Saturday, May 14, 2011

Up Close And Personal With Author Nathaniel Wyckoff


Where do you call home?
Los Angeles, California.

Do you have plans for a new book?
Yes, but I haven’t started writing it yet. I plan to make it more fantasy than science fiction, against a historical fiction backdrop. It will also be a middle-grade novel, possibly with more of an appeal to girls than Yaakov the Pirate Hunter had.

What inspired you to write your first book?
My children and I used to have a long drive to school every morning. We tried to make those trips interesting by telling stories. Each child got a turn to pick a story idea, and I would invent and tell a story about that idea, on the spot. One morning, the second oldest of our boys wanted a story about ten very tall robots. I made up an adventure story about a bunch of robots and their owner, and actually told it over two morning trips to school. The story basically involved characters, but I thought it would be more enjoyable for kids if the story centered on children. Since children usually don’t own big, expensive machines like robots, I made it a family adventure in which the parents own a bunch of robots and the children sometimes mess around with them. I wrote a short story for a course on writing for children, and my instructor suggested that the ending leave some room for continuing the story. Later, I decided to expand the story into a full-length novel.

What book are you reading now?
Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne. I’m reading it to one of my sons. We’re enjoying it immensely. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s science fiction in the classical sense: the use of fiction as a vehicle to teach science. Verne’s primary goal in writing science fiction was science education. That goal gets lost sometimes in some of the sci-fi material that gets written these days, but it’s a good one to keep in mind. Education was the defining characteristic of the science fiction genre.

Are there any authors who have grasped your interest lately and why?
Laura Ruby and Tony DiTerLizzi are two recent finds. Their children’s works are very engaging. We discovered Ruby’s The Wall and the Wing last summer. Our two eldest children called it their favorite novel of all time, and my wife and I were very impressed by it. Ruby combined a very clever and complex plot with intriguing storytelling and remarkably funny humor. Parts of it had me laughing out loud. Its sequel, The Chaos King, had a similar effect on me. DiTerLizzi’s latest novel, The Search for WondLa, is a brilliant piece of work. The storytelling is gripping, and the book is very hard to put down once you’ve picked it up. It’s a tale that keeps the reader guessing until the very end, and then leaves the reader begging for more. The book jacket says that it’s only the first of a trilogy, and I’m looking forward to the sequels.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to your writing?
The biggest challenge is always getting started. Once I’ve overcome that initial hurdle, and actually sat down to write, a story will often start flowing and almost write itself.


Do you have any advice for other writers?
Throw all negativity and nay-saying out of your life and just do it. Don’t listen to any of the cynics, and forget about your own worries. If writing is a passion and something that you really want to do, don’t let anything stand in your way.


Where can your readers follow you?
Follow me at my blog: http://wyckoffwonders.blogspot.com. It’s still quite new, but I hope to start posting to it more often.
You can also follow me or contact me on Goodreads.
Look for me at New Book Journal, too: newbookjournal.com/bbpress.

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