Fantasy Friday – An Interview, Part 1

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The Interview. Some of you may already be fans of action thriller author Robert Liparulo (Comes a Horseman, Germ), but perhaps you didn’t realize (as I didn’t) that he’s currently writing a young adult series of speculative fiction. I had a chance to ply him with some questions—too many for one post, but we’ll get started today:

RLM: In July Timescape, the fourth book in your series for young adults released. Tell us a little about the Dreamhouse Kings series.

RL: The King family moves to a small town in northern California, so Dad could take a job as principal of the local middle and high school. They move into a run-down Victorian home, where they find a hidden hallway of doors.

Each door leads to a portal to a different time in history. Trouble is, not only can they go from the house to the past, people from the past can come through into their house. Someone does—and kidnaps Mom, taking her into some unknown place in the past. The Kings—primarily David and Xander—begin a quest for Mom, which takes them to many dangerous and incredible places throughout time. We slowly learn that the family is in the house for a very specific purpose and they must do much more than “simply” find their mother.

With each book, the action and stakes increase. It’s a lot of fun.

RLM: You broke in as a published author three years ago with your much acclaimed adult thriller, Comes a Horseman. What prompted you to shift gears and start writing for an young adult audience?

RL: A lot of high schoolers started reading my “adult” thrillers, especially Germ, and I got a chance to talk to classes and book groups. I found that I really enjoyed talking to young readers; they’re primarily interested in the things that made me want to become a writer in the first place: story and character. They love asking why a story went one way instead of another, why characters did what they did. Every time I left a school, I was excited to get back to storytelling. The kids really pumped me up.

Right around this time, my publisher called and asked if I’d be interested in writing a few young adult stories. I jumped at the chance.

RLM: Your fans love the high-action thrills in your books. What prompted you to dip into speculative elements for the Dreamhouse Kings series?

RL: In tackling young adult stories, I decided not to “talk down to” them. I wanted to retain my style of writing and even the vocabulary. These are smart readers, savvy consumers of story. I decided what would make these stories “young adult” would be the protagonists—they would be youthful, like the readers—and the story itself would be one that this age, particularly, would like. I have four kids of my own, so I know they enjoy far-out stories, speculative adventures. They are more willing than adults to suspend disbelieve for the sake of a good story. That got me thinking about a dream I had when I was eleven or twelve about a house with doors to the past, and that developed into the Dreamhouse Kings.

I’ve always been a fan of speculative fiction—Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, Isaac Asimov—and in my early days, I wrote short stories that could be classified as horror or science fiction, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to go there now.

To be continued.

7 Comments

  1. Love the man and the author. Great writer.

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  2. I’ve enjoyed every one of his books, both the ones written for adults and the young adult series. Incredible writer. He has a great imagination and knows how to communicate it. Thanks for the interview!

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  3. That story idea sounds like something I would have daydreamed when I was a kid.

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  4. Thanks for the comments, Nicole, Cathy, and Rachel. I know Robert has a solid fan base. I wonder how many have followed him as he’s dipped into speculative YA writing.

    I’m always intrigued by this move publishers make to switch successful adult writers to YA or vice versa. I wonder if having earned a solid reputation with adults translates into sales in the youth market. Or the reverse.

    More than one writer has done this age crossover, so I think it’s not unique. I can’t help but wonder, though if finding a new author already working with the desired age group wouldn’t serve a publisher better.

    That’s just me thinking out loud. I don’t have any stats to support the idea.

    Becky

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  5. In this case, Becky, Robert has a huge YA following. He’s appeared at umpteen schools and spoken and blogged with major amounts of young people. I’ve read every one of these books, and they’re in his voice and style. Fast-moving, fascinating imagination. They work.

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  6. Becky,
    My boys are advanced readers for this series. If you have any questions from a reader’s perspective, please let me know. I think a lot of Robert and his work!!

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  7. Hello, everyone. Sorry it’s taken me a while to jump onto Becky’s site (I’m on deadline). Thank you for the interview, Becky–great questions; and thanks everyone for the kind comments.

    Becky, I wanted to address your question about writers of adult fiction crossing over to YA: There’s a chance that the author who found success in adult fiction is also a natural at YA. But I think if it’s done for commercial reasons, the chances are slimmer that you’d get great YA books from the author.

    (One thing that I think makes some writers of adult fiction good at writing for YA is that the typical YA reader these days are smart and sophisticated. Too many authors tackling YA write as though their readers are eight-year-olds, instead of story- and pop culture-wise 12- to 17-year-olds. Someone accustomed to writing for adults I think would have a natural inclination to resist making their writing “too young,” especially since most have probably received, as I have, letters from this age group who’ve read their adult novels and showed incredible insight for story and character.)

    Some authors have an affinity for kids and teens, and have either written for them in the past or always wanted to. I fall into this category. I’ve been writing since I was a kid–never held a job that wasn’t writing in one form or another. Early on, I wrote YA short stories and at one time was the head writer for a children’s radio show. I thought that eventually I’d try my hand at YA, and I’m so glad I finally got around to doing it. I don’t think it’s a matter of whether or not the new YA writer has always dabbled in YA or is crossing over: it all depends on whether he or she CAN write for this age group.

    Just a few thoughts on the subject, since you brought it up. Now…back to writing and deadlines… Thanks, again!

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