Friday, July 27, 2012

Spotlight: The Turbatus Bones (Bone of Evil), Author Interview, and Giveaway

Author Jack Speight was kind enough to send this to me for a review. It looks really good and I'm so excited to read it! However, since I won't be able to start reading it right away, he and I thought it would be fun to post a spotlight and interview before the review appears on this blog. So check out the description for this book and then check back later to hear my personal thoughts on it. Also, there will be a comment-by-comment interview with Mr. Speight at the end of this post, so make sure to follow his responses and feel free to ask a question of your own. 

And the best part - there's a giveaway for a personalized copy of this book! Perhaps the winner and I can share our thoughts on the book :) Internationals welcome.

UPDATE: I can't believe I forgot to post the book excerpt from The Turbatus Bones (Bone of Evil)!! Sorry I failed and forgot to post this the first time around. Anyway, check out this awesome, action-packed excerpt from the Jack Speight's new book below the Goodreads Description.

Get set, Go!

Goodreads Description: 
There are four Turbatus Bones: HEALING, LIGHT, FORTUNE, and EVIL. Together, they give the power to travel through space and time. Apart, they can heal, reveal, destine, or doom anyone foolish enough to pick them up. And they are currently scattered across the fierce and fantastical realm of Tarkan.

When young orphan Jackson Walker discovers it is in his power to reunite the bones and find his parents, the quest begins. What Jackson doesn't anticipate is that the bones desperately want to be found by seemingly anyone except himself. When one of the bones falls into the hands of the cruelest man in all of Tarkan, the tyrant Mal, it will take all of Jackson's courage and cunning to retrieve it.

Luckily for Jackson, he is far from alone in his quest. His world is filled with quirky characters: Seven the oversized dog, Radio Flyer the undersized dragon, Jinda the distinctly disfigured herbalist, and the feisty and gorgeous serving-girl, Claire. All of whom are caught, with Jackson, in the perfect realm for fantasy - a world quaking with the turbulence of war, romance, and magic. Written as the first installment of the Turbatus Bones series, The Bone of Evil is ultimately as much about adventure as it is about finding a place in this world (or the next).

Here's an Excerpt from the book:
“Pull back! Pull back!”  He commanded.  He whistled the retreat signal. 

The men near the house either didn’t hear him or ignored him.
“Klest, Rinson, Trawl get back here now!” Rang yelled.  This time, Klest turned his head and looked up. Klest’s eyes went wide and a small breath escaped his lips.  The old man had driven the white stick right through Klest’s chest.  So quick had been the attack that Rang had barely seen the old man move. Before Rang could react, the stick had been removed from Klest’s chest.  As the soldier fell off his horse, the old man swung the stick and broke the front legs of Rinson’s horse.  The horse stumbled forward, putting Rinson in a vulnerable position. The old man swung again and severed Rinson’s head.  Trawl’s horse recognized the danger now and turned to run, but the old man was quick enough to level the white stick against the horse’s back legs. With a sickening thwack the legs were gone and the horse fell backward on its backside, pinning a screaming Trawl underneath. The old man jumped over and as quick as a lightning bolt he plunged the white stick into Trawl’s mouth, silencing him forever.
The old man looked up at Rang and smiled. He then leaped gazelle-like toward the back of the house.
Before Rang could warn the men out front, they had also broken rank and come running through the back door of the house.  Seventh Wold stormed out with sword raised and impaled himself on the white stick.  The old man pulled the stick out and Wold fell forward, so too did Eighth Fehyer and Sixth Farthin.
“My God,” whispered Rang.  The old man had impaled three men at the same time.  The old man then turned and began sprinting at him.  Rang’s head felt swampy again and his body hung limp.  He had never felt so helpless and terrified.  He watched as the old man approached and slowed down.  He was walking now, as he came up to Rang.  Commander Rang, winner of many battles for his homeland; a hero many times over, couldn’t even lift his hands in defense.  Then he saw something which didn’t make sense.  An arrow had pierced the old man’s stomach and then another in his chest.  The old man stopped and grabbed the arrow poking from his chest.  He looked up at Rang and rasped, “Thank you,” before a third arrow came through his right eye.  As the old man pitched forward and died, he dropped the stick.  Before the white weapon hit the ground, Rang’s head cleared and he came to his senses.  
Find this book on Goodreads - Amazon - BN - Smashwords

About the Author - Jack Speight lives on an island of the coast of Maine with his beautifully clumsy wife, two unexpectedly carefree daughters, an old arthritic dog, and an intermittently leaky roof. 

