Matthew Peterson: Hey there, you’re listening to The Author Hour: Your Guide to Fantastic Fiction, which can be found at www.TheAuthorHour.com. I’m your host, Matthew Peterson, author of Paraworld Zero. Our theme today is magic, mystery and zany worlds.
My next guest is Obert Skye, young adult author of the Leven Thumps series and Pillage. His books have received the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Juvenile Fiction and the iParenting Media award for Best Book. Obert has visited over 600 schools around the country speaking on such topics as making right choices and promoting literacy. Thanks for being on the show today, Obert.
Obert Skye: Hey, thank you so much for having me, Matthew.
Matthew Peterson: Now is Obert Skye your real name?
Obert Skye: Sure, why not?
Matthew Peterson: Why not? Okay. [laughs]
Obert Skye: I mean, yeah, Obert’s great, yeah.
Matthew Peterson: Okay. Cause I went online and I was like, Ahh, I don’t know if this is really . . . true. [laughs]
Obert Skye: It’s kind of all about imagination and it’s like thinking bigger and beyond the books even so. It’s kind of . . . I would never admit to it not being my name.
Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Okay. I read that you were born on a stormy night in the back of a fast-moving taxi. You read your first book at age two, wrote your first story at age four, and was nearly trampled by a herd of water buffalo at age six. What’s all that about? [laughs]
Obert Skye: [laughs] Sure, it all happened just like that.
Matthew Peterson: Just like that. I’m interviewing Lemony Snicket. That sounds like something right out of his biography.
Obert Skye: Uh . . . yeah! It could be. That’s true. He’s a great guy.
Matthew Peterson: You two aren’t related are you?
Obert Skye: [laughs] No, just . . . I’m just a fan of his.
Matthew Peterson: So tell me a little bit about the Leven Thumps series.
Obert Skye: Sure. This is sort of my first major series and it’s just been a lot of fun. It’s kind of based on a whole new place. And I think one of the reasons it’s been so successful is because it kind of creates this whole new world, which is Foo. And this boy Leven, who of course assumes he’s nothing or worth nothing, discovers that it’s up to him to not only save this world, which is where imagination and dreams go to become gigantic, but save our world as well, reality. It’s heavily based on humor and adventure, but this great new place, which is Foo… and all sorts of new terms, new places, and exciting new things that happen. It’s been a lot of fun.
Matthew Peterson: So the first one is Leven Thumps and The Gateway to Foo. And I remember seeing the book cover and I have to tell you, your book covers are so amazing. They’re probably some of the best book covers I’ve ever seen. And that’s why . . .
Obert Skye: You’re so nice.
Matthew Peterson: Yeah, I’m serious.
Obert Skye: The artist is brilliant. Ben Sowards, who does it has done just a terrific job.
Matthew Peterson: Just great. I love those book covers. And I took a look at the websites. And Shadow Mountain I think is the one who did your websites. Those websites are just amazing!
Obert Skye: Yeah. No, it’s cool. Really interactive and sort of kind of has the feel of kind of the book. I’ve been very fortunate.
Matthew Peterson: Yeah. I was tempted to move over to Shadow Mountain just so I could get one of those cool websites and a cool book cover. [laughs]
Obert Skye: [laughs] Come on! That’d be great!
Matthew Peterson: So you have another book: Leven Thumps and the Ruins of Alder. Tell us a little bit about that book. That’s the last one in the series?
Obert Skye: Yes, volume 5, the very last in the series and probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write but also the coolest. It ends the main series. There will be a book coming next year, which just focuses on one of the minor characters in the series. But it ends Leven and Winter, is the girl’s kind of story. And it’s just awesome what happens. It’s sort of when Foo and reality collide and some of the amazing things that happen and sort of a really cool ending. I’m very happy, and sad at the same time that it’s kind of over but happy with what the result is.
Matthew Peterson: From book one, he grows older, of course, and matures. So how has your main character, Leven, matured over the course of the series?
Obert Skye: Well, nice question. In fact, the whole five volumes really only covers a little over about three months time, actually.
Matthew Peterson: Oh, wow!
Obert Skye: But in Foo you grow by experience. And so Leven really starts young but by the end of book five is almost out of his . . .you know, I think he’s 18 or 19 when he ends. And so he’s had these terrific experiences–or horrific experiences–that have made him grow at this tremendous rate. And so he changes pretty rapidly, and a lot of the story is about him having to adapt to such a change in his life and becoming such an amazing person. And when he ends up in book five, I just think he turns out to be one of the coolest heroes ever. He’s just a great character–so fun to write.
Matthew Peterson: And Simon and Schuster, they’re doing the paperback books. Is that correct?
Obert Skye: Yes, Simon and Schuster are . . . have the soft backs for Leven.
Matthew Peterson: Okay, cool. And what about a movie? Are there any plans for a movie?
Obert Skye: Yeah. The rights have been sold and they’re in early talks, hoping they’ll line up production stuff. So it’s very exciting.
