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WPP Author Interview: Barry Wolverton



Barry Wolverton is the author of Neversink, published by Walden Pond Press. For a chance to win a signed copy of Neversink, see the instructions at the bottom of this post. Update, we have a winner!

Tell us a little bit about the book(s) you published with Walden.

Barry Wolverton: Neversink is the epic adventure of a classic reluctant hero, Lockley Puffin, who would love nothing more than to be left alone but is forced into action by a pygmy owl with a Napoleon complex. Sort of The Hobbit meets Angry Birds.

What brought you to Walden Pond Press?

BW: I saw your ad in Publishers Weekly for a middle-grade novel that has the following elements: puffins, murres, guillemots, walruses, hummingbirds, and owls wearing hats. And smidgens.

 What are middle grade books, to you, and why do you write for this age level?

 BW: I didn’t really intend for Neversink to be MG, because I knew nothing about all these categories. I had Animal Farm and Watership Down in mind, but these birds (puffins and other auks) look like something Lewis Carroll would have invented if they didn’t exist in real life, so the story and writing took a more playful turn, and ended up being something I felt was more kid-friendly.

How did your experiences growing up influence your writing?

BW: Well, this ties in to the above question, because animal stories were a staple of my childhood reading (both on my own and being read to): Uncle Wiggily; The Mouse and the Motorcycle; The Jungle Book; Winnie the Pooh and Charlotte’s Web…so this nostalgia definitely played into Neversink being written more for kids.

What is the most challenging part of writing for children?

BW: Trying to be original without making it impossible for a librarian or bookseller to compare your book with something else that’s proven successful.

What were your favorite books as a kid?

BW: I went through a long stretch where I read very little except sports almanacs and other assorted books of lists, records and oddities, until my mom bought me a few of the Xanth novels by Piers Anthony. On my own I found Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter books, which I’m pretty sure I picked up at the mall bookstore because of their covers.

Do you visit schools to speak about your books? Do you Skype with classrooms? Where can interested parties find more information about setting up a visit with you?

 BW: Yes, yes, and my website (www.barrywolverton.com) has my email address, as well as links to my Facebook author page and Twitter account.

 What are you working on next?

BW: Happily I am working on the first of a three-book series for WPP that will debut in early 2015, I believe. It’s an adventure series that takes place in an alternate 17th century and sends a 12-year-old boy and his friend on an epic quest for something called the Vanishing Island. Combine Treasure Island with Indiana Jones and throw in some creepy Dutch folklore, and you’ve got it.