Releasing Today! March 15th!
OUT OF ABATON, Book 1: THE WOODEN PRINCE by John Claude Bemis
We at The Winged Pen have read several of John Claude Bemis’ books, so we are very excited about THE WOODEN PRINCE. Let’s get started with the blurb!
The automa Pinocchio has always been duty-bound to serve in the floating palace of Venice’s emperor. So when Pinocchio finds himself locked in a trunk and delivered to a new master—a wanted criminal and alchemist named Geppetto—he is curious about everything around him. But most curious is the way Pinocchio seems to be changing from a wooden servant into a living, human boy. Before Geppetto and Pinocchio can uncover the mystery surrounding the automa’s transformation, Pinocchio is stolen away. Determined to find Geppetto again, Pinocchio begins a harrowing journey across the Empire, where danger in the form of half-beast outlaws and winged airmen abounds for a lost automa.
Meanwhile, Princess Lazuli, the daughter of the ruler of a magical kingdom called Abaton, is also on a quest through the emperor’s territory. Her father, Prester John, has been captured by the Venetian Empire, and Lazuli is desperate to rescue him. With the emperor’s airmen closing in fast, Lazuli learns the only hope for saving her father-and her beloved home-lies in Pinocchio and Geppetto.
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We were thrilled to interview John recently!
Tell us about your other published novels. How is THE WOODEN PRINCE similar, different?
The Wooden Prince is my fifth novel. All my novels are essentially fantasy-adventures, but in quite different directions. I first wrote a trilogy called the Clockwork Dark, which begins with The Nine Pound Hammer. This series is what I like to call an American fantasy epic. It takes place in that age of cowboys and trains, but this is a magical America, one drawn from American folklore, history, and legend. I’ve also written a stand-alone novel called The Prince Who Fell from the Sky, set in a post-apocalyptic future where no humans are left on Earth, until the day a bear and a rat discover a human boy in their forest…
THE JUNGLE BOOK inspired THE PRINCE WHO FELL FROM THE SKY and you often play a song from THE JUNGLE BOOK at school visits. Did you have a similar inspiration for THE WOODEN PRINCE that makes you want to pull out the guitar?
Metallica’s Master of Puppets, of course! Wouldn’t you love to see me get a gym full of middle schoolers head-banging to that? There wasn’t a particular musical inspiration for The Wooden Prince. But music is a passion of mine, and played a huge role in The Clockwork Dark trilogy in the way I drew on traditional American blues, jazz, and folk songs to build that world. I’ll have to work on a good Pinocchio-related song to incorporate in to readings for the new book. Let me know if you have any suggestions!
What are you reading now?
The third in Jonathan Stroud’s amazing Lockwood & Co. series The Hollow Boy. It’s as deliciously wonderful as the first two. My daughter and I always have a book we read together at bedtime and currently we’re deep into one of my all-time favorites, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I’m surprised she can sleep afterward.
A favorite recent children’s book?
Andrew S. Chilton’s 2016 debut middle-grade novel The Goblin’s Puzzle: Being the Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Named Alice was one I was waiting with baited breath to come out. It was worth the wait! A bit Diana Wynne Jones. A bit Monty Python. It’s a laugh-out-loud fantasy adventure full of word play and logic puzzles, as well as captivating characters. I can’t wait to see what Chilton does next.
Do you have any writing superstitions or strange habits?
At heart, I’m a natural skeptic. But in the past few years, I’ve been trying to be more open to believing in things that before I would have seen as superstitious or hokey. I’ve found that by tamping down my overly-logical way of thinking has helped me be more artistically intuitive. Now, when I’m working on a book, I build a little shrine to the book in my office. In part, it’s simply an odd collection images and objects that give me inspiration or spark my creativity. But it’s also something to help with setting my intentions for the book and trying to cultivate my “magical” thinking. One thing I’ve discovered from this is that Tarot card readings are a pretty fun thing to do for your characters. They present all sorts of insights into who my characters are, what they want, what makes them tick.
Favorite writing snacks?
A cup of coffee from my Italian percolator and a veggie sausage topped with cream cheese and pepper jelly. Every morning at my mid-morning break.
Do you write standing or sitting?
My wife got me a standing desk a few years ago. My back thanks her! It’s been a revelation. I like to move and wriggle around and leap for books off the shelves when I’m writing. The best is that the desk goes up and down, so if my hamstrings start screaming, I can drop it down for a break. But mostly I’m on my feet as I write.
Tell us about the sequel to THE WOODEN PRINCE. When will it be out?
The adventures of Pinocchio and Lazuli continue in Lord of Monsters, which comes out March 2017. I hesitate to give too many spoilers to how The Wooden Prince ends, but I’ll say that this story takes place entirely in Abaton, rather than in the Venetian Empire. There’s danger, deception, and loads of fun for readers.
John Claude Bemis is the author of Out of Abaton: The Wooden Prince, the Clockwork Dark trilogy, The Prince Who Fell from the Sky, and the picture book Flora and the Runaway Rooster. He received the Excellence in Teaching Award from UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Education for his work in the schools as an author-educator and served as North Carolina’s Piedmont Laureate in 2013. John lives with his wife and daughter in Hillsborough, NC.
Here are a few ways to connect with John and a SPECIAL invitation!
Upcoming Event: John invites you to a book release celebration for The Wooden Prince on Saturday, April 9th at 3 pm at the Eno River Farmer’s Market pavilion (144 East Margaret Ln. Hillsborough, NC) where he’ll have performances, live music, a reading, refreshments, and giveaways. Fun for the whole family! Get your signed copy at the celebration or bring one you already ordered. Check his website for other upcoming events and readings.
Website — johnclaudebemis.com
Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/johnclaudebemis/
On John’s Facebook, there’s a link where you can listen to the audiobook for the first chapter of THE WOODEN PRINCE.
You have several chances to win an autographed copy of THE WOODEN PRINCE.
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The lucky winner will be announced here in two weeks!
MICHELLE LEONARD is a math and science nerd and a SCBWI member who writes middle-grade fiction and non-fiction. She’s a contributor to a monthly podcast for adult KidLit readers and writers called KidLit Drink Night. Join the party at KidLitDrinkNight.com or connect with her on Twitter !