Matthew Peterson: Yeah, that’s one of those things. I’ve been told by a lot of authors. When you get your option for a movie, take the money and run. [laughs] And pray real hard.
Obert Skye: Well, there’s certainly some of that. That’s for sure. The guys that have bought it I really like it, and they really have this cool vision of kind of Leven and Foo. So I hope . . . yeah, we’ll see what happens. It looks like it’s lining up to take place. But there’s certainly a lot of that, yeah, hoping and wishing as well.
Matthew Peterson: Yeah. But it’s still fun. You have a whole series there, so there could even be more than one movie.
Obert Skye: Yes, yeah, no, that’s exciting. I agree.
Matthew Peterson: Now you have a standalone YA novel called Pillage, which came out in 2008?
Obert Skye: I do. It’s actually the first volume in a “Pillagy”, which is kind of lame, but . . .
Matthew Peterson: A “pillagy” [laughs]
Obert Skye: But it sounds . . . book one is called Pillage and book 2, which is called Choke, comes out in spring this year. Yeah, I really love it. It’s a story… it’s kind of centered around dragons but a whole different take on it. It’s modern day. This kind of a smart-alec kid goes into this fantastically cool little village with this amazing old man or house that he lives in and basically finds out some really cool things about him and his family. 1. That they have this control over things that grow and 2. That with that gift he can sort of grow dragons. And so it’s kind of a . . . it was so much fun to write.
Matthew Peterson: Like grow a dragon? [laughs]
Obert Skye: Yeah.
Matthew Peterson: Well, that’s cool. So you mentioned that there might be another Leven Thumps book with another character.
Obert Skye: Yeah. One of the main characters in the Leven Thumps series is Geth. He actually starts the series off as a toothpick and by the end of book five is transformed quite a bit. And I get so much great response from him. He’s just such a great guy. And he’s from Foo. So there’s a book called Geth and the Return of the Lithens, which is what he is; he’s a Lithen. And that’ll come out next year. And then I have a book coming out from Holt, sort of a new series, which is a novel drawn–you know, a comic novel.
Matthew Peterson: Oh, okay.
Obert Skye: So that’s kind of exciting. I’m excited about that as well.
Matthew Peterson: Oh, awesome. Well I have to tell you before we end this interview, I called Shadow Mountain. You know, they were kind of giving me some suggestions and I’m like, “Wait a second. Obert Skye, you’re with Shadow Mountain!”
Obert Skye: That’s cool.
Matthew Peterson: So, yeah, you know, what reminded me of you is that I had a house fire not too long ago . . .
Obert Skye: That’s just horrible.
Matthew Peterson: Yeah. It really was. [laughs] We pretty much lost everything in the house, but I had on my desk a package. And it was sealed, it was wrapped… and it was your book. [laughs] I had bought you books. I haven’t read them yet. But I bought like the whole series and I was like, “Oh, these probably would be a good Christmas gift for my boys.” So I actually still have that package. And I haven’t had the heart to open it up yet to see if it’s been “smokified”. That’s my wife’s new word: “smokified.”
[Matt’s note: it got so hot in our house that plastic items upstairs, where the fire had’t even reached, melted into goo. We even had smoke damage in the frozen food sealed in plastic in our standalone freezer, which was 30 feet away from the fire. The smoke literally permeated the entire house until it put out the fire, and then it got hotter and hotter for two or three hours until we opened the door, and like Backdraft the movie it blazed back up again.]
Obert Skye: Oh, man. That’s a tragic story with only a slightly happy ending. I mean that’s . . . the books, that’s great, but that’s too bad. I’m so sorry for you guys.
Matthew Peterson: Yeah, so I thought, you know I should probably at least talk to him and . . . [laughs]
Obert Skye: [laughs]
Matthew Peterson: Cause I remember . . .
Obert Skye: I’m glad you did.
Matthew Peterson: I remember those covers. I’m like, “That is really . . . that’s really nice. I gotta take a look at those books.” And I do respect Shadow Mountain and the other authors.
Obert Skye: It’s been a wild ride. I mean, people have just been so kind, and it’s just been unbelievably . . . more successful than I kind of even imagined. And it’s been a . . . I’ve been very fortunate. It’s been great. It’s been awesome.
Matthew Peterson: Well, cool. Well I’ve been speaking today with Obert Skye, author of the Leven Thumps series. Thanks for being on the show today, Obert.
Obert Skye: Oh, my pleasure. Thanks for having me!
Matthew Peterson: Well, that’s it for today. Make sure you visit www.TheAuthorHour.com to listen to all of the great bonus questions that didn’t make it onto the live show. Next week I’ve got Mary Pope Osborne who writes the Magic Tree House books, Cory Doctorow who wrote Little Brother and Makers, Garth Nix who wrote the Old Kingdom, The Seventh Tower, and The Keys to the Kingdom series, and Mindy Klasky who wrote the Glasswrights, Jane Madison, and As You Wish series. See you next week everyone!