CSB Spotlight: J.Y. Harris (Interview)

Today I am welcoming author J.Y. Harris to the blog, author of Timekeepers: A Revolutionary Tale. It’s a MG/YA time travel story that looks like a great find for middle grade/YA children. Welcome J.Y.!

A Little Bit About J.Y.

You’ve lived in both New York and North Carolina. Which do you like the best?

J.Y.: I’m going to be wishy-washy here, and say…  “both.”  I loved growing up in upstate New York, and may one day return there.  But I have to say, I’ve gotten spoiled by the mild winters in North Carolina.  Both states have a lot to offer in terms of history and beauty.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?  

J.Y: I honestly don’t remember having a specific “dream career” when I was a child.  As a teen, I was fascinated by the investigative journalists of the time, breaking important stories about wrongdoing and corruption.  And since I’d always had a creative bent, I assumed I’d work in marketing or advertising, or perhaps be a magazine columnist or reporter.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

J.Y.: I admit I watch WAY too much TV, which I find fun and relaxing.  But I also enjoy walking, and find time almost every day for this activity; it’s a great stress-reliever.  Ditto for working in the yard;  I come up with some great dialogue and scene descriptions when I’m outside, doing something physical.

Share one thing about yourself that not a lot of people know about you.   

J.Y.: I used to work for the federal government (many years ago), and had a Top Secret security clearance.  (Actually that sounds more impressive than it really is.)

J.Y. On Writing

What is it about writing that brings you back to the page for more?

J.Y.: I have to describe the scenes I see in my head, and once I get on a roll, it’s hard to stop.  I like telling stories… it’s literally creating something out of nothing.  What’s not to love?

What are the key influences for you in writing?

J.Y.: Hmm, tough one.  I think the biggest influence I have in writing is other good authors, collectively.  I read all types of books, and I don’t know that I have any specific influence in how I write.  To be honest, I try not to be influenced in my writing, as I don’t think that would be authentic to my voice.

Are any of your characters based on people that you’ve known, or are there situations in your books you’ve encountered in real life?

J.Y.: Many of my characters have some trait or characteristic that can be attributed to people I know in real life.  Ditto for some situations that occur, or ideas/thoughts that the characters express.  Obviously, readers won’t know any of that, nor should they.  But if we can’t use our own experiences in the lives of our characters, then what fun is it??

What is your writing process?  

J.Y.: I write first in long-hand, believe it or not.  Then, when I get a certain number of pages written that way, I type it into the manuscript.  The typing is my first round of rough editing.  When I’m in the midst of writing and I come across a detail that needs further research, I just put a placeholder mark on the page and continue writing, so as not to interrupt my flow.  Later I can do the required research and add the info that I need.

How much research do you find yourself doing?

J.Y.: Since my books are time-travel, I of course have research the period to which my characters travel, as well as the location.  Quite a bit of research takes place before I start writing, and more as I get into the story and need extra detail.  I find research very interesting and fun, and quite enjoy digging for detail that will give my story the authentic touch.  For example, for my current work, I learned that saddles of 200 years ago didn’t look like the saddles that are used today.

What is your best piece of advice for someone looking to write?

J.Y.: Ha ha, I think this is a pretty universal piece of advice, and I have to remind myself of it pretty regularly:  get your butt in the chair and write!!  Someone recently was telling me that he had ideas but didn’t know how to get started, didn’t know how he wanted the book to proceed, etc.  I told him just to start writing.  Get something down on paper, as much as possible.  From there, things can be changed, fine-tuned, deleted, re-worked.  But if it’s not on paper, the story will never get anywhere.

What are you currently working on?

J.Y.: Currently working on the third installment of the Timekeepers series.  I’m probably 2/3 or 3/4 done with the writing, and then of course comes the editing and tweaking.  Also, the 2nd book in the series is soon to be edited, and I’m looking into cover design for that as well.

Who would be the perfect reader for your books?

J.Y.: I think anyone over the age of 11 would enjoy the Timekeepers books.  My books aren’t “edgy,” and unlike a lot of other YA/MG books, they don’t deal with “big” issues like drug abuse, alcoholism, bullying, divorce, abuse, etc.  They’re just fun books with unusual situations and lots of action and adventure.  The main characters, Brad and Kristen, are probably a lot like the readers themselves:  interested in hanging out with friends, what’s going on at school, etc.  They’re siblings, so there’s a lot of snark and attitude between the two of them, just like in real life.  I think–I hope–readers can identify with that.

Do you have a favorite character?

J.Y.: I like both main characters, obviously, but I have to say, it’s fun writing the character of Kristen, because she’s so snarky and full of attitude, and she has a habit of giving people crazy nicknames.  A reader might not understand, but other authors can verify– sometimes a particular character just demands to be written in a certain way, no matter what you have in mind.  Because of that, I couldn’t have written the character of Kristen any differently if I’d wanted to, so I allow her wit and snark come to the fore.

ABOUT J.Y. HARRIS

I grew up with stories:  stories told around the campfire each summer while growing up in New York state; stories read to me by older siblings; stories I read while pretending I, too, was old enough to go to school.  And stories I wrote to amuse myself and my family.

