Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tony Talbot - American Girl

It is our very special honor to have Tony Talbot and his book American Girl with us today.

Tony is around 14,235 days old, hailing from a village in the middle of the UK, in a county called Leicestershire.

When did you first start writing?
I first started it again in 2008. When I was thirteen or fourteen, I used to make up little personnel files on friends and share them around, but 2008 was when I got serious and rolled up my sleeves.

What was your very first story about?
Excluding the western I wrote when I was ten, it was a short story called FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL, a conspiracy tale about faked Apollo moon landings.

Have you written anything that you were too afraid to let anyone read?
Yes; but only in terms of because-it-sucked, not in terms of don't-get-mad.

Did you experience anything you’ve written yourself?
I write Young Adult (YA), so pretty much the basics we've all been through as teens: first love, stumbling over yourself when you meet a pretty girl, how hard it is to come out and say the thing you mean.

Who are several of your greatest literary inspirations?
From classics, I'd have to say Dickens; modern authors such as Dean Koontz and Stephen King. An Australian author named John Marsden (Tomorrow When the War Began series) - he taught me that you don't have to talk to your teen audience as though they were still five years old.

What kind of education have you received, and how has that affected your writing?
I'm educated to university level (a BSc) in computer science; there's actually a lot of Renaissance education involved, a lot of things you have to know that you wouldn't normally think of - is the person using your interface colour blind? When did the calendar change from Julian to Gregorian in the UK? I soak trivia up like a sponge, and I try to weave some of that into my stories. It taught me where to look for research and what to use as well.

How much research time customarily goes into your projects?
It depends. For my last book, AMERICAN GIRL, which is about Japanese-American internment in World War Two, I spent four months reading about it. For TAKEN, the book before, I spent about a month.

Tell us about your featured book.
AMERICAN GIRL is a the story of Mary Tanaka and her family, a normal family from The Pacific Northwest, who are caught up in Japanese-American internment; their whole life is pulled out from under them only because they look like the enemy.

Why did you write that?
My wife is from Washington State, where the majority of internees came from, and I wanted to write something about World War Two. I was thinking at first of the Holocaust, but everyone has done the Holocaust, and very few people, I think, know much about the Japanese experience in World War Two America. There are exceptions - SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS, for example, but they aren't really well known. The parallels between the American experience and the Jewish experience are chilling.

Is there anything special you would like your potential readers to know?
I hope that every time out with one of my books is going to take you on a different journey, take you somewhere you never expected and never anticipated. And no one in my books is safe from being killed off!

Where is the one place you’ve traveled where you’ve felt most like you fit in?
I love Washington State, where my wife is from. Such a place of contrasts, from incredible forests to scummy concrete strip malls and eight lane highways. There's no in between at all.

What activity or hobby, besides writing, do you find most enjoyable?
I love watching films and spending time with my wife. I pick up the odd computer game for a change sometimes. If anyone hasn't tried THIEF, they missed a treat.

What was your favorite childhood toy?
There was a spaceship called a StarBird. Loved it; came apart into five different pieces, each fun to play with just on their own.

What is your most valued personal possession in life? Who gave it to you?
I have a picture on my desk of my wife and me the day before we got married. I love that picture. I suppose the woman who took it gave it to me!

If you lost the ability to see every color but one, which one would it be?
I quite fancy green. I'd love to see green sunsets and green oceans, wouldn't that be something? Fireworks would be dull though.

How do you treat people you’re not fond of?
I do things for them more slowly, or not at all.

What is hiding in your closet as we speak?
The socks! The socks! They come out when I sleep and hide at the bottom of the bed.

What do you see as your greatest achievement?
Writing books and stories that people are willing to read, even though they never met me and don't know me.

What, to you, is absolutely wrong?
To fight someone for oil and dress it up with excuses. To hate someone because they don't have the same religious beliefs as you. Driving while on the phone. And littering.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
If you want to fight a man, walk a hundred miles away in his shoes. That way, he's a hundred miles away, and you've got his shoes. (Billy Connolly)

If you had to explain the concept of “love” to someone who’s never heard of it before, how would you?
The unconditional trust and respect of another, without doubt or hesitation. Saturday nights with a pizza and a movie you both love.

What about “hate?”
The meanness and pettiness of it all; how small we can be when we try to be giants over other people.

You’ve decided to buy an exotic pet, what do you go for?
Bengal tiger. Imagine how soft that fur is!

What do you classify as an “Adventure?”
A place I've never been before surprising me and delighting me as I walk there.

If you could learn one new thing instantly, what would it be?
I've always wanted to fly. Think of the time I'd save at the airport.

Finish this sentence. “I sometimes find it hard to…” to people.

Who is your most favorite literary character?
Sidney Carton from A TALE OF TWO CITIES. Such a waste at the start who makes the ultimate sacrifice for the woman he loves and can never have.

Who is your favorite character of your own creation?
Jenna Adams from OVER THE MOUNTAIN. She's so full of life and energy, I can't help but like her. If I were down in the story, I'd give her a hug and tell her to hang in there.

If you were ever to write an autobiography, what would its title be?
Potential Energy.

What if it was a biography of your favorite person?
Grace under Pressure. A biography of my wife.

Name three things about that person that influenced or inspired you.
Her graciousness, her unending kindness to strangers. Simply the nicest person I know.

To be or not to be?
To not be would involve not remembering to be, so it will have to be to be.

Our gracious thanks go out to Tony for sitting through our inquisition. Please check out his work, before someone figures out the true meaning of the Mayan calendar.

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