruthlessness with pragmatism and good judgement.”

Bronn

bronn

From wikipedia.org:
“Bronn is a sell-sword with a sardonic sense of humor, and a retainer to Tyrion Lannister. After their arrival in King’s Landing, Bronn’s service to Tyrion earns him a position as Commander of the City Watch. When Stannis Baratheon attacks the city by sailing up the Blackwater Bay, he shoots a fire arrow to a ship containing wild fire which destroys half of Stannis’ fleet. However, Bronn is stripped of his position after Tywin Lannister takes over as Hand of The King.”

Margaery Tyrell

marg

From wikipedia.org:
“Margaery is the only daughter of Lord Mace Tyrell, and has recently married the late King Robert’s brother, Renly Baratheon, as part of House Tyrell’s support for his bid to seize the Iron Throne from King Joffrey. Somewhere in her mid to late twenties, she is surprisingly canny and cunning. She is aware of her husband’s homosexual orientation and inclinations towards her brother. Despite her knowledge of this, she actively attempts to become pregnant as to secure the alliance between their families. When Renly is killed, the Tyrells ally with House Lannister and she is planned to marry to King Joffrey. In a departure from her characterization in the novels, where her personal motivations are unclear, Margaery’s naked ambition is made obvious.”

Theon Greyjoy

theon

From wikipedia.org:
“Theon Greyjoy is the youngest son of Lord Balon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands. He is the hostage and ward of Lord Eddard Stark, stemming from the failed Greyjoy Rebellion. Despite his position, he remains loyal to Eddard and is good friends with his sons Robb and Jon. While he has never questioned his position, he soon begins to have doubts after Tyrion tells him he is nothing more than a servant to the Starks and not everyone respects him. Nevertheless, Theon initially remains loyal to Robb after he goes to war with the Lannisters and supports his decision to have the North secede from the Seven Kingdoms and form their own kingdom. He is sent to the Iron Islands in Season 2 to seek a Stark alliance with the Greyjoys. However, his father criticizes Theon for accepting the northern lifestyle and reject Robb’s proposal. Wishing to prove to his father that he is a true Ironborn, he joins his family’s invasion of the North. To gain the respect of his men, he ignores his orders to raid the shores and captures Winterfell.”

Tyrion Lannister

tyrion

From wikipedia.org:
“Tyrion Lannister, mockingly nicknamed the Imp and Halfman, is a malformed dwarf and is the third child of Tywin Lannister. He is intelligent, witty and shares his father’s skill for political maneuvering. Because he is an outcast, he also has great sympathy for outcasts and the mistreated. His mother died giving birth to him, and Tywin has never forgiven him. Tywin also hates him for his dwarfism, sharp tongue, and frequent use of prostitutes. While Tyrion is hated by Tywin and his sister Cersei, his brother Jaime treats him with kindness and respect.”

Arya Stark

arya

From wikipedia.org:
“Arya Stark is the younger daughter and third child of Lord Eddard and Catelyn Stark of Winterfell. Ever the tomboy, Arya would rather be training to use weapons than sewing with a needle. Her direwolf is called Nymeria. When Ned is arrested for treason, her “dancing master” Syrio Forel helps her escape the Lannisters. She is later disguised as an orphan boy by Yoren, a Night’s Watch recruiter, in hopes of getting her back to Winterfell. From then on, she takes the name Arry. During Season 2, Yoren convoy is attacked by the Lannisters who are under orders by King Joffrey to find and kill Robert’s bastard children. Before she is captured, she releases the prisoner Jaqen H’ghar and two others, saving their lives. She and the rest of the captured recruits are sent to Harrenhal under Gregor Clegane who cruelly tortures and kills prisoners everyday. At the same time, she follows the advice of the late Yoren and makes a list of those she wants dead like a prayer.”

This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.


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Writing books with your kids

I’ve made writing children’s books into a collaborative project with my young sons. Like me, my boys are big fans of fantasy, science fiction, and the annual Comic-Con convention. They have an entrepreneurial bent too. They’ve started three web-based businesses selling LEGO party favors, custom cast bases for Warhammer, and painted concrete yard sculptures. Their efforts have been featured on Young Entrepreneur Magazine, Wired GeekDad, TheOneRing.net, and the Warner Brothers’ website for The Hobbit movie.

