The Book Beacon is proud to be a part of the 2016 Debut Authors Bash by yaReads! Dozens of first time authors are able to share the news about their published work. Today, author Andrew Brumbach stops by for an interview and a giveaway! But first: check out his incredible book, The Eye of Midnight:
“Brumbach’s vivid descriptions and terse, to-the-point dialogue keep the action moving and readers constantly engaged and surprised. . . . A fast-paced, action-packed adventure.” —Kirkus Reviews
On a stormy May day in 1929, William and Maxine arrive on the doorstep of Battersea Manor to spend the summer with a grandfather they barely remember. Whatever the cousins expected, Colonel Battersea isn’t it. Soon after they settle in, Grandpa receives a cryptic telegram and promptly whisks the cousins off to New York City to meet an unknown courier and collect a very important package. Before he can do so, however, Grandpa vanishes without a trace. When the cousins stumble upon Nura, a tenacious girl from Turkey, she promises to help them track down the parcel and rescue Colonel Battersea. But with cold-blooded gangsters and a secret society of assassins all clamoring for the mysterious object, the children soon find themselves in a desperate struggle just to escape the city’s dark streets alive.
“Combining a 1920s New York setting with ancient Turkish and Arabian folklore and history, this novel reads like a young Indiana Jones adventure. . . . As smart as it is action-packed.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
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How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?
In the beginning, there was only a villain. I had read a magazine article about a secret organization of assassins called the Hashashin that operated out of a hidden desert fortress during the Crusades. Their methods and means were fairly terrifying, and I realized I wanted to transplant them to 1920s New York City.
Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
I grew up in a family and a community that elevated creativity and storytelling. My mom brought home bushel baskets of books for me from the library and I read them all. I’ve loved story and what it’s capable of ever since.
What are some of the references that you used while researching this book?
Bartol’s novel about the Hashashin called Alamut was directive, and I leaned heavily on a couple dictionaries of slang to try and get the 1920’s lingo right. My job takes me to New York every now and then, and on several occasions I found time to do some location scouting.
What do you think most characterizes your writing?
The style of The Eye of Midnight is descriptive and atmospheric, with an old-fashioned quality that I picked up from classic adventures I’ve read. I even invented a corny name (sort of like Derek Zoolander’s “Blue Steel”) for the voice I was trying to achieve. I called it “Elegiac Tweed,” because I was trying to blend a lyrical sensibility with a kind of stodgy British feel. Having a name for it helped me stay on track.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Finishing it. This was my first novel and it taught me to press through to the end and worry about going back to polish later.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I really had fun with the historical stuff. Also, an added bonus was having the chance to see my grandmother get to read the published version. She’s 92 years old and shares her name with my main character, Maxine. Both of them were kids in the twenties, so it was fun for me to imagine what she must have been like as a young girl.
Are there vocabulary words or concepts in your book that may be new to readers? Define some of those.
Probably. I tend to overwrite, and I spent a fair amount of time throttling back the vocabulary to accommodate middle grade readers. The publisher included a glossary in the book to help with slang and foreign words as well. In one place I used the word lickerishly, which means greedily or gluttonously, and at another point I think Maxine says she’ll “positively have a kitten” if she doesn’t find out the contents of a mysterious box soon, which is 1920’s-speak for “bursting with anticipation.”
What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn’t so?
Hmmm… I imagine people probably think that Classic Adventure’s day has passed, that it’s stuffy and slow, with too many adverbs and asides; but I believe those old stories are still wonderfully vibrant, and in my opinion there’s room for a re-envisioning of the genre as well.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
The canon of classic adventure has definitely imprinted me. Authors like Burroughs, Verne, Dafoe, Stevenson, Kipling, and Haggard. There are other British voices that echo in my head when I write: PG Wodehouse and AA Milne and Tolkien. Certain modern writers like Cormac McCarthy and Anne Rice have inspired and demoralized me in equal parts.
What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
Most useful was probably learning to read critically—reading for more than just pleasure. Reading in the same way that an aspiring inventor takes apart some ingenious contraption to see what makes it tick. Most destructive was probably having an expectation for myself that my first drafts should match the glittering prose of my literary heroes.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
I’m a part-time author. I have a full-time career in the business world, which necessarily takes a front-seat to writing. It means I have to be intentional about making time to write, but it also gives my brain plenty of other grist to work on. I feel like that can actually be beneficial in some ways, though.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
Well, it has a great cover, I’d say. But in terms of something I can take more credit for, I think the style is fairly unique for a modern book. It’s cinematic and evocative and sometimes droll, and I like to think it’s distinctively me.
How do you find or make time to write?
I try to beat my family out of bed in the morning to have an hour our two of uninterrupted time. Sometimes it works.
What do you like to read in your free time?
I enjoy reading one of everything, if that makes sense, which makes me wide but not very deep. I do say yes to multiple helpings of Cormac McCarthy and Annie Dillard and Eudora Welty and Patrick O’Brien.
What do your plans for future projects include?
I’d like to write a couple of sequels to The Eye of Midnight if I get the chance. And I have an idea for some speculative fiction and then maybe something more literary—kind of a Moby Dick meets Paul Bunyan sort of thing that I’ve been mulling over ever since I moved away from the Pacific Northwest.