|Terron James is a HOT new author|
Tooele resident and author Terron James’s young adult series, Beholders, is about to kick off with INSIGHT. I invited him to the Blog Mansion to talk about it, but took proper precautions.
Terron: (waving his hands wildly)
Johnny: You have to push the button to talk. I can’t hear you.
Terron: (pushing the button) Why am I in this room? Why is the door locked?
J: Calm down Terron you’re in an annihilation room. I have three in the mansion. This one is red, see? For the University of Utah - go Utes! I thought you’d like it.
T: What’s an annihilation room?
J: It’s basically a flash furnace. Can you see this red button here through the reinforced glass window? If I push it, the room fills with fire. Gets up to 2300 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s about 1300 degrees Celsius, if you’re all metric.
T: Why would you do that?
J: Civil Defense. You live in Tooele. There’s nerve gas in Tooele and other nasties because of that army base. You could be and probably are contaminated. I have sensors in there measuring your respiration and radiation levels. Can’t be too careful.
J: Come on, you’re from Tooele. This is everyday for you. Let’s talk about your book. The oxygen supply in there won’t last forever.
T: Alright, I’ll play along, but don’t try to keep me locked up in here or I’ll go all True Sight on your silly compound and this ridiculous annihilation room. I’m surprised, really. I thought someone as quick-witted as you would see through the government lies about Tooele.
J: What lies?
T: About the contamination. It’s all a cover up for the real danger lurking out there.
J: Real danger?
T: Yup, and you’re looking right at him. Yours truly spontaneously combusted last fall after reading a bad essay about Animal Farm from one of my junior high students.
J: (fingers the red button): Really?
T: (laughs): Nah, I’m just messin’ with ya. That is the case with Pree, though. It’s a small village on the outskirts of Appernysia. There’s a 17-year-old boy living there named Lon Marcs who especially likes to cause people pain with his magic. Not on purpose, though, and it hurts him worse than it hurts them.
J: Oh, ho! You got me with that one! I’m guessing that we’re talking about your book, right?
T: Now you’re catching on.
J: So, anyway, how does Appernysia compare to other fantasy worlds? Will your readers be surprised or find familiar friends?
T: That’s a good question. Open the door and I’ll tell you.
J: Nah. You look good through the glass, like an antique in a display window.
T (sighs): I suppose I had that one coming, even though I am half your age.
J: Touche. (fingering red button).
J: No elves or dwarves? Wouldn’t that get a little boring?
T: Of course not! Didn’t you read Chronicles of Narnia ?
J: That's the one with the talking cat and the TARDIS right?
T: No, it's the – Wait. Yeah, I guess that's the one.
J: I read the first one. There were no elves or dwarves so it got boring. What were you saying?
T: I was saying that Appernysia is built around two groups of humans, the Kingdom of Appernysia and the banished Rayders.
J: Awesome! Like Rayders of the Lost Arc?
T: What? I thought you were an author. You totally spelled that wrong. It’s Raiders of the Lost Arc, not Rayders.
J: Spelled it wrong? We’re talking to each other. How could I spell it wrong?
T: Ah, riiiiigggggghhhhht. Well, either way, these Rayders were named after their leader, Bors Rayder, who led them in a catastrophic rebellion at the end of the First Age of Appernysia.
J: (yawns): Man, that was a total data dump. I hope your whole book isn’t like that.
T: Actually, not at all. Jolly Fish Press really helped me clean it up. Now INSIGHT moves faster than a chicken with a donkey and a fish!
J: Another book reference?
T: Yeah. That was a quote from Mumbling Myron, the crazy guy who protected Lon and his family.
J: You’ve mentioned Lon a couple times, so let’s focus on that. Lon Marcs, youthful, strapping, young adult protagonist. Tell me about him. How much like me is he?
T: Nothing at all. He’s young, kind, compassionate, good looking, thoughtful, and especially dangerous with the sword and with True Sight.
T: You asked.
J: Didn't you say he hurts people sometimes?
J: Didn't you say he hurts people sometimes?
J: Moving along, how long did it take to write INSIGHT?
T: Two years to write, three years to edit. It’s been a long road since 2008, but I’m glad to be here. Well, not HERE, but at this stage in my life. I still want out of this room.
J: All in due time. How goes the work on the next installment of Beholders?
T: I’m finished with the rough draft of book 2. I just need to clean it up. The faster people buy book 1, the faster book 2 will come out. Otherwise, they’ll have to wait until June 1, 2014.
J: Done already? What’s your writing process to pump these bad boys out so fast?
T: Good tunes through sound-reducing headphones, while sitting at my computer in the wee hours of the night, when the world is void of noise, responsibility, and distractions.
J: That was very poetic. Have you been working on that response for a long time?
J: What authors influenced Insight?
