Thursday, October 12, 2017

Q&A with Frank L. Cole

Frank L. Cole is the author of The World's Greatest Adventure Machine, a novel for kids. His other children's books include The Afterlife Academy and The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your new book, The World's Greatest Adventure Machine, and for your four main characters? 

A: My idea creation for this book was pretty weird. I won’t go into too much detail, but I had just submitted some sample chapters to my agent for another story concept that was way bizarre and involved stuffed animals. Needless to say, she didn’t love the idea and wanted me to revisit those chapters.

As I was showering later that day, I realized I didn’t want to write a book about stuffed animals and then some shampoo got in my eye. Trevor Isaacs, the main character from The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine was born. From shampoo.

It started with a character who was not afraid of pouring shampoo into his eyes, kind of as a joke, but then it transformed into a character who wasn’t afraid of anything. How could that work in a story? What scenario could I place Trevor that would put his unique attribute to work?

Then I thought of a number of different ideas and the roller coaster one stuck. I loved the concept of a ride that would evolve and change to match the riders. That alone with Trevor at the helm seemed to be enough at first for a cool story, but then I decided I wanted all the riders to be unique in their own way.

Nika came next. I loved writing her. She has so much to offer despite her limitations and that, I think, added the most mystery of the characters. Someone who couldn’t feel pain, but there was more to her than meets the idea.

Cameron was born because I needed some comedic relief and he was super fun to create. Devin was the last character and probably the most unique and difficult to write. He had to be different than Trevor because I didn’t need two overly confident characters, but at the same time, Devin has to deal with his own monsters, which gives him an edge.

Q: Did you know how the book would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way? 

A: So many changes! I’m a discovery writer, which drives me crazy, but it’s the only way I can create. So, with all my books, I never really know what’s going to happen in the end. I have a rough idea, but that’s about it.

Originally, there was going to be aliens involved with this story. I won’t say how, because maybe one day I’ll write that type of novel, but this book changed drastically from beginning to end of the process. 

Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book? 

A: First off, I want them to just have a blast reading. I, myself, was a reluctant reader at a young age. Sure, I read books and enjoyed them, but I didn’t catch the reading fever until I was a teenager.

What stumped me most was the fact that I couldn’t find a story that never let me catch a breath. That’s what I try to do and sometimes succeed when I write. I want the reluctant reader to pick this book up and find themselves sucked into the story.

I think if they can finish this, they’ll realize they can find others, which will hopefully open them up to a whole world of amazing literature.

Secondly, I want kids to think about how the ride would change if they were the ones sitting on the Adventure Machine. What unique attributes do they offer? What fears of theirs would manifest on the ride?

Because every kid is different in some way. They may fall into specific groups, because of their friendships and families, but they all would do things a little differently if given the chance. And that’s what makes the Adventure Machine so cool. No two rides will ever be the same. 

Q: Who are some of your favorite authors? 

A: I love J.K. Rowling (along with millions of others). Her books changed how I write and think about writing. I also love a good, mild horror every now and then, so Darren Shan is an interesting choice. Also, Neil Gaiman and Eoin Colfer never let me down. 

Q: What are you working on now? 

A: My next novel, Potion Masters – The Eternity Elixir releases in January of 2018. It’s the first book in a trilogy and I’m so excited about it! Here’s a little about it:

For hundreds of years, all of our medical findings, our technological advancements, and even our weapons are a direct result of magical potions. Few people know about the truth because few people are aware of the hidden potion community known as B.R.E.W.--the Board of Ruling Elixirists Worldwide.

Twelve-year-old Gordy knows all about the importance of cauldrons, flasks, and Bunsen burners. He has an extensive knowledge of hundreds of ingredients including Toadflax, porcupine quills, and catfish eyes because Gordy's mother is the Director of B.R.E.W., and he is an apprentice potion master with a secret lab in his family's basement.

When the world's most powerful potion--the Eternity Elixir--disappears and then mysteriously ends up in Gordy's possession, he must use all of his skills to protect the forbidden potion before enemies of B.R.E.W. find and use it to destroy the world as we know it.

Gordy recruits his two best friends, Max and Adeline, to assist him while his mother leaves to confront the most powerful elixirist of all time-the great Mezzarix-who happens to be Gordy's grandfather. 

Q: Anything else we should know? 

A: I’m just your run-of-the-mill author. I’m an avid sleepwalker, talker, and dancer, I have a love/hate relationship with ceiling fans, and I like to play hide-and-go-seek with my dog. You know, the basics. 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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