Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Author Interview - Geoff Rodkey

Deadweather and Sunrise: The Chronicles of Egg by Geoff Rodkey

Today I’m happy to present an interview with Geoff Rodkey, author of The Chronicles of Egg books.  

*Spoilers are highlighted like so :)

Bibliognome: What are you writing currently or percolating in your mind to write soon?

Geoff Rodkey: I just finished the first draft of BLUE SEA BURNING, the last book in the Chronicles of Egg trilogy. I'll probably be rewriting that, off and on, for another six months.

And I'm about to turn in a draft of a TV movie for the Disney Channel called THE GOBLIN. It's a script I originally wrote in 2008 as a feature film…then rewrote with a director in 2010…then rewrote again when Disney optioned it last year. Hopefully, it'll get made this time. Otherwise, it'll go back in the drawer with my twenty other unproduced screenplays.

I also have an idea for a new middle grade series that I'll hopefully start writing in the next few months. It's not quite as ambitious story-wise as the Egg books -- it's more straight comedy than comedy-adventure-mystery-romance -- but I think it'll be a lot of fun if I can get the tone right.

Bibliognome: What word is your favorite to say or write?

Geoff Rodkey: "Finished!"

As in, "I finally finished that thing I've been writing!"

Also: adverbs. I abuse a lot of adverbs, especially the foot-on-the-accelerator ones like "thoroughly," "utterly," and "entirely." This has weighed heavily on me ever since I read Stephen King's line about the road to hell being paved with adverbs.

Bibliognome: Was it easier to write a screenplay or a book?

Geoff Rodkey: It's much easier to write a screenplay. They're not only structurally specific (three acts, all of a prescribed length), but they're only 110 pages, a lot of which is white space.

I read an interview with John Irving around the time he won an Oscar for adapting his own book, THE CIDER HOUSE RULES, into a film, in which he said, "Screenwriting isn't writing. It's outlining."

I didn't fully appreciate what he meant until I wrote a book and realized it requires thousands of decisions, both big and small, that in a script are left to the people who go out and make the movie. It's the difference between drawing up a blueprint for a house and actually building the house.

Although it's not necessarily easier to write a GOOD screenplay. Those are every bit as hard, and can be even more time-consuming, than a book.

Especially if there's a chance the script might become a movie. At that point, it gets MUCH harder than writing a book -- because you have to satisfy the demands of the producers, studio executives, director, and actors, not all of whom will share the same vision for the movie. (This is why, even when it's your script, they almost always fire you at some point.)

Bibliognome: What's the best part of the writing process for you?

Geoff Rodkey: The occasional moments when you write something, and you realize it's really good, and you get a little smile on your face because you're the only person on earth who's read it, but you know other people will eventually, and they're going to love it.

The worst part is when you get that feeling and it turns out you were delusional.

Bibliognome: If you had a gnome character, what would you name them?  

Geoff Rodkey: Fuzzy McKittrick.

Bibliognome: Which character that you've written about has been your favorite?

Geoff Rodkey: In the Egg books, it's a toss-up between Millicent (the sharp-tongued, occasionally overconfident daughter of the villain, and the girl with whom Egg falls desperately in love) and the pirate captain Burn Healy.

Millicent's the girl I would have fallen in love with at thirteen. Which is not to say she's perfect -- in fact, she can be a real pain in the neck. But so are most teenagers. And while she's bratty sometimes, she's got a strong moral compass, and she's capable of real grace under pressure.

Interestingly, she's a bit of a Rorschach test for female readers -- four-fifths of them are like, "She's awesome!" and the rest are an equally emphatic, "Ugh! I can't stand her."

Burn Healy isn't around much in DEADWEATHER AND SUNRISE, but as the trilogy goes on, he becomes an increasingly major character. He starts out as a slightly remote, unknowable tough guy -- the kind of man who can terrify you with an offhand glance -- and a lot of the fun of the story comes in discovering there's a three-dimensional person behind the legend, with his own particular quirks, flaws, and soft spots.

Bibliognome: What is your favorite pirate term or phrase?

Geoff Rodkey: "Kedging," which is a means of moving a ship that's been immobilized, usually by lack of wind. You take an anchor out in a rowboat a couple hundred yards ahead of the ship, drop the anchor, and then haul in the anchor cable -- so you're basically pulling the ship forward by the cable.

I came across it in a book about naval battles during the War of 1812. It comes in handy at a critical point in BLUE SEA BURNING, and it's the kind of thing that proves the value of research. I'm not smart enough to make up something that clever.

Bibliognome: Anything else that you would like to let people know?

Geoff Rodkey: If you think you're too old to read DEADWEATHER AND SUNRISE because it's billed as middle grade, or you won't like it because it's a "boy" book and you're not a boy…you're wrong!

Some of the most rabid feedback I've gotten has been from older teenage girls, and even older moms who bought the book for their kids but wound up reading it themselves. I think the central romance and Millicent's character have a lot to do with that, but it's just a fun all-around story.

And if you just read that paragraph and you're thinking, "wait -- I'm a middle grade boy. Am I actually going to hate this book?" No. You won't. It's for you, too.

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