Did you order a copy of Michael Carroll's Quantum Prophecy: The Reckoning yet? It's coming out on May 14th, and I have students who can't wait to read the third book in this series. Mr. Carroll has taken time from his busy writing career, as well as his "important research into finding a cure for Free-Form Jazz" to do an interview!
Ms. Yingling: Were you a big reader as a teen? What books did you like?
Mr. Carroll: I was a *voracious* reader as a teen: generally ploughing through four or five books a week. For a long time I read only science fiction, but that changed when I realised I'd read absolutely every science fiction book ever written, so I had to move on to other genres. I started with horror, then fantasy, then crime... These days I read any kind of book, though not nearly as frequently because I just don't have the time. In 1979 or thereabouts I discovered the works of Harry Harrison, and loved them so much I resolved to become a writer. Thirty years later Harry is still my favourite author - and he's become a great friend,too (I even run his website for him: http://www.harryharrison.com/).
Ms. Yingling: You write action scenes so convincingly. Do you run around and blowthings up a lot?
Mr. Carroll: Um... "No" would be the safe answer here! Luckily, it's also the true answer. I'm glad you enjoy the action scenes: they're hard to write so, by my reckoning, they should be easy to read. When I'm plotting a book I tend to work out the action scenes in very great detail, andsometimes I even create the location in CGI on the computer so I can plan out each move (but most of the time I don't because that's taking it too far!). I believe the key to good action scenes is to keep everything moving.Not just the action itself, but the plot: the action scenes should be more than just a couple of characters hitting each other, or more than one person chasing another... They should advance the plot. If one can remove an action scene from a story and the story still works, then it was a bad action scene (for an example: see the "Droid Factory" scene in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones - it's totally unnecessary and was clearly only added so that they could make a game out of it).
Ms. Yingling: How many books do you think will be in the Quantum Prophecy series?
Mr. Carroll: That's a good question, though a little difficult to answer... I originally planned four novels, but my publisher in the UK wanted only three: apparently trilogies sell better than quartets (note how Idon't use that horrible fake word "quadrilogy"!). So I squashed the plot to fit three books, but as the overall plot evolved it began to expand all by itself... Right now, there are three novels plus the short-story collection.Off the record, there's a fourth novel scheduled for publication inthe USA in mid 2010. I say "off the record" because the deal is 99%done: when we nail down that last 1% I'll be making the news official. But this fourth book isn't a sequel to The Reckoning: My publishers,Penguin, asked me for a stand-alone superhero novel unconnected withthe Quantum Prophecy series, because it's easier to sell a stand-alonenovel than it is to sell the fourth part of a series. I didn't want todo that, so we came to a happy compromise: the new book is set 23 years before the main events of The Awakening... Back in the days before the old superheroes lost their powers, and, of course, when they were a lot younger.But back to your question: if all goes well, my current plan is for eight novels: Five in the QP sequence, and three prequels. Ideally,the final novel will tie everything together: the events of the prequel novels will seem to stand alone at first, but they do have a huge impact on the rest of the series. (Plus there's the short-story collection, but that doesn't really count as it's limited to 1000 copies and when they're gone, they're gone: I've no plans to ever reprint the stories.) Of course, this all depends on how well the existing books sell!
Ms. Yingling: Are your books changed for different countries?
Mr. Carroll: The first two books had only small tweaks: localised spelling (such as spelling "localised" with a 'z' and not an 's'), and a few correctedtypos. But the US edition of the third book will have some pretty large differences, at the request of the publisher... One relatively short scene has been greatly expanded, and there's a whole new scen eat the end of the last chapter that reveals something I'd planned forthe fourth book.
Ms Yingling: Do you think that really are superheroes among us?
Mr. Carroll: Not in the "capes 'n' tights 'n' masks" sense, no. But there *should*be. And I should be their leader.But there *are* real heroes: Firefighters, police officers, hospital workers... I know it sounds corny and predictable, but I genuinely think that people who put themselves in harm's way to help others are true heroes. And I'm appalled that in most cases they're paid less than the average wage - they should be paid *more*!And writers, of course. Writers are heroes too. *And* librarians -encouraging kids to read is a very noble calling!
If you haven't looked into this series, try to get a copy of the first two and get caught up before the third one hits the shelves!