I feel like I should ask you about your most recent novel that I read, The Dragon of the Month Club, but perhaps it would be more interesting to talk about the novels you have already written. Why would I go backwards and read those as well?
After I finished writing the Dragon of the Month Club it occurred to me that it had one thing very much in common with my earlier series, the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency. Both book series take the reader through different worlds, one after the other. In the Dragon of the Month Club those worlds are the worlds of the various books scattered around Tyler’s bedroom, whereas in the Kitty Hawk series the worlds are more down-to-Earth, in fact they are different places right here on our own beautiful planet. One country and culture to another, all the way around the world.
Both book series give you a chance to explore the world(s) from the comfort of your own living room, and hopefully inspire people to go out and see and read about those worlds for themselves.
I’m pretty obsessed with dragons, as my blog name would attest. What made you want to write about dragons instead of flying adventures?
It all started with a title: The Dragon of the Month Club. This came to me one Saturday afternoon and I knew I liked it, but it wasn’t until the next day that it finally clicked in my brain what that title meant. And once those floodgates were opened, I couldn’t think or write fast enough to keep up with it.
What aged reader would best enjoy this book? I admit that the cover artwork made me think of a middle-grade novel, and I almost skipped the opportunity to read it.
If I had to limit myself to just one single age group, I would have to agree with you and say middle-grade. But I think the book is far sophisticated enough to appeal to much older readers as well – from young adult to super adult.
I love your idea with letting fans come up with alternative dragons (I confess I checked out the webpage right away). Do you have any pictures of the finished products?
The Dragon of the Month Club website (www.dragonofthemonthclub.com) has a “Dragon Archives” section where you can check out some of the past Dragons of the Month that have been submitted by readers.
Do you start feeling like you are the characters in your novel as you are writing them?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I suppose it all depends on whether you can lose yourself to the point where you almost become them. Funnily enough, it’s almost never the main characters. It’s always some minor character in the book that I tend to fall into and start thinking I am them. That said, however, for the briefest of moments as I wrote the Sherlock Holmes section of the Dragon of the Month Club, I found myself almost becoming the Tyler character.
You said your goal was to have the Kitty Hawk be 13 books long. Have you given up writing those? Do you have any other books in the works?
I definitely have NOT given up on the Kitty Hawk books. We’re still on track for a total of 13 books eventually. My problem this past 8 months has been too many ideas and too much trying to do too many things. When the year started the next Kitty Hawk book was based in Egypt. I got a few thousand words into that one with most of the ideas all fleshed out. I have puzzles made and hanging on my walls. There is even some nearly finished cover artwork. And then I started thinking about the NEXT book, which takes place in Tanzania, and started thinking about that one as well. And then the most amazing thing happened. I was standing in Istanbul, looking up at the sky and minarets, and a red and white seaplane flew right over my head as it came in for a landing on the Golden Horn. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a sign. A sign that the next Kitty Hawk book will take place in Venice and Istanbul. So now there’s puzzles for that one hanging on my
wall and I’m a few thousand words in.
You’re also a musician. Would you suggest to people to listen to your songs at the same time as they read your novels?
Hmmmmm. That’s a good question. Some of them, perhaps. Although as a general rule maybe it’s best to NOT listen to music while reading. Songs and albums tell stories too. Maybe it’s best not to try and split your attention between two stories at once?
When you were younger, did you know you wanted to be an author? How long have you been writing? Have you studied writing at university?
I actually studied Science and Engineering in university before I dropped out and worked at McDonalds and Pizza Hut for a few years before moving to Europe. My mom always thought I should be an author. I tried to write a book once and it didn’t really work. I mean, it’s truly terrible. But then Kitty Hawk came along, bless her heart. And she showed me the way.
Do you have a writing schedule? What does your writing process look like? Do you use a special pen or composite notebooks to write in? Are there sticky-notes on the walls of your office?
The walls of my office are actually plastered with cover artwork and puzzles from the various Kitty Hawk books. When I look over I can see the evolution of the artworks from sketches to reality.
My writing process involves walking and thinking and planning, then sitting down and executing it.
Can you tell me about a typical week? Have you ever been on a scheduled writing retreat, or is your self-motivation enough?
I have been on one writing retreat and in fact that is where I wrote the very first chapter I ever wrote from the Dragon of the Month Club. It was the chapter about the Wishing Tree and just down the street from the haunted hotel where I was writing there was a REAL Wishing Tree.
But I have to say that the best writing weeks I’ve ever had were one week I spent on a cruise ship, sitting in the library with a laptop, staring out across the Atlantic Ocean. This was followed by another week in the Bahamas where I spent my afternoons writing instead of sitting around the pool. I finished the book there, in fact, and once I did I was able to celebrate with a milkshake from Johnny Rocket’s.
Is keeping up with your online presence daunting? How do you gauge how successful your social media campaigns are?
Daunting isn’t even in the right galaxy of words as what would describe how challenging it is too keep up on social media. In fact, keeping up isn’t even the right thing to say either. Falling behind and never catching up is more accurate.
It’s difficult to gauge how successful many things are, but you just keep trying and hoping for the best.
Do you believe in ongoing promotion of your novels? It seems like most novels come out as new and if they don’t sell in the first month, then they’re gone. You’re doing a great job with the website, what else do you have in the works?
I have tried a number of different approaches with varying success. Thus far I’m not a millionaire, so I often try and go with the ones I have the most fun with – for example, appearances at Comic Con conventions.
Finally, you’ve given a number of other interviews – are there any questions you wish people would ask, or wouldn’t ask? This could be about anything you want to talk about further.
Actually, I have to say that this interview has been pretty awesome. I love it when the questions are thoughtful and insightful like this. So as far as things I want to talk about further, I would like to say thank you so incredibly much for the opportunity to answer these questions of yours. Thank you.