YA Writer Wednesdays welcomes Michael Thal, author of The Legend of Koolura and Good-bye Tchaikovsky. COMMENT BELOW FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF GOOD-BYE TCHAIKOVSKY! Entry window closes at 11:59 Tuesday, May 1. Randomly-drawn winner will be contacted on Wednesday, May 2, as well as announced here!
1. What's your book about? The Legend of Koolura is about a pre-adolescent girl who is living every child’s dream. She has the COOL. The novel tells the story of this sixth grader and how she obtained remarkable powers. She can move objects with her mind and she can even defy gravity! But will these powers be of any use in stopping a stalker intent on her destruction? The stalker is determined to retrieve Koolura’s unrealized cool powers and hurt any of her friends who get into his way. As the hour approaches for Koolura’s final confrontation with her nemesis, she may finally find vengeance to the man who killed her mother.
2. What inspired you to write it? When my daughter, Channie was in the sixth grade, (she’s now 28 and a mom) she was a reluctant reader. She was at the stage when every thing was “Cool”. So I wrote about a cool girl that looked just like her.
3. When is your book coming out / When did it release? I wanted Channie to read the book as a pre-teen. The book was finally released February 2012. And Channie read it. 3. Has the reality of being published been different than you thought it would be? Actually, I had another book published in 2002, but the company went under a year later. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed Solstice Publishing stays afloat longer.
4. What's the best part of being published? February was a good month for me. Royal Fireworks Press also released my other YA novel, Good-bye Tchaikovsky. With the help of Channie, her husband David, and Jila, my fiancé, we held a book launch party at Channie’s house. Over 75 people showed up and we sold 45 books. By the end of the afternoon I had writer’s cramp. (A good thing.)
5. What is something about publishing that you wish someone had told you in advance? Too often publishers and agents are rude. Rejections are abundant. However, there are some very kind people like Melissa Miller, the CEO at Solstice. She works very hard at pushing the work of her writers and giving us marketing tips.
6. Who's your publisher? Tell us your story-- how'd you come to be a published author? Solstice Publishing published The Legend of Koolura. Royal Fireworks Press published Good-Bye Tchaikovsky (GBT). I’ll tell you the GBT story. After I left teaching in 2001 due to a severe hearing loss, I taught myself how to write. After joining a few writer’s websites I was contacted by Scobre Press to write a fiction book about a child who would grow up to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher, etc. They wanted a series of books about children motivated to become professionals in various fields. As a teacher, I decided to write what I knew. As an adult suffering from hearing loss, I decided to investigate what it would have been like losing my hearing at the age of 11 and not 44. So I created David Rothman, a violin virtuoso who on his 11th birthday was deafened. After many rewrites, Scobre accepted my novel and the book sat on their shelves for a few years until one day I received an e-mail stating that they were only publishing non-fiction books. So I contacted 36 agents and publishers. Number 37 was BINGO.
Both Michael's books can be found on his website.
7. Do you write from an outline or are you a "pantser"? I wrote Good-Bye Tchaikovsky from an outline. The Legend of Koolura was written by the seat of my pants.
8. Who's your favorite author? What is it about his or her writing that has made you a fan? I love Stuart Woods. He’s funny, his characters are almost comic-bookish, and he draws readers into his reality with action packed scenes that don’t let up.
9. What's the last book you read that you still haven't been able to shake off? What was it about the book that stayed with you? I love time travel books. Stephen King’s 11/23/63 tells the story of a teacher who travels back in time to prevent the assassination of President Kennedy. Since the time portal dropped him into the summer of 1958, the character had to live over 5 years in the past. So I was able to relive a time and culture I haven’t seen since I was a kid. King did a superb job without including blood-guts-violence that is too often his trademark. 11/23/63 was a fascinating read.
10. Are you a full-time writer or do you have a "day job"? What do you do in your "day job"? I’m a full-time writer, sort of. I write in the morning, unless I’m at Temple Judea teaching non-English speakers New York English two days a week. A few times a week I tutor high school students and a few college students in the evening. In between all this I write. I write articles for San Diego Family Magazine and The Los Angeles Examiner.
11. Why YA as opposed to some other genre? I taught middle school for 28 years. I know that age group.
12. Who's your agent? Take this opportunity to brag on him/her if you'd like! I don’t have one.