Sunday, August 26, 2012

Part I Antony John Interview and PRIZE PACK GIVEAWAY (US only)

Welcome back, everyone! I'm incredibly excited to introduce this next author, Antony John, who is a good friend of mine. He is very talented and has already won an award for one of his novels. His newest novel is Elemental (pictured), a dystopian YA novel. He has written three other novels: Busted, Five Flavors of Dumb, and Thou Shalt Not Road Trip. He has been incredibly generous to offer one prize pack (US only) to one lucky winner, which will include signed copies of all four books!

Goodreads description: A mysterious and powerful fantasy adventure from a Schneider Award winner

In the near future, most of the population of the United States has been destroyed by the plague. The few remaining survivors live in colonies on the barrier islands off the East Coast. In one colony near Cape Hatteras, almost all the members have elemental powers and can control wind, water, earth, and fire. All but sixteen-year-old Thomas. When the Guardians, the powerful adult leaders, are kidnapped by pirates seeking to take over their colony, it is up to Thomas and a small group of teens to save them and preserve the mysteries of the island.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Abbreviated Goodreads review
Elemental is a dark, brooding book that opens up with secrets upon secrets. The protagonist, Thomas, is apparently the only one in the Colony that doesn't have any powers to call upon the elements. This makes him an outcast-- to the point where no one can even bear to touch him. He has two friends that are as different as night and day and hint to a bit of a love triangle-- Rose and Alice. When a storm comes and their parents and the Guardians of the Colony disappear, Thomas and his friends need to discover the secrets that have remained hidden for years in order to save themselves and their loved ones.

I spent the first several chapters confused. But the tone and the interesting backstory of the characters kept me going until the secrets started revealing themselves. I think all of this was completely deliberate by the author. This book is written in first person, so all that we know is what Thom knows, which isn't very much. So he is as confused as we are. When he learns of information, it is the first time both of us know this information. I think this set up worked extremely well for the plotting of the book. And the secrets-- what bombshells. I almost thought there couldn't be any more and they kept coming, most in the last half of the book. While the last secret was something that had crossed my mind, it brought up so many questions that this didn't matter. I was hooked. As for the characters, I continue to enjoy Antony John's female characters who are strong, brave, resourceful and many times much more so than his male characters. I'm okay with this because Thomas is a likeable character and has three books to grow and change in (which I am sure he will), but Alice blows me away. She is daring and fearless. She reminds me of Tris in Divergent and I want to see more of her. Rose is less fascinating but what she lacks in intrigue she makes up for in aching sweetness. 

Needless to say, I want to know more about what is going on, what has happened before and what is going to happen next. This is the perfect first book to a trilogy; we have a sense of completeness and yet, there are many places where the next two books can go-- and we want to follow for as long as we can. The characters are terrific; well developed but there is room for even more development. And there are characters that still remain mysterious, and I am sure we will learn more about. I highly recommend Elemental and can only believe that this trilogy can only get better. Antony John has written a completely different novel than his first two, which is in itself a triumph; but the fact that he has made it immensely compelling is the greater victory. 

Blurb about Antony: Antony John was born in England and raised on a balanced diet of fish and chips, obscure British comedies, and ABBA's Greatest Hits. In a fit of teenage rebellion, he decided to pursue a career in classical music, culminating in a BA from Oxford University and a PhD from Duke University. Along the way, he worked as an ice cream seller on a freezing English beach, a tour guide in the Netherlands, a chauffeur in Switzerland, a barista in Seattle, and a university professor. Writing by night, he spends his days as a stay-at-home dad—the only job that allows him to wear his favorite pair of sweatpants all the time. He lives in St. Louis with his family.

Visit Antony's Blog:

Part I of Interview with Antony John

1) How did you decide to start writing YA?

I became a full-time stay-at-home dad in 2005. I loved it, but pretty quickly realized I also needed some sort of creative outlet in order to stay sane. I’d previously been a composer, so writing music was the obvious option; instead, I tried writing a book.

