Ever asked yourself why science-fiction came about in the 19th century? Recently I listened to a series of interviews that Bill Moyers conducted with science-fiction wizard Isaac Asimov.1 Asimov gave a description of the origins of science fiction that really grabbed me:
“The fact is that society is always changing, but the rate of change has been accelerating all through history for a variety of reasons. … It was only with the coming of the industrial revolution that the rate of change became fast enough to be visible in a single lifetime. So people became aware that not only were things changing, but they would continue to change after they died. And that was when science fiction came into being (as opposed to fantasy and adventure tales) because people knew that they would die before they could see the changes that would happen in the next century so it would be nice to imagine what they might be.”
Sounds pretty dead-on, if you ask me. If you want to watch the whole interview, click the link below:
- Asimov Fun Fact: he is one of the only authors in history who has published books under all ten major headings of the Dewey Decimal system! ↩
Some months ago, the kind folks at Project Mayhem ran a very kind review of Peter Nimble. Last week, they asked me to contribute something for a post about what authors miss from their pre-published days. As fun as being published is, I could think of at least one thing that I miss from the old days of blindly hoping for publication — allow me to excerpt:
Before I had a book in the world, I had no real sense of my audience. Audience was an abstract idea that couldn’t be pinned down and had little say in my storytelling. With the publication of Peter Nimble, however, I’ve suddenly found myself writing stories with specific readers in mind. It’s hard to type a sentence without thinking: I wonder what Librarian X or Critic Y will think of this? While such thoughts may be helpful during revisions, they can be crippling to the early stages of the creative process.
Project Mayhem also got contributions from authors Kate Messner and Stephen Messer. To read their responses and some great reader comments, check out the link below:
PROJECT MAYHEM: Rushing Towards Your Dream? Wait.
A few weeks back, awesome teacher Mark Holtzen wrote in with a question. His class was just finishing a unit on Roald Dahl, and he wanted me to share with them how Dahl has influenced my writing. I figured my response might be of interest to readers of The Scop:
I think one of the things that makes Roald Dahl so fascinating is the way he writes grown-up characters. A lot of people talk about how he always makes the adults in his books mean or stupid … but that’s only half the story. For every Trunchbull there is a Miss Honey — a person who helps the hero become who they were meant to be. When I think of my favorite characters in Dahl’s books, I think of the wonderful grownups who guide and care for the young heroes:
Miss Honey from Matilda
The Queen from The BFG
So based on what he’s saying there, it seems like his adult characters — good and bad — are actually meant to be a lesson for young readers about how to grow up. Dahl wants everyone who reads his books to see the difference between a dreadful parent and a delightful one … and hopefully resolve to become the latter.
This is something I tried to remember while writing Peter Nimble. The book has its share of awful grownups, but there are also one or two adults in Peter’s life (The Professor, Sir Tode, Simon) who are a bit more “sparky” … and having those grownups in your life makes all the difference.
I was featured in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review this Sunday. For those interested, you can read my interview here. The photograph is of me sitting in the local Argentinian coffee shop where I wrote the first draft of Peter Nimble back when I was in graduate school.
I’ve recently had a lot of readers/teachers/parents write me to ask about biblical allusions in Peter Nimble. Among them was my Trib interviewer, Rege Behe, who couldn’t help but notice the similarities between baby Peter in his floating basket and baby Moses in the reeds. That led to a pretty fun conversation about biblical tropes in literature (which are ubiquitous).
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Auxier draws on fascination with children’s literature for ‘Peter Nimble’
This week, Peter Nimble hits bookstores in Merrie Olde England! It’s being published by Scholastic UK, and it looks 100% awesome. As you can see, Scholastic decided to go with the US cover art — which I wholeheartedly support. Even better, they added GOLD FOIL to the logo.
Gold foil, people!
To celebrate, I’m running a special giveaway for UK readers. Winners will get a signed copy of Peter Nimble with a hand-drawn illustration/inscription inside. All you have to do is the following:
3) Leave a comment on this blog with a link to your post/tweet
That’s it! Follow those steps and Bob’s your uncle! Now get Tweeting!1
- Fine Print: Entrants must be from the UK; I will be selecting two winners by using a random.org number picker at midnight on January 31, 2012; Winners will receive a hardcover copy of Peter Nimble with a custom illustration. ↩
I met Little Reviewer Elizabeth Johnson and her cartoonist husband last October in Portland (a city that the Washington Post has recently declared less awesome than Pittsburgh).1 This week, she’s running an author interview and Peter Nimble giveaway. All you have to do is click here and write a comment on her site! Those of you who resolved to read more blind-thief stories in the new year will finally have your chance! While you’re at it, check out the interview, in which I reveal my childhood gripe about the Oz series and my favorite illustration from the book.