Q&A with Royce Buckingham
I'd like to welcome author Royce Buckingham to P.S. I Love Books! I had such a great time reading his answers to my interview questions and I hope you will too. He has easily become one of the best interviewees I've had the pleasure to question. His latest release The Dead Boys (September 2, 2010 - Putnam Juvenile) is a clever, creepy, and exciting read that I recommend to readers of all ages.
A little background info before we go on:
Royce Buckingham was born in Richland, Washington and grew up downriver from the Hanford nuclear plant, which might explain his mutated view of the world.
As a kid, Royce loved stories, such as The Phantom Tollbooth and The Hobbit. He collected comic books, watched Jaws at nine years old, Star Wars at eleven, and Alien at thirteen. He was even a Dungeons & Dragons nerd.
Royce obtained an English degree from Whitman College and a law degree from the University of Oregon, then became a prosecuting attorney. His first novel, Demonkeeper, was inspired by his work in juvenile court—it is a monster story about lost children being eaten up by the chaos of street-life.
Royce wrote for 13 years in his spare time before he hit a home run in 2005, selling Demonkeeper to both Putnam and 20th Century Fox within a month of each other. Demonkeeper then hit the bestseller list in Germany. He has multiple monstery novels in multiple countries now and continues to write in his dwindling spare time.
Buckingham lives in Bellingham, WA with his wife, whom he met in the courtroom where she was covering one of his criminal cases as a reporter. They have two boys, neither of which have been eaten by demons, or goblins, or mutated trees…yet.
To learn more about Royce and his books visit his website: http://www.demonkeeper.com/
Me: Welcome to P.S. I Love Books Royce! Thank you so much for taking the time out to answer a few questions about yourself and your latest novel The Dead Boys. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Royce: The Dead Boys is special (to me) because it is set in the town where I grew up…next to the nuclear plant. It’s a ghost story, but it’s also a mutated monster story, and kids get eaten as a bonus, so it’s triple cool for people who love words like “creepy” and “spooky.”
Me: The concept of a “killer” tree is really quite unique, at least to me. What inspired you to write The Dead Boys?
Royce: I had sold Putnam a monster-under-the-bed story idea. But when we finished the first draft, my editor, John Rudolph (now an agent), said, “the tree outside his window is so much creepier than anything you could ever put under his bed.” So we switched gears and made it an evil tree story. I was going to set it in the town I live in now, Bellingham, WA, but I thought it would be interesting to include creepy desert stuff…and it was!
Me: I thought it was so clever to have the pictured tree’s “hands” move closer and closer to the running boy in each of the chapter headings as the story progressed. Was that your idea?
Royce: Isn’t that great?!!! I WISH I had thought of that. I am the beneficiary of a very creative layout person.
Me: What do you think of the cover of The Dead Boys?
Royce: Love. It. (I’ve learned that, on the internet, when you really like something, you split the sentence into single words). I hope the kids love it too. It really grabs me, so to speak. And it works so well thematically…pretty much captures the essence of the story.
Me: All of the boys in the story have very distinct personalities, some more subtle than others. Is there a particular character you relate to the most?
Royce: I am Teddy. I was a wuss and scared of bullies. I was timid about making friends. Darkness and creepy things frightened me. And I threw rocks better than most chubby kids.
Me: If you had to do it all over again would you change anything in The Dead Boys?
Royce: One reviewer commented that Teddy didn’t have much depth of character, so I’ve given that some thought. I purposefully left him as an empty vessel so that the reader could easily step into his shoes (like Harry Potter, who also has no personality). But I would rethink that now and at least “consider” giving him some more layers. My ending was controversial too. I won’t spoil it, but there was a huge fight over it in my brain. I think I won, but it was close.
Me: With The Dead Boys being your third middle grade release have you ever thought of breaking into the adult genre?
Royce: Oh good golly, yes. Tell the publishers! If I had the time, I’d be working on something…oh wait, I am! I just never seem to get it done with everything else I’m doing (I’m a dad, a lawyer, a screenwriter, a children’s writer, a coach, blah-blah-blah). Someday soon. Mark my words. Beg my agent.
Me: If your life were made into a movie who would you like to see play you on the big screen?
Royce: My wife says Kevin Bacon (perhaps with a big dance number). But I don’t think so. I will consult facebook and see what my friends say… Okay, the answer is Tom Cruise, sans Scientology. Sometimes intense (lawyer side), sometimes clever (writer side), and married to a cute dark-haired gal. Here’s a photo comparison:
I’m the one on the right.
Me: I’m always looking for books to add to my ginormous TBR (to be read) pile. What books are you currently reading or have read recently? Any good recommendations?
Royce: If you haven’t already…The Hunger Games. Wow! I enjoyed Christopher Moore’s Dirty Job—weird, but fun. I recently read The Road—too bleak, even for me. And Shark vs. Train was great!
Me: If you could write a book with any other author about absolutely anything, what would it be about and who would you choose?
Royce: Let me interject here and say that these are the greatest blog questions ever! Okay, back to business.
I would kill to write a script with Rod Serling (I write scripts too, btw) or work with Richard Matheson on the world’s greatest short story (which is how I started in the biz). I am also a huge Stephen King fan. Christopher Moore is an adult version of me, in some ways. Neil Gaiman does what I do now, only better--I would learn a lot from him. His Coraline is like my Dead Boys, only for girls. Rick Riordan would be interesting to work with. I dig the concept of what the 39 Clues authors did (writing a series together). Would love to be in a group like that. But I think you asked me to choose one, so I’ll flip some coins, roll some D&D twenty-sided dice, and say, currently…Neil Gaiman.
As far as story, I’d like to do something dark, mildly literary, and heroic. I was an English major and would like to wed my love of fantasy/horror with a great literary story (you saw what was done with The Watchmen in the comic and movie arenas, yes?). A hero that sacrifices him/herself selflessly is my favorite.
I have several story outlines I’ve done that I love that are too dark/edgy/tricky/offbeat for me to sell to my publisher. Among these is a story I outlined for Microsoft, who was going to make an Xbox game out of it (cancelled midstream). It’s steampunk, tragic, and a sweeping epic. I’m still in the beginning stages, so I could definitely work with someone on it. It would be the coolest book and movie ever. Eh. Ver. It involves a princess who gets booted from her homeland and must become an assassin. ‘nuff said, I think.
Any of the above authors that want to write this sort of story with me are welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I’ll sit by the computer and wait, though not for Mr. Serling, as we lost him years ago, sadly.
Me: Can you tell us what we can look forward to from you next?
Royce: I’m working on a book about a secret organization that recruits terminally ill teens to spend the last year of their life doing something ferociously dangerous and good for mankind instead of dying in bed. Can’t tell you what, but imagine them deflecting an asteroid from hitting earth or something like that. It’s one of those books that’s so cool that my publisher might not let me do it, but they’re considering it pretty darn hard.
Royce: My pleasure! Great questions…did I mention that? And you rock.
My best, Royce
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