T: Hrm... INSIGHT has been compared to the writings of Tolkien, Christopher Paolini, Robert Jordan (my neighbor on the bookshelf), Brandon Sanderson, and even a few obscure references to Larry Correia. Perhaps Correia was thrown into the mix because he had a similar “rise to fame” story as mine, starting out by trying to market his own books. Either that, or Corriea and I both like to blow stuff up, in our own respective genres, that is.
J: What was your journey to finding a publisher?
T: Short or long version?
J: (motions toward red button): Let’s keep it short. I have a life outside of this compound, you know.
T: Fair enough. I wrote about 35 queries to literary agents, all of which were rejected. Gave up on the whole traditional publishing idea, but then I met Jolly Fish Press at monthly meeting for the Tooele Chapter of the League of Utah Writers. The Executive Editor and I hung out for an hour after the meeting, swapping publishing ideas and chatting about my book. He invited me to query them, and we signed a contract two months later. Ta da!
J: You seem like a stable, well-adjusted University of Utah English major graduate.
T: (coughs) With an emphasis in Creative Writing. (coughs)
J: Uh, ok. Well, congratulations on finding the only two careers you were ever prepared for: writing and teaching. Tell me about teaching.
T: Love it! It took me a couple months to learn all their names, but now I’ll never forget them. I’ve added 130 new children to my own 4 boys. Inspiring youth to love and read literature is one of my biggest focuses, in both careers.
J: How about the U of U? Who influenced you there?
T: I made a lot of friends, considering that it took me 10 years to earn my BA, but one that stands out above the rest is Lance Olsen. He’s made quite a name for himself in the literary world, and was just given a Guggenheim Fellowship last spring. If you haven’t heard of the G-word before, it’s a very prestigious writing award. Google it. Anyway, Lance is one of those guys who loves his red pen. If you can handle his intense feedback, you will learn oodles of info about writing. One of his popular sayings is, “Your writing is only as good as the best book you’ve read in the past six months.” Totally true.
J: Social networking has been a key element in the publicity leading up to your book launch. Can you speak to that?
T: Yeah, look me up on FaceBook, Twitter, and Goodreads to catch up on the fun. I especially love embarrassing myself on FaceBook. Actually, just today, I posted a funny video of a—
T: Six years this summer. Before that, West Valley City, Holladay, West Jordan, and Kearns. All Utah cities.
J: Does Tooele still conduct regular tests of their warning siren?
T: You bet! (How did you hear about that?) Every Wednesday at 4 pm, “This… is a test… of the… Tooele… Emergency… Broadcast… System…”
J: Are you immune to nerve agents or just tolerant?
J: Ooh, I got a reading when you said that! An actual spike!
T: Told you.
J: Are your affairs in order?
T: Are yours?
J: Oh, hey, another jump on my readings. Radiological this time. You are a man of many poisons.
T: Does this have something to do with my book coming out before yours?
J: Why would it? I mean we’re both U of U alumni, we’re both YA writers in the same state, with the same publisher. I’m a little older than and wiser than you, why shouldn’t your book come out first? I’m not bitter. I’m not jealous. How dare you suggest such a thing. That really pisses me off.
T: DON’T DO IT!
J: Ooh another jump. A big one that time. What were we talking about?
T: Umm… we were talking about the blurb, the “hook” as you sometimes call it.
J: Were we? Okay, what is it?
T: Of my book? (clears throat) INSIGHT follows Lon Marcs, a 17-year-old boy who discovers he is the first Beholder in over a thousand Appernysian years. Everyone with political power is hunting him, but his biggest concern is his own safety. Because he’s the only person in Appernysia who wields the power of True Sight, he has no idea how to control it. As a consequence, the magic itself starts to kill him. Unlike other epic fantasies, INSIGHT is not typical, “Gain the power and save the good guys!” type of novel. In fact, it’s often hard for readers to decide who the good guys are. INSIGHT blurs the lines separating right from wrong.
J: Impressive, and intriguing!
T: Thank you.
J: What do you think makes a book Young Adult versus Adult?
T: With INSIGHT, it’s appropriateness of content. Nothing in my book will make a parent uncomfortable sharing with their children. However, even older folks love this book. I wrote INSIGHT in a way that it can be enjoyed at the reader’s level, be it fourth grade or collegiate. It will challenge you no matter who you are.
BARNES & NOBLE
J: My people say you can have human contact provided you’re in a lead suit with a respirator.
T: No they don’t.
J: (eyeballs red button) What was that?
T: Okay, okay. Good idea. I’ve been meaning to buy a suit.
T: You know, Johnny, when your book comes out, I’ll do all I can to help you.
J: You will?
T: I promise.
J: Okay. Thanks. You can come out now.
J: … oh, oh my… who mislabeled these buttons?