In July I read and reviewed The Emerald Tablet, which is PJ Hoover's debut Middle Grade Novel. I enjoyed the book so much that I got my younger sister to read the book who loved it just as well. And I got to ask her a few questions for a segment of AN AWESOME AUTHOR. The Emerald Tablet releases on October 21st but you can pre-order it on Amazon right now.
My sister's review
PJ Hoover's Website
How did you come up with the idea to write about lost continents and telegens, a superior race of humans that have Telekinesis?
There was this TV show back in the early 80’s (yes, I realize you’re too young) called The Powers of Matthew Star. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Powers_of_Matthew_Star) Matthew Star was basically this ordinary kid who had special powers like telepathy and telekinesis. He could pop popcorn with his mind so fast, the other kids thought he was magic—which I guess he kind of was. He was good looking and cool and oh so 80s. The show was on air for about six months, but I loved it, and it always stuck with me. How cool would it be to have powers like that and to have to pretend to be a normal kid? And so Benjamin Holt and telegens were born. As for the lost continents, I’ve always loved ancient civilizations, and I’ve wanted Atlantis to be real. So I knew Atlantis would have to be in the storyline. But while researching, I came across the sister continent of Lemuria and knew immediately my main story would be set here.
Why did you decide to tie in the ancient gods (Greek, Roman, etc.) into the book as just telegens from Atlantis trying to control humans?
OK, when I answer this, it will seem like TV is the basis for everything. But the sad fact is I spent much of my childhood watching science fiction and fantasy stuff. I’d say the time was wasted and I should have been writing, but then where would all these ideas come from? There was this Star Trek episode (Who Mourns for Adonis) about how the ancient Greek gods were real and lived among the humans. Adonis and the other gods had been super beings on Earth, but, as people stopped believing in the Greek gods, they went away. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Mourns_for_Adonis) But even more so than the Star Trek episode, when we look at mythology, there are strong beliefs (mine included) that the mythological figures were actually based on factual people from long ago. I believe the gods were real and influential historical figures. And if there were good ones in the past, then certainly there were bad.
How do you feel about the fact that the release date of The Emerald Tablet is getting closer everyday?
Super excited. It’s kind of hard to believe there are people I don’t even know reading my book. Hard to believe and exciting all at the same time. As a writer, I sit alone just writing most of the time. So now to realize there’s this other side of writing is pretty cool. Not to mention rewarding!
Approximately how long did it take you to write The Emerald Tablet?
First draft about three months. First revisions another six months. But, trust me, there were still plenty of revisions ahead. I started The Emerald Tablet in December of 2004 and signed with my editor in March 2007 (though we’d been courting for about a year). I’m all about getting a first draft done quickly and then spending time as needed on revisions.
Are you writing any books at the moment that aren’t a part of The Forgotten Worlds series? If so, can you tell us what they will be about?
Yes! I’m working on a middle grade/young adult urban fantasy series with an Egyptian slant. So far I have one book completed and another in the post-first draft stage. As far as fun factor goes, they’re huge. If you thought the Greek gods were cool, wait for the Egyptian ones. I’ve also just started working on a standalone young adult urban fantasy rooted in Greek Mythology.
What are some authors that have inspired you?
I’d be lying if I didn’t say J. K. Rowling. But I have to say, my favorite kid’s author these days is Rick Riordan. Before writing for kids, lots of the reading I did was adult fantasy and science fiction. Authors like Tad Williams (love the Otherland books), David Eddings, Terry Brooks, George R. R. Martin, and Robert Jordan (just to name a few).
What is your writing environment like?
So I may not be the cleanest person in the world, but I’m one of the neatest. The only things allowed on my desk (beside a computer) are my to-do stack and items which provide inspiration for my current project. Oh, and of course, my kids draw pictures which I tape to the wall. I have an Ammonite to make me think of how old the earth is, a whiteboard with key writing reminders so I don’t forget, and a wordle of my current project (http://www.wordle.net). I never used to have an office. Instead we had this fancy two story entryway with a huge chandelier hanging above. But when I started looking for space around the house, we had the second floor extended over the entryway, and my office was born. It’s small (about 8x8) but it works for me).
What are your favorite books that you have read?
The Lightning Thief is my current favorite book. The greatest thing about the Percy Jackson books is how strong the beginnings are. In my best dreams, this is how I write ☺ As for other kid’s books, I loved Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (super great plot), Madapple by Christina Meldrum (needed to know how it ended), How not to be Popular by Jennifer Zeigler (laugh out loud funny), and A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (such great writing). I don’t love everything I read by any stretch, and I’ve gotten a lot more picky since time is so limited.
What is something about the making of The Emerald Tablet that not everybody knows and you would like to share with readers?
One of my favorite Emerald Tablet bits of trivia is word count. When I finished my first draft, it weighed in around 115,000 words. Yikes! Especially considering how much of it was backstory. With tons of help from my editor, I managed to pare it down to somewhere around 60,000.