Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters - James Dashner

Looking for a new fantasy series that will make you laugh, while taking you places you never knew were possible? Then The 13th Reality series will be the books for you. Atticus Higginbottom —Tick—just can't get past being a nerd. Of course, wearing a knitted scarf to cover a birthmark doesn't help his image either. But once the mysterious letters from M.G. begin to arrive, Tick's skills at deciphering riddles and Internet research come in handy. Being friends with his dad doesn't hurt either, especially when they travel together to Alaska—a dangerous trip for them both. Despite the fact Tick can't quite figure out the required magic words, he will not burn his letter and quit. Soon he is attacked by evil creatures, meets Mothball and Rutger, and finds two other kids also solving the clues. The question is—will they all figure out everything in time?

Fantasy or not, Dashner has set his book in reality, researching both quantum physics and locations for this first book in the series. “I had never been to the place in which it begins, Deer Park, Washington,” he says. Perhaps influenced by his own favorite series, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson, Dashner allows himself, and his main character, to delve into the alternate worlds that Thomas Covenant dared not believe in, despite the fact he suddenly found himself there to fight for that land, and to be the reincarnation of its greatest hero, and The 13th Reality Book 2 will be no different. James adds, “The Hunt for Dark Infinity is in the editing stage. It was a lot of fun for me because I was mostly done with the setup. It jumps right into action and other alternate realities.”

Readers should pick up The Journal of Curious Letters because, as Dashner himself states, it is “unique, fast-paced, full of riddles and plot twists, some humor, kick-butt ending. I'm biased, however! It has gotten some excellent reviews from the likes of Kirkus and the Chicago Sun-Times.” And also excellent reviews from the students of Payson Jr. High School who read it this year in their 7th and 9th grade English classes. As a matter of fact, many of those students also got to read the early draft of The Hunt for Dark Infinity and are now anxious for James to write Book 3.

The 13th Reality
is not the first book James Dashner has published. An earlier series, The Jimmy Fincher Saga is also still available from Cedar Fort. But Dashner feels he has grown as a writer since he published his very first book. “Hopefully I'm a much better writer now, and boy would I love to give my first four books a nice revision—all the technical writing skills I’ve learned since then.”

As most writers know, not every book that is written actually gets published. When asked about his unpublished novels, James says, “There are only two, and one is undergoing a major rewrite while my agent tries to sell it on proposal. This one—The Maze Runner—is at ten publishers as we speak. Keep those fingers crossed! The other one, I doubt it. In fact, I've cannibalized it for other ideas, not the least of which is the name used in The 13th Reality: Atticus Higginbottom.”

But how can budding authors break into the business? James says, “Practice. Write a lot. No matter how bad it comes out, keep writing. Also, attend every writer's conference you can possibly afford to. The things you learn and the networking you accomplish are invaluable.” Speaking of networking and getting people to know about your book, he adds that “networking is by far the best route to go. You need to get to those conferences and meet agents and editors face-to-face.” Advice that couldn’t be more true if you want to be a writer.

But, even if you’re just a reader looking for a book that is fun, exciting, and appropriate for both you and your family, The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters is the book for you.

1 comment:

Candace E. Salima said...

Great book. James is a good friend of mine so I was able to read the book while it was still in the ARC stage. I knew that it would be a hit. I think every family would love to have a copy of this book in their home library.