Sunday, August 14, 2011
Like it says, something new on my Amazon.com page, An Island Otherwise Invisible. This one is a collection of short fiction and prose poems.
On An Island Otherwise Invisible
On An Island Otherwise Invisible
Friday, August 12, 2011
Monday, August 08, 2011
As you know, I'm a writer. And, as you also know, several of my friends are writers. And, finally, it'll come as no great shock to you that I do my level best to promote them. It's the code of the west…
Anyway, one of the writers I'm pushing at the moment is Brian Eames. He's got a new young adult reader out, The Dagger Quick, a fabulous throwback to old time adventure stories about quick witted lads doing battle with pirates in the days of wooden ships and iron men. (For more details on the book go here: http://thedaggerquick.com/ or here: http://www.amazon.com/Dagger-Quick-Paula-Wiseman-Books/dp/1442423110/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1312819569&sr=8-1)
I interviewed Brian a while back, mostly in dribs and drabs via email (though there was a Skype session involved, somewhere along the line. Ah, the joys of virtual living). He's an intriguing fellow and I thought I might share a bit of his story.
And, besides, I think his book is kind of important. I'll explain why in a minute. But, right now, let's stick with Brian himself.
"I was born in Greenwich" he says, "No, not England. Connecticut." He grew up in Rome, NY, Virginia Beach, VA, and Atlanta, GA. From there he went to Cornell for an undergraduate degree, and to Emory for a Masters of Arts in Teaching. Somewhere along the line he had time to start a family. "I married my high school sweetheart," he says, "and now teach at the school where we met." Which, you must confess, is rather sweet. And, finally, he has three sons.
I asked him why he'd decided to do young adult readers. His answer was interesting in that it says much (none of it good) about how we do or don't teach reading in this country. He teaches fifth and sixth grade, and as a teacher, he often found it extremely difficult to get some students (what he calls "reluctant readers") to crack a book, much less study it from end to end. (Hint: for those with a literary turn of mind, you've just had a bit o' foreshadowing.)
So, he set out to produce a book or books that would actually drag that reluctant reader away from the video game. And how to do that? Why, send in the pirates, of course.
I'm not going to say much about Dagger Quick. I'm willing to spoil a hell of a lot of things, but not books. However, I don't suppose I'll give away any secrets if I say that the story is that of Master Christopher ("Kitto") Quick, the twelve-year-old son of a British cooper in c. 1678. He's got a clubfoot, few friends, a dull-as-dishwater life, and no prospect of anything getting better.
Except, natch', that's when the you-know-what hits the proverbial fan. And splatters. Big time. He finds out his father used to be a pirate, that his uncle still is, and that he's got some sort of weird family connection to the lost treasure of Captain Morgan. Not the cheery guy in the booze commercials. The real one. Who had the habit of looting and burning and killing. A lot.
Then things go from bad to just perfectly horrible. Kitto's father is murdered, his stepmother and brother are kidnapped, and he has exactly zero options except to join up with his uncle and go off in an attempt to avenge Dad and rescue the rest of the family.
Which is all I'm going to tell you. Well, that, and the fact that Brian tells me there's more Kitto adventure coming in future tomes.
Okay, so that's who Brian Eames is. Now, why am I making a big deal about it? Other than trying to push a fellow writer's Amazon numbers up a few points?
Because I think Dagger Quick is important.
Here's why: you remember I said that it was written for "reluctant readers"? Well, who is that person? It is, usually, a boy…though sometimes a girl…who is having trouble in school. He, or she, may be (probably is) really bright, but he doesn't DO school real well. He has trouble sitting still for long periods of time and taking orders without question.His form of intelligence (and there are many kinds) has very little to do with taking tests and regurgitating facts on command.
As a result, he, or she, has had poor grades for most of the time he's been in school. Which means, in turn, that he has been frequently told more or less openly that he's stupid. He has learned to hate and fear the classroom and regard educators as the enemy.
As for reading…
Well, let's say you're that boy. You're frustrated. You're bored. You want to be anywhere but in that dim little room where you can't run, you can't play, and you can't even talk out loud…
And then, someone hands you a book. It is a book on something catchy like Growing Toe Nail Fungus To Save The Environment, Empower Girls, Attract Sexy Vampires, Balance the Budget, and Oh-By-The-Way, 9-11 Was All Our Fault.
Are you going to finish reading that book?
Didn't think so.
My point is that books like Dagger Quick are good in that they can be a lifeline to "reluctant readers." They can provide that taste of adventure, daring, and heroism that such students crave…and don't get from all too much assigned reading.
So, three cheers for pirates…and boy wizards…and girl detectives (long live Nancy Drew) …and all the rest of the daring, dashing, juvenile breed.
They may just save literacy yet.