Interview: September 13, 2016
Here at Kidsreads, we're always on the hunt for our next great read, so you can imagine how excited we are about Wade Albert White's THE ADVENTURER'S GUIDE TO SUCCESSFUL ESCAPES --- a book that combines tons of action, side-splitting humor and a feisty heroine into one fantastic story. In this new book, an orphan named Anne is shocked when she is selected for a magical quest to solve a bizarre riddle and discover her true origin. Fortunately, she has some great friends and one amazing book to help her find her way. In celebration of the book's release, we spoke with debut author Wade Albert White about his inspiration for his book, his writing process and what we can expect from future installments of this seriously funny new series.
Kidsreads.com: First of all, we have to say how much we enjoyed your book! You packed tons of adventure and excitement into a fabulous package with a great heroine to boot. What inspired you to write THE ADVENTURER’S GUIDE TO SUCCESSFUL ESCAPES?
Wade Albert White: Thank you for the kind words!
Several things inspired me to write the book: I love adventures, I love humor (especially British comedy), and I thought it would be fun to write a story that mashed together fantasy and science fiction. Plus, I had this idea for a wizard with a platypus for an arm, and how can a person not write about that?
KRC: As a debut author, what was it like writing your first book? Have you always been a writer and storyteller?
WAW: Writing my first book was a lot of fun. I enjoyed sitting at the keyboard, thinking up weird and wonderful characters, and then tossing them into impossible situations to see what they would do (sometimes being a writer is a little bit like being a mad scientist).
I would say I’ve always been a storyteller, sometimes through writing and sometimes through other mediums like film or song. I actually attempted writing my first book when I was around the age of 13. Unfortunately, I only made it to page five, making it perhaps the world’s shortest novel.
KRC: The heroine of THE ADVENTURER’S GUIDE, Anne, is a really fascinating girl --- she’s brave, sure, but she’s also fiercely loyal and has a keen eye for detail. Is there a real-life “Anne” who served as inspiration?
WAW: Yes and no. “Yes” in the sense that I have known people in my life who possess these same traits, but “no” in the sense that Anne wasn’t based on any one person in particular, or even a combination of people.
Perhaps the closest source of inspiration would be the title character from ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, but even there the connection is more just a nod to my Canadian heritage. While both characters are bold and occasionally headstrong, their personalities are otherwise very different. The Anne in my story loves adventure, but she doesn’t talk a mile a minute and she prefers to think a problem through rather than rushing straight in. Still, it’s worth pointing out that I did spell her name with an ‘e.’
KRC: Speaking of Anne, the presence of a female heroine with a female best friend added a whole new level to this fun adventure story, especially when so many are male-driven. Why did you decide to make your main characters largely female?
WAW: The basic answer to that is quite simple: When I sat down to write the book, those were the characters that leapt to mind. They were intelligent and courageous and entertaining, and I knew they had a great story to tell.
Still, as you say, even today many adventure stories tend to be male-driven, despite the fact that so many girls (and women) enjoy these books and would like to see more prominent female characters in them. So although the overall balance of female to male characters in the book is about 50-50, I was especially conscious of making sure female characters filled important roles.
KRC: One of my favorite parts of THE ADVENTURER’S GUIDE was your fantastic world-building. I loved the idea that one could literally fall of the edge of the world only to discover that there were different tiers of worlds all over the place. How did you come up with this setting?
WAW: I’m from Nova Scotia, which is a peninsula, and when I was a kid I used to daydream about it breaking off from the rest of the continent and sailing away. So the seeds for the idea of these floating islands might have originated there (and the tiers in the book float in the air, not on water, which is even more awesome in my opinion).
Additionally, the story hints at some catastrophic global disaster that occurred in the ancient past of this world, and the existence of the tiers is intended to provide a clue as to what might have happened.
KRC: As Anne and her friend set off on their quest (and even before she learns about her quest), they are aided by a mysterious book, THE ADVENTURER’S GUIDE, which seems to anticipate their needs and offer helpful advice. How did you come up with this powerful book? If you had your own guide, what would you want it to help you with?
WAW: In the story, Anne becomes what’s known as a Keeper, and in the early drafts she was given a book called THE KEEPER'S HANDBOOK that contained all sorts of tips about being an adventurer. It was mostly intended as a joke to allow me to have some fun with common fantasy tropes (such as listing the types of dungeons a person might encounter on a quest, or how to identify dragons, etc.). As the story went through various stages of editing, however, I saw an opportunity to integrate the guide more fully into the narrative, almost as though it were its own distinct character. Thus the idea for THE ADVENTURE'S GUIDE was born.
If I had my own guide, what I would want it to help me with most is keeping my office better organized. I know that’s probably not an exciting answer, but it really is a mess.
KRC: In between chapters, you offer brief “excerpts” from historical writings and product warnings from Anne’s world. Was it fun writing these? How did you choose the topics of each excerpt?
WAW: Writing the excerpts was definitely a highlight. In fact, I probably wrote and threw away twice as many again as appear in the final version of the book just because they were so much fun.
I chose the topics based on what was happening in the story at the place where each one was set to appear. So even though the excerpts are physically separate from the main narrative, they’re still an integral part of the storytelling.
KRC: What were your favorite books as a kid? Do you feel that any of them inspired you to write your first book?
WAW: Well, being Canadian, it’s probably no surprise that I grew up reading ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I thoroughly enjoyed such stories as THE MOUSE AND THE MOTORCYCLE by Beverly Cleary and THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS by Kenneth Grahame. My older brother had a sizeable collection of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books which I eagerly devoured. Also, I was (and remain today) a huge fan of comic books, superhero and otherwise.
I wouldn’t say there was any one book in particular that inspired me, although I do recall at one point wishing very much that I could write like Douglas Adams. In the end, I think it was more just my love for a wide variety of stories and storytelling in general that made me want to tell my own.
KRC: I know that THE ADVENTURER’S GUIDE is the start of a series (yay!), but do you have any hints as to what we can expect from the next books?
WAW: What can readers expect? Why, more magick, mystery, and mayhem, of course! (and maybe even some other words that don’t begin with ‘m’)
The first book sets up Anne and her friends as adventurers, so it should come as no surprise that future books will feature more quests. The first book also leaves a number of unanswered questions regarding Anne herself, including her mysterious origins, and the series will definitely continue to explore those threads. The main cast of characters will return, as will THE ADVENTURER'S GUIDE. And expect more dragons (in fact, the main plot of the second book centers around dragons).
Beyond that, you’ll just have to read the books!