September 22, 2012

Guest Post: Ellis Weiner - The Templeton Twins Have an Idea +Giveaway

Today I am so very very excited to welcome Ellis Weiner author of The Templeton Twins Have an Idea!!!

First about the book

Suppose there were 12-year-old twins, a boy and girl named John and Abigail Templeton. Let's say John was pragmatic and played the drums, and Abigail was theoretical and solved cryptic crosswords. Now suppose their father was a brilliant, if sometimes confused, inventor. And suppose that another set of twins-adults-named Dean D. Dean and Dan D. Dean, kidnapped the Templeton twins and their ridiculous dog in order to get their father to turn over one of his genius (sort of) inventions. Yes, I said kidnapped. Wouldn't it be fun to read about that? Oh please. It would so. Luckily for you, this is just the first in a series perfect for boys and girls who are smart, clever, and funny (just like the twins), and enjoy reading adventurous stories (who doesn't? )

I have to begin by telling you about the book.  A few weeks back I started reading The Templeton Twins.  10 pages into the book I knew I HAD to read it aloud to my 5th and 6th graders.  Now this was after I had decided I just didn't have time to read aloud to the students right now.  But within 10 pages I knew I had to make the time, because I knew they would love it as much as I did.  Why did I love it?  Well the narrator for one! I'm not usually one to like books where the narrator addresses the reader, but this narrator is so hysterical that I very quickly got over that.  But what really got me are the "Questions for Review" at the end of every chapter.  As an English teacher I assign questions at the end of the stories, so to see how funny these are really hooked me.  And I knew my students who always have to answer those questions would find them just as funny.

So how has it gone as a read aloud?  Well judging by the number of laughs that happen as I'm reading I'd say it's going very very well :)

Now enough of me talking! Let's hear from the author sharing his thoughts on writing a series.  

Welcome Ellis!

Here is something I worry about, if only a little. It probably plagues every creator of a series, whether in books, on television, or even in movies: How much—if at all—should the characters develop emotionally from story to story?

There are excellent examples to support any answer, from “not at all” to “realistically, especially when they’re children and their aging brings significant changes in them as people.”

At the extreme end of “not at all” we have the James Bond movies, in which a single character persists over nearly fifty years of history, and is embodied over that time by half a dozen different actors, and still remains essentially the same age and with the same personality. And no one (least of all me) complains.

In literature we have such characters as Bertie Wooster, in P.G. Wodehouse’s immortal Jeeves novels. Bertie’s narrative voice develops a little (for the better), but he remains the young lout he started as. For that matter, we have Jeeves himself, who is likewise immutable.

But they’re all adults, for whom the passing of a year or two can reasonably expect to yield nothing in the way of obvious personal development. What about kids?

Again, the demands and constraints of a series, even in children’s literature, often results characters about which nothing changes. Older examples (i.e., the only ones I can think of) include Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, and the Hardy Boys. This may or may not hold true for characters in more contemporary series I haven’t read but have merely heard of, such as The Boxcar Kids or The Babysitters’ Club.

Why are there series in which no characters age, mature, or change? Probably because, first, no one (read: no reader) wants them to. The multiple-book series, especially one “written” by a decades-long series of changing ghostwriters, provides the very definition of “formula.” The very predictability of their plots and constancy of their protagonists are, I expect, comforting to young readers. Kids read such series, not for character development, but for brute plot. It is tempting to say, therefore, that these stories are essentially “intellectual.” What matters is not the emotional development of the protagonists, but the basic machinations of the mystery or the adventure. Such series are the childhood equivalent of the adult genres of western, mystery, and romance.

Then puberty arrives, the MG becomes a YA, and everything changes. The emotional life of the characters comprises half the story (as it does of their readers), and the protagonists’ affective lives become as urgently relevant to the reader as anything involving villains and danger.

But that’s for later, when romance, ambition, peer pressure, and all those other adult concerns start to become important to the readers of Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, and so on.

If it sounds like I’m in the process of talking myself into the decision not to develop the characters of Abigail and John Templeton, I probably am. For now, at least, I want their stories to be like their father’s inventions: fun mechanisms that provide intellectual challenges in their conception and give pleasure when they get going.

Of course, it is possible that, after a number of books, I’ll start to wonder if maybe one or both of the Twins should start to “like” someone of the opposite sex.

But not yet. Even if the readers could handle it, I’m not sure The Narrator could.

This is one of the reasons I could never think of writing a book in a series!  Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

Now about this narrator...........he's quite the guy.  And he definately has as a personality.  If you'd like to interact with him be sure to pester him on Tumblr!

Plus right now you can read a chapter excerpt and you must watch the trailer!!
The Templeton Twins

The Trailer


I have a signed copy of the book!

To Enter:
Must be a US or Canada resident
Must be at least 13
Must leave a comment with a way to contact you!
Ends Saturday Sept 29 midnight


  1. O man o man I want this to be released on audio.

  2. this sounds like a book i would love to win to give to my little cousin!!!! tho i will read it first before giving it to her!! LOL!!!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

  3. Can I be honest? I've never given character development any thought when writing novels. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, the focus is meant to be on plot (not saying you couldn't have both, of course). This looks like a phenomenal series, so I think it's a classic case of over-thinking. Mr. Ellis, don't worry so much, and just *enjoy* the terrific books you write.

    Which I know is much easier said than done. ;-)

  4. Book looks so interesting and fun! I'm a twin myself, so I always love to read books which feature twins!

    leannessf at gmail dot com

  5. The twins seem really interesting. Would love to read to my daughters !

  6. This looks like an awesome book! Thanks for the giveaway!

    beths0103 at yahoo dot com

  7. This sounds like a really fun read. Thanks for running the giveaway.

  8. Would love to get this to read with my son (12) and daughter (10). Thanks.

  9. Would love to get this to read with my son (12) and daughter (10). Thanks.

  10. I've had my eye on this book!

    bluerosesheart at yahoo dot com

  11. This looks like such a cute, fun book! Thanks for the giveaway : )

    ame1184 at gmail dot com