Tommy Black and the Staff of Light by Jake Kerr
Age Range: 10 and up
Series: Tommy Black
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Currents & Tangents Press; 1 edition (November 4, 2014)
Genre: Fantasy/historical fiction
For fourteen-year-old Tommy Black, nothing is worse than being raised by an overprotective grandfather in the city that never sleeps. That is until his grandfather is captured by magical creatures and Tommy has to save him with his family’s magical staff.
That wouldn’t be so bad, but the only magic he can do with the staff is weak–making light. What the heck can you do with light?
Tommy finds out as he fights golems, shadow creatures, and djinn in a journey that features a magical river, an enchanted train, and an illusionary fortress. But the worst part of all? Tommy has to save his grandfather with the help of Naomi, a girl whose talent with magic is only rivaled by her ability to hurl insults.
In this novel full of action and adventure, Tommy Black continues the tradition of young heroes finding their place in a formerly unknown magical world. Like Harry Potter, Tommy has a magical legacy thrust upon him from out of nowhere. He must not only understand this responsibility but the forces that are suddenly arrayed against him. Like Percy Jackson, mythology is plays a central role. And like both heroes, one of Tommy’s best friends is a strong independent girl, who is a valuable ally while being headstrong and often difficult.
From Nebula, Sturgeon, and Million Writers Award nominee Jake Kerr comes the Tommy Black trilogy, an action adventure series for boys, girls, and readers of all ages.
Interview with the Author:
1. If you could only read 3 books for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Wow. What a difficult question. I have to balance my love for the book with the idea that I could read only that book and three others. With that in mind, I would say:
The Earthsea series by Ursula K. Le Guin. The richness of Le Guin’s imagination combined with the wonderful characters and their stories just never gets old for me. The books just always seem to reveal something new and wonderful every time you read them.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. As a young boy I wasn’t quite sure how to deal with all the characters in Great Expectations. It is a novel that has twists and turns and, in the end, you find yourself cheering for the most unexpected people. Of course the surprises won’t exist on re-reading, but the delight in watching them unfold never gets old.
The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. This series just oozes imagination, from the concept of acidic thread falling from the skies to the concept of telepathic connection to dragons. The large scope of the characters and the fairly rigid social structure of the dragon riders makes of another series of books that lends itself to numerous readings.
2. What inspired you to write the Tommy Black series?
One of the most important influences of mine is the amazing imaginative works by Edgar Rice Burroughs. He was unapologetically a writer of action/adventure stories. They were meant to entertain readers, pure and simple. I’ve always found that simplicity in approach powerful and very under appreciated. It is not easy to keep readers glued to the page, completely lost in the world they are reading. I badly wanted to create a similar vibe only with a bit of a more complex set of characters and themes. What a challenge to set yourself—to create a book that just sprints from page to page with adventure and yet has a contemporary appreciation for deeper ideas. I don’t know if I did it, but that was my inspiration.
3. Why did you choose to set the series in the 1930s instead of another time period?
One of the very first things that struck me as I put together the world where Tommy lived was this concept that magic would be dismissed as nothing more than a party trick, and as I considered that I realized that technology could do that all by itself. If magic is hard to master, and a master magician can hurl an explosive fireball. That’s powerful right? Well, not when someone with absolutely no training can shoot a machine gun with similar effect. So I needed to create a world where technology and science was making magic a waste of time. The period right before world war two worked well not just for that but for also the various other things I have planned for book two and book three.
4. What kind of research did you have to do for Tommy Black and the Staff of Light?
One of the fun things I hope kids have from reading my book is discovering all of the historical Easter eggs I put in the book. I did a ton of research on what was happening around the time of Tommy’s life and the Persian mythology I use. I will provide one example: Tommy talks about how his mother and father died during a Subway accident when he was little. If you do a little bit of looking you’ll find news about a real subway accident that occurred at the time of when Tommy would have been little. Even funny things that just sound unrealistic can surprise the reader. Lord Gort is an actual person in English history, and he pretty much had the same role in life as he has in the novel. So, yes, there was a lot of research put into the book.
5. If you could visit any place or time, where or when would you go?
There are so many interesting places and times that this is difficult to answer! But if I had to pick one it would be revolutionary era America. The heart of the American Enlightenment, the challenge of so many competing political forces, and the home of so many great people—I almost can’t fathom what it was like.
6. Is there anything about writing you find particularly challenging?
I share this with so many colleagues: The most difficult and challenging part is just sitting down and getting those first words on the page. The blank page is just intimidating. Every single time. Once you start writing things tend to go well, but for some reason that first word is just so so difficult.
7. If you had any superpower, what would it be?
Teleportation. I waste so much time in a car every day that would be better spent doing just about anything else.
About Jake Kerr:
After fifteen years as a music industry journalist Jake Kerr’s first published story, “The Old Equations,” was nominated for the Nebula Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America and was shortlisted for the Theodore Sturgeon and StorySouth Million Writers awards. His stories have subsequently been published in magazines across the world, broadcast in multiple podcasts, and been published in multiple anthologies and year’s best collections.
A graduate of Kenyon College, Kerr studied fiction under Ursula K. Le Guin and Peruvian playwright Alonso Alegria. He lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife and three daughters.
Win an autographed paperback copy of the book (international is ebook only)
Open internationally (paperback for US, ebook for international)
Ends Dec 15, 2014
Use the rafflecopter to enter. All entrants must be 13 or older or have their parent/guardian enter for them. Winner is chosen randomly. Winner must respond to my email within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen. Good luck!