Sunday, 29 January 2012

Author Interview and Giveaway: Kevin Turner

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Kevin Turner, author of the exciting and thoughtful middle grade adventure story, The Magi (you can read my review here).  He has also generously offered 2 e-copies of his book to giveaway.  To enter, go to the Rafflecopter form below.  (Open internationally, ends Sunday Feb 5)

First, the synopsis from Goodreads:
Thirteen-year-old Elijah Hawk has never heard of the Magi. He doesn't know about the secret power they have. He has never been to Savenridge, the Magi city hidden deep inside the northern forests. Most of all, Elijah is unaware of the dangers hunting him, in search for something he has. After one terrifying night, however, all of that changes!

On a quest to solve the murder of his parents, Elijah stumbles upon the land of the Magi. Learning their secrets and training with their power is the least of his problems. In order to find out why his parents were killed, Elijah learns that he must confront the dangers that are hunting him. What's more terrifying is learning that stumbling upon this new world of the Magi may not have been an accident afterall.
Now for the interview:
How did you come to write The Magi?

First of all, it’s important to know that I am an English teacher for middle school students. About a year ago, I became increasingly frustrated with their level of apathy toward reading. I wanted to help students find something that they would love to read, but they continued to say that they couldn’t find anything that they were interested in. So, I decided to give them a survey detailing their wishes for a book they would find interesting. At first, I thought it would help me narrow down some books for each student. However, after many of the same answers kept coming up, I decided that I could write a book that met their demands. The Magi was the result.

What kind of answers did you receive from the survey's you gave to your students about what their perfect book would be?

I came to the conclusion that they were looking for a story that was believable, yet unbelievable. At first that’s quite a contradiction, but as I began to think about this request, I felt like I understood what they meant. Kids want a story that they can relate to and be able to believe that a completely made-up world or story could actually exist; that the pieces fit in a logical way; that even though they know there is no such place or event, it feels like there is. They also said that they wanted to experience a wide range of emotion. It’s no accident that I spend as much time as I do detailing the emotions of Elijah’s terrible misfortunes or sharing the frustrations of being inadequate. Their surveys didn’t say “I want a superhero.” It said “I want someone I can relate to” in not so many words.

I loved the imagination in your book, what do you do to nurture your own imagination?

Walk. Find time alone. I have a hard time focusing with any kind of distraction, which doesn’t bode well for the father of a two-year-old. So any time I can get out in the fresh air and be alone with my thoughts, I find my imagination tends to take over.

Who or what encouraged (or still encourages) you in your writing?

I am lucky to have many who encourage me. I have some in my family, many mentioned in my dedication, who know the entire plot of the series that read my strung-together thoughts and make suggestions and encourage me to continue. I also have others who don’t know anything (by choice) and want to read as the public will read it. I have an amazing family and supportive friends that I have to credit the finished story to because without them, I’m not sure I could have had the guts to complete The Magi.

What challenges have you faced in your writing and how did you overcome them?

Since I am self-published with the dream of one day becoming published by a larger publisher, the biggest challenge has been keeping the faith that I have a good enough story to share. But each time one of my students or a reviewer finishes The Magi and says “When’s the next one coming out?” I remember who I’m writing for.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I’m quite a sports enthusiast, much to the displeasure of my wife at times. I play golf and racquetball and can’t get enough college football. I also have found myself lately playing a lot of hide-and-seek with a certain two-year-old that thinks that game never gets old.
How do you incorporate writing into your everyday life? How do you fuel your writing?

Actually, I have found that it’s a cycle. I incorporate everyday life into my writing by writing about what I know. Therefore, during everyday life, I find myself writing by just observing. Every character in The Magi has a trait or feature that I have experienced, so my life becomes a part of my writing and my writing becomes part of my life.
Do you have any special routines or rituals for writing?

Not really. Other than needing to be alone and quiet, I can write just about anywhere. But finding a place that’s quiet and secluded is difficult.

Is there one passage in your book that you feel gets to the heart of your book? If so, can you share it?

A good portion of the story is based on conflict and overcoming trials. One of my favorite characters is Olivia, Elijah’s mentor. She takes a moment to notice the winter weather and says this about it:

This is a wonderful time of year—maybe my favorite. So much life and joy are promised in the spring, but it’s impossible to get there without first surviving the winter. Even during these silent and dreary days that seem to never end, there are preparations being made for a time when everything is reborn and life becomes fresh. There is a peace now if you really look for it.”

What new projects are you working on or are excited about right now?

Since The Magi is the first of five in a series, I am working on the second entitled The Sphere. It’s been a much harder endeavor working out the story than I expected, mainly because The Magi came so easily. However, I’ve been getting into the writing groove, and I think this one will be a great sequel. I am excited about the adventure The Sphere will take Elijah through.

Thank you so much for answering my questions.
To find out more:
Author's blog
Barnes & Noble

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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