October 6, 2011

Interview: RA Jones The Obsidian Pebble +Giveaway

Today I'm very excited to welcome RA Jones to The O.W.L.  He is the author of The Obsidian Pebble a great book for anyone looking for something fun and maybe a little spooky! I, personally, am very excited that spooky is making a comeback!

A bit about The Obsidian Pebble

Hear the footsteps? What lurks in the old dorm room? Oz and his friends better find out…before it finds them.
The Obsidian Pebble – first of a quintet of stories about Oz and his friends and a house full of secrets.
The story…
Oz Chambers lives in a haunted house. His mother wants to move, but Oz believes that the old place is too full of mystery to leave. When he and his friends hear ghostly footsteps, they decide to investigate the house’s eerie reputation. But what Oz hasn’t bargained for is that he’s not alone in his quest and that solving Penwurt’s puzzles will uncover a murky secret, and the chilling realisation that nothing is quite what it seems.

Welcome RA to The O.W.L. and thank you for taking the time to answer some questions!

For The Obsidian Pebble - what part/character/event are you most excited/proud about?

I think I like the part where the guys actually come across something that is way beyond their understanding for the first time. For any of us, if that moment happened it would be particularly memorable. So I made it happen on a dark foggy night when Oz, Ellie and Ruff are following the girl they think has been tailing them. They’re walking alongside the railings of an empty park, it’s November and they hear something shuffling through the dark leaves and then….Wham! Several people have told me it’s they’re favorite part too because, although there has been a lot of weirdness up to that point, what happens at those railings lets everyone know that everything has changed.

Tell about your writing process.  How long did it take you to write The Obsidian Pebble from idea to finish?  Please tell about revision is you can!
Oh wow. Big question. I started writing the Artefact series—of which The Obsidian Pebble is the first—several years ago. To begin with, the heroes were a twin brother and sister and it was a bit too silly for its own good. The more I planned, the clearer Oz Chambers' voice became. So all in all, it’s taken about 6 years to get to this point. And by now I know where the other 4 books are heading too. It was all a big change from writing thrillers, which I’d been doing up to that point. So I’d had a bit of practice in plotting mystery stories.  I’d say that the Obsidian Pebble itself took about two years in its present form.

As for the process, I write long hand with a fine tipped biro on an ordinary pad, or any scrap that’s to hand, anywhere and everywhere I can and just let the words spill out. It’s pretty rough, but I find it’s the best way to get the ideas written down and let the juices flow. Then I transfer to the PC. Doing that allows me to do some editing—mainly because I sometimes can’t read my own handwriting and so I have to re-think those sentences again. Once it’s all done, I’ll re-read it for plot and try and fix any holes and check for grammar and punctuation and using the same word twice, etc. Then I leave it alone for a month if I can. When I come back to it, I try and read it afresh and see if there are any bits that bore me or I don’t like. Then I’ll try and take out as many adverbs  as I can and do a dialogue check before trying to leave it alone again  for a month and let my right brain—or whichever bit that comes up with those annoyingly brilliant ideas just as I’m brushing my teeth and thinking about walking the dog—do its stuff. It usually comes up with little answers or ideas that I will put in. And then, after a couple more read throughs for typos and language (picking the best word),  I’ll tell myself not to tinker anymore and ask someone else to read it.

Is the story and/or characters based on anything/anyone in your real life?
No, but I wish it was. Who wouldn’t want to find an amazing artefact that….but then I’m spoiling it for you. The house, which is almost a character in itself, is based on an old place in Scotland that I’ve been lucky to visit and stay in a few times. It really does have bartizans and paneled libraries.  But I suppose Oz has a bit of me in him, as well as a lot of other people, as do Ellie and Ruff.

How much say did you have in the cover of this book?  What is the process for creating the cover (my students are always curious about this!)
Well now, the way Lucky Bat Books do this is very cool. I was asked for my ideas right from the outset. I had a bit of a style in mind---or rather styles I didn’t like in mind. I didn’t want photographs or drawings of people. I really like the silhouette style and slightly abstract covers. Charles Nemitz read the book and came up with the castle and window theme. Since alchemy plays a big part in the book, I wanted to include some symbols. So we had several attempts before we got to the one we liked, but it was really easy and a pleasure to work with someone who has the talent  to encapsulate the book so brilliantly. We had a lot of fun.
And I like the puzzles. Oh, the puzzles.

When you were in middle school kind of student were you?  Did you write then?
I went to school in a mining village and we had to walk a mile uphill to school. I was usually bushed by the time I got there (there was no bus). But at least going home took half the time. I was not bad at school and I liked science (I became a doctor), English, and reading--a lot. When I was ten, I read The Gauntlet by Ronald Welch. The castle it’s set in was about twenty miles from where I lived and I think it fired my imagination. We had to take an entrance exam for Grammar school at age 11. Part of that exam was to write an essay and I remember getting carried away and not leaving as much time for the maths and comprehension. So yes, I did like writing essays and stories. (I passed the exam by the way!)

And because it's the owl my standard question always is: WHOOO do you admire when it comes to writing? 
 I grew up with Ray Bradbury stories. His mixture of science fiction and fantasy is my cup of tea. I also love M R James for being able to do so much in so few pages and leave you gasping and looking round to check out the door that just creaked. I think JK Rowling has been brilliant in giving us the okay to write stories that can be complex. There are lots of others, but lists just become boring, don’t they?

Do you chew gum? Yes or No If yes favorite kind?
Most definitely yes. Favorite type is Wrigley’s Airwaves Black Mint.

Did you pass notes in school? Ever get caught?
Yes and yes, but I claim the fifth amendment.

Do you text?
Does a donkey hee-haw? I text, tweet and blog, but not all at once. However, I text at two miles an hour and my fingers are never a blur. LOL

School Lunch!
They used to make me physically sick. I took a lunchbox for ten years of my schooling. Things are no better now. I remember asking my son when he was eight—he’s all grown up now—what he had for lunch in school. With a straight face he told me he’d had a mat with gravy on top. By mat, he meant lasagna (with gravy---eeeugh). Don’t get me started.

And I agree about the school lunch! We use to have potato boats!  Don't ask!!!!!

Now you must check out RA's website HERE

And yes the trailer!

Ok you want a giveaway don't you!  

Up for Grabs: Two ecopies of the Obsidian Pebble!  
If you have an ereader they will work for you!

To enter:
Fill out Form
Must be at least 13
Open INTERNATIONAL since you'll get a coupon for the book!
Ends Oct 13th

1 comment:

  1. The book sound interesting; I will join the contest.