By Candace Cheatham, Editor, Kids Corner at Kindle Nation Daily
We announced last week that Kim McMahon & Neil McMahon’s Adam Of Albion (A Head of Time) is the Kids Corner Book of The Week – An irresistible, thrilling adventure that’s a blend of fantasy, science fiction, magic, and history & Now Just 99 Cents. Today we are very excited to post an exclusive interview with authors Kim McMahon & Neil McMahon!
KIDS CORNER’S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW:
Kids Corner: The background of this story is based on historical events. Can you tell us what compelled you to write this story? How did it come to be?
Neil McMahon: One night back in the early 1990’s, for no reason I can pin down, Orpheus and Eurydice appeared in my mind, with their passionate love affair, heartbreaking separation, and dangerous adventures as they struggle to be reunited. I loved the idea and immediately started writing about it—it was basically similar to ADAM OF ALBION, but a very rough draft. But I had to set that aside (reluctantly) to work on other books, and that kept me too busy to think about anything else. It wasn’t until 15 years later that my wonderful wife, Kim, was cleaning out a desk and found that early draft of ADAM. She immediately saw possibilities that I never would have dreamed of (in other words, all the smart stuff that’s in there now), and she wrote a new version. The two of us together then revised and polished that over the next few years, and finally decided it was ready to put in front of readers, and let them be the judge.
Kim McMahon: Neil and I both love history, and we decided that time travel would be a great way to add that extra element to the adventures, with each book in the series set in an era that’s particularly fascinating. The Third Crusade was a natural choice because of its legendary warrior leaders, Richard the Lionheart and the Sultan Saladin, along with other colorful figures like the Knights Templar.
Kids Corner: Will our readers be able to relate to the teen main characters? Anything that makes our heroes particularly unique?
Neil McMahon & Kim McMahon: We sure think so. Artemis and Adam are facing exactly the same kinds of problems and growing pains as most teens, and the story brings this out. They’re opposites, personality-wise—he’s shy and a little nerdy, she’ll rush headfirst into anything—but they’re both warmhearted and tough, smart and funny. They have to use their brains and courage to maneuver through danger, treachery, and make-or-break decisions, which changes and matures them in recognizable ways. And Orpheus—the supercomputer talking head—is really a kid himself (even though he’s many thousands of years old), with his own share of growing up to do (as when Artemis scolds him for being a sexist).
Kids Corner: Can you describe your favorite scene?
Neil McMahon: Adam gets sent on a dangerous mission by Saladin to make peace with King Richard, and faces the menace of a bloodthirsty Templar—then ends up getting an incredible surprise.
Kim McMahon: When Artemis, Adam, and Orpheus first arrive at the Third Crusade, they’re suddenly in the middle of a fierce brawl between the soldiers of Richard the Lionheart and Saladin, with a band of Assassins in the mix—and Artemis shows just how fearless, reckless, and quick-witted she is.
Kids Corner: Is it hard writing as a team rather than writing alone?
Neil McMahon & Kim McMahon: We had a great time writing as a team. Kim wrote the first draft, Neil revised it, and we passed it back and forth several times until we were satisfied with it. But we also talked about it constantly, discussing ideas, characters, plot changes, and so on. Collaboration is a joy when you’ve got a partner you can depend on, with each bringing in elements the other wouldn’t think of and providing his / her own strengths. For instance, Kim has much better insights into how the kids think and act; Neil brings his thriller-writing experience to the plotting and pacing. We didn’t ALWAYS agree exactly eye to eye, but there were never any issues that hung us up seriously; and interestingly, those kinds of discussions often ended up enriching the story in major ways.
Kids Corner: Can we expect anything else from you two? Anymore YA Novels?
Neil McMahon & Kim McMahon: ADAM OF ALBION is Book One of the series A HEAD OF TIME, which will feature the ongoing adventures of Orph and the kids. We’re well into Book Two, ARTEMIS AT THE HUNT, which takes place in Renaissance Italy amid great artists, thinkers, and the murderous intrigues of clans like the Medici and Borgias. Book Three is on the drawing board, with more in the works.
Kids Corner: What books have you both recently read?
Neil McMahon: I tend to stick more to non-fiction these days, particularly history. Right now I’m dipping into European histories by Jacques Barzun and Norman Davies (both fine storytellers as well as scholars). But whenever I’m looking for laugh-out -loud fiction with great characters and endless imagination, I go back to the wonderful Terry Pratchett.
Kim McMahon: I love reading young adult, fantasy, and historical fiction, along with what’s often called “literary” fiction. Those sorts of distinctions are less than helpful to me. Good writing is good reading whether it’s Suzanne Collins, Phillip Pullman, Dorothy Dunnett, or Hilary Mantel. Recently I’ve loved Wildwood by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis (the second book in that series will be out this fall), short stories by Kelly Link – who writes the scariest fairy tales since the Brothers Grimm—and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Kids Corner: What authors have influenced you?
Neil McMahon: I think every author you read affects you in some way. Hemingway was a huge early influence on me—especially in terms of structure and integrity. Graham Greene showed me the power of being subtle. M.R. James, the great ghost story writer, taught me about pacing, tension, suspense.
Kim McMahon: In my 20’s, I worked in New York as an assistant to a literary agent. Madeline L’Engle was a client, and meeting her was one of the greatest honors of my life. As with many nerdy girls, A Wrinkle in Time was like my Bible. I read (and reread) everything Ms. L’Engle wrote. Early loves and influences certainly included Jane Austen, Iris Murdoch, Saul Bellow. I’ve always been really interested in particular author voices, how you can recognize one of their paragraphs by their style alone.
Kids Corner: Any advice for our young writers out there?
Neil McMahon & Kim McMahon: Read a lot and write a lot—as Thomas Edison said, genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Try to tell your stories naturally, as if you’re talking to a friend; let the words flow and let your imagination run. Then, as time goes on, start thinking about technique; almost all stories can be made better by some careful crafting. Sharpen up dialogue by finding smart, maybe funny ways to have your characters talk. Ditto for description—how about putting in lively details that a reader is really going to see? A story might be improved by starting right in the middle of an action scene to get readers really involved, and then explaining the buildup later. And so on. Again, read—look at your favorite books and pay attention to how those authors create the magic that you love.