TombsDay is finally here! TombQuest: Book of the Dead is officially available and hitting shelves everywhere! Writing these books has been an amazing experience, from research trips around the world to intense days of writing back in New York. Now, I am incredibly excited to share the first book with the world (of the living)! I really hope you have as much fun reading about Alex and Ren’s high-stakes adventure as I have had writing it.
10 (questionable) answers to (awesome) questions:
Have you read my Epic Rap Battle of Scholastic Plus (in my posts) in which you rap?
Yes! Gordon Korman actually sent me a text message asking me iI’d’d seen it, and I was like: Wait, I rap? I am all caught up now, and I have enjoyed my new, ahem, rap career. In fact, I wrote a few lines for today:
There’s no need for hopin’, and no time for mopin’;
Read the books, y’all, because the tombs are now open!
crimsonsphinx14: has he ever seen a scarab?
Yes, I have seen many scarabs, in museums from New York City to Berlin, Germany. Some of them are little bitty bugs—the size of an actual beetle—and some of them are as big and chunky as a hockey puck. I haven’t found a magical one, though—at least not yet!
pinkpie131: Did you get rejected a lot before a book was accepted for publication? If so, how many times were you denied?
Yes, I definitely went through my share of rejection. The first book I got published was the third book I wrote. The first one was pretty bad, and looking back, I am glad that no one published it. I learned a lot from writing it, though, and my second book was better. It didn’t get published, but it got me a literary agent. That’s an important step on the way to publication. I learned a lot from writing that book too, and my third book was accepted for publication. TombQuest: Book of the Dead is my sixth published book—but the eighth book I’ve written!
analyzingwizard7: How was writing for TQ different from your other books?
Writing TombQuest has been very different for me. My other books dealt with realistic subjects, like snowstorms, baseball, and sharks. Those are all things I have seen or experienced. I know what walking through deep snow or hitting a deep line drive feels like. TombQuest deals with mysterious and magical elements that I have never experienced firsthand. In order to write it, I have to rely much more on imagination than experience. I have to force myself to let go of the world I know and to enter the world I am creating. It was difficult at first but it has gotten easier with every scene I write!
catamber1119: What's your favourite animal?
I love animals, so I can’t pick just one favorite. Here are my three choices in different categories.
Close-to-home: Dogs! I have loved dogs since before I could walk.
Farther afield: Orangutans! They are amazing and incredibly smart. I have “adopted” an orangutan from redapes.org for the last seven years!
Most fascinating: Sharks! I definitely wouldn’t want to cuddle up with one, but I have always been fascinated with the ultimate apex predators.
pinkpuma175: What tips do you have for young writers?
I have three tips. First: read a lot! The more you read, the more you learn about the structure and technique and little tricks of storytelling. Second: write. Practice makes perfect—or at least better. Third: Finish what you start. You learn more by finishing one so-so story than by starting ten good ones. Coming up with ideas and starting stories is the fun part. But when you finish a story you can see what worked and what didn’t quite—and then revise it to make it better.
darktiger445: Have you ever seen a mummy? They are cool.
I have seen many mummies, and they are definitely cool! They are so well preserved in death that you can tell a lot about who they were in life. You can see if they were large or small, short or tall—you can even see all their teeth and guess what size shoe they would wear! Not that mummies wear shoes when they’re chasing you…
zeusposeidon129: Who is your favorite Egyptian god?
There are lots of cool Egyptian gods, but my favorite is Anubis. He was the jackal-headed guardian of the underworld. Since the ancient Egyptians were so focused on the afterlife, he was considered an important and powerful figure. You see his image everywhere in the museums, and I even mention him in Book 1! He is also just a cool, tough dude, with a dark and important job. He is kind of like the Wolverine of ancient Egypt, except with the head of a jackal. Anubis is my dawg!
tigerclaws217: How did you come across loving ancient Egypt?
When I was a kid, I was interested in all the major mythologies—Greek, Norse, and more—but ancient Egyptian was my favorite. The thing I liked about it was that it had all the cool gods and magic of the others, but it also had the earthly aspect of tombs and treasures and mummies and curses. It was as if someone had combined two of my favorite movies, Clash of the Titans and Indiana Jones, and put the result in a vast, windswept desert!
midnightangel144: Hi Michael Northrop! The book blurb and cover looks fantastic!
Do you plan and outline every detail of your book, or just let the characters guide you as you go along?
Thank you! TombQuest: Book of the Dead is my sixth published book, but it is the first one I made a detailed outline for before writing. In the past, I always let the characters guide me. But because TombQuest is a series—and because it includes mysteries both large and small—it is important for me to know exactly how all of the pieces fit together. I don’t want to write something in Book 1 that won’t make sense by the time I get to Book 4! The characters still guide me, though. Sometimes they lead me in unexpected directions, so the outlines shift a little with each book.
Thanks for the fantastic questions, everyone! Happy TombsDay!
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