Summer Reads: Island of Doom

We hope that you’ve enjoyed our Summer Reads series and got a chance to read some, if not all, of our picks. Congratulations to the winners of our Summer Reads contest!

Our last summer reads book is Island of Doom: Book 4 of the Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade. I got the chance to talk to Arthur about his favourite books to read at the cottage and why he likes writing for a younger audience.

CL: What authors did you like to read when you were young?

Arthur Slade: Lloyd Alexander’s fantasy novels, along with (of course) JRR Tolkien and Guy Gavriel Kay. I think I devoured every Robert Heinlein novel I could get my hands on, too, along with Frank Herbert. And I became a Stephen King fan at a young age. Come to think of it I still pause to read these authors whenever I get a chance. They knew (and know) what they were doing.

CL: What do you like to read at the cottage?

AS: Reading is the best thing about cottage life. We don’t have very good TV reception. There is wireless, but it costs money to download. So books it is. And time. There’s nothing like having books and time at the cottage. At this moment I’m burning my way through George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones books on my eReader. But I also, for some reason, like to bring older books with me and read something that was written a long time ago. The cover might even be a bit ratty. Those old books somehow seems perfect for the cottage.

CL: Do you think technology (eReaders, iPads, etc) will get more young people interested in reading or just increase distractions?

AS: I’m finding that it already does both. eReaders mean you can take a vast collection of books with you wherever you travel. But an iPad means that you can also flip around to different games, check the weather, check the score on the Riders game, check the weather, repeat. I find there are more books that I start but don’t finish on my iPad. But then I’ll find a book that demands that I read it and ignore all the other apps on my iPad. A book that can block out all that other noise is a good one.

CL: One of the things I like most about young adult (YA) novels is the inherent hopefulness that seems to be a theme through most, if not all YA lit. What drew you to YA and why do you like writing for a younger audience?

AS: For me it’s the feeling that life and imagination (which may be the same thing) feel endless (and boundless) when you are younger reader. I often say that I write for the thirteen-year-old inside of me, that kid who would read a science fiction or fantasy novel and go, “Man, that was so cool!” Or would weep over the death of a favourite character (though I’d never weep in front of friends, of course). ¬†As a “grown up” reader and writer, it’s harder to capture that feeling. But I keep aiming for it whenever I start something new.

CL: Steampunk is experiencing a resurgence in popularity over the past few years. Why do you think people are attracted to it right now?

AS: I think as a society we naturally like to look back at the past and imagine it as a better or a more interesting time. Who wouldn’t want to stand inside the coliseum two thousand years ago (well maybe not as a gladiator)? Victorian times is no different. It was a wonderful time when a whole society seemed to believe in the potential of science and humanity. But there were also vast differences between the rich and the poor. The twist with steampunk is being able to have fun imagining how different everything would have been if we’d stayed a coal-powered, steam-powered society and floated around on giant airships. It sounds rather romantic. Except for all the smoke, of course.