Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Interview with Brian Tashima Author of Secret of the Songshell

What inspired you to become an author?

I’d been an avid reader all my life and had dabbled in creative writing before, but it wasn’t until my son approached me a few years ago and asked me to write him a book that I really began to take the idea of becoming an author seriously. I decided that writing a novel would be a cool thing to do for him and for myself as well, so I set out to create something along the lines of all the other young adult sci-fi/fantasy books that my son and I both enjoyed.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Having been a songwriter for a long time, I like to pay extra attention to the rhythm and pacing of sentences and paragraphs. Also, I try to keep things visual, fast-paced, and fun to read.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The protagonist of my novel, Joel Suzuki, is a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome who struggles with the usual sources of teen angst as well as the challenges that his Asperger’s presents. He’s also a brilliant guitarist and songwriter, and he thinks that if he can become a rock star, that all of his problems will be solved and he’ll be happy. He gets what seems to be his big chance when his rock star idol shows up one day and tells Joel that the secret to success lies in an alternate world called Spectraland – but once Joel arrives there, he finds that things are not quite what he expected. Basically, the main message is that happiness is something that comes from within, not from external sources.

Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?

Joel is kind of a combination of my son, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, and me, a lifelong musician. While I was writing the book, whenever Joel was faced with a decision that he had to make, I would often consider how my son would react, and I would base Joel’s actions on that.

What books/authors have influenced your life?

So many to choose from…when I was a kid, I devoured fantasy of all types – Tolkein, Piers Anthony, David Eddings, Katherine Kurtz, on and on. The books that had the most direct influence on Secret of the Songshell were the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series, since those were the books my son was into at the time.

What book are you reading now?

I usually read several books at a time, so right now I’m in the middle of Asperkids by Jennifer Cook O’Toole, The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry, Slip by Tanya Savko, The Help (yes, I’m finally getting around to that one), and Wildwood by Colin Meloy.

What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?

I’m currently hard at work on the follow-up to Secret of the Songshell. Both books are part of a planned series of seven books called The Spectraland Saga. My goal is to release the follow-up in the fall of 2013, but we’ll see how that turns out. People are already asking me “where’s the second book?” so the pressure is on.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Here’s a short excerpt from Chapter 2 of Songshell:

Joel winced as the weird sound blared painfully in his ears once again. “Um, did you hear that?”
“Hear what?” Art asked as he tried to piece together two sections of Joel’s broken guitar.
“Uh — nothing,” Joel said. That was the fourth time today, and Joel was getting worried. He started a search for “hearing loss symptoms” on the computer when suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, he thought he saw movement on the far wall of the store. He looked around. His eyes gravitated towards an old Biledriver poster that showed all of the band members in full scowl. He blinked several times. Did Marshall just . . . smile?
Two minutes passed. Joel took another bite out of his sandwich as he continued staring at the poster. He could have sworn that he saw Marshall smile for a fraction of a second. But that’s crazy, right? It’s just a poster. . . .

Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you’re starting out on your first book, I would recommend turning off your inner critic/editor and just write. When I was writing Songshell, I told myself that I would write 400 words a day, no matter what, even if they were total garbage. The plan was just to get the words down and then go back and clean them up later. I was able to finish the first draft in four months this way, and then I spent a year doing edits and rewrites. It helped that I had created an outline beforehand, which functioned as a road map of sorts.

Do you have a song or playlist (book soundtrack) that you think represents this book?

I envision a mix of epic orchestral music like “Incantation and Dance” by John Barnes Chance and anthemic rock songs like “We Sing in Time” by The Lonely Forest (as well as some of my own tunes!)

January 7 Guest blog
Michelle  @ Mom With A Kindle

January 7 Promo and review

January 8 Interview
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January 9 Interview
Roxanne’s Realm

January 10 Promo

January 11 Guest blog
The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom

January 12 Interview and review
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January 12 Interview
Books, Books The Magical Fruit

January 13 Guest blog
Monique Morgan

January 14 Guest blog and review
Moosubi Reviews!

Secret of the Songshell was just named a finalist in the 2012 USA Best Book Awards for fantasy fiction

Secret of the Songshell
The Spectraland Saga, Book One
Brian Tashima

Genre: YA sci-fi/fantasy

Publisher: Prism Valley Press

ISBN: 978-0615648156
ASIN: 0615648150

Number of pages: 318
Word Count: 79000

Cover Artist: Purnima Prasad

Book Description:

Joel Suzuki is a gifted teenage guitarist with Asperger's Syndrome who gets transported to a world where his unique brain waves can be combined with the sound waves of music to create magical effects. Once there, he must use his newfound abilities to locate the Songshell, a powerful artifact that will help him stop a mysterious evil entity from destroying the alternate world as well as the Earth.

About the Author:

Brian Tashima was born and raised in Hawaii and has been a resident of Vancouver, Washington since 2000. In addition to being an author, he is a singer, songwriter and guitarist who has won a Hoku award (Hawaii’s version of the Grammys) and has had his music featured in short films, international compilations, and numerous other forms of media. He is currently a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), Willamette Writers, Northwest Independent Writers Association, and three Vancouver/Portland-based rock bands.

Twitter: @SpectralandSaga

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Roxanne Rhoads said...

thank you for creating a book like this