OrsonScottCard

Our first book together, Nimpentoad, is a stunningly illustrated high fantasy early chapter book. It has earned over 85 Amazon 5-star ratings to date. The unlikely hero is the bright-eyed Nimpentoad, a furry little creature who’s been victimized by the bigger creatures of the ancient forest one too many times. Nimpentoad convinces his fellow Niblings to make a perilous journey to a castle where they hope to find refuge–if they can just evade and outwit the ravenous goblins, trolls, rhinotaurs, and other perils that stand in their way. With teamwork, perseverance, and Nimpentoad’s leadership, the Niblings overcome these menaces and learn important lessons. For more information, visit http://www.nimpentoad.com.

We just released our second book, Twignibble. Twignibble is a very smart and mechanically adept sloth, with animal friends all over the world. When he learns that his friends are in danger from pollution and poaching, he builds a helicopter to visit them. Twignibble helps each friend by making them a special gadget. Kids love the cute animals and funny inventions; parents appreciate a book that promotes friendship, empathy, and protecting the environment. For more information, visit http://www.twignibble.com.

With all the book signings and readings they’ve attended, I’ve been thrilled that my sons have learned so many lessons, beyond simply writing. They know how to present to a group, how to engage in conversation with new people, how to make change, and the business side of publishing a book.


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Pre-SDCC Interview with ‘Little Adventures in Oz’ graphic novelist Eric Shanower

Eric Shanower is the Eisner Award-winning cartoonist of the graphic novel series ‘Age of Bronze’ (Image Comics), a retelling of the Trojan War story. With cartoonist Skottie Young, he is adapting L. Frank Baum’s classic Oz books to award-winning, New York Times best selling graphic novels (Marvel Comics). Shanower’s past comics work includes his own Oz graphic novel series, currently published as ‘Little Adventures in Oz’ (IDW), as well as comics art for ‘An Accidental Death’ by Ed Brubaker, ‘The Elsewhere Prince’ by Moebius and R-JM Lofficier, and ‘Harlan Ellison’s Dream Corridor’. He has illustrated for television, magazines, and children’s books. He’s the author of ‘The Giant Garden of Oz’ and ‘The Salt Sorcerer of Oz and Other Stories’. He lives in San Diego, California, with his partner, David Maxine, and a cat.

Although busy preparing for his appearance at San Diego Comic-Con, Eric has graciously agreed to answer some questions about writing and illustrating.

ShanowerEric

For what age audience do you write?

Most of the Oz projects that I do, including the series I currently write for Marvel Comics, are Middle Grade. Age of Bronze, my Trojan War comics series, is adult, although for a while it was appearing on Young Adult lists.

Tell us about your latest book.

I’m adapting the Oz books by L. Frank Baum to the comics medium. Skottie Young is the artist for these books and Jean-Francois Beaulieu is the colorist. We’re currently working on the sixth Oz book, ‘The Emerald City of Oz’. These adaptations are very close to the original material. The only changes I make to the stories is to incorporate, when appropriate and useful, other versions by Baum, such as stage scripts and introductions for excerpts. For the earlier books, we didn’t leave anything out, but the publisher has cut our page count, so, particularly for the latest book, we’re having to condense. I’ve been a professional cartoonist for nearly three decades and I’ve loved the Oz books since I was six years old, so I bring a deep knowledge of both the comics medium and Oz to these adaptations. In addition to Skottie Young’s vital new vision of Oz, which many readers seem to love overwhelmingly, I think this strength gives this series of books the power to last.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

I hope readers of our comics adaptations of the Oz books get a thrilling and humorous experience that’s fresh and direct.

What aspect of writing or illustrating do you find most challenging?

One of the most challenging aspects of illustrating a comics script that I didn’t write and have little or no emotional connection to. The only way I can get through that situation is to find some aspect of the script that I can relate to, something that has some fundamental meaning in my life. Otherwise, drawing a story I don’t care about is just a mechanical slog to get through.

