Spice World, owned by Dis-Mart, a merger between Disney and WalMart, has become the place—no de place to make art in the year 3054, and JA Trevor and I aren’t going to miss it.
Plop songs play on the 3054 version of the radio which is really a low frequency nerve wave that makes you feel the music in your lower back. Plop became cool as a resurgent to Pop music. Before that it was just two centuries of Enya. We make no apologies for it since we needed to calmness during the turbulent times of colonizing space. Besides, space and Enya just go together.
I have met Trevor to discuss his book, Only Gingers Can be Witches, which coincidentally, is out in this century (2015). This is what we call a chronological fallacy, but that’s not important. What is important is that the Fizzy in our hands is making us “talky.”
“This beats McDonalds,” I say, sipping.
Trevor nods sadly. “It did and so many died.”
“What?” I ask.
“What?” he asks.
“So, we are meeting in the future about your book in the present that you wrote in the past?” I ask.
Trevor sighs. “These days you really have to be creative with your marketing.”
I nod. The interview has begun!
Describe your journey as a writer. When did this madness with words begin, and is there a cure?
The first story I ever wrote was on my mother’s old DOS computer, a yellowed, gray plastic behemoth without a mouse. I remember it was the opening chapter to what I imagined would be a sci-fi/superhero mashup. I must have been, at most, 10 years old. Needless to say, it was crap. I never got past the first several hundred words.
However, years later I discovered the desire to write had never really left me, and at 17 years old, I began to write a fantasy novel, which I also abandoned only one chapter in. I then started a book set in 1900s London, and I consider this to be my first foray into writing something with some sort of quality (though it was still horrible, and only lasted a few chapters).
My current writing journey began a few years ago with a book I have since re-written, and I never really stopped since then. I’m happy to say that in the last few years, I have finally begun to finish the books I start (a very important part of being a writer, obviously). It is apparent that once the writing bug gets you, there is no going back. Life without it is gray and bleak, easy and pointless.
Tell us about what you have written so far in your career.
I’ve completed three novels (five if you count the re-written versions of two of them) and have a half-dozen others in various states of completion. I’ve also dabbled in web-based graphic novels, and am working on a print graphic novel at the moment that I’m super excited about. I published one of my novels in March 2014, a book titled Only Gingers Can Be Witches, a middle grade urban fantasy set in 1996. I hope to keep publishing books in the future, though college has put a temporary pause on that.
What early books influenced you to take the leap and begin word-smithing? A particular book?
There are very specific books I feel influenced my decisions to start writing. The Redwall novels by Brain Jacques, The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander, The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis, and The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, as well as various Star Wars novels. The Prydain Chronicles especially have greatly informed my style, as well as the kinds of characters I like to write. I still read those books every few years.
What interests you about middle-grade fiction? Why not write spy thrillers for adults, or turbine engine manuals instead?
Books of all sorts deserve recognition for what they are, but middle-grade is the era of my life where books did me the most service. Kids can feel incredibly alone at the pre to early teenage years, even though they are surrounded by siblings or classmates. As a geek in a time when being geek wasn’t chic (the Star Wars sequels hadn’t been released yet, and most kids were expected to like sports and Mortal Kombat, both of which I had no interest in) I stuck out like a sore thumb, which led to the inevitable isolation that comes from being different. Books were what got me through that period of my life in one piece. I fell in love with the concept of kids doing great things even though they are scared or don’t know what they are doing. That’s a very empowering message for a young teen. I suppose I never really left that point in my life, deep down.
What was the most surprising benefit to writing?
I feel the decision to start seriously writing has been the most important event in my life so far. The skills I learned when attempting to write characters dissimilar from myself, examining motivations, working out plot logically, and exploring emotions have brought a profound change to me. I wouldn’t say I was stupid or closed-minded, but I was stupid and close-minded before I began writing. The world has opened for me with a new era of logic and critical thinking, I’ve become more compassionate, more caring, more motivated to bring change, all that hoity-toity stuff. I definitely like myself more than I used to. That’s always a nice change.
What do you think makes a good story?
Writers generally disagree on this, and that’s not a bad thing, but for me, character is the most important thing to a great story. The connection to fictional people, and how effectively they are written, is the key to keeping a reader invested. The plot is important, yeah, so is the dialogue, as is the setting, but none of that matters if the characters aren’t fully realized and believable.
Do you have any weird writing quirks?
I generally have to be perfectly comfortable to really get into the writing headspace. That’s not always possible unfortunately, so that’s where self-discipline comes in (of which I am sadly lacking). Loud music helps, as do a friends to write with. I don’t know that these are quirks, I certainly don’t need a glass of whiskey perfectly arranged on a coaster, a heavy wooden desk with alligator leather writing pad inset, red M&Ms forming a star of David to my left, and an open window with blowing curtains to write (though that sounds amazing).
What book are you reading now? Or, what do you like to read now?
I just finished Undeniable by Bill Nye, a book about evolution and the origins of life, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m not a huge non-fiction reader, but trust me, this one is worth it.
I’ve also been reading some extra science fiction recently, which I haven’t explored much since my teenage years, so that has been fun. I’m currently on the hunt for my next book.
How long did it take you to write Gingers? In dog years, human years or Ginger years?
The first draft of Gingers was begun, and finished in about two months. It was a whirlwind of ideas and brainstorming followed by feverish writing. I’ve never experienced a rush like that before or since. Subsequent drafts obviously extended that time out, as did editing. I left the book rest for perhaps a year before returning to do a final edit and prep for publishing (in which time I wrote another novel).
What qualities do the two characters (Ally and Hanna) share that you find to be admirable?
I think the interesting thing to me about their individual personalities is that vulnerability plays a part in both of them, but not in the way you might expect. The (spoiler alert) powerful, confident witch Hanna turns out to have some issues, and the normal neighborhood kid Ally ends up finding strength no one knew she had (most of all herself). I think people need to allow themselves to be vulnerable more often, because that act of letting go can lead to great things. Both Ally and Hanna show a lot of trust toward each other, allowing themselves to open up, and that alone gives them the ability to accomplish all they do in the course of the book.
Gingers was wrote in first person. What made you decide on that point of view?
First person is a very intimate point of view, one that’s especially well suited to middle-grade books. It helps draw the reader in, allows unique access to the inner thoughts and feelings of the characters. In one way, it allows less sophisticated readers an easier hook into the story. In another, it helps perhaps mirror the same feelings a young reader might experience themselves in daily life.
Every book brings out lessons learned from past experiences. What experience led you to writing Gingers?
One of the central themes of Gingers is the idea that being different isn’t bad. It’s something to be proud of! My experiences growing up, being isolated in school and even among my own friends definitely imprinted the desire to help other kids understand that it’s what’s inside that counts, not the number of friends you have, or how popular you are.
And Lastly. . .
Care to share a writing or time management tip for the aspiring author?
Just *bleeping* write.
Writer JA Trevor is a huge fan of books and the things they teach us. His sincerest hope is to provide, in some small part, a magical experience in the early years of children. He lives in Layton, Utah with his wife Becky and dogs Darwin and Nymphadora. His Book Only Gingers Can Be Witches can be found here. His website is located at jatrevor.com.
If you are an author, agent or publisher, illustrator or extremely talented juggler and wish to be interviewed on erikaviktor.com, send me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. All interviewees get to choose the location of our virtual meeting!
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