Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Author Interview: C. Alexander London

C. Alexander London on his own accidental adventure
Interview with C. Alexander London: Author of An Accidental Adventure Series Books 1 and 2


I love author interviews. It is always fun to find out what goes into creating a great piece of children's literature. Mr. London's interview was especially fun because he has had his own accidental adventures which led to the creation of his Accidental Adventure series, We Are Not Eaten By Yaks  (Book 1) and We Dine With Cannibals (Book 2). C. Alexander London was very gracious to take the time to answer my questions. Read on to see what he had to say.

1. What is your favorite real life accidental adventure?

The funny thing about adventures is that they usually happen when things don’t go as planned. Some of the adventures I’ve had have been scary (On my 22nd birthday I was in the city of Goma, in the Eastern Congo, when Mt. Nyiragongo erupted, forcing a rapid evacuation across the border into Rwanda) and some of them have been fun (I got lost in a village in Burma and ended up witness a festival to celebrate the arrival of a new abbot at a buddhist monastery…the whole village came out for a parade). I don’t know that I could pick a favorite real life accidental adventure, however, as each one has its own charms and its own perils. The ones I like best are the ones I share when friends and family. I used to travel alone, but now, I much prefer good company. With someone to share it with, any adventure can be a lot more fun.

2. You mention on your blog you are more like your book characters, Oliver and Celia, and would rather be watching TV. Is there one place you still want to see that would get you willingly off the couch?

There are many places! I have always wanted to visit New Zealand and also Nepal and Fiji, Japan (I’ve only ever passed through the airport) and China. The world is big place and there is much to see. I hope I’m never too much like Oliver and Celia. I want to get out and explore!

3.  You also mention you don’t like lizards. What animals from your adventures do you like?

I’d love to meet a yeti! But other than lizards and bugs, I like most animals. I find tigers, while scary, also stunning and beautiful. Yaks are great creatures and who doesn’t like a friendly monkey?

4.  What are some of your favorite adventures within the confines of your home city? What types of adventures would you suggest children look for close to home?

Those are the best adventures! I love exploring my own neighborhood, finding new nooks and crannies. I love playing the woods (I live in New York City, so there aren’t a lot of woods to play in), and I think every childhood needs a little wilderness from time to time, even if it’s the wilderness of skyscrapers and sidewalks. Of course, the library contains infinite adventures in its collection of books, and I can’t overpraise the power reading has to take you anywhere.

5. Oliver and Celia are siblings who fight, but still look out for each other. Do you have a sibling like that? If so, tell us briefly about him or her.

Celia is based very much on my sister (who is actually four years older, rather than three minutes and forty-two seconds). We never argued as much as Oliver and Celia do, but mostly because my sister always won! She and I remain very close and our disagreements often help bring new ideas to each of us, just like Oliver and Celia’s arguments do. I think arguing can be great fun and great for learning, as long as it comes from a place of respect and love.

6.  What is the scariest thing you have ever encountered on an adventure?

Well, the strange bite on my toe in Thailand was pretty scary. My foot swelled up and hurt and I complained even more than Oliver Navel would have! The erupting volcano in the Congo was scary, because the lava moved very fast and put a lot of people in danger. Personally, I was more afraid of the rebel army in control of the city at the time, than of the volcano itself, but overall, it was not an experience I’d like to repeat.

7. What country is your favorite to visit and which one is your least favorite?

I’m not sure I can choose a favorite or a least favorite! Everywhere in the world has its unique character, its charms and its challenges. I guess, though, my favorite would have to be where I live, New York City. The whole world comes here and there are endless new discoveries to be made. I like the old saying, if most cities are nouns, New York City is a verb. It’s not just a city where you live, it’s a city that’s a character, everyone who lives here has a relationship with it.

8. Were you an avid reader growing up? If so, who were some of your favorite authors?

I was actually not an avid reader growing up. I was what would now be called a reluctant reader and came to reading much later. But there were a few books that sparked my imagination and made me want to become a story teller. I loved Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet and Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth (in fact, Milo’s ennui probably influenced Oliver and Celia’s general attitude of being just so over it all). Most of all though, I loved Redwall, by Brian Jacques. It was the first big book I read on my own and I loved it! The action, adventure, and heroism, the richness of his imagination. I wrote to Brian and much to my surprise, he wrote me back! I was 11 years old, and I don't recall what I said to him, but in his response, he wrote: "I hope you will grow up to be a writer, and remember, you need to use your imagination, a writer needs to have a vivid and lively imagination." That letter played a large role in setting me on a path to become a reader and writer. I hope to live up to the vividness of his imagination and to his generosity of spirit with my own readers.

9. What is the one author who has inspired you the most and why?
See above! Of course there are many others, authors for adults that I admire and find regular inspiration from…Wade Davis, an explorer and nonfiction writer, David Mitchell, one of the finest living novelists today, and journalists like Sebastian Junger, Ryszard Kapuscinski and Philip Gourevitch. I also love some of the classics, Rudyard Kipling and Robert Louis Stevenson are two of my favorite adventure writers of times gone by.

10. My goal is to get boys to read more. What suggestions do you have for boys to get them to read more?

Meet them where they are. Sometimes that means finding ways to bring in nonfiction and books facts, sometimes that means fart jokes and wedgies, or video games and sports. It won’t always be the literary novel and that’s okay. There are lots of ways to experience the joy of reading, to create and receive stories and we do readers a disservice to privilege the literary novel over all other forms of reading. At the same time, there is a lot of joy and inspiration to be found in some of those great books, so read-alouds can expose boys to books they might not be inclined to pick up on their own. We also have to remember that some boys do indeed like literary novels and poetry and romance…we need to be sensitive to the wants and needs of each reader as an individual and avoid forcing them into broad categories of boy books and girl books.

Thanks to C. Alexander London for a great interview. If you would like to find out more about him, please visit his website.
For a chance to win both books in An Accidental Adventure series click HERE.


Travel morocco said...

Hi friends,
I love author interviews. It is always fun to find out what goes into creating a great piece of childcare's literature.I reds it,Thanks

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