Years later, I’m still writing stories.

Since being graduated from college I’ve worked for small business, large corporations, and even the government.  I now live in North Carolina, far from those campfires of my childhood.   Writing is still in my blood, though, because when you have stories to tell, the characters won’t let you rest until you tell them.

CONNECT WITH J.Y.

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Book Review and Blog Tour: Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble by D. Robert Pease

Title: Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble

Author: D. Robert Pease

Type of Book: YA Fiction

*Please note that this review is part of the Noah Zarc blog tour. There are things to win so be sure to check out all the details below!*

Quick Summary:

This is the first book in the Noah Zarc series. Twelve-year old Noah and his family are traveling through time collecting animals to repopulate the Earth, which in the future was destroyed and unable to support life. Despite their noble cause, not everyone agrees with what the Zarc family is doing, and soon Noah’s family and their mission is in danger and it’s up to Noah to save them.

Cege’s Review:

There are a lot of great things to love about this book, and so I’m going to do something a little bit different with this review to highlight what I consider are its best elements.

N is for Noah Zarc himself.  He’s young but has a maturity well beyond his years. He was born without the use of his legs, but there doesn’t seem to be a thing that he can’t do. He’s a whiz kid at flying, and that comes in handy in multiple situations he encounters throughout the book.

O is for origins. It is revealed that Noah’s parents have been hiding a secret from him about where he came from. We also learn the backstory about why the Earth was destroyed, and the main crisis that Noah faces here is making sure it doesn’t happen all over again. There’s definitely a theme here: learn from past mistakes, but at the same time, what happens in the past doesn’t define us.

A is for the Animals! Of course the whole premise of the book is based on bringing animal life back to the future Earth. I thought that the author skillfully weaved in Noah’s love of the animals and it was fun to read about how the Zarcs were caring for them aboard the ARC (Animal Rescue Cruiser).

H is for Haon, the bad guy. Haon kills animals for sport, kidnaps Noah’s mother, and attempts to destroy the future Earth so it can never support animal life again. But the author offers up glimmers of the guy Haon used to be and that was something that as a reader I enjoyed. Sympathetic villains make a story more believable.

Z is for the Zarc family. Two brilliant parents and three equally unique and talented children. Yes, they have the typical family problems with sibling squabbles and tween parental rebellion, but it’s clear that they all have each other’s backs and would do anything for each other.

A is for Adventure. This plot moves along at breakneck speed. No sooner is one piece of the overall puzzle solved but another mystery is right behind it. I think this is great for the younger reader because it’s guaranteed to keep their attention.

R is for randomness. That’s part of the fun of time travel right?  The Zarcs are from 1000 years in the future from now, and this story jumps from present day to the Ice Age to medieval Scotland back to the future. They don’t always know where they’ll end up next, and so it keeps the reader guessing as well.

C is for choice. Noah is faced with a lot of difficult situations, and he makes some choices that I think were rash and unwise. But you also have to remember that he’s 12. And the only way that you learn is by making mistakes. Luckily for Noah, his choices seem to generally always work out, and if I had but one critique of the plot, that would be it (because things shouldn’t always work out).

Cege’s Rating: 4.5/5

*Reviewer Disclaimer: I was provided a complimentary copy of Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble for review.*

Blog Tour Notes

Noah Zarc: Mammoth TroubleOVERVIEW

Noah lives for piloting spaceships through time, dodging killer robots and saving Earth’s animals from extinction.

Life couldn’t be better.

But the twelve-year-old time traveler learns it could be a whole lot worse. His mom is kidnapped and taken to Mars; his dad is stranded in the Ice Age; and Noah is attacked at every turn by a foe bent on destroying Earth… for the second time.

Get your copy today by visiting Amazon.com (available in paperback or as an eBook) or the online retailer of your choice (more links below).

CASH PRIZES

Guess what? You could win a $50 Amazon gift card as part of this special blog tour. That’s right! Just leave a comment below saying something about the post you just read, and you’ll be entered into the raffle. I could win $50 too by having the most comments. So tell your friends to stop by and comment on this post too!

GIVEAWAY

Win 1 of 5 copies of the paperback version of Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble by entering the giveaway on GoodReads.

D. Robert PeaseTHE AUTHOR

D. Robert Pease has been interested in creating worlds since childhood. From building in the sandbox behind his house, to drawing fantastical worlds with paper and pencil, there has hardly been a time he hasn’t been off on some adventure in his mind, to the dismay of parents and teachers alike. Also, since the moment he could read, books have consumed vast swaths of his life. From The Mouse and the Motorcycle, to The Lord of the Rings, worlds just beyond reality have called to him like Homer’s Sirens. It’s not surprising then he chose to write stories of his own. Each filled with worlds just beyond reach, but close enough we can all catch a glimpse of ourselves in the characters.

Discover ways to connect with the author by visiting his site at www.drobertpease.com

BOOK TRAILER

THANK YOU! for visiting. And don’t forget to comment below for that chance to win the $50 Amazon gift card. And of course head on over to your favorite online book store and buy a copy of Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, for you or for the kids in your life.

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