Discovering the Wonder in S.E.M. Ishida’s Nick Newton

K.A.:
Excited to have S.E.M. Ishida on the blog today talking about her wonderfully inventive, middle-grade steampunk series about a boy named Nick Newton.

Welcome, S.E.M.! For those unfamiliar, please tell us about Nick and his story.

S.E.M.:
Nick Newton Is Not a Genius and its sequel, Nick Newton: The Highest Bidder, are both speculative fiction middle grade books.

S.E.M:
When you live with a family of geniuses, a normal day involves ancient robots, flying baby carriages, and mysterious millionaires. All before lunchtime. Meet Nick Newton, a merely average boy from the country of Thauma. Nick’s not brilliant like his mom and dad or a child prodigy like his sister, but he won’t let that stop him from uncovering the mysteries of a clockwork factory or revealing a war hero’s greatest secret. With help from two new friends and his butler named Jude, Nick embarks on an adventure that will change his life forever.

Nick’s mechanical friend, Plink.

K.A.:
In all of the story, do you have a favorite line?

S.E.M.:
“Always, always, always ask your mother before borrowing her welding torch.”

K.A.:
That’s an awesome line! Definitely solid advice. ;)

So what’s the story behind this story, what inspired you?

S.E.M:
As a child, I watched cartoons like Dexter’s Laboratory and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. When I got older, I read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. While I can enjoy stories with genius protagonists, I’m not a genius myself, and, thankfully, being a genius isn’t a prerequisite for fulfillment and making an impact on the world around you. Thus, I decided to write a “reverse boy genius” story in which the protagonist comes from a family of geniuses, but he is “average.”

K.A.:
Nick is such a fun character, and the world certainly needs more stories with everyday kids doing extraordinary things. More heart. More grit. It’s one of the reasons I love your series.

K.A.:
Tell us about the research that went into this story, did you venture into any new areas or topics?

S.E.M:
I’ve had an interest in science since childhood, but I still have so much more I want to learn about technology. Although the technology in the story is fantastical, technology is a field that continues to challenge and inspire me.

K.A.:
The ever changing landscape of technology is really something. In the process of writing this story, what would you say is the most interesting discovery you made?

S.E.M:
I originally sent a shorter version of Nick Newton to the publisher and pitched it as an early chapter book for younger readers. The editor suggested making it longer and for an older audience, which I did. I think seeing Nick Newton as a middle grade book helped me realize how much I enjoy middle grade. Although I’m exploring writing in other genres and for other ages, I also plan to continue writing middle grade stories.

K.A.:
Any Easter eggs readers should keep an eye out for?

S.E.M:
The winged toilet in chapter twenty might seem totally random, but it comes from my childhood memories of visiting the electronics store and looking at the computers. My favorite screensaver featured flying toilets flapping their wings across the monitor. It was delightfully bizarre.

K.A.:
So that’s where the winged toilet idea came from!

Any other behind-the-scenes information you didn’t already mention that you can share with us? :)

S.E.M:
I didn’t meet my illustrator, Dana Thompson, until after the completion of the book, but I think his art style and the finished illustrations fit the story so well! The illustrations for Nick Newton demonstrate the skill of the illustrator and also the importance of having a publisher and editor with the right understanding of the heart of your book. With this understanding, they can find the right illustrator and design the book in a way that complements your story.

K.A.:
Nick Newton Is Not a Genius is available from BJU Press, or on Amazon. Don’t forget to check out the book trailer below!

K.A.:
I’ve really enjoyed learning more about your Nick Newton series. Thank you for taking time to give us a backstage tour, S.E.M.!

About S.E.M. Ishida

Sarah Ishida enjoys good stories in a variety of forms, including books, graphic novels, and video games. With a Master of Science in technical communication, she is a technical communicator for a multinational technology company. Besides writing, she also likes to draw, sew, and collect toys.

You can connect with her at her website, or on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

 

 

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C.M. Banschbach’s Oath of the Outcast

Enter the Blog Tour Giveaway (details at the bottom)!

K.A.:
C.M. Banschbach is on the blog today talking about her newest release, Oath of the Outcast!!

