Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Interview with novelist Ben Gartner

Today’s special guest is author Ben Gartner. We’re chatting about his new middle grade novel The Eye of RA. It has a mix of time travel, historical fiction, and action adventure.

During his virtual book tour, Ben will be giving away a $30 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too.

Ben Gartner is the author of adventure books for middle graders and thrillers for adults. His writing for both audiences shares an ability to grab readers by their neurons for a thrilling ride, maybe even teaching them something in the meantime. Ben can be found living and writing near the mountains with his wife and two boys.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
The Eye of RA is a time travel adventure about a brother and sister who are transported to ancient Egypt. They must overcome many challenges and work together…or be stuck in time forever.

What inspired you to write this book?
The Eye of RA was a collaboration between my two sons and me, dreaming up an adventure novel akin to the Magic Tree House series but for a slightly older audience (one Goodreads reviewer said, “…feels like a mature and better-researched Magic Treehouse. It is more sophisticated than that series...”). Working together with my kids through the fun of concepting a novel was the motivation – together time. But it grew and grew and we shared it with people who loved it and encouraged us to put it into the world.

Excerpt from The Eye of RA:
“Sarah, where are we?” John asked, frozen in place despite the heat. In front of them was a vast ocean of sand as far as the eye could see. It rolled in carved waves, dunes that sparkled in the low-slanting rays of the sun.

Dunes? John thought.

Sarah staggered forward, shielding her eyes from the glare. “I—I—”

It was rare for her to be speechless. And it was kind of spooky, her not saying anything and stepping forward with the jerky movements of a zombie.

“Are you okay?” John followed his sister out into the sand, suddenly very afraid to be even a foot away from her.

“Woo-hoo!” she shouted, jumping into the air in her signature move, arms shooting up in a V shape.

“You’re excited about this?” John snapped. “Sarah, how are we in a desert all of a sudden? Where’s the mountain? The cave?” The incredible moment tickled at his brain, and he couldn’t put two and two together. “Am I dreaming?”

“Yeah,” Sarah said. “Dreaming. We must be dreaming. Together.” She knelt into the sand, picked up a handful, and let it drain out of her fist. “This feels pretty real to me.” She turned around to John as she said it, so he could see the roll of her eyes.

“How could we be in the mountains in one moment and then . . .” He trailed off, watching Sarah’s eyes go up and her head tilt back, taking in something very large behind him. John wasn’t sure he wanted to turn around.

Sarah laughed, her face turned toward the sky, her hand covering her mouth. “So.” She took a full breath. “Cool!”

The curiosity got the better of him. John held his breath and rotated on his heels in the sand. He’d been stunned by the vast golden dunes, but what he saw now made him squeak out a chortle of disbelief.

“What—? How—? Is that—?” John stammered. His finger reached out, pointing to the scene as if maybe he could poke it, like it was a postcard of a giant pyramid and not a real one.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Well, this novel kind of snuck its way into my life. I was nearing the end of a draft of a thriller for adults when I took a hiatus from that project to work on The Eye of RA. So for the sake of completion, I’d like to finish that one. But the reception to RA has been so flatteringly positive that we do have some ideas for a #2 brewing… ;)

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Around the same time I could read. The two went hand in hand for me then, and still do today. I can’t have only one. I have to read and I have to write.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I wish! I have a day job, so I write on nights and weekends and occasionally I’ll use a vacation day to log some real word count. It’s definitely tough to find time and I’m sure I could pump out a lot more if I could focus on it. It can be tiring trying to fit it all in, but it’s one of those FUN invigorating exercises that I can’t imagine my life without.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I need absolute quiet. Some people listen to music or can write on the train. Not me. I need to completely immerse my brain into the world I’m crafting to watch it unfold. Just getting to that spot of total envelopment can take 30 minutes, so my preferred block of time to write is a minimum of two hours.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A creator. Several careers that touched on that general theme, but the one I got most serious about was to be a movie director. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were my heroes.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Third through fifth grade were such a pivotal time in my personal life. And I think, for many people, it’s the era for which we really first start to retain memories. It’s also a time of profound brain development and the perfect season of our lives for imagination to push our own boundaries of perception. I hope my books stir creativity in young minds.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
Thank you for having me! The Eye of RA is on sale now wherever books are sold!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Bea LaRocca said...

This sounds like an awesome read! I love stories that I can enjoy and also share with my grandchildren. Thank you for sharing your Q&A and book details. I have enjoyed reading about you and your work

James Robert said...

I appreciate getting to hear about  a book new to me. Thanks for sharing and thanks for the giveaway.

Bernie Wallace said...

Who is your favorite author still currently writing?

Ben Gartner said...

Thank you for having me!

Bea -- Let me know how your grandchildren like it! :)

James -- Thank you for your comment and for reading. :)

Bernie -- Ooof, that's a tough one. I suppose the first thing that popped into my head was Stephen King, though I have to say I'm more a fan of his earlier work. When I was a kid (young adult age), reading King really transported me more than the "classics" did. For example, in Cujo he took a simple premise (trapped in a car while a rabid dog prowls around) and made it into a visceral, emotional experience that I still remember to this day. I don't claim to have writing skills like King, but if I can transport someone for a little bit, then that's good writing, right?! ;)

Thank you all!

Victoria Alexander said...

Thanks for sharing!

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