Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Author Interview: Nick James
Skyship Academy’s written from the perspectives of two male protagonists. What are your thoughts on “boy books”?
I love boy books! As a former boy, I grew up reading them. When I set out to write this book, I wanted to create something that appealed to everyone but really homed in on the kind of thing that I would have liked when I was a teenager. So many boy books have the action, but I wanted to meld that with the underdog characterization that’s more prominent in coming-of-age novels.
The current trend in YA is definitely toward more romantic stuff. While there is a little romance in the book, I wanted to write something that was more plot and character driven. I think that’s what boys respond to. At least, it’s what I responded to at that age. Big, dramatic plot lines with plenty of twists and turns.
To that end, there are explosions, chases, cool powers and a lot of action. But there are also those quieter moments and characters that (I hope) you care about in more than just a “will they survive?” way. It’s the blend that I always strive for in my writing. Comic booky in the sense that it’s action and dialogue driven, but not to the point that would alienate other readers.
What would be the hardest part for you of living in the world you created?
In real life, I don’t deal well with conflict. I’m one of those “can’t we all just get along?” people. With all of the factions in the book constantly at each other’s throats, I think I’d just want to ignore all of the war stuff and go some place where people are devoted to having fun and chilling out. I’d probably have to live on one of the more entertainment-oriented Skyships. Maybe I could be a lounge singer or something?
Which character came easier to you, Jesse or Cassius?
Jesse came easier to me because his portions of the book are much more immediate. I really enjoy writing in a first person, present voice. It feels more like a journal entry to me. That being said, I found Cassius infinitely fascinating. Even with all of the crazy stuff that happens to Jesse, Cassius probably has the more dramatic character arc. One of the reasons I enjoyed writing this book as much as I did was that the two protagonists are so different from one another. Shifting between them gave me a lot of freedom to explore the world through multiple viewpoints and philosophies.
If you could pair Jesse and Cassius with any character from any book, who would you pick for each?
This is a great question! I’m assuming you mean romantically. I think Jesse would benefit from someone more driven and confident. Someone who would bring those qualities out in him. I think I’d pair him with Hermione Granger. The thing is, he’d probably find her annoying, but she’d be good for him. Cassius needs someone who knows how to have fun. He can get too serious for his own good, and could do with a sense of humor. Of course, he’d still need someone who could keep up with him physically. I’d say a character like Max from the Maximum Ride books would be ideal.
Sea turtle? I can’t swim, and I’m thinking those shells are pretty slippery when you try to hold onto them, so that would be my nemesis. And the cause of my untimely death.
You're dropped into a room full of Death Eaters with Jesse! What happens?
Well, Jesse would probably cower in the corner, hoping that they wouldn’t find him, which would leave me standing there going “gee, thanks.” But if put in a sticky situation, I’ve got no problem sucking up. I could get down with the whole Voldemort thing while the Death Eaters are standing there. Doesn’t mean that I’m being truthful. Just throw a bunch of “dark lord” this and “dark lord” that at them and I’m sure they’d happily move on. Or kill me.
If you were a demigod, what god/goddess would be your parent?
Apollo and Aphrodite. In addition to the good looks, you’ve got all that wonderful stuff like love, music, art and healing. Sure, you kinda get jipped in the powers department, but everyone would love you! And plus, powers can be more trouble than they’re worth.
What kind of dinosaur would you describe yourself as? What about Jesse and Cassius?
Ooh, this is right up my alley! I went through a ridiculous dinosaur phase from about 5th-6th grade. In fact, one of my first books series (by “series,“ I mean a couple 13-page scribblings) was written about dinosaurs in 5th grade. As for me, I think I’d be a pterodactyl. I just like the idea of soaring above all the craziness and swooping down when I needed to.
Jesse’s not very aggressive, so he’d be a herbivore. Maybe an ankylosaurus, which just happened to be my favorite (random) dinosaur when I was a kid. Cassius would be a velociraptor, all cunning and smart and sneaky. Those were always the scariest ones in Jurassic Park
Thank you, Nick, for those hilarious answers and you officially have the best answer ever for my transportation question.
Now make sure you guys all check out Skyship Academy, already out. I mean, the cover rocks, and obviously the author is hilarious. So, go on. No excuses.
Posted by Kari Olson at 8:18 AM