Sunday, March 17, 2013

Blog Tour Interview: Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud

Tour Schedule

Today's hot seat guests is Jon Thomason, author of Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud. Jon, welcome to the Indie Author How-to. I hope you're ready for some grilling. Shall we dive in? 

Please tell us about yourself? 
My name is Jon Thomason and I'm a writer from beautiful San Diego, California. I'm an engineer by training, but much prefer being an artist! 

Tell us your latest news? 
Today, we're talking about my recently published novel, Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud. It's a middle-grade (but for all ages) action fantasy set in the modern world.

When and why did you begin writing? 
 I have considered myself a writer from a young age, and have written a number of short stories (and a great deal of technical writing), but Max is my first novel. I live for reading stories and telling stories, and I love being able to create stories for many people to enjoy.

When did you first consider yourself a writer? 
While I always wanted to be a writer, I wasn't able to look myself in the mirror and say I was a writer until I had the first draft of Max done. There was something magical about having actually finished the novel, not just "wanting to" or "planning to" or even "being in the middle of it."

How can we find you? 
I'm easy to find on facebook at I also haunt twitter @jonthomason. Come join the conversation!

What gave you the idea for this particular story?
 I am a vivid daydreamer. I have loved to read from quite a young age and always imagined what it would be like to be able to do magic--really do the magic. What would it feel like to make something across the room move? Or what would it be like to play a trick on an unsuspecting classmate? While I love creatively constructed worlds, I'm generally more interested in things happening just next door. The idea of intrigue and conspiracy and hidden things fascinate me. Might there be a shadowy group pulling the strings somewhere? Powerful people behind the scenes? And then one of our children had a form of leukemia as a child, and the powerlessness of this gave way to the idea of good from evil, and of being transformed. I'm also well acquainted with anger management issues of the teen female, and contrite, bland dialogue, just doesn't work. Throw in some cynical sarcasm from our villain, and the story just poured out.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time? 
I'm a part time writer, though would love to be full time. I have to fit my writing time in wherever I can, and how I organize it has a lot to do with what phase of the project I'm in. In the early stages, I sit and write lots of notes. I usually throw them away when I'm done because this is just a brainstorming activity and the notes are stream of consciousness until I have the concept nailed down. Then I switch into plotting mode. I usually start with a two-pager and then move towards index cards for each scene in the book. Then, finally, I start writing scenes, not necessarily in order. Of course once well into it, I have to rewrite index cards, throw some out, and create quite a few more, but the early structure sets up the environment and helps keep the plot moving. Finally, the end stages are rewriting (and rewriting!), editing passes where I look for awkward sentences or scenes that just don't add anything to the story, and then final proofreading. These final stages are tedious, but utterly essential.

What do you hope readers will take from your writing? 
I really hope my readers walk away in awe of and in love with the world, whether real or imaginary. I hope the action kept them turning pages. I hope they were frustrated a bit with the characters, but were gratified to see them solve their problems. And I really hope they love the villains!

Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why? 
I love writing for middle-grade since it lets me be the child I still feel like I am! I also do love writing sophisticated thrillers for adults. I'm plotting one of these now.

What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it? 
I think almost everything is tough about being a writer: coming up with the killer concept, writing and organizing, cutting, endless editing and proofreading, the pain of a bad review, and promoting, promoting, promoting! It's all quite difficult, but so rewarding to see your creation standing on its own in the store.

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event?
Not directly. But as I mentioned earlier, our daughter had leukemia, and this was the inspiration for the story.

How much is your protagonist like you? 
Not so much. However, don't tell anyone, but our friendly villain, Philip, is a lot more like me than I normally care to admit!

Now that we've had a little warm-up, let's continue.

What book are you reading now? What do you like, or not, about it? 
I just finished Silent Joe by T. Jefferson Parker. While it's not the perfect novel, I absolutely love how Mr. Parker crafted an ridiculously deep protagonist, Joe. We are so far inside his head by the end that we feel like we've known him all our lives.

What are your current projects? 
I am, of course, working on the rest of the Max trilogy. I have some other series in Max's world conceived, and a series of thrillers for adults in development. It's just a matter of finding time to get them all written!