Henry: I’m tempted to ask to what aspects of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz you can personally relate 🙂

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

A powerful lesson I’ve learned is that anger can be a strong motivational tool to keep a project going.

Henry: Yes, anger. Anger and deadlines.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer/illustrator?

I might never have gone to the site of Troy if I weren’t producing a comics retelling of the Trojan War story. I spent twelve days there and in the surrounding area in the summer of 2006, doing onsite research for ‘Age of Bronze’. It was one of the most magnificent experiences I’ve had.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors or illustrators?

Keep writing and drawing. The only way you’ll get better is by practice.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

“There is a word sweeter than mother, home, or heaven. That word is Liberty.” –Matilda Joslyn Gage

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write or illustrate?

Nothing comes to mind. Just getting the work done is the most important thing. Who has time for rituals?

Henry: You’d be surprised. Some writers cannot be productive without their rituals.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Flight, because it seems like it’d be really fun.

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

I wouldn’t want any dead people over for dinner. Wouldn’t that be pretty disgusting? But if dead people could be resurrected and returned to a non-decayed state, I’d choose L. Frank Baum, Homer (as long as Homer could somehow magically speak English), and William Shakespeare.

Henry: Well played, sir. Most people forget about language barriers.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

Gods. Across all cultures, they’re endlessly fascinating.

Henry: Plus, they have superpowers!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing/illustrating?

My hobbies are reading, taking dance classes, and researching my family genealogy.

Henry: For me, genealogy proved surprisingly illuminating and emotional. I found some delightful connections, including being related to children’s literature goddess Madeleine L’Engle.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

My name.

Henry: Ah, a purist.

Where can readers find your work?

Readers can find my books in the usual places—online booksellers, book stores, comic book shops. Also my website has a link to an online store where most of my current work is for sale and there are samples to read online. Many of my comics—Age of Bronze and Oz—are available in digital editions, too. I will be at San Diego Comic-Con, booth 2008.

This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.


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Interview with ‘Star Wars Craft Book’ author Bonnie Burton @bonniegrrl

Author of the books ‘The Star Wars Craft Book’ (Random House), ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Planets In Peril’ (DK Readers), ‘Draw Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ (Klutz Books), ‘You Can Draw: Star Wars’ (DK Children), ‘Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean To Each Other And How We Can Change’ (Zest Books) and ‘Never Threaten To Eat Your Co-Workers: Best Of Blogs’ (Apress). She edited/wrote for comic book anthologies ‘Womanthology: Heroic and Womantholgy: Space’ (IDW Publishing). Bonnie also written for Wired, Star Wars Insider, Geek, Bust, Craft, and Organic Gardening, CNN.com, Huffington Post and has a column in SFX magazine. Hosts web shows “Geek DIY” for Stan Lee’s World of Heroes, “Vaginal Fantasy” Book Club on Geek & Sundry, & her vlog “Ask Bonnie.”

BurtonBonnie

For what age audience do you write?

Most of my books are for children of all ages and teens. Though I am branching out into YA fiction soon.

Tell us about your latest craft book.

I love making crafts ever since I was a small child. Puppets fascinated me, as did making my own toys. Later, I loved making original art for my room whether it be embroidery, watercolors, mobiles, string art — you name it. When I started working at Lucasfilm 10 years ago, I thought it would be nice to have a craft section on StarWars.com for kids to make things like pet toys, holiday decorations, art, puppets and other crafts but with a Star Wars touch. The section became so popular that parents asked for a book. I created ‘The Star Wars Craft Book’ for Random House from years of crafts that I had developed for the site, as well as new crafts that I thought would be fun. It became quite a hit with fans, so much so that I’m often asked to do craft tutorials at conventions like Emerald City Comicon, New York Comic Con, Geek Girl Con, Stan Lee’s Comikaze and San Diego Comic-Con International. It’s been so much fun to see fans send me photos of the crafts they’ve made from my book over Twitter and email.

What got you interested in crafts?

