Monday, 17 October 2016

Todd Fahnestock's "The Wishing World" Virtual Tour

Today, as part of The Wishing World virtual tour, I have author Todd Fahnestock on the blog to answer some questions.

But before we get to them, let's learn more about the book itself.

Title: The Wishing World
Author: Todd Fahnstock
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: 25th October 2016

In the Wishing World, dreams are real. You can transform into your own hero, find wild and whimsical friends, and wield power as great as your imagination. But Lorelei doesn't know about any of that. All she knows is that a monster took her family.

It happened during a camping trip one year ago. Hiding inside the tent, she saw shadows, tentacles and a strange creature. By the time she got up the courage to crawl outside, the monster--and Lorelei's mom, dad, and brother--were gone.

Lorelei is determined to find her family. When she accidentally breaks into the Wishing World, she discovers a way. It's a land more wonderful than she could have imagined, a land of talking griffons, water princesses, and cities made of sand, where Lorelei is a Doolivanti--a wish-maker--who can write her dreams into existence.

There's only one problem: the monster is a Doolivanti, too. What he wishes also comes true, and he's determined to shove Lorelei out, keep her family, and make the whole Wishing World his. To save them, Lorelei must find the courage to face him, or her next wish may be her last.

What was your favorite book when you were a kid?
When I was five it was The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. What the Cat could do was wondrous to me. And the Voom! Who doesn’t want to be able to use Voom! Typically, I shy away from the kind of comedy (like Meet the Parents) where everything starts fairly happy and then gets unbearably uncomfortable. This gives me stress. So as a five-year-old, I was agitated by all of the mess the Cat created, even as magical as it was. But the Voom! made it all right in the end. I liked that.

At age twelve, it was Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three. I’d never read anything like that before. It captivated me; I devoured the rest of the series, and it began my hunt for other fantasy books.

At thirteen, it was The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks (who I got to sign books next to at The Denver Comicon this year. That was a trip!)

At fourteen, it was Piers Anthony’s Xanth chronicles. I loved the how magic worked, how everything in that world was so colorful, and how he managed to make things whimsical while still keeping the main plot line serious. I see a lot of Anthony’s serious/whimsical flavor in The Wishing World.

At fifteen, it was The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. I loved this series and carried the books around with me everywhere I went.

At eighteen, Ender’s Game swept me away. I re-read it every now and then, and it holds up every time. What an amazing story!

When did you realize you wanted to be an author/writer?
The seed of the idea began at age twelve; I just didn’t think I could do it. What Lloyd Alexander created opened my eyes, and the idea of being able to make a whole different world, just let my imagination run wild, was a dream to me. I finally screwed up my courage at age 18 and began my first novel for my senior year independent study class.

Do you have any interesting writing quirks?
I worked as a nonprofit fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the American Diabetes Association for fifteen years. I know about healthy eating, and I keep myself fit through diet and exercise. On top of this, my wife Lara grew up with organic, garden-grown food, is the Director of Garden Support at Denver Urban Gardens, and makes sure the family has healthy dinners and snacks around the house. However, I was not raised this way. Fast food, soda, candy, etc., it was all a wondrous treat when I was a kid. So when I’m rough drafting, I revert to type: I want M&Ms. I want a Coke. I want candy popcorn and cheese hot dogs. It’s ridiculous.

Can you tell us a little bit about how The Wishing World came to be? There’s so much imagination and adventure here, I’d love to know where the idea came from!
In its earliest form, The Wishing World was literally made up on the spot as I tried to get my kids to go to sleep. They shared a room at the time, each with a bed on either side, and I’d lay down on the floor between them and make a story about whatever goofy thing would pop into my head. It was a true stream-of-consciousness. Over the long haul, it magnificently failed in its original purpose, as it evolved into a tale that had them hanging over the edges of their beds, waiting for more.