Now, welcome to the stage Mr. Jack Speight! This interview will take place in the comment section so please return to hear Speight's response to my questions. Also, feel free to ask one of your own. Let's keep this interesting :)

Here ya go Jack Speight, my first question: The Turbatus Bones is a pretty unique title. Where exactly did this originate; What inspired the Turbatus Bones?

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  1. Thanks for having me, Zooey, and thank you for setting up this interview and the giveaway. Honestly, the title would not have been possible without Google Translate. I was struggling to find a word that was unique, easy to pronounce, and would give a clue as to the nature of The Bones. I tried several different languages and found "Turbatus". It’s Latin for jumpy or restless. To me, "The Turbatus Bones" sounded better for a fantasy novel than “The Jumpy Bones”. What do you think?

    To answer the second part of your question: What inspired the story? Oddly, it was cell phone users and their illogic toward their payment plans that gave me an idea which became the basis for the story.

    1. Wow, That's so cool. I had no idea Turbatus was an actual word. I agree though; "The Turbatus Bones" sounds like a much better title than "The Jumpy Bones".

      I'm curious how illogical cell phone payments led to "The Turbatus Bones"? What other kinds of inspiration (or lack of) did you have while writing this book? For example, are the characters inspired from people you know, or the setting perhaps?

  2. I don’t think cell phone companies use this advertising tactic as much anymore, but several years ago they would advertise free evening minutes, or free weekend minutes, or free family minutes, etc. I would often have the following conversation with people I knew who had cell phones.

    Me: Can you call me this weekend?
    Cell User: No problem. I have free weekend minutes.
    Me: It’s free?
    Cell User: Yep. No charge to call on the weekends.
    Me: You have no cell phone bill each month?
    Cell User: Of course, I have a bill. It’s about $100 per month.
    Me: So, it’s not free.
    Cell User: My weekends are free. The $100 bucks is for all the other times I call.

    I had this same conversation over and over. Two things struck me. First, how incredibly successful these ad campaigns were at convincing people they were getting something for free even though they were still paying $100 per month. That’s power. And two, how nothing is free. Every action we take results in a cost, whether that price is physical, psychological, or fiducial. And then, because my brain tends to think laterally, I realized I’d never seen or read a story in which the characters could travel from one world to another or travel through time in which those people had to pay a price to travel. From Jules Verne to Star Trek to Time Bandits to The 12 Monkeys the characters doing the "traveling" seemed to get off pretty light. Every time I travel it costs me something: time, money, exhaustion, etc. And, I'm only going from Boston to Florida, say.

    I thought it was an interesting idea. So, how much would someone pay to travel from one world to another? Then, I hit upon a price so distinctly original and disturbing that I began to daydream about it. And in those daydreams a set of characters were born and a story developed.

    To answer your second question, I didn’t create the characters with anyone in mind. And not until a few years later, reading it for the 100th time did I realize that some of the characters were very similar to people close to me. For example, an old, cranky woman in the book named Jinda Maige is very much like my deceased father. It happened organically, as did much of the book. There are several themes running throughout the story that I did not intend and only much later realized they were there.

    1. I LOVE the thought process on how you developed the plot for The Turbatus Bones from cell phone payments. It makes me even more excited to read your book! It's amazing how one simple thought can lead to an entire story.

      Also, I've tried thinking of a book in which it costs to travel, and I can't think of one. Not really. This sounds like a great foundation for a book, and I am SO curious to find out what happens.

      It sounds like your story is quite inventive, but you still pull inspiration from the things around you. I think, in writing, it's impossible not to let powerful people or events from you life affect your writing.
      What were some of the sweetest and most challenging moments you experienced in the writing process?

    2. I agree. It’s impossible to write and not include yourself and your surroundings into the story. A lot of authors do this on purpose, for me; however, it happens subconsciously. Only after several readings do I see the connections.

      A story is created by putting characters into a sitiuation which they have to resolve. Their actions create another situation, which forces them into another, et cetera, until a final resolution. To me, the most challenging part of the writing process is keeping the characters actions consistent from one situation to the next based on their personalities and their personal history, either of which may not be revealed to the reader for several chapters or even several books – if it’s a series, like this one.

      The joy of writing comes in three ways. Every once in a while I’ll write a great sentence or paragraph. And, I’ll know it instantly. For example, I always liked this sentence from the Bone of Evil: "Rang consciously slowed his breathing and took a few moments to adjust his mind from the nightmare to the night air." (Let me just interject here and say, because I know you haven’t read the book yet, that my prose is simple and not congested with metaphor and detail. I find much writing a bit too clever and heavy. My goal is to provide enough detail to spark the imagination but not so much as to drown it.) The second joy comes after several readings and I’ve found that I’ve created a very good chapter (I wish I could say they were all equally good, but that would be a lie): tight, dramatic, and moves the story along at a brisk pace. And the final joy comes after someone has read the first book and wants desperately to know when the next one will be available.