Growing up. My family didn’t have a ton of money to spend on toys, so I often found myself making my own puppets, or dolls, or furniture for my dollhouse. I was always interested in arts and crafts thanks to my parents who were rather crafty as well. My mom loved to macramé, knit and crochet. My dad loved to doodle and sketch while he was talking on the phone. I had my own craft room growing up so I would spend hours and hours in there drawing, sewing, scrapbooking, journaling, painting and making puppets. I was in my own little world full of felt scraps and glitter — it was glorious.

Henry: I glued and painted monstrous plastic models – Frankenstein, Wolfman, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula. No Cthulhu or Rancor models were available at the time, however.

How did you become such a Star Wars fanatic?

My childhood was spent in Kansas in rather rural areas, so I spent a lot of my time daydreaming and writing stories. When I first saw Star Wars, I was a kid in the ’70s. So this is way before video games, the Internet, and the sorts of activities most kids are used to by now. We were expected to go outside and play, or stay indoors to read, play piano or craft. So after seeing Star Wars, I was obsessed with space, robots and of course saving the galaxy from the likes of Darth Vader. I was a big fan of sci-fi throughout my childhood thanks to Doctor Who (which was shown on our local PBS station) as well as the original Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek. But Star Wars resonated with me the most because I suppose I wanted my own Wookie best friend, I had a mad crush on Han Solo and I desperately wanted to be as sassy as Princess Leia. In fact, I demanded my mom put my hair up in those iconic buns for numerous holidays, school photos, church, ballet lessons and other special occasions. Star Wars was always a favorite movie for me, and still is. It’s message that even a farm boy can become something great is something that strongly resonated with me being a kid from Kansas.

Henry: Well, who hasn’t put their hair up in Princess Leia buns, or donned a shiny gold bikini. Oops, TMI.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging, and why?

Honestly, just beginning is the worst. Starting a project is always difficult. Once I start writing, I’m fine. But just trying to get focused at the start is almost impossible. I’m the Queen of Procrastination. So it’s rather embarrassing to admit, but I try to do everything other than write. But once I start typing, I can’t stop and that’s worth it all.

Henry: Interesting. I find it easier to start than to stop, which makes me the Duke of Distraction.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

Don’t try for perfection. Writers are notoriously hard on themselves. We try to be Hemingways and Kafkas right from the start and we don’t allow ourselves to make mistakes. We cross out more than we should. We yell at the computer. We hate ourselves for not being bestselling authors. And worst of all, we’re horrified at the thought of failing, of being thought of as talentless hacks, and just not adding up to the brilliant novelists we think we should be. Patience is something I still struggle with.

Henry: Let he who has not punched a monitor or keyboard cast the first stone.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

I think the rush of adrenaline one gets as a writer when you finish writing a book, an article, an essay or a short story. It’s a weird energy that keeps you going ’til the next project pops up. I can’t really explain it, but you feel like you accomplished something. Even if no other soul reads it, you know you finished writing something and that means a lot. I suppose it’s not just one experience but also a combination of them. I’ve become close friends with other writers, and that kinship is also something very special to me. It’s like belonging to an elite club of talented people who make you want to strive for greatness.

Henry: I get a rush when I’m holding my book proof in my hands. An idea that’s come to tangible fruition.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Don’t give up. No matter how many people tell you your dream is impossible. No matter how many rejection slips you get from publishers. No matter how many times you must edit and rewrite a piece over and over again. DO NOT GIVE UP. A lot of becoming a successful writer is about persistence. Keep with it. Write EVERY DAY. Even if one day it’s a poem about your dog. And the next day it’s a short story about an elephant that wants to time travel. And the next day is a grocery list written as a sonnet. Just do it. Challenge yourself to write different styles and genres. But always, ALWAYS be writing.

Also read read read. Read a book outside your normal comfort zone. Read biographies, memoirs, mysteries, romances, horror, dramas, young adult novels, comics, and anything else you’ve never tried reading. Read a page from the dictionary once a week. Read foreign best-sellers. Read the newspaper. The more you read, the more styles of writing you’ll be exposed to. The more you read, the better the writer you will become. I promise you.

