D. Robert Pease has been interested in creating worlds since childhood. From building in the sandbox behind his house, to drawing fantastical worlds with paper and pencil, there has hardly been a time he hasn't been off on some adventure in his mind, to the dismay of parents and teachers alike. Also, since the moment he could read, books have consumed vast swaths of his life. From The Mouse and the Motorcycle, to The Lord of the Rings, worlds just beyond reality have called to him like Homer's Sirens. It's not surprising then he chose to write stories of his own. Each filled with worlds just beyond reach, but close enough we can all catch a glimpse of ourselves in the characters.
IAN. Please tell us about your latest book.
DRP. Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble is about a boy who lives 1000 years in the future with his family on an immense spaceship called the ARC (Animal Rescue Cruiser). His family's mission is to travel through time and rescue two of every animal and bring them back to the future to repopulate Earth, which has been wiped clean of life by some cataclysmic event eight hundred years prior. But it's not as easy as it sounds. His parents disappear, and Noah, and his brother and sister have to find them, while taking care of all the animals, and also avoiding a man bent on stopping the ARC project at all costs.
IAN. How long did it take to write Noah Zarc?
DRP. I wrote the first draft for NaNoWriMo in November of 2008, so almost three years. Of course the version you read now, is very different than that first draft. I've rewritten it several times. Worked with critique partners and beta-readers. And worked with the wonderful folks at The Editorial Department to edit/rewrite again, and tweak, tweak, tweak to get to the point where I thought it was publishable.
IAN. What inspired you to write the book?
DRP. Well, obviously it is a take off the story of Noah's Ark in the Bible, but that was really just the genesis (pardon the pun) for the story. I loved the idea of what would it be like if the world was wiped clean, and humans barely escaped with their lives, only to discover they missed so much richness of life without the animal kingdom. And if they discovered time-travel what would it take to set things right?
IAN. Talk about the writing process. Do you write at night or in the morning?
DRP. I write whenever I get the chance. I don't have a set schedule, since I have a day job, and family. Some of my best writing takes place at coffee shops while I wait for my kids who are at various activities. I mentioned NaNoWriMo above. During the month of November, I do usually stay up a couple hours every night, cranking out words.
IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?
DRP. My first few books were written completely by the seat of my pants (Noah Zarc being one of them). But I've since discovered the joy of having at least some kind of outline before I start a new book. With Noah, I remember getting bogged down midway through the first draft, having no idea whatsoever where the story should go. And I had a whole lot of work to get the story to have any flow, or cohesiveness afterwards in editing. For my most recent project, I outlined in fairly great detail, the whole story. The first draft flew by without a big bout of writer's block in the middle, and I think the story is much closer to publishable than I've ever achieved in a first draft.
IAN. How is your book different from others in your genre?
DRP. When I first published Noah Zarc (and even before) I had a hard time finding books to compare it to. I like to refer to it as upper middle grade, because it can be thought of as almost YA in some respects (without all the snogging), but in other ways it is definitely for more of a younger audience. I finally read the Percy Jackson series and realized that there were folks writing for that kind of tweenage group of kids, especially boys. I think one thing that sets Noah Zarc apart is its serious side. I didn't want to write some superficial, fart-joke riddled book (not that I don't like a good body-humor joke) I wanted a book with some meat in it. I didn't want to talk down to kids, so I tried to make Noah Zarc as real as possible, while still making it fun and accessible for the age group.
IAN. Is Noah Zarc published in print, e-book or both?
DRP. Yes, it can be purchased in both paperback, and for e-readers.
IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
DRP. Well, first and foremost, I hope they had a good time. There's nothing worse than reading a book for several hours and in the end feeling like you just wasted part of your life. As an overall message, I hope kids see just a little bit how important family is, and just how much their parents love them. This was huge for me. I wanted to tell my kids, look right here, this is what I would do for you. I also wanted kids to maybe think a little more about a balanced view of caring for the environment. We are stewards of Earth, but we are also part of the equation. Yes, we can't destroy the ecology of Earth, but at the same time we need to remember human lives are important too.
IAN. Where can we go to buy Noah Zarc?
DRP. Just about everywhere books are sold online.
IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
DRP. I have two books in progress right now. One is a sequel to Noah Zarc, called Noah Zarc: Cataclysm. Just as it sounds like, in the book Noah finds himself going back in time to the moment when Earth is destroyed. Maybe he can stop it. Or maybe he caused it. It will be released in 2012. I also have another book, again based on a story in the Bible, called Joey Cola and the Stoat of Many Colors. I'm really excited about it and can't wait to get it into readers hands too.
IAN. Any other links or info you'd like to share?
DRP. To get updates and learn more about upcoming titles, follow me in one (or all) of the following places:
Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble by D. Robert Pease
Middle Grade, Science Fiction
Walking Stick Books
“Computer, keep track of Haon’s location.” I slowed the ship slightly. “We want to make sure he keeps following.”
“XB Class is two-point-seven kilometers behind and closing,” the computer said. “Altitude five hundred meters.”
“Perfect,” I said.
“I hope you know what you’re doing.” Mom looked a little pale. Adina on the other hand seemed to be enjoying the excitement.
The mountain range soared in front of us. I pulled back and skimmed along the peaks.
“Missile lock confirmed.”
I accelerated over a ridge of granite.
“Two Mark 7 missiles fired.”
After we crested the ridge I plunged back down. The DUV III streaked toward a green valley below. I heard an explosion as one of the rockets clipped a peak behind us. I banked left and climbed up over another ridge. The second rocket didn’t make the turn and smashed into a granite wall.
“That was close!” Adina yelled.
Once more I hugged the terrain. The ground below was broken up by never-ending rows of sharp granite peaks.
“XB Class is still within missile range.”
“Good.” Finally the terrain below smoothed out. We sped over brown desert. I pushed the DUV III faster and pulled away from Haon.
“Just a little further.” Finally I saw what I was looking for. The desert gave way to rocky terrain again and a huge chasm came into view.
“The Grand Canyon?” Mom said.
I grinned. “I always wanted to try this.” I banked right and dropped into the canyon. Even after I lowered our speed, the canyon walls still sped by in a blur.
“XB Class closing. One kilometer.”
“Seven hundred fifty meters.”
“Missile lock confirmed.”
The DUV III screamed around a column of red rock.
“Four Mark 7 missiles fired.”
“He can’t have too many missiles left.” I skimmed over a flat butte, then dropped down toward the green Colorado River. Rockets exploded around us, smashing into ancient stone.
“One Mark 7 missile remains. Impact in five-seconds.”
I spotted the perfect outcropping of stone. I skimmed the surface of the river, mashed the yoke left, and whizzed behind it. The rocket blew a hole through the shale. Fragments of stone pinged all over the DUV III.
“Those are getting too close for comfort.” Mom dug her fingernails into her armrests.
“I need the right spot.” I banked, turned, rose, and fell while we rocketed through the canyon. Just ahead, the canyon walls came together. “That should do.”
I slowed and let Haon close in. I dropped toward the river. He followed.
“XB Class is two hundred meters back. Missile lock confirmed.”
A few more heartbeats, then I yanked back on the yoke. The DUV III groaned, but her wings caught the air and lifted her up. I kept pulling back as the ship strained toward the blue sky above, then curved back around to the canyon floor. I’d done a complete loop.
Haon’s ship was now in front of us. I dove forward. He couldn’t turn—he was surrounded by stone walls left and right. He couldn’t climb out of the canyon—I moved in to block his ship.
Just ahead, the canyon took a sharp turn left.
The DUV III skimmed above the XB Class, Haon hurtling toward the rock. We were maybe ten meters away from the canyon wall when he managed to pull up high enough to scrape over the cliff’s edge.
He smashed against our underside—and flew out from beneath us with a wrenching tear. The vertical stabilizers on his ship dangled.
I clipped an outcropping of stone and the DUV III spun left. I used up every trick I knew to straighten her out, but the ship continued to spin.
We dropped toward a plateau of rock below.
“Landing thrusters!” I yelled. The DUV III continued to twirl like a top. A loud grinding noise rent the cabin.
We hit the ground.
Dust and debris filled the air while I fought with the controls. For several long heartbeats, the ship rumbled and shook. Finally everything went quiet.
And Haon’s ship was gone.