Tell us about your latest book.
Spartanica is a young adult/teen sci-fi adventure story about when two middle-school brothers, Ty and Marcus Mitchell, are suddenly hurtled through an inter-dimensional gateway to a parallel world defined by its multiple moons and planet-wide apocalypse. As they struggle to figure out where they are and how to get home, the boys encounter refugees of “the last day” from the distant city of Atlantis and a mysterious girl called Bellana, the sole survivor and resident of the devastated city of Spartanica. Ty and Marcus soon learn they only have seven days to get home, but before they can leave, they must battle through long-extinct predators, track down the elusive Professor Otherblood, and rescue a new friend from certain death. Will the boys make it home alive are or they truly on the brink of being stranded on the brutal wasteland known as Spartanica?
Where did the idea for the book come from?
The concept for Spartanica literally evolved chapter-to-chapter as I focused on delivering a story that was truly original, engaging, unpredictable, creative, cohesive and fun to read. All I really knew going in was that I wanted both male and female lead characters that, by all accounts, were average kids that had to learn to be extraordinary when placed in impossible situations.
Who and what inspire you to write?
Kids inspire me to write because becoming a strong reader is such an important skill to have throughout life. I see a direct relationship with my kids’ friends between enthusiasm for reading and success in school. My hope is that young readers will find Spartanica engaging enough to make them want to read more and, in the process, develop skills needed to accomplish their goals later in life.
Each author has his own inspiring journey. How did you begin writing?
My author journey started with reading a number of the books my grade school (at the time) son read. He would get all jazzed about the stories and take me through them in great detail. His passion for reading made me want to read the same books. I often found myself thinking of what I’d do to make those stories better. Rather than be the eternal armchair quarterback, I decided to take my own shot and write Spartanica.
What has been the most pleasant surprise about writing? How about an unexpected down side?
The most pleasant surprise has been how fun it is to talk about Spartanica with those that have read it. People really get animated as they talk about the characters and the story. It’s immensely satisfying to know I’ve actually entertained people with something I created. There haven’t really been any unexpected downsides. I expected self-publishing would take a tremendous amount of time, and it has, but I’ve learned a ton about doing it.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Whenever I write a chapter or two, I always go back a day or two later and reread, making updates, etc., along the way. I find that my mind will work on the storyline in the background after I’ve written it. When I come back to it, I often find that I have ideas and approaches I didn’t have the first time. It’s weird to think the wheels are spinning in the background without really noticing it but most of the final Spartanica text came from revisions made after the initial write.
Do you write your books in order?
Yes. I find readers in the YA/teen genre prefer this versus hopping all over the timeline.
What is on your writing playlist for this book?
It’s all over the board from classical music to heavy metal with a good dose of Taylor Swift included. I really admire her. As a kid, she had a dream and worked hard to create a truly exceptional life for herself. Every kid should see that and know he/she can do the same.
Any favorite writing snacks?
No. I try to stay away from snacks. I promised myself years ago I’d never wear bigger than 34-inch pants. Believe me, it gets hard to breathe some days but I’ve never broken that promise… never will.
What advice would you give writers who aspire to be published?
Engage beta readers that enjoy the genre in which you’re writing. For Spartanica, my son (6th grade), daughter (4th grade), and several of their friends read the story multiple times and told me what they liked and didn’t like. Through their feedback, I was able to identify when I’d hit or missed the mark in a scene. I also had several adult beta readers that helped tremendously.
Always, always, always have your manuscript copy edited! You cannot proofread your own story. I was stunned at how many errors my copy editors found in my text after I’d checked it multiple times. I went through two full rounds of beta reading and copy editing to finish Spartanica and have received numerous compliments regarding the professional quality of the text.
Are you working on anything new right now?
Spartanica is the first novel in The Survivor of Sapertys Series. I’m working on book two now.
Who is your favorite character in your current book?
I have two favorite characters in Spartanica. I really enjoy the way the Nekitys character evolves throughout the book. Just when you think you have him figured out, something about him morphs to make him even more intriguing. I also truly like the Proditor character. Big and brutish yet unexpectedly fair and honest. “Big P” works hard to overcome pre-established stereotypes about the Desrata and becomes a pivotal piece of the story.
What is your favorite book of all time?
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I truly enjoyed the way Mr. Riordan had Percy Jackson narrate and talk directly to the reader. I haven’t read another book outside of that series that’s done that so well.
If you enjoy sci-fi adventure stories with heart-pounding action, fantastical creatures and epic battles to save all of humanity, you really need to make Spartanica your next read!