The earliest character I remember from those nightly story sessions was Hugo the Turtle (who is not in the actual book). Hugo lived near a weedy bank by a lake, and he slept upside down in a dent in the ground that fit his shell. He was slow and methodical, and he had rambling, boring adventures that would have the kids asleep after ten minutes. Unfortunately, they also had me asleep after ten minutes. I’ve always been interested in the dashing, adventurous, noble and strong type heroes, so it wasn’t long before I reinvented the story with Gruffy the Griffon and his two friends, Pip and Squeak. Their first adventure was to visit Hugo the Turtle, who told them about a princess who was imprisoned in Azure City, and that kicked off the whole thing. The basic story that eventually became the book was created during these nightly sessions, except without Lorelei. There was no Lorelei at the time. It was just Gruffy, Pip, Squeak, and Ripple. They were the first to discover the Kaleidoscope Forest, the Eternal Sea, the Flimflams and the Swisherswashers, the Ratsharks and the Beetlins. It was only when I tried to put these verbal stories to the page that Lorelei was born and, for me, totally stole the show.

See, I was struggling to get the story down on the page because I’d already told it, and walking in the same path all over again was boring to me. So I put my daughter in the book as the character Lorelei. Then I was all-in, and the chapters flowed out.

There are videos on YouTube and on my facebook author page where I narrate this whole story, if you’re interested in seeing me tell it.

Do you have a favorite character from the story?
Well, since Lorelei is based on my daughter, and Theron is based on my son, in the spirit of being a parent who doesn’t pick favorites among his children, let’s take both of those characters out of the equation. My favorite character in the first book is Sir Real (who just edges out Squeak). I mean, he speaks in rhyme, he has floating gloves, and he lives in a silver tree. And he has Flimflams! He’s powerful and vulnerable, and he lives in wisdom. There’s so much to love about Sir Real.

You have released a number of different titles. What interests you in writing Middle Grade fiction, and can you share a bit about your path to publication?
The truth is I never wanted to write The Wishing World. Most people don’t know that. If not for the constant beseeching of my children, I never would have. I wanted to be Terry Brooks; I wanted to be George R. R. Martin. I built my writing skills to create a sweeping, adult fantasy epic. Up until The Wishing World, I strove to emulate the authors I admire, and The Wishing World is just me being goofy and entertaining my kids. Even after I wrote the first draft, it was only supposed to be a story I read around the house.

I learned a lot through the whole process. After letting loose and just allowing the story to be whatever it was going to be, The Wishing World became most pure reflection of me as a writer that there is. I realized I am goofy and whimsical, and a part of me will always be stuck at age 14.

I still love writing serious epic fantasy, and I will return to it soon (Fairmist needs a sequel), but I’ve got a lot of goofiness still left to get out. I’ll never stop writing books in The Wishing World, now that I’ve visited it.

Was there any special research you had to conduct for your story - and if so, anything that really surprised you?
I’m horrible at traditional research. I hate it. Some writers LOVE picking through books, searching online, reading articles on this that or the other. I run from it like the zombie plague. I much prefer human research. I like talking to people, adventuring out into the world and bringing back what I learn. When I get to a point in the story where I have to research something online, I groan and feel the pain of disconnecting from the voices in my head long enough to go find out what I need to know. Thankfully (and maybe this is one reason I enjoyed writing this book so much) The Wishing World itself required much more of that human-based research. I pulled most of it from my kids: they way they respond to things, the whimsy they find engaging. They came up with so much of the colorful elements in the book, thinking up Flimflam names, Robsombulous words. They’re little Veloran lexicons.

What is a lesson you hope young readers learn most from the Wishing World?
That you can be your own hero. It’s inside you, and it can come out. The Wishing World is a conduit to show children that they can be their ultimate selves. It can happen here in the real world, too. I’ve seen it happen. Veloran was designed to show this in an accelerated fashion, with magic thrown in to make it fun. But we get to be what we want to be in this life. Sometimes it takes an awful lot of work to get there, but we can do it.

About the Author

TODD FAHNESTOCK won the New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age Award for one of his short stories, and is the author of the YA bestseller Fairmist as well as The Wishing World.

Stories are his passion, but Todd's greatest accomplishment is his quirky, fun-loving family.

The Wishing World began as a series of bedtime stories for his children.

website - twitter - facebook - goodreads - amazon

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