Last year, while this story was in its early stages and known under a different title, I had the privilege of reading the first few chapters. And, man, did it hook me. The characters, the conflict… C.M. is a talented writer.

K.A.:
Glad you’re here, C.M.! Before we launch into all the behind-the-scene fun, tell us about the story.

C.M.:
It’s a New Adult Fantasy-Adventure. Perfect for people who want something more than typical YA fantasy, but don’t want everything that comes with current adult fantasy. Good for fans of Stephen 
Lawhead and Michael J. Sullivan.

C.M.:
A lost brother. 
An unwilling outlaw. 
A rising enemy. 
An unusual alliance. 

Years ago, Rhys MacDuffy was brutally cut off from his clan, stripped of his name and inheritance, and banished to the remote Dragon Keep. Perched high above the Shang Pass in the land of Alsaya, he assumed the mantle of the Mountain Baron, serving out his sentence as the overseer of the worst outlaws and outcasts. 

But one day he receives a desperate message from the clan who disowned him: MacDuffy’s Seer—his beloved brother—has been taken by their enemies. 

With his band of Mountain Brigands and an unwelcome sidekick, Rhys leaves his mountain stronghold to find and rescue his brother. The tide of war is rising amongst the Clans of Alsaya, fueled by the magic-wielding sect of Druids who seek to unleash a dark force the world has long forgotten. 

Can the bond of blood run deeper than banishment?

K.A.:
Rejected by his family, cut off from the only life he’s ever known, and exiled to a land of the worst criminals and outcasts. That’s a hard life. Where did the idea for this story come from?

C.M.:
Driving in foggy weather, funnily enough! Because my brain is always hyperactive, it plopped the image of a man riding down a foggy mountain. All I knew about him was that he had a massive chip on his shoulder about something, and was less than happy to be leaving his mountain keep. The rest of the morning at work was spent sorting out information this guy, now known as the Mountain Baron/Rhys MacDuffy, graciously dumped in my lap.

K.A.:
What research went into writing this story? Did you venture into any new areas or topics?

C.M.:
I…maybe shouldn’t admit this, but I don’t do a lot of hard core research usually. But some things I did look up were – voodoo dolls/voodoo in general (didn’t spend a whole lot of time there because it’s super weird lol!), sword fighting videos, lots of castle floor plans, time spent calculating distances/how fast and far horses can realistically run at a time (because chase scenes…) and sandstone. 

K.A.:
Lol. I would have never guessed. Your stories feel so authentic and immersive.

What’s the most interesting discovery you made writing this story?

C.M.:
The most interesting discovery was actually about myself (kind of cheesy, I know!). I was about a third of the way through the initial draft when I realized that Rhys/The Baron and I were working through a lot of the same issues. That really helped me dive deeper into the story and it kind of became the story of my heart as I tackled some of my own scars head on after several years of thinking I was fine, and starting to actually process/work through things.

K.A.:
Not cheesy at all. It’s a beautiful sentiment, C.M.. Heart stories are special.

K.A.:
Okay. I’m a huge fan of Easter eggs. Any hidden references, details, or tidbits readers should keep an eye out for? ;)

C.M.:
Back when I was first writing this book, my sister was doing some research on Robin Hood and outlaws. She was telling me about outlaws being known as wolf’s heads, and I loved that, and worked it into the book! (See what you can spot on the map!)

K.A.:
How cool! Before we go, share a line from the story you love.

C.M.:
“Rhys MacDuffy died on that beach and it was Brogan that killed him. The Clans have forgotten him, and so should you.”

K.A.:
Oath of the Outcast is available from Crosshair Press or from other retailers, like Amazon. Grab a free copy of a prequel story by signing up for C.M.’s newsletter and join the celebration giveaway. Details about the giveaway, as well as the blog tour schedule are posted at the bottom.

K.A.:
Great to have you here, C.M.. Thanks for giving us a backstage tour of your latest release, Oath of the Outcast!

About C.M. Banschbach

C.M. Banschbach is a native Texan and would make an excellent Hobbit if she weren’t so tall. She’s a pizza addict, a multi-faceted fangirl, and a firm believer in being authentic—even if it means acting like a dork sometimes! When not writing fantasy stories packed full of adventure and snark, she works as a pediatric physical therapist where she happily embraces the fact that she never actually has to grow up.

