I’m thrilled to host an interview with author of Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars, Nick James. I had tons of fun with this interview and I enjoyed learning more about this 2011 debut author. The Pearl Wars releases September 8th, 2011, so go get your copy today.
Nick James’ Bio
When he was a young boy, Nick James’ collection of battle-scarred action figures became the characters in epic storylines with cliffhangers, double crosses and an unending supply of imaginary explosions. Not much has changed. The toys are gone (most of them), but the love of fast-paced storytelling remains. Working in schools from Washington State to England, Nick has met thousands of diverse students since graduating from Western Washington University and braving the most dangerous job in the world: substitute teaching. Luckily, being dubbed the “rock star teacher” has granted him some immunity. He currently lives and teaches in Bellingham, Washington.
Can you describe your two main characters, Jesse and Cassius? What are they like?
They’re very different! For one, each lives and works on an opposing side of the Pearl Wars. Jesse lives at Skyship Academy, an enormous ship hovering in the Earth’s stratosphere. He’s known as a klutz and less-than-promising student, yet the faculty of the Academy have a strange interest in him. He’s sarcastic, self-effacing and kind of a slacker. Cassius, meanwhile, works on the Surface, under the guidance of the Unified Party. He’s an excellent candidate for retrieving Pearls, which are the government’s main energy source. He’s very serious and driven and doesn’t like to fail. Luckily, he rarely does.
Now what happens when these two opponents share a chance meeting? That’s where the story begins…
Can you describe some of the other characters in the book? Any favorites and why?
Yes! On Jesse’s side there are his two friends, Eva and Skandar. Skandar’s a total goof-off, while Eva is an excellent trainee at the Academy (and about three times as buff as Jesse). There’s also Avery, a 17-year-old post-grad that Jesse’s crushing on. She’s a bit of an odd duck, and one of my favorite characters. She’s just so honest and comfortable with herself, which is something that I think Jesse is really attracted to.
Cassius’s life is far more isolated as far as friends go. He works under the mysterious woman known only as Madame, who runs the Department of Energy Acquisition. He considers her his adopted mother, and is desperate to please her.
Why should readers read your book?
Readers should pick up my book if they’re looking for something different. From the world-building to the plot twists, I think it’s a very unique entry in the YA world this year. When I set out to write it, I wanted to fuse an action/adventure story with a coming-of-age novel. There are so many elements included in the novel. Something for everyone, I hope!
How many books are going to be in The Pearl Wars series?
It’s planned as a trilogy, but the second book comes out next year.
When you were in grade school you wrote and published stories bound by colored construction paper. Can you tell us some of these stories?
Oh god… well, the one that I got “published” officially at a program called Young Authors was called The Lego Book (shows you where my head was at, right?). Other titles included: The Nice Robot (awww…), The Chick Mystery (probably not what you’re thinking), and the epic comic book series Superfingers (it sounds a lot more provocative than it was!). I was a weird kid in a lot of ways. In addition to my “books,” I’d also make action figures and trading cards for them. It was an entire empire!
Who are your favorite authors? What are some of your favorite books?Did any particular books/authors inspire you to become a writer?
I draw a lot of inspiration from comic book writers like Brian K. Vaughn (Runaways, Y: The Last Man) and Brian Michael Bendis (Powers, Jinx). I’m a huge dialogue fan. As far as novelists, M.T. Anderson’s Feed is pretty much untouchable to me, and I also love Eoin Colfer and Philip Pullman (the His Dark Materials trilogy is beyond brilliant). I like anything that moves fast, has quirky or interesting dialogue and a lot of imagination. Imagination is key.
Do you have any funny quirks or pet peeves?
Do you have a couple of hours? Haha. First, I’m a really picky eater. I always have been. My distaste of condiments is well documented. Too gooey. I also have a bad habit of bursting into song. I’m a music nut, and can get pretty obsessed with it. I… erm… I think we’ll just leave the question at that.
Is there anything else you want to say to readers and fans?
I hope you enjoy my book! It’s been a real “pinch me” type of dream that this is even happening. I love hearing from readers via email or twitter (@nickajames) or facebook. Meeting other readers and lovers of YA has been one of the best parts of this experience!