Henry: Grocery list as a sonnet!? How do I love thee, Boston Creme Pie, let me count the ways.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

I think my favorite quotes are all summed up in author Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech that he recently gave at a college. It was called “Make Good Art” and it’s brilliant for any writer or artist to listen to.

My favorite quote is the ending: “Make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art.”

Henry: We would be remiss if we did not also mention: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

I love having music on. But frankly I do warn against having the TV on as background noise. I get caught up in shows too easily and end up using it as a procrastination tool instead of a driving force to get any writing done. I also prefer to write when there are no distractions, usually very late at night.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

To be able to put anyone to sleep instantly, not out of boredom mind you, but just put them into a very deep sleep so they stop yelling at bus stops, or drunkenly making a ruckus at 3am on my street, or fight with their boyfriends and girlfriends. I want to just say “sleep” and have them collapse where they stand into a deep, peaceful 8-hour snooze. I’d be like Sandman! Of course, I’d like to be able to give myself a good night’s rest as well. I tend to suffer from insomnia quite a bit, which probably explains why I write so much late at night.

Henry: Very innovative, and it offers a way to stop war.

If you could have three movie stars over for dinner, who would it be?

I could just pick movie stars I have crushes on, but then I suppose I would be too nervous to eat so why have dinner at all. But here goes! Sir Christopher Lee because he’s got so many amazing stories to tell that usually begin with “I remember when Errol Flynn and I…” I’d love to chat with Tom Baker because he was always my favorite Time Lord in Doctor Who, and he has such an inviting laugh that I know he must have some rather interesting tidbits to share from his acting days. And if she were still alive today, I would be honored to chat with Dorothy Parker. She’s eat me alive with her wit, but I imagine she would be quite the dinner party attendee just from her legacy of the Algonquin Round Table.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

Unicorn! I’ve always been fascinated with them and what they represent. But who’s to say they were ever fictional. They’re mentioned in the Hebrew and Christian Bible numerous times, as well as present in various Chinese legends. I’d like to think they just became extinct from overzealous hunters looking to gain some kind of medieval powers. Two of my favorite movies – Blade Runner and Legend use the same unicorn film footage, and it’s always stayed with me.

Henry: Wait, there was no unicorn reference in “And the Lord did grin and people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orang-utans and breakfast cereals and fruit bats and…”

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Craft! Procrastinate! Play with my dog! Procrastinate some more! Watch British TV mysteries like Sherlock and Marple! Procrastinate again!

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

“I told you I was sick!” hahahaha… no. Actually, maybe I would use that. I’m a bit of a hypochondriac. Or maybe “See you on the flipside” — that way I cover both bases. I don’t want to assume I’m headed to one destination over the other.

Where can readers find your work?

I write a monthly column for the British entertainment magazine SFX. You can find all my books on Amazon, and I’m redesigning my website – so check back there soon!

As always, I can be found hourly if not more on my Twitter.
Also, I’ll be at San Diego Comic-Con, and have quite a few panels on writing, so be sure to say hello if you see me!

Henry: We’ll be wandering the Exhibit Hall on Sunday, proudly wearing our Nimpentoad t-shirts. We hope to see you there.

This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.


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Interview with TheOneRing.net senior staffer Larry Curtis

Larry Curtis is a Senior Staff member at TheOneRing.net (TORn). TORn is well known to fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’. Larry specializes in live events, news and social media. He was part of a set visit to ‘The Hobbit’ movie filming in 2012, gathering material primarily for the second film which has yet to be published. Although swamped with San Diego Comic-Con preparations, Larry has graciously agreed to answer some questions.

CurtisLarry

What is TORn all about?

TheOneRing.net is and always has been an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization made by fans, for fans, of J.R.R. Tolkien. It is an online community that serves many needs and kind of fan and bridges the gap between the filmmakers who worked on ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films and now ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy of films. They are a world wide group of staff and fans that does all it can to bring what it can to fans with the resources of fans. They are best known in the mainstream for their Oscar Parties in Hollywood but they have been reporting book and movie news since 1999. They are passionate people collectively serving a passionate community.

