After following fellow author J.A. Paul on Twitter, I learned about his debut YA fantasy novel Gladius and the Bartlett Trial (which I’m currently reading). So I’ve asked him a few questions and found out how his sons influenced this action-adventure quest, what he loves most about writing, and what we can expect to see from this budding author in the future! We also have a special sneak peek at Gladius waiting for you after the interview. Read on!
When did you start ‘putting words to paper’ as your bio says? What motivated you to do so?
I used to mess around with writing when I was a teenager but I didn’t take it seriously. Not until the early 1990’s did I start learning the craft and applying ‘words to paper’ in short story form.
Where did you get the idea for Gladius and the Bartlett Trial?
One night after a long verbal bedtime story, my sons challenged me to write my own book. I borrowed an idea from a friend and asked my boys to choose three things to go in the story. They chose a dragon, a tree, and a ruby. They wanted lots of action and adventure and so from the seed of that idea, the story of Gladius grew.
What books/authors have influenced you?
Stephen Kings’ writing book On Writing made me wake up and pay attention. It also helped me realize there is a process to writing. A creative process. My mind works better when I can think in a logical, practical method but still be creative and whimsical at the same time. Also, John Grisham’s vivid stories and settings; Clive Cussler’s adventure and flair for fun; Dr. Suess’s daring to be different; and of course J. R. R. Tolkien’s creativity. Oh, and Brenda Ueland’s If You Want to Write is an excellent read if you want to be a writer. Those are the big recognizable names but I have many lesser known authors that I admire as well.
Tell us a little about Gladius and the Bartlett Trial. Is it a part of a series?
Yes, it is a part of a planned trilogy. To tell it differently than the back cover copy the story of Gladius is about a teenage boy who spent much of his childhood listening to the fantastic adventure stories of his older brothers and father. He yearns to live some of those adventures for himself and can’t wait to set out on his Bartlett Trial, a rite of passage of sorts where he has to prove himself in the forest of Longwood for one month. If he succeeds he will receive a pile of silver to help pay the family land tax as that is the Wiggin community’s custom. But what he gets instead is his first and very daring adventure of his life where all that he stands for hangs in the balance.
Which character do you most identify with and why?
I know it’s cliché but I can identify a little with each. This is a tough question because I feel like I have to choose a favorite among my own children. I would say Gladius because some of his actions and mannerisms are based off my teenage years.
Which scene did you have the most fun writing?
I have two. The VaporRot scene (dragon) and the ending.
What is your favorite part of writing?
For me it’s like that feeling you get after you exercise. You know, when you feel good about yourself because you accomplished something but also I think there is some feel good chemical that is released in your body. Kind of like a caffeine boost. I also enjoy thinking about scenes over and over until you get it just right. Then when you go to type it up it flows effortlessly.
When does your next book come out?
Book II is more than half-way done and should be out in the fall of 2011 with book III coming out in early- to mid-2012.
What can we expect of you in the future?
After the Gladius trilogy I want to write a stand-alone book based on some ‘what if’s’ centered around the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness BWCAW in northern Minnesota. I also have some fun children’s short stories that I would like to collaborate with an artist on. And to the request of some fans already, I might even write some short stories chronicling the adventures of Windom and Kirken, Glad’s two older brothers. They would be a fun supplement to the Gladius series.
* * *
And now an excerpt from Gladius and the Bartlett Trial!
Chapter 1 – Longwood
Stepping hesitantly up to the daunting pillars of time, Gladius Oldmont remembered the frightening tales told to him in his early years – tales that centered on this stand of mysterious and aged woodland.
He smiled fondly at the memory of his father’s words, “that old dragon torched the hair right off my scalp.” He pictured his father massaging his bald dome as if the infliction was only recent.
Rubbing a swollen bump on his own head, Gladius now stood at the same point each Oldmont family member had once stood before him – the entrance to Longwood Forest. He studied the mature trees as rays from the warm afternoon sun trickled their way through the shadowy interior illuming the ground of his intended course.
Gladius felt his heart racing, as if doing a war dance. He consciously took a deep breath, slowing down the thumping in his chest. He knew he tread upon the threshold of fulfilling a long-awaited dream. An adventure all young Wiggins his age must embark upon.
This adventure, called the Bartlett Trial, is a test for all Wiggins when they reach the age of fifteen – a challenge to determine if they are ready to be considered an adult in the village.
This journey could catapult him into the old ones’ legends far beyond this 17th century. He had lived for this moment; there would be no more waiting. No turning back.
Drawing in another deep breath, he nodded, tugged on the shoulder straps of his leather pack and flexed his fingers tightly around his walking stick. Exhaling, he stabbed the hand-carved stick in the ground and stepped forward into the leafy canvas upon which he would paint his future.
* * *
Intriguing, no? Get a glimpse at what happens once Gladius enters Longwood by downloading the first seven chapters free as a PDF right here! You can buy the whole story at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And keep up with J.A. Paul and his newest releases online at his official website, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.
Thanks for joining us!