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Monday, September 5, 2011

PR Special Edition (54): Nick James Interview!

Poisoned Rationality Special  Edition

Welcome to another Poisoned Rationality Special Edition!   Today we have Nick James, author of the soon to be released debut novel The Pearl Wars, the first book in Skyship Academy series.

Synopsis:  A devastated Earth's last hope is found in Pearls: small, mysterious orbs that fall from space and are capable of supplying enough energy to power entire cities. Battling to control the Pearls are the Skyship dwellers—political dissidents who live in massive ships in the Earth's stratosphere—and the corrupt Surface government.

Jesse Fisher, a Skyship slacker, and Cassius Stevenson, a young Surface operative, cross paths when they both venture into forbidden territory in pursuit of Pearls. Their chance encounter triggers an unexpected reaction, endowing each boy with remarkable—and dangerous—abilities that their respective governments would stop at nothing to possess.


Enemies thrust together with a common goal, Jesse and Cassius make their way to the ruins of Seattle to uncover the truth about their new powers, the past they didn't know they shared, and a shocking secret about the Pearls.

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Hey Nick!  Thank you for being on Poisoned Rationality today! My sister doesn't want me to tell you this, but she adores you and has been practically shoving her ARC edition at her friends left and right with threats of bodily harm if they don't read it (the good news is that a surprising number of them enjoy it--you've made quite the stir amongst the drama kids of her circle).  Being a little more mature I'll refrain from gushing about you (mostly).

Since you've probably discussed the book's premise in depth multiple times, can you give us background about the characters and their relationships? 
Sure! The story is told from the perspectives of two main characters:
Jesse Fisher: Jesse’s a 15-year-old trainee at Skyship Academy.He’s a total klutz and pretty much the least likely to succeed in his class. To make matters worse, he’s sort of a loner onboard the ship. His parents died in a sting operation when he was only a couple years old and the faculty have an unusual interest in him, even though he’s failing most of their programs. His closest friends in his year are Eva Rodriguez, who’s about twenty times buffer and more studied than him, and Skandar Harris, a battle-obsessed goof-off. Beyond that, he spends a lot of time hanging out with Avery Wicksen, a 17-year-old post grad that he’s got a major crush on. But she’s a little weird, so it’s hard for him to tell how she feels.
Cassius Stevenson: Also fifteen, Cassius trains at the Pearl Retrieval center known as the Lodge on the Surface.  He works for the Unified Party, and is very close with the mysterious, high-ranking figurehead known only as Madame. Though Madame hasn’t declared it outright, Cassius looks to her as an adopted mother and is consumed with pleasing her.  He regularly exceeds expectations when it comes to Pearl training and is well-liked, but doesn’t have many friends. He lives a far more mature life than most boys his age and is privy to many of the government’s secrets. He has an intense dislike for those in the Skyship Community.
Original Cover
The almost as obligatory question is where an author draws inspiration from, but let's be a bit different.  What methods or writing ideas have you tried in the past that just haven't worked for you?  Any ideas you were really jazzed about, but for one reason or another didn't seem to come together? 
I have dozens of computer files filled with stories started and stories abandoned. Of course, not all of these stay abandoned forever (I had been writing versions of SKYSHIP for years before settling on how the story should be told). I’m an idea person. I’ve got no trouble coming up with constant ideas for stories. It’s just a matter of seeing which ideas keep me going long enough to make it past the fiftieth (or hundredth) page of a manuscript. I do make sure never to delete any of these story fragments, because you never know what’s going to appeal to you at any given time.
Labeling a book one genre or another is difficult with easily placed Paranormal or Fantasy titles, but Skyship Academy seems to draw from a number of different genres (Science Fiction, Little bit of Steampunk, Dystopian, Super-powered)--was there any one genre in particular that speaks to you when drafting a story?
My work tends to have elements of fantasy and sci-fi even if I don’t initially intend it to. I really enjoy mixing genres. My favorite books, movies and TV tend to be hodgepodges of different things. But even though I’m totally into that stuff, it’s character-driven--and specifically, coming-of age--stories that really speak to me. This is usually the basis for my writing. Explosions and action sequences are awesome, but a well-written exchange between characters can be even better. Of course, well-written exchanges between characters that can shoot lasers out of their eyes and hover several feet in the air are obviously the best of all.
Over on your GoodReads blog (and the Skyship Academy facebook) you've been doing entries that delve a little deeper into the world of The Pearl Wars, is this something you'll be continuing throughout the series or was it kind of a 'Hey guys nifty little tidbits about the world!' pre-release?
The Academy Database entries on my facebook page are going to be winding up in the next week or two. There are a lot of little pieces of the SKYSHIP world to highlight, and I plan to start posting more during the lead up to the second book.  That being said, there’s a lot of backlog to explore over at those pages and I‘ll be posting new stuff all the time!
The Pearl Wars' cover underwent a pretty drastic change from the ARC cover to the finished product, can you tell us a bit about the change and how you feel each represented the characters/themes/novel in general?
It certainly did! While the first cover was more literal and hard-edged, I think that the second cover fits the novel better. The photo on the second cover definitely represents the character’s age and “type” more clearly, as well as reflecting a more uncertain, mysterious mood. Also, I think the new cover invites different types of readers. While the book is definitely science fiction at heart, it’s a lot more than that.  I don’t think you have to be a hardcore sci-fi nut to enjoy it, and I’m glad that we settled on a cover that is more subtle and open-ended. 
Sir Stripy
Lord of the Striped Shirts
Quick Q's
  • Cake or pie? Cake, especially anything with funfetti!
  • Plaid or stripes?  Stripes. I own way too many striped shirts. I’m afraid of being known as Stripy Boy. 
  • Corey Haim or Corey Feldman?  Feldman, definitely. If only for Stand By Me.
  • Favorite Cartoon growing up?   So many! First it was the Transformers/Go-Bots combo, then Tiny Toons and Animaniacs (the songs!)
Nick thank you again for being on Poisoned Rationality--I promise next time one of us sees you there will be no flailing, stammering or otherwise perturbing behavior from us :)

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Wanna know more?  Check out Nick's website, and Skyship Academy Facebook!

And don’t forget to visit each blog each day to find the answers to the 8 clues. How the clues work:  Throughout the tour's 15 stops, there will be 8 clues scattered on the blogs. Make sure you go to every stop on the tour so you can find the clues. These clues spell out a secret coordinate and you need this coordinate so you can win on the last stop of the tour over at Frenzy of Noise.  

Check out Overflowing Shelf's post "On the Fringes" to learn more about what the Skyship Community is exactly and clue in here for the next clue!
CLUE #5: On the Goodreads page for Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars, the book’s ISBN13 number can be found. What is the last digit in this number? (Hint: It’s also the first number!) Make it negative and this will be your piece of the coordinates today.

If you win, you win a supplemented copy of the book a bonus Skyship diagram and bonus chapter or annotation. Hey is it too late to win it myself? 

 Buy Links



Amazon // Book Depository