Archive for July, 2010

Clarion Write-a-Thon: Seeing Old Friends

Posted in Clarion, Powerless, Writing, YA Books on July 13, 2010 by Matt

Clarion Write-a-Thon: Overcome your Inertia

We’re deep into the Write-a-Thon now, and thanks again to those who’ve donated!  Of course, I am also deep into work on the new POWERLESS book.  Being a part of this writing pledge drive has made me very nostalgic for those Clarion weeks – right now this year’s writers should be getting into the groove, adjusting to the fast-paced workload, getting to know their peers and teachers, and, hopefully. spending every free minute near the ocean.  I envy them!

Working on the new POWERLESS book is like seeing old friends again.  But here’s the question – how much have those friends grown up?  Or more accurately, how much should I let them grow up?

I’m a fan of big story arcs. I love series precisely because I enjoy seeing the characters change and grow over the course of a long journey.  But not too much.

That’s the key, I think, and that’s the question that I’m currently wrestling with on the new book.  How much do I let them grow up? Time has passed between book one and two, and Daniel and his friends are getting older, but the story of POWERLESS – the big story spanning more than one book – is about kids.  I have nothing against teens, or teen-angsty girls or boys or even vampires, but POWERLESS is not about any of that.

The goal here is to let Daniel and the other characters live and learn, to get older, without losing that sweet spot just on the cusp of childhood and adolescence.  I loathe the word tween, but the general idea is right.  Not to be too precious about it, but it’s like the autumn of childhood – the leaves are turning, but there are still a few sunny, warm days left to play in.

Now, off to choose which character should fall in love with the new vampire hot boy.


Vote POWERLESS 2011! I Heart New Hampshire!

Posted in Plugs, Powerless, YA Books on July 7, 2010 by Matt

I’m taking a few minutes away from the Clarion Write-a-Thon to thank the good folks at CHILIS (that’s the Children’s Librarians of New Hampshire for those of you in-the-know) for nominating POWERLESS for the 2010-2011 New Hampshire Great Stone Face Award!

This award will be voted on by a fourth through sixth graders throughout the state (fitting, for the state with the first Primary of the election season, eh?  Ah, democracy! Love it!).  The voting will take place next April during National Library Week, so that’s a long time for New Hampshire kids to get their hands on a copy of POWERLESS and give it their democratic stamp of approval.  If you know any fourth through sixth graders in the Granite State, feel free to send them a box of chocolates with my name on it.  Or maybe we can start a yard-sign campaign?  POWERLESS 2011!  I could do a bus tour and discuss children’s issues over pancake breakfasts.  Now we just need a rugged, independent-sounding motto . . .

Thank you so much to the GSF Committee for nominating my little-book-that-could for this very cool award!

Clarion Write-a-Thon Week One: Back to the Tights and Capes! (well, jeans and sneakers really)

Posted in Clarion, Comics, Powerless, The Dead Gentleman, Writing, YA Books on July 5, 2010 by Matt

The first week of the Clarion Write-a-Thon is over and thanks to those of you who’ve kindly donated!  (For those of you who haven’t, there are five weeks to go!  But this is the best week to pledge. Seriously)

It’s been a cool, exciting and slightly bewildering experience returning to Noble’s Green for this sequel.  For starters, I wrote the first draft of POWERLESS over five years ago, and for the last year and a half my mind has firmly been in the grip of THE DEAD GENTLEMAN.  In fact, I’m still working on edits for the Gentleman while starting the new POWERLESS book.  It’s a massive shifting of steam-powered gears to go from Jules Verne adventure to flying kids, but I’m not complaining.  Just having to privilege of typing that previous sentence is worth all the headaches!

So what can I tell you about the new POWERLESS story?  Well, I have a real thing about spoilers, so don’t expect any here.  But I will say that I am really looking forward to seeing how the Supers of Noble’s Green deal with the greatest, most diabolically nefarious enemy of all – growing up.

Thirteen.  That magical number has come and gone for several members of our little group and life is suddenly a lot more complicated.  The Rules are gone.  The Shroud is gone.  But those powers just keep getting stronger and stronger.

Of course, the center of the new book is once again, Daniel.  If anything, our hero seems even more powerless compared to his friends as he watches them display an ever increasing array of super-abilities.

And who is that stranger who just arrived in town, and what interest does he have in Daniel and his friends?

Okay!  That’s all!  Just a few plot teases.  After all, I’ve just started the book and it could all change in the end.  Maybe I’ll end up with Daniel and the Great Pie-Eating Contest!

Next week, I’ll be going out to the Adams County Library in Gettysburg to talk to a group of very astute readerly-type kids about POWERLESS and I plan on using them as a little informal focus group. I’ll be asking them what kind of things they like to see in a sequel. I’ll report back here, but in the meantime, do you have any thoughts?  What are some of your favorites?