Hey guys! I had the lovely opportunity to interview the authors of Mightier Than The Sword, Drew Callander, and Alana Harrison, which came out July 10. I was sent a review copy in the mail by Penguin Young Readers and I cannot wait to share my review!
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
What inspired you to write this book?
After years of working with kids’ creative writing, we wanted to write a book that was every bit as wild and fun as the stories kids invent themselves. We thought making a book where you are the main character and where you get to interact directly with the narrative and make the story your own would be a wonderful challenge to write, as well as a really enjoyable read for kids.
How hard was it working with an illustrator to really draw what you were thinking of?
That was the easiest part! We were very lucky that the team at Penguin Workshop found Ryan Andrews to illustrate. We submitted our own illustrations and then Ryan looked at them and made them look great. Not that we’re bad artists, it’s just that our drawings have, let’s say, an amateur quality. Ryan’s are clean and have tons of character, but are simple enough not to intimidate readers—kids can draw their own versions of the characters in a similar style to his.
What kind of things should we be expecting from this book?
Expect the unexpected! You’ll be reading along and then all of a sudden you’ll have to solve a puzzle, or fill in a mad-lib, or navigate your way through a maze. You’re the hero of the story, so it’s up to you to do these things. Also, puns! Expect lots of puns! But they’re really good puns, we promise. And it’s funny (we can say that because other people have told us so; it’s not just us tooting our own horns). Basically, it’s the opposite of homework. Expect to have fun.
What was the hardest part about writing this book?
The hardest part was creating the main character every reader could identify with. More than identify with, but identify as, because the reader is the main character. We had to avoid personal pronouns because we didn’t want the reader to feel like the hero/heroine had a gender different than the reader’s—it was very important to us that the story appeal to both boys and girls. We gave the main character amnesia because we didn’t want the reader to feel like the details of the main character’s life didn’t match the reader’s. But we wanted the main character to have a personality, not just be a bland stand-in for the reader. It was a challenge, but eventually, we found the voice of the main character, how the character thinks and feels, what drives the character, and that made it easier to write.
What would you want kids/teens to get from this book?
We want readers to feel like they aren’t just reading the book, but playing it, like a game. It should feel like an escape from the every day (which is kind of ironic, because the story is about you trying to escape the world of Astorya and get back to the real world). We hope the book will inspire kids to keep writing and drawing—and spend less time with screens! So much of the mythology of Astorya concerns the power of pencil and paper, the life that gets breathed into a creation when a real hand touches it, as opposed to a hand creating something through the filter of a keyboard and endless lines of code. You can see it when you look at kids’ drawings and hand-written stories, you can see the character of the writer in the pencil-scratchings. You don’t get that from looking at pixels on a screen. No offense to bloggers, of course. 😉