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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Student Questions, Take 1

Last week Monday I had the opportunity to speak at my school before an assembly of our Logic School students. During this time, many of them asked me questions pertaining to my books, and I had a blast answering them and getting to chat through various aspects of the my stories and the writing process in general. I knew, however, that I would have time to answer all of the questions, so I sent around a clipboard on which students could write some questions that they desired answers to. I thought I would take a few blog posts to answer some of those questions. This is the first of those blog posts.

Q: Have you written any other books?
A: Other than the first two books in The Gateway Chronicles, I have written a stand alone fantasy novel set in an entirely different world. It is called The Seventh Kingdom and is a pretty standard swords and sorcery type novel. I do not, however, plan on ever publishing that book as I started writing it when I was very young and worked on it for so many years that it does not work well as a consistent story. It was great practice for me, however, and it helped me to identify mistakes that I tend to make and what sort of author I am. In the future (after The Gateway Chronicles are complete) I do plan on writing many, many more books. You can probably plan on seeing one new book from me a year for as long as I continue to have story ideas.

Q: How do you come up with such great ideas like Yahto Veli?
A: I'm very flattered that so many of my readers have considered characters such as Yahto Veli (the narks) and others to be "great ideas." I guess the answer to this question is that I never know if an idea is going to turn out to be "great" when I conceive it... does any author, really? I always say, write what you know! Every great idea has some basis in reality. To address Yahto Veli in particular, I first had to conceive the narks. I think that every fantasy story has to have some unique creature, and I wanted mine to be the narks. At the real camp on which the story is based, there is a silly form letter that you can buy in the camp store to fill out and send home. The last option on the letter reads, "I have to go now because:" and then four reasons are listed, one of which is, "the night narks are coming to get me." I never knew what a night nark was, but that line captured my imagination from the time I was a child. So I took the name "night nark" from the form letter, and it only seemed logical that if there is a night nark, then there must be a day nark. And I went on from there, figuring out that I wanted night and day narks to share the same body, etc.... Yahto Veli is unique because I always loved the character Puddleglum in The Silver Chair, and I wanted a character who was rather glum and pessimistic like that, but really very good natured at his heart. I thought it would be funny to give Yahto that personality and Veli exactly the opposite nature. And then once I figured that out, it opened up all sorts of other things for me to do with him. I was worried about the narks in general, feeling as though they were a gamble and people would either love them or hate them (finding them too cheesy), but, thankfully, people have loved them!

Okay, that was only two questions, but I went on a little long in my responses. I'll wrap this up and come back with some more later this week.

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