I long while back I use to do a monthly featured titled: Whoooooo’s That Author. Today marks the return of that feature! Once a month I will feature a great middle grade author and give away his/her book.
Today I have the honor of welcoming Tom Llewellyn author of The Titling House. I featured his book a bit back on a post about books I’d love to read. It looks just fantastic. And if Tom’s self questioning interview is any indication of the quality of the book, it will be fantastic. For Tom’s guest post he is basically interviewing himself! I laughed when I read it, I hope you will too!
Tom Llewellyn interviews Tom Llewellyn
Before we get to the interesting questions, I suppose you want to shill your novel, The Tilting House.
I’m not above a little shilling. So let’s get a quick summary out of the way. Brothers Josh and Aaron Peshik are about to discover that their new home with the tilting floors hides many mysteries. When the boys and their neighbor Lola discover the hidden diary of F.T. Tilton, the brilliant but deranged inventor who built the house, they learn a dark secret that may mean disaster for the Peshik family. Can the kids solve the riddles of the tilting house before time runs out?
That sounds exactly like what’s written on the flap of the dust jacket.
It is. And if you liked that, here’s some more plagiarism from Random House’s marketing department: Mad science, mischief, and mishaps combine in the suspenseful and imaginative tale.
Can’t you take a moment to describe the book in your own words?
No. I’m too busy editing my next novel, Letter Off Dead. It comes out next September from Tricycle Press, the same children’s and young adult imprint of Random House that published The Tilting House.
You really do like to shill, don’t you?
Yes, I’m shameless.
Let’s get to the more interesting questions: You could have written a romance, a biography or a book about kitties. Why did you choose to write a mystery/adventure?
When I was a kid, I always longed for a book with plenty of adventure, plenty of surprises and a mystery meaty enough to sink my teeth into. So that’s what I tried to write. I think I succeeded.
My hope is that there are plenty of readers out there who are longing for the same kind of book. And so far, so good. The first printing has sold out already. I’m not talking numbers like The Hunger Game, but it’s doing pretty well.
Any changes for the second printing?
A few tiny typos magically disappeared. And some nice reviews appear on the back cover now.
I suppose you want to share one. But only one, OK?
OK. Publisher’s Weekly said, “Llewellyn’s debut is inventive, gripping, and shot through with macabre details.” I like that one. And I like the word “macabre.” It means creepy. I wanted at least parts of the book to come across as creepy.
You’ve got a fair amount of laughs in the book. Do you think of it as a humor novel?
I don’t. I tried to always treat both the characters and the plot with a lot of respect. I mean that I always wanted the characters to act true to themselves in the situations I put them in. Josh and Aaron are both natural smart alecks. Mr. Daga is smelly and burps a lot (he’s a rat, so it’s OK) and the dad is naturally grumpy (like me, I suppose). When you place those characters in a house where the walls disappear every now and then, some funny moments are sure to arise.
I liked the setting of the book. What was the inspiration?
I live in the inspiration. The setting is based on my own home, which was built in Tacoma, Washington in 1898. In The Tilting House, the floors of the home tilt precisely three degrees (which means that one end of an average couch would be about six inches lower than the other end). In my house, the floors tilt, too, although not nearly that much. But marbles and pencils do tend to gather in downhill corners. Of course, in my house, walls don’t disappear, pocketknives don’t grow to the size of machetes, and rats don’t talk. At least I hope they don’t. I’m pretty sure we don’t have any rats.
The main character is Josh, who seems about 12 or 13 years old. But their grandpa also plays a key part. Do you think young readers will be interested in such an old character?
I think they will if he’s interesting. In too many books, the adults are portrayed as nitwits. Grandpa is definitely not a nitwit. He’s a bit nutty. And he has a wooden leg, so that makes him automatically interesting, don’t you think? There’s even a chapter where he tells the story of losing his leg. What kid doesn’t like a good amputation story?
When you’re not shamelessly promoting The Tilting House, what are you doing?
Did I mention Letter Off Dead?
Yes, but you can mention it again if you have to.
I have to. The book doesn’t come out until next September, but I need to turn in a final draft on October 11. Yikes!
I’m really excited about the book, though. It’s about a boy named Trevor who is just starting junior high school. His dad died years earlier, but Trevor decides to start writing letters to his dead father, as a kind of diary. But two weeks later, his dead father starts writing back.
Yes. It is. Weird is good.