    3. You have obviously put a lot of thought and hard work into writing this novel, and you have shared with us a bit of your personal writing style. I like the fact that you use simple prose. As a reader, I certainly don't like to be drowned in heavy detail, especially when it slows the story down.

      So, I'm guessing, as a writer, you've done a lot of reading. Am I right? Do you have a favorite book? Is there a book or author that has inspired the way you write your own novels?

    4. I had a feeling this question was coming and I still don't have a precise answer. I do read a fairly eclectic range. For example, my last five books were Elegence of the Hedgehog, John Adams, an old Elmore Leonard novel, Game of Thrones (Book 1), and Shantaram (about an expat Aussie living in India). When I was young I read everything by Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Pynchon, Tom Robbins, Joseph Heller, and John Irving. I was attracted to stories with a biting wit that tackled political and social issues. I wish I could say my writing resembles theirs. I don't think it does. In this genre (YA Fantasy) my two favorites are probably "The Princess Bride" and "The Bartimaeus Trilogy". In general fiction, I loved "Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime". Another favorite that no one has ever heard of is "Doctor Dogbody's Leg" by James Hall, the co-author of Mutiny on the Bounty. It's a comedy about a ships surgeon with one leg. Each chapter has him telling the patrons of a tavern a different story of how he lost his leg. Very funny! If I had to choose an author I wish I could emulate, I think I would choose Vonnegut.

    5. What a great reading list! The books that I recognized I loved, and the ones I don't recognize, I definitely want to read. I think Vonnegut is a literary master. I love his writing!

      So, does this mean The Turbatus Bones will tackle any political or social issues?

      My next question (the one above doesn't count) is less about your book and a little more about you. When you're not writing or reading, what do you do to occupy your time? Outside of writing, where do you focus your energy and your voice?

    6. It turns out, much to my surprise, that the novel does shed light on a few political/social issues. Maybe in your review you can discuss them more?

      I lead an unusual life. For seven months I work 18 hour days (I'm answering your questions in the short in-between rests)seven days a week with no days off. Then, I get five months off of completely free time. So, in those seven months I only work. I do get some time to read and think about my next book, but I do no writing. In the five months off, I write, I paint, I read, I travel, and I rest (getting ready for the next seven months). I like to fly fish and spend time with my family, neither of which I do enough. I watch more television than I should, but, in my defense, there are some great shows on: Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Girls, and Louis.

    7. I will certainly address theme and political/social issues in my review of your book. I just love discussing those sorts of things.

      It seems you are quite busy. And for that, I will ask just one more question and then you are free to rest from my pestering :)

      It's an easy one, perhaps a cliche question, but one of my favorites nonetheless: would you leave us with a favorite quote of yours? Or just something inspiring? (I really love a good quote)

    8. Thanks for having me, Zooey. I wish you and your blog continued success. And, I hope you and your readers enjoy the book. My favorite quote is known by most, but realized by few:

      "Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, then it's not the end."

    9. Thank you for everything! I have had so much fun learning a little about your book, and I can't wait to read it! You've been a great guest here. Thanks for all really great answers, and that quote - perfect.

  3. If I hadn't read your blog I would never have seen this book. It looks like it would be a really cute and fun read.

    1. Thanks Jackie! I'm getting more and more pumped to read this book myself. I'm so happy you stopped by to check it out. I believe this is a great find, and I'm glad to share it :)

  4. Jack, I've read the first chapter and I really enjoyed it! (I snuck a peak at it while I was at Zooey's house) The pacing was great, as you said the straightforward language sets just the right foundation for the reader's imagination. Kind of reminds me of the concept of slow-motion in films. Sometimes having a lot of detail can make a certain segment stand out, otherwise if there's too much I feel like I'm reading a story stuck in slo-mo, so kudos on your discretion!

    Now to my question: At what point did you decide to expand the story into a series rather than splitting a single volume into sections?

    Also, I agree with your take on cell phone plan marketing. People only hear what they want to hear, leading to them paying for "free" services. Isn't it amazing?

    1. Before I answer the question, I just want to say that if Cujo Bass is your real name, it might be the best name I've ever heard. Kudos to your parents!

      When did I decide to turn it into a series? I don't know exactly, but I do know it happened long before I put pen to paper. When I created the instrument of travel (the four bones), I knew the series could be endless. Because each time the bones were collected, the characters could "jump" to a new world putting them into a new environment, creating new challenges. As characters come and go from the "jumping" group (and there are very good reasons to decide not to jump), the group dynamics change. So, each time (each book) offers changes on multiple levels. The relationships between the main characters to the environment, to each other, and to the bones.


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