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? 
I learned to read at a very young age. It wasn't too many years later that I realized I would never be entirely content just reading others' work. I had to create my own. I wrote a number of short stories at various times in life, but I eventually decided that I needed to write something novel-length. It was really gratifying finishing it.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing? 
Oh my. This presumes that I spend the majority of the time writing, and I really wish this were the case! But besides the very demanding day job, I have busy kids to chase around, tons of volunteer work, and always a project or two that needs my attention.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Perhaps the hardest part of writing my book was deciding to be done with it and finally get it out there! I've tinkered with it for a very long time, and without some encouragement, probably would have tinkered with it a lot longer.

Do you have any advice for other writers? 
I see two common failings in writers. First, we get wedded to a scene or some particular dialog, but ultimately it's extraneous to the book, slows down the pacing, and generally adds bloat. A really good writer knows how to cut, cut, cut. It's painful, but it has to be done. I cut 100 pages from my first draft of Max. It was hard, but it felt so much better after! Second, we all get bored with the final stages of the process, the editing and proofreading. It takes many (many!) times through the book to perfect it. This final polish: rooting out bad writing and awkward phrasing is sometimes what separates a mediocre book from an excellent one. Before you send out, go through it one more time. Or maybe two. Even ten, if that's what it takes.

Now that we've got the regular stuff out of the way. How about some fun questions?

What's your next project? 
Unfortunately, I can't give out the name of my next project yet, but let's just say that it's Max, and has something to do with the City of Light, that is, Paris.

Are you a morning or night person?
I'm very definitely a morning person. Don't hate me!

If you had to describe yourself using three words, it would be… Talks too fast!

Favorite meal at favorite restaurant?
The 20oz dry-aged Ribeye Steak, medium-rare, at the Pamplemousse Grill. With really big, fat, juicy asparagus.

If you were a Star Trek® [or Star Wars® ] character, which one would it be? 
Definitely Luke Skywalker. What kid hasn't wanted to have the Force and use a lightsaber??

Thank  you, Jon, for stopping by. Remember you can learn more about Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud by visit the links below.

Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud

Max has anger management issues. But she has a secret, too. She can make things happen. Like magic. She almost killed a loser skate punk and nearly used it on her stuck up older sister. The question is, can she do anything other than blow things up? Can she learn to control it? And is it really possible that an obscure teenage girl is the key to keeping all of humanity safe?

Philip just got his ring back. He got it taken away for messing with his teacher’s mind so he can cheat on a test. Now that he has his ring, he thinks he should be able to use his power to make his life better. A lot better. The problem is that people want him to be responsible. But if you could do magic, wouldn’t you use it to escape work in any way possible?

Aaron wants to be a soldier. He knows there are lots of people who would try to take over, and he’s determined to stop them. The problem is that there’s this new girl. And she might be not be on the right side of things. She’s really talented and pretty, but she might be able to destroy everything he believes in. Whatever the case, he knows he needs to learn to be world class with the magic sword while he figures out what to do.

Brynn never gets out. Her grandfather won’t permit it. Her only access to the outside world are high fashion magazines, so she has an unusual idea what she should wear. She’s dying to get out and travel. And adopt animals. Any kind of animal. Is she a lonely future granny with cats or are her ridiculous clothes actually the next fashion craze? What possible role could she play in the destiny of the world?

Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud is a fast-paced fantasy adventure for all ages (10 and up) and is the first of a planned trilogy. Fans of magic, swordplay, secret agents, and conspiracies set in a modern everyday world will not be able to put the book down. Jon Thomason is a debut author and paints a vivid world of magic right under our noses and delivers rapid-fire action that keeps the pages turning.



"Impressively inventive and enjoyable...vivid storytelling and exceptional characterization...Max's personality is layered and complex...conveyed flawlessly...keeping readers intrigued and engaged...writing style is smooth, and a subtle sense of humor comes through...narrative tension builds at a good pace and easily flows toward a satisfying and exciting conclusion...parents are likely to both approve of the story and enjoy reading it themselves...talented writer...sure to find an appreciative audience that will eagerly anticipate the next book in the series." -- ForeWord Clarion Review

"Thomason shines in his heroine's characterization...magical" --blueink Review

Author Jon Thomason

Jon Thomason lives with his family in San Diego, after many years living in the beautiful Seattle area. He has a successful career in high tech where he's been fortunate enough to participate in many big-name industry releases.

Storytelling permeates everything he does. In the moments when Jon is not helping build the story of the tech world, he can almost always be found working on a project: writing, photography, videography, graphics design, or 3D art.

And he's always careful to conceal his jinni magic abilities, though perhaps might slip one day and be discovered...


Blog Tour Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash plus a copy of Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud
Print copy to US only, Ebook Internationally
Ends 3/31/13

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