She also writesYA/MG fantasy-adventure as Claire M. Banschbach.

You can connect with her at her website, or on Instagram, Facebook, or Goodreads.

 

Giveaway

Open internationally!

  • 2 ebooks
  • 1 paperback
  • 1 combo pack of a bookmark and a map postcard

Enter the giveaway here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d11da96b6/

Blog Tour Schedule

 


Tangled up in Kendra E. Ardnek’s Hair We Go Again

K.A.:
Please join me in welcoming Kendra E. Ardnek to the blog today. She’s the author of the Bookania Quests, a fantasy fairy tale mashup series for preteens. The fifth book in the series, Hair We Go Again, releases in August.

Welcome, Kendra! Before we journey into the Bookania world, tell us about your upcoming release—Hair We Go Again.

Kendra:
Still reeling from recent trauma, Robin and Eric struggle to find stability in the midst of increasing tension both at home and with others. When friends ask their help to rediscover their castle, lost during their hundred-year sleep, Robin and Eric agree to help. But this castle holds secrets of its own—including what may be the fate of Eric’s long-lost brother—launching them on another quest. Meanwhile, Maryanne’s busy on a much more important mission of her own: find a jackalope. Yet no one’s ideas seem to coincide with hers, and family disagreements muddy everything. Can healing ever be found when people refuse to communicate?

K.A.:
A jackalope? Those don’t pop-up in too many stories, nowadays. I really want to ask why she has to find a jackalope, but that seems like a rabbit hole best left for readers to discover. ;)

What kind of world is Bookania?

Learn about the mythological jackalope on Mythology.net.

Discover the jackalope lurking in the Smithsonian’s collection on Smithsonian Insider.

Kendra:
Bookania is a psedo-medieval Europe-esque world spun out of the legends and stories that we of the real world tell. Important countries to the north are Fronce, Briton, Germaine, Locksley, and the Broken Country that lost its king three hundred years before, Just south of them are Winthrop, Normandy, and Scotlund. A large desert known as the S’Thera covers the southern part of Winthrop, and Normandy is home to Skewwood forest, once known as Sherwood, where things aren’t always as they seem…

K.A.:
How does Bookania compare to our world—how is it similiar or different?

Kendra:
It’s based on our world, but possibility is reality, and there’s altogether more magic. Its purpose is to contain the stories that we, as society, tell, and as such, it’s home to fairy tales, myths and legends—and even some historical figures who’ve attained legendary status. The stories play over and over, generation to generation, never quite the same way twice. 

Kendra:
It actually exists inside a book—I only described one page for you. There are hundreds more—each with fairy tales playing out differently.

K.A.:
Such a unique story world! What inspired you to create the Bookania series?

Kendra:
My love of fairy tales and the desire to cram all of them into one world. It’s evolved from there. 

Jackalope sighting!

K.A.:
Tell us about some of the research you did for these stories.

Kendra:
Mostly just reading fifty bajillion fairy tales and their retellings! And a lot of medieval books. I don’t think too hard when it comes to the logistics of this world. It’s made of story, after all.

I did research the proper uses of you’s archaic forms, ‘cause I had characters using them in the first couple of books. It also made me sad because we’ve lost a lot of nuance by reducing “You” to just one word. 

K.A.:
Anything else you can tell us that readers may be interested to know?

Kendra:
I actually focus on a page of Bookania that is just coming out of a hundred-year period without magic, which is a lot of fun to play with. 

K.A.:
Hair We Go Again is available for preorder on Amazon.

And, you can grab the first book in the Bookania Quests series—Sew, It’s a Questhere, on Amazon for free.

K.A.:
Great to have you here, Kendra! Thanks for giving us a tour of the Bookania world and introducing us to your latest release, Hair we go Again.

About Kendra E. Ardnek

Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairytales and twisting them in new and exciting ways. She’s been or acting them on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years. “Finish your story, Kendra,” is frequently heard at family gatherings. Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children’s tales that glorify God and His Word.

You can connect with her at her website or blog, or on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube.

 

 

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