I’ve always loved YA, so deciding which genre to write was easy. (Indeed, every idea I’ve ever had for a book has been YA; some people are just wired that way, I guess.) The resulting book was not exactly great, but I loved the process and knew that I wanted to write more. Working at night after my kids were in bed, I produced another novel, BUSTED, which landed me an agent and publisher. Since then, things have gone from strength to strength.

2) This book is a big departure from your other books, including Five Flavors of Dumb and Thou Shalt Not Road Trip. How did you get the idea for Elemental?

I’ve always loved fantasy, and when you love something, it’s hard not to want to claim a piece of it for yourself. So I approached my editor with an idea, and we decided to run with it.

From the outset, I knew my book had to be set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina (which for me is a fairly magical place) and, even more importantly, had to feature the elements: earth, water, wind, and fire. I’ve been rather obsessed by the elements for years now. (Weird factoid: the movements of my 2002 Ph.D. dissertation composition were entitled “Earth,” “Water,” “Wind,” and “Fire.” I thought I’d throw that out there for anyone who is afraid I’m slavishly following YA trends!)

Anyway, when I put the elements together with the Outer Banks, ELEMENTAL is what came out. And the truth is, I had a very clear sense of what the book was about, and what it needed to achieve.

3) If you could have an elemental power like your characters, what would it be and why?

Definitely not fire. After this summer’s drought, I just know I’d be the guy who inadvertently started a forest fire.

I rather like the idea of controlling water, though. For one thing, I grew up in a seaside resort in England, and I’ve always been drawn to the ocean. For another, five-sevenths of the earth is covered in water (it might be more after global warming)—I figure I may as well control as much of the planet’s surface as possible. (Hmmm . . . that makes me sound like a megalomaniac, doesn’t it?)

Thus endeth the first part of this interview! (If you read Thou Shalt Not Road Trip, you'd get this joke). Tune in tomorrow for part II!

Please enter to win this awesome Prize Pack of all FOUR of Antony John's books (US only)!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And don't forget to enter my other giveaway, International giveaway of signed Night of the Purple Moon a YA dystopian by Scott Cramer OR hard back copy of Fear: A Gone Novel by Michael Grant


  1. I would definitely want power over water.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. I would love to have power over the air.

  3. Love your review! I hadn't heard of Elemental before but it looks amazing! Male authors are getting rarer and rarer, so thank you to Anthony!
    I would most definitely want fire as my power. It's frightening and beautiful at the same time. I love how it can be such a help when it's small and an uncontrollable problem when it's big (like a forest fire). :-)

    1. Thank you, Ana. Yes, male YA authors are a pretty rare breed. We're not on any endangered lists just yet, but unless we can convince more teen boys to read, who knows!

  4. I'd love the power of water. :D

  5. Can't I just choose all powers? Lol. Ummmn I would like to have the power of water.

  6. Thanks for the comments, everyone. I see that water is getting a lot of votes here. No love for earth? Does anyone have wind?

    Okay, I'll stop now.

  7. What about poor fire? I think it would be awesome to stay warm and cook some yummy food. Although, I might have to pick wind if it allows me to fly around. How cool would that be??

  8. Would the power of earth allow me to reject weeds from my lawn and stop up gopher holes? Because then, yeah, definitely earth.

    My husband would vote for fire, I can tell you without even asking him :)

    1. Oh, I hadn't even considered the gardening advantages of earth. No weeds. No gophers. It's genius.

      I'm totally writing all that into book 2.

  9. I thought water at first but after giving it more thought I would chose earth! Just a outdoors kind of gal!

  10. I would choose power over the earth...

    Thanks for the giveaways...

  11. Great review. I would want to have fire.

    Thanks for the great giveaway

  12. I could never choose just one. I think I would like to control water or fire.

  13. Definitely air!

    Thanks for the amazing giveaway!
    elizabeth @ bookattict . com