Hello everyone, Myra here.
I am very pleased to welcome Erik Weibel of This Kid Reviews Books back once more here in GatheringBooks as our featured Junior Storyteller/ Guest Blogger.
11 year old Erik has just recently published his very own book entitled The Adventures of Tomato and Pea, Book 1: A Bad Idea. I am very happy to receive a copy of Erik’s first book, which I enjoyed greatly. It’s also a relatively quick read with characters who would definitely grow on the reader. The humor is not contrived but flowed seamlessly, with a decidedly pre-adolescent feel to it that is so refreshing.
At eleven, I am sure that we would be seeing more of Erik’s works in the future. In fact, I would be excited to read about contemporary ‘Earthling’ kid characters from Erik. And it does seem like we might get a little bit of that in Book 2, if my hunch is correct. I was not surprised to find out that he has his own book, as writing seems to be the twin soul of being an avid reader. You simply can not help but pen down your own narratives after reading tons and tons of books, like what Erik does voraciously and with so much enthusiasm and energy.
Here is my Q and A with Erik about his book. A few spoilers here, so make sure that you buy a copy of Erik’s book!
Do tell our readers more about the Smidges and their planet Oarg. What makes them different/special from other aliens that we’ve read about before?
Smidges come from Oarg, a planet about the same size as Earth (or EAR-th J ) but Smidges are only 3-5 inches tall. The Smidges have two languages – Basic Communicator Language, which is surprisingly just like English J , and Oargan (pronounced like the musical instrument, pipe ORGAN). They live in the Imajine Galaxy. The Galaxy is very technology advanced, and they can travel through space at rapid speeds. Smidges come in all shapes and colors. Some are round and blobby, some straight, some have horns, some only one eye, etc. Smidges are usually good natured and aren’t looking to invade other planets.
What I think makes the Smidges unique is that they don’t mean to land on Earth, and that they really just want to get back home and not cause any trouble (well, at least most of them don’t want to cause trouble). :)
In Book 1 of The adventures of Tomato and Pea, you made mention of the giant Wardoes and how the fearless Tomato (who was a Rookie then) saved their planet in the Introduction, would you talk about this further in your succeeding books?
I introduced the giant Wardoes and the war against them in this book because I wanted the reader to know how great a hero Tomato is before getting into the story I am telling in Book 1. I am planning on writing a prequel about the war against the Wardoes and telling the whole story!
There are quite a number of characters in this story: Skew and Poppy, Lefty, Spike and Pye – are their character profiles based on people you know?
I did use some traits I think are like me in some of the characters. For example, I am full of random facts (that usually come at the wrong time) like Poppy Lobster. I made Tomato into the hero I would like to be; brave, athletic, and awesome. I am good with computers and figuring out how electronic stuff works so that’s where I got the idea that Pea is good with electronics. Skew loves to cook because I love to cook. I also want to take over the world just like Wintergreen. MWAH HA HA HA HAAAAAaaa!!!
What made you decide to write about aliens? What was the inspiration behind the story?
I was nine when my Uncle Dave (Dave Costella) made two stuffed toys and told me they were named Tomato and Pea (I think he named them after the color of the fabric he made them out of). Dave gave me the toys and asked me if I could write a story about them. Dave told me he didn’t care what the story was about, to just use my imagination. I took one look at the toys and decided they were aliens that live on planet Oarg.
My original story was about 500 words long. When I showed it to Dave, he made up some more characters that I could write about.
I kept adding to the story because it was so fun to write about. I added more and more to the plot and tried to give more personality to the characters. I love writing twists into plots and I decided that the twist in this book is that all the Smidges end up on EAR-th. Once I came up with that, it opened a whole new section I could write about.
In school (in fourth grade) I had a project where I had to make a product and develop a business and do a presentation on it. I decided my product would be my book and I wrote more to the story to make it a great product that someone would want to buy. I made the story into a 5000 word book.
I won a critique of my MS on Julie Hedlund’s blog and I sent her the first 10 pages of it. I used Ms. Hedlund’s comments to help me improve my book and really develop the characters. Author Michelle Isenhoff helped me edit the book. She gave me all sorts of advice about proper grammar, character development and she really cheered me on for two years to write my story down. I really appreciate all the help she gave me.
I entered the pitch for my book in Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Would You Read It Wednesday” and my pitch won! I was able to have the pitch critiqued by an actual editor – Erin Molta! Between Ms. Molta’s, Ms. Hill’s and the commenters on Ms. Hill’s blog, I had a ton of great advice on how to make the book better!
Finally, I had a 9000-word early chapter book that I feel really good about.
Tell us more about the upcoming books in the series – how many titles exactly are you planning on doing? Any thoughts about having the stories illustrated?
In The Adventures of Tomato and Pea, I plan to make a trilogy and a prequel. I am currently working on Book 2, and I have an interesting idea to jazz up the series by having the good-guys get the help of a human kid. I would LOVE to have the books illustrated, but I can’t draw. I did try to get the book traditionally published in hopes of getting an illustrator, but I don’t think publishers take an 11-year old seriously (I couldn’t even get a rejection letter ;) ).
As you know, Erik, our current bimonthly theme is Monsters, Beasts, and Chimeras: Spooks and Spectres. As it would be Halloween in a few days, do share with us your favourite scary stories and horror writers.
Poe is one of my favorite horror writers (and I don’t like many, you might learn :) ). My all time favorite Halloween-type monster book is called A Big Spooky House By Donna Washington. It is a picture book and it was the first “scary” book I could bring myself to read (I get creeped out very easily).
Patrick Carman has a good scary series for older kids – Skeleton Creek. What is cool about it is that there are videos that go along with the book. When you read it you get the codes, go online and watch videos that add more to the story. David Eveleigh has a great comic-book heroine called All Hallows Eve. They aren’t scary stories but they have a Halloween theme to them because of the heroine. I’m really not a huge fan of scary stories, so I don’t read a lot of them.
How about favourite monsters in books that you’ve read?
I really enjoyed Stheno and Euryale (Medusa’s sisters) in The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan. They were funny AND creepy. A favorite line from the story is when Stheno and Euryale are trying to kill Percy Jackson and Stheno has been offering Percy wieners in a blanket, and, well, just read this – ‘You dimwit!’ Euryale screeched. ‘You’re not supposed to tell him that! He won’t eat the wieners if you tell him they’re poisoned!’
I also thought the 3-headed adder in Triss (from the Redwall series by Brian Jacques) was VERY creepy. It was actually 3 separate adders that got chained together and the chains became so tight that it became part of them. **shiver** They learned to move and hunt together and when you know it’s there, it’s too late for you!
My favorite classic monster is Frankenstein’s Monster because he wasn’t really a monster, just misunderstood.
Thank you so much, Erik, for being a part of the GatheringBooks family this month. We look forward to reading more books from you!
You are positively awesome.
Read-a-Latte Challenge Update: 218 (150)