What will be TORn’s presence at SDCC?

We have been a presence at San Diego Comic-Con for well over a decade, presenting panels about either ‘The Lord of the Rings’ or ‘The Hobbit’ for most of those years. This year we have a Thursday 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. look at ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ (the second of three Hobbit films). We aren’t part of the production or the studio so we speculate and discuss leaks and rumors as well as collect the public knowledge in a lively one-hour format. We are also selling shirts at the Weta Workshop booth and the Badali Jewelry booth to help us stay online. Currently our expenses are bigger than our income so a chance like this to sell shirts and make up some financial group is a great for us. We also relish the chance to meet fellow fans face-to-face and bring our online staff (or a small part of it) together in a physical place. It is self-paid vacation for many of us.

Henry: We’ll be at SDCC on July 21, so we will swing by the TORn booth to say hi.

What is it about Tolkien’s children’s book ‘The Hobbit’ that you find so intriguing?

I enjoy the book because of its introduction to Middle-earth, its deft use of an anti-hero and how grand and epic it all gets at the end. A very personable tale of a single Hobbit eventually involves all the key races in Middle-earth and despite the author’s modest and homey beginnings. He manages to leave such an impression of untold grand stories and weaves wonder with mundane world building in a way that leaves me appreciating the book long after I put it down.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from your involvement with TORn?

Simply that contributing to the greater good, as an unselfish team, brings me more pleasure and deeper satisfaction than almost anything I can do.

Henry: I will point out that you have a very Hobbit-like attitude in that regard. 🙂

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been involved with TORn?

There are many, many such experiences. It is almost impossible to overstate how being part of the TORn family has enriched my life with choice experiences. Most important of all are the life long friends I have made with fellow staffers. Those folks are as dear as the friends I have from the other portions of my life. I don’t know for sure what they think of me but I surely love them. The other big answer is my personal exposure to New Zealand, including many people there, has also enriched my life.

Do you have any favorite Tolkien quotes?

The one I think about most often is, “In a hole in the ground, there lived a Hobbit” and the bits that come after. It is a sentence and opening of such promise and I am shocked to think how he met that promise and then did so much more. It is very famous of course but not a quote as you mean exactly but it is what I think of first. I feel some need to read LOTR again so I have a better answer to this question.

Henry: For the handful of people who have yet to read ‘The Lord of the Rings’, some other quotes include:

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”

If you could have one superpower, what would it be, and why?

Reading minds would be a useful skill. Flight would be the most fun power I can imagine but in real life it would be hot and cold and dangerous. I think I would take mind reading as a much more subtle but useful ability. Although, it would bring its own problems to be sure.

Henry: I would’ve bet money you would have chosen invisibility. 🙂

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

I would have Tolkien to be sure, although I suspect he would be intimidating with his knowledge and difficult for me to engage. George R.R. Martin would be my next choice because he understands what Tolkien contributed and I think I need a modern man. Finally, sifting through all the classic authors, it is tempting to bring Shakespeare or Mark Twain or Charles Dickens but I choose Edgar Allen Poe. He might not be amazing in person but picking that brain would surely be something.

Henry: It would be interesting indeed to see what Tolkien would think of Martin’s practice of killing off his characters with wild abandon.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

The dragon. It is so universal and so amazing and frightening. I like it best when used lightly, but they seem to be at the very top of the mythical food chain. If not that that Sharktopus.

Henry: LOL. For those of you who haven’t seen the 2010 film Sharktopus (and that would be almost everyone), IMDB tells us, “A half-shark, half-octopus creature created for the military, creates a whole lot of terror in Mexico while a scientist who helped created it tries to capture/kill it.”

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I read or experience other stories through film. I like video games too, particularly ones with a story to tell.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

He drank life to the lees.

Henry: Ah, a little Tennyson. He may be drinking so much because you didn’t invite him to dinner.

Where can people find out more about TORn?

TheOneRing.net but also our Facebook page and on Twitter. The best way is to dive into the community! And of course, at San Diego Comic-Con.

This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner