Today I have the pleasure of hosting a Q & A with amazingly popular author, D.J. MacHale. Below you will find a lot of information about his upcoming book, MORPHEUS ROAD: THE LIGHT. You’ll be able to read the synopsis, view the book trailer, and visit the author’s website.
Be sure to check out the next stop in the blog tour for this wonderful book. Stop 3 will be hosted by Parajunkee’s View on April 16 and will feature a peek at Chapter 1 and 2 of MORPHEUS ROAD: THE LIGHT.
About the book:
D.J. MacHale, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Pendragon series, has a new adventure for readers inMorpheus Road.
Marshall Seaver is being haunted. In The Light, the first installment of this chillingly compelling trilogy, sixteen-year-old Marshall discovers that something beyond our world is after him. The eerie clues pile up quickly, and when people start dying, it’s clear whatever this is–it’s huge.
Marshall has no idea what’s happening to him, but he’s soon convinced that it has something to do with his best friend Cooper, who’s been missing for over a week. Together with Coop’s sister, Marsh searches for the truth about what happened to his friend, ultimately uncovering something bigger than he could ever have imagined.
About the author:
D.J. MacHale is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Pendragon series. He has written, directed and produced many television series and movies for young people including the cult-favorite TV show ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK. His work has been seen on Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel, HBO, Showtime, PBS, Discovery Kids and the broadcast networks. D.J. lives with his family in Southern California.
Books will be in stores on April 20th.
Visit D.J. MacHale’s website for more details.
1) You have a wide variety of experiences when it comes to developing materials for young adults. When choosing between writing books or directing TV shows/movies, which do you prefer?
The challenges are very different. For me, the best thing about writing books is that it is a pure form of storytelling. The story goes from my brain, to the written word, right to the reader. (With a few editorial stops along the way, of course) Therefore I feel a direct connection to the reader, and to the story itself. For someone who loves to tell stories, it doesn’t get any better than that.
When writing for the screen, there are a whole bunch of variables between my brain, and the person who will eventually see the show. I start with a story, but then it goes through a studio/network development process where many people weigh in with their opinions. Navigating those waters is always tricky. Once a script is set, there are actors and locations and lighting and music and editing and sound effects and a whole toolbox full of tricks that are used to present the story. I love that process, and I love using them to create those worlds. But unlike with writing books, my job is to get the best out of a whole team of people. That can be incredibly satisfying…and horribly frustrating. But it’s a process that I love.
So when asked about preferences, the answer depends on what specifically we’re talking about. For the pure enjoyment and satisfaction of writing and telling the story I want to tell, books are best. But the excitement and fun of producing a TV show is also very rewarding. So I guess it’s a tossup.
2) Describe your emotions when you wrapped up the tenth Pendragon book, THE SOLDIERS OF HALLA. Is Bobby’s story complete?
I’ll never say never to anything, but I feel as if Bobby’s story is complete. When I first came up with the idea, I outlined all ten books in about a week. To me, it was ten chapters in one grand story, and that story is now told.
The most dramatic moment came for me while writing the first draft of The Soldiers of Halla. And it wasn’t when I wrote the words: “The End”. It came earlier, at the climax of the story. (SPOILER ALERT…BEWARE) When I wrote the scene where Saint Dane was finally defeated, for good, I was first hit with a feeling of accomplishment. I’d done it! But within seconds that turned to a strange moment of melancholy. After having lived with Bobby and Saint Dane and the Travelers for the better part of eight years, having finally killed off Saint Dane felt as if I had lost an actual, living person. To be honest, I sort of felt like a fan as opposed to the author. I took a step back and thought: “Oh man, I just killed Saint Dane!” It was like it had actually happened, and a piece of me was gone forever.
Writing the final chapter of the final book was also an emotional one for me. That chapter has caused lots of controversy, but in my mind it was the only way to have ended the story. Writing the highlights of Bobby Pendragon’s natural life, leading up to the moments before his death, was a little like killing off Saint Dane. I was not only closing out a book and a book series, but someone’s life who I had lived with for a very long time.
I always laugh when writers say that their characters take on a life of their own and those characters tell them how they should be written. I think that’s kind of silly because whatever that character is, the writer put it there themselves in the first place. So I was always in total control, which meant I had the ability to not only create some lives, but to end them, and that was a very emotional experience for me.
3) What inspired you to write the children’s picture book, THE MONSTER PRINCESS?
My little girl is very much a “girly girl”. She loves dressing up in princess gowns and having tea parties. (Don’t know where she got that, it wasn’t from me) One day I got a call from her pre-school to say she had had an accident. Turned out she was dancing and twirling and ran into a wall. She was fine, but had the most hideous black and blue mark that covered the entire side of her face. The next day she put on her Cinderella gown to play, and I snapped a picture of her. Looking at that picture a while later, I saw a sweet little girl in a princess dress . . . who looked as though she’d just been through a ten-round prizefight.
It put the idea in my head that there are two sides to a little girl’s brain. (Actually, there are probably about thirty, but two that stand out) As much as my daughter loved to dress up, she also liked to get dirty and be rough. Many a time I’d see her digging in the dirt for worms…while wearing Ruby Slippers.
So I decided to create a character who embodies those two conflicting tendencies, and came up with Lala . . . a tomboy monster who wants to be a princess.
4) Describe your perfect writing environment.
There are two environments where I do all of my writing. Always have. Always will. First is my office. From the time I was in school I was never one of those people who could study with the TV on or the radio. I was too easily distracted . . . and still am. I need solitude. So a quiet office with my PC, a desk and a couch is pretty much what I need.
The other environment is . . . everywhere. I’m always writing. I can’t turn it off. I’m thinking about my story when I go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning. When I’m driving, taking a shower, eating dinner, walking the dog . . . pretty much everywhere and always. It can be maddening, especially to other people when I’m off somewhere in my head, when I should be focused on the task at hand. Most of my ideas come when I’m nowhere near the office.
But then, I go to the office to do the “grunt” work, which is getting it into the computer.
I’m very much a believer in outlines. I feel that you have to know where your story is going to end before you can decide where it will begin, especially if it is a story that is heavily plotted. The example I always give is that if you’re writing a murder mystery, you have to know that the butler did it so that you can then go back and lay in all the clues that lead the hero to discovering that, or the misdirection that will take the hero the wrong way. That doesn’t mean that things can’t be changed. They change for me constantly and you must be open to that. But whenever I get stuck, I always jump ahead in the story and ask myself: “What am I leading to? Where do I want this to go?” and I will always come up with the answer that will help me unblock the block.
With Pendragon, as I said before I outlined all ten books in a week. Of course the details were sketchy, but I knew Bobby’s overall arc from the very beginning. I knew when he would embrace the battle; when he would quit; when Uncle Press would return; when major plot revelations would come, etc. etc. And with that overall arc, I pretty much stuck to exactly what I wrote in the very beginning…right down to that controversial final chapter of the final book.
5) Do you already know how the Morpheus Road series is going to end?
I followed the same pattern with Morpheus Road that I used with Pendragon. When I sat down to outline The Light, I couldn’t do it without also knowing what was going to happen in the next two books. So I actually wrote three outlines before going back to writing the words that people will read in the first.
As to how it will end, I have a general idea. The specifics will come as I get deeper into the story. But I do know what will become of some of the characters.
6) I notice you have a wonderful website/blog, a Twitter account, and a Facebook page. Do you find it easy to stay in touch with your fans this way? Is it something you enjoy or is it difficult to keep up-to-date with all the technology?
Hearing from readers is one of the best parts of my day. I was once asked this question at a school: “What’s your favorite thing about writing?” I’d never been asked that question before, but it took only a few seconds to come up with three answers. One is I love the moment when I first get an idea, whether it’s an idea for a new story or a simple idea that adds to an existing story. The second is when I finish the first draft of a book. Writing that first draft is the hardest thing for me to do, and I’m thrilled when it’s over because I can then go back and shape the story the way I want it to be.
But the best moment is when somebody comes up to me and says: “I love your books.” As simple as that. How can you not love that? Mostly where that comes from is through my various spots on the Web. Readers write to me all the time and I answer every e-mail. Facebook is even better. Every day I take some time to read what readers have to say, and try to respond. It’s so easy and a real pleasure.
The weird thing is that the most difficult form of communication to work with is regular old snail-mail fan mail. It’s so cumbersome and time consuming that I (unfortunately) have to answer that mail with a form letter. But I read every letter that comes to me. It’s a real no-lose situation. Mostly because nobody takes the time to write if they HATE your books. So part of my form-letter response is to ask readers to e-mail me because then I can give them a personal response!
Another great thing about having a web presence is that readers can find out when I’ll be making an appearance near them. Many times I’ll be doing a signing at a store and readers will tell me that they learned of the event from my website. That definitely makes it all worthwhile!
Thanks so much for your time, D.J. Good luck with the new series.