Welcome readers to my first EVER interview of an author. Jack has kindly decided to be interviewed by myself on his newest book T'Aragam, which I reviewed here earlier today. I am one of the stops of his Virtual Book Tour taking place through July and August. See Jack's website for more book tour dates!
A little bit about Jack before we begin:
Jack W. Regan has writing in his blood. His mother being a writer and English teacher, it wasn't long before Jack was trying his own hand at creative writing.
At sixteen he won 2nd place in a national essay contest and was editor of his high school newsletter. At college he served on staff at the campus newspaper and, the next year, was promoted to editor-in-chief.
Once out of college he continued his love affair with words and in 2004 began a popular online book review service. In 2007 he withdrew from reviewing to focus all his attention on writing.
The next year he published Duke Dookums, Frontier Hero, a zany western for young boys, and contracted out for some non-fiction works. Regan is also an annual judge in Baker Trittin Press’s Tweener Time International Chapter Book Competition.
T’Aragam is Regan’s first juvenile fantasy novel.
Thanks again to Jack for volunteering as the first author interview on my blog. Now, onto the interview!You were a before you started focusing on your writing, how do you feel that has affected your writing?
I think it helps me write more from the perspective of a reader, possibly to be more critical of my own work than if I had never been in a position to critique someone else’s material. And because I know how a reviewer’s mind works, it’s helped me be more accepting of criticism from other sources, since I know from experience it can be just as hard to give a tough opinion than to receive one. All in all, the experience of reviewing books helped shape my own writer’s journey. It was well worth the effort and hard work.
As T'Aragam is your first juvenile fantasy novel, what drew you to the realm of writing fantasy?
I chose fantasy because of the sheer make-believe. All fiction is pretend to a certain extend, even if based on true events, but with fantasy you have the freedom to introduce elements (events, characters) that would obviously not be accepted in other genres. I found it quite liberating.
I chose juvenile fantasy because, as a part time employee at a public library, I noticed a gap in the reading level. There’s plenty of material for older teens and a lot for young kids. But the middle (tweeners), those who aren’t quite ready or interested in YA subject matter and yet bored with the younger stuff, had fewer options. T’Aragam, and the continuing series, is an effort to fill that gap and get those kids hooked on reading in general. It’s a healthy addiction and a gift they’ll use their entire lives.
What inspired the story behind T'Aragam?
The basic idea for the world of T’Aragam really just occurred to me one day, a flash of inspiration. But most of the rest was created through blood, sweat, and tears. And finger cramps after a long day of typing. After the initial brainstorm, it would probably be more accurate to say
that I went and found the inspiration, rather than it finding me. I did this by postponing the rest of my life and just sitting at the computer day after day, knowing I couldn’t leave until I reached my word goal. And more often than not, by the time I reached the word goal, I was into the story and just kept going. Of course, there were times along the way when inspiration returned (discipline breeds inspiration), but it was there because I looked for it.
Are any of the characters in your book inspired by people you know or even yourself?
Most of the characters contain elements of people I know, although they’re not individually recognizable. Most of us have little quirks. I took those characteristics and exaggerated them, then attributed them to my characters. There’s no one in the book that is a copy of any one person. As far as anyone being inspired by myself...I guess I tried to make Max how I would have liked to have been at his age. The stuff I imagined myself doing when I was thirteen. :0)
What did you learn while writing T'Aragam?
Mainly that writing a book for kids isn’t as easy as a lot of people think. You still have to have all the story elements in place. One of the things I made a conscious effort to avoid was writing “down” to the reading level. I hate it when authors do that. Kids are more than capable of keeping up and, besides, it’s by stretching their abilities that they really learn and build their literary “muscles”—vocabulary, etc. Let’s challenge them!
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Make sure you’re writing for the right reasons. Write because you can’t not write. (And don’t use double negatives.) Understand from the outset that writing well is likely to be the hardest work you’ll ever do. Write every day. Learn to accept criticism, but also to sift through it for the good stuff (and then discard the rest.) Remember that plot is a verb—keep it moving. And last but not least, always include a large woodshed in your stories--it’s a good place to stack the bodies once your characters start getting in the way of the plot.
Is there anything else you want your readers to know about you or your novel?
First of all, I love my readers. I love hearing from them and getting feedback on the book. I write because I need to, but having someone else take the time to read what I scribbled is gratifying and humbling even beyond that.
Also, T’Aragam is the first in a series, the Max Ransome Chronicles, the second of which is scheduled to be released . And, of course, everyone is welcome to stop by the website, where all news and contact information is posted: www.taragam.com.
And, finally, I want to thank everyone for visiting this stop of the tour. Most of all, a big thank you to my gracious hostess, Kristen, who has been absolutely wonderful through this process. I encourage everyone to bookmark her blog and become regular followers!