With Game Changer being your newest release tell us how you thought up this idea?
Game Changer is similar to my other books in that it all basically started from somewhere I’d been. Usually it’s a vacation or outdoor adventure. Most people marvel at the landscape or soak up a new experience. I do too, but I find myself constantly thinking about how I can share that place with readers and turn it into an adventure story. I look forward to traveling as it always gives me my best book ideas. Game Changer isn’t far from my house, though. It’s set a couple of hours away in southeast Missouri in a place I love to visit, which is a local creek that I float whenever I get the chance.
I take it with this book you enjoy the great outdoors?
Absolutely. I work and raise my kids in the suburban environment, but I love to get away to the country. All my books are typically set in a remote location. They’re usually as much about dealing with the elements as they are about battling bad guys.
Why make this a YA novel?
I’m inspired by the idea of kids on their own, overcoming challenges. I’m not strictly into coming-of-age stories or teen romance. My books are more about average teens finding ways to survive with their wits and willpower. I’m certain I’ve had more adults than teens read my books, and that’s perfectly okay with me. I like to refer to Game Changer as a bit like Deliverance…for teens. But I’m sure adults will enjoy it as much, or more.
Let’s talk about snakes…You mention them in the Game Changer. Do you happen to enjoy snakes venomous or not?
I’m pretty fascinated with snakes, but not enough to keep them as pets. I can say I’m not terrified of snakes. I’ve accidentally stepped on a garter snake when out hiking, and crossed paths with a six foot black snake out by my shed. I’ve found another that had a half-swallowed rabbit lodged in its throat. I’ll give a wide berth to a rattlesnake or copperhead, but the common snakes don’t really bother me at all. If I’m lucky enough to stumble across any snake in the wild, I’ll stay and watch it for awhile.
Do you have any other books you would like to share?
I have two books of a dystopian trilogy currently available. Fugitives from Northwoods and Rebellion in Northwoods track the escape of a group of teens from a northern Minnesota work camp. They brave the wilderness, of course, on a run for the border–and ultimately back home. The final book is coming out in about two months, and I’m really excited for everyone to read it. I feel like they just keep getting better.
Have you gone camping? Traveling in the big outdoors?
I don’t camp as much as I’d like to anymore. My son just wrapped up several years in the Boy Scouts where I assisted the troop as a leader. He made Eagle Scout and has since moved on to high school and girls, so we don’t get out as much as I would like. As a family, we still make it to some National Parks, whitewater rafting, and all kinds of float trips.
Any survival tips?
Where to start? I jest. I’m really no expert, but I know some things. There’s a lot we teach in Scouting about how to build shelters and fires that I think is really valuable information. Water purification is sort of a big deal too, but that can be done a lot of different ways. Much like building fire, I suppose. My one tip…hmmm. I would say to bring some dryer lint along if you want an easy way to start a fire. It seems like the most flammable stuff on Earth.
If you could create your very own pet snake to look and do as you wanted them to what would it look like?
Oh, wow. I’ve never given a second’s thought to anything like that. I’m not sure I’d want a pet snake. I love to find them outside, and that’s pretty rare. I like the medium-sized snakes, like maybe in the three to five foot range. The little ones like pencils don’t impress me, and the super large ones kinda creep me out. It wouldn’t have to be anything flashy like a cobra. The black snakes are common, and a bit lacking in color. I think I’d want a corn snake. They’re kinda race car flashy.
One word to describe you as a writer?
I’m tempted to say “serious,” but that sounds kind of stuffy and presumptuous. I try my best to put out a throughly researched, well-edited product. I want to keep growing as a writer and building an audience, and I really appreciate the opportunity to interact with my fans and make new ones. To that end, I truly thank you for the opportunity to share more about myself.
Now to really answer your question…I think I’ll have to go with “outdoorsy.” All my books are realistic, action/adventure tales set in the great outdoors. No surprise, I suppose.
Who would go with you on outdoor adventure of a lifetime or do you prefer to go solo?
I like some quiet time in the woods, but I prefer company for a longer trip. My son has gone with me on two major adventures. First a trip to canoe trip the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota (which is where the Northwoods trilogy is set). We’ve also played survivor on an island in the Florida Keys (which is another book I’m working on). There’s a small of group of family and friends that I’d love to have along with me. Better yet if I can use them in some way in a new book.