Say hello to Steven Stickler the author of the MG Action/Adventure book The Absolutely Amazing Adventures of Agent Auggie Spinoza!
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away–oh, wait! That’s not my book at all! Sorry, let’s try this again:
My book is about an ordinary ten-year-old boy named Auggie Spinoza who discovers that he can travel through time. That would be a blast for most of us, but for Auggie it is more of a burden: he quickly learns that there is an organization of fellow (but evil) time-travelers who are trying to change history in ways that threaten to destroy his world (not to mention his family). The plot revolves around that battle and weaves through different historical periods as Auggie searches for a series of clues that (he hopes) will lead to victory. Did I mention that there are secret codes? That’s probably important, too.
What makes your book different than other books out there?
Well, I have joked with friends that it is not different at all. It is a pretty common setup: young kid has special talent he didn’t know about, must use it to save the world etc., etc. What my book adds to that classic formula, hopefully, is the fun of a good adventure story, some actual historical references (yes, there’s history!), and a few thought-provoking lessons. Oh, yeah: did I mention there are secret codes?
Where do you get your inspiration?
I reward myself with a piece of chocolate after every 1,000 words I write. That seems to do the trick.
What kind of books do you read? Are they similar to the books you write?
I read a mixture of genres. I really enjoyed The One and Only Ivan, which is unlike anything I could ever write (and I mean that in a good way), and I’m finishing up the last David Foster Wallace book which, again, is not even in the same zip code as the stuff I write, let alone the same ballpark.
Dream cast your book for us.
The kids will be played by kids. The kind of kids who like to read books and don’t like Justin Bieber. They probably won’t comb their hair, but every time they say something the audience will know they are smart. Someone else will have to write that screenplay. And the role of Plato? Bill Murray.
Do you have a ‘day job’? What is it?
I have implied in the book that I am a secret agent. Let me set the record straight: I can neither confirm nor deny that I am, in fact, a secret agent. Let’s move on.
What has your biggest struggle been so far?
Time and ideas. There is not enough of the first one and there are too many of the second.
How do you feel about romances being so common in YA (and to a lesser degree MG) books?
I don’t do romance. Don’t like to read it. Don’t like to write it. Don’t like to watch it on TV. It has even been suggested to me that I’m not so good at it in real life. So obviously I’m not a big fan of it showing up in the books my kid reads. He might feel differently, though.
What trend do you love in MG/YA books? What trend do you hate?
In terms of a big picture, long term trend I think it is always worth commenting on the range and depth of quality MG/YA titles these days. I grew up in the 70s. We had good books, to be sure. But the landscape of MG/YA fiction these days is an entirely different thing altogether. So many *good* choices. I have to admit, though: I’m not crazy about the vampires.
What’s next for you?
I have a sequel in the works for Auggie Spinoza and then I am continually being distracted by another series I’m starting that involves spies, subways, and school. Shhhh! Keep that last bit just between us.
Thanks for talking to us and making us laugh, Steven!
Steven Stickler is no rocket scientist. He will never be confused with a professional athlete. He is not (despite widespread rumors) the actor who played Cousin Oliver in The Brady Bunch, nor was he a guest drummer for the Beatles during a brief period in the mid-1960s. He is something completely different: a writer. He began writing when he was five years of age and, perhaps due to an oversight by those in positions of authority, was never told to stop. He lives in the great Pacific Northwest of the United States, where he enjoys exploring the outdoors with his family and, of course, reading at least one book by Dr. Seuss every year.
A Review of Steven’s book on The Cheap Reader