woensdag 9 oktober 2013

Review - Interview - Giveaway "The Grotto under the Tree"

Some information

Title: The Grotto under the Tree
Author: John A. Theo Jr.
Pages: 139
Genre: Young Adult
Published: February 2013
Publisher: Astraea Press
My Scource: author and Candace's Book Blog
My score on Goodreads: 4 stars


Sebastian and Sara mistakenly descend into a mystical land where elves, mermaids, gnomes and other mythological creatures live. The two discover they have stumbled into an ancient battle between these fair folk and evil creatures called the Kylo. Their guide on this journey is Capri, an elf lord who is on a quest to find his lost tribe. The Kylo chase the children and Capri in his flying galleon north into the Arctic Circle where they find the most unlikely ally. During the final battle the children learn about sacrifice, love and ultimately forgiveness.

My Review

What a great experience to travel back in time and read the kind of book I used to read when I was younger. As a child/young adult I adored heroes of my own age who discovered the most special places on earth and got to know the most wonderful creatures in that world! 
With "The Grotto under the Tree" John A. Theo Jr. provides us a good read for young and old. A book you can appreciate at every age and no matter what kind of books you normally like to read.

In this book we meet Sara and Sebastian, two young children who are neighbours and go to school together. Outside their school stands a beautiful oak tree who survived many storms and is known by young and old in the neighborhood. Sara and Sebastian too have played under it many times. When the tree is severely damaged in a storm, the two friends discover some strange things around it. Their curiosity leads them towards a very special world with very special creatures in it. Too bad for them their encounter isn't so peaceful because of some bad forces trying to attack the beautiful creatures Sara and Sebastion just met. Both necessity and friendship take the children along in this big battle between good and bad, a battle that must be fought for every living being on earth (and beyond).

What I loved about this book is the fact it can learn the young readers lots of lessons. You have to take care of your friends and you have to keep on believing in the good things even though that's not always easy. Also the fact there were some totally unexpected turns in the book was appreciated here. The author is able to keep the story going and to keep it exciting without making the story long or boring. 

Interview with the author

First we want to get our author a little better. Here's some information!
John Theo Jr. has numerous published articles on arts, culture and sports figures. He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, MA. During the day John serves as Vice President of Operations for Blue Sky Holdings, which owns many commercial fitness clubs. John is also an adjunct professor at Endicott College in Beverly, MA, where he teaches screenwriting. John's Book, The Grotto Under The Tree, has been released by Astraea Press.

Talk about some things in the book that are more personal to you, or some places in the book you've visited, or want to visit.
I wrote a scene where Sebastian finds his mother in the living room during a thunderstorm. He knows she never liked thunderstorms. He tries to comfort her by crawling into her lap like he did as a little boy, but instead she rocks him back to sleep. This was a subconscious homage to my mom who passed away in 1996. My way of sending her a hug.

How you came up with some of the more unique elements?
For Father Christmas' character it was a knee jerk reaction to the charicature of the fat red-suited santa claus our society has portrayed him as. I researched the historical Saint Nicholas and what I found amazed me. Ironically I made him more like the historical person which no one in movies or books has done before. He ends up being more like Gandalf in The Lord of The Rings than a chubby man in a red suit who delivers toys. I think people will really like this version of him.

Can you give some facts about the city or place the book takes place in?
It takes place in a town similar to the one I grew up in. The school and oak tree are based on Great Oak Elementary School where I went in Danvers, MA. I did alter the town to make it a seaside town though.

Can we meet the characters?

(Tell us about your main characters! Looks, personality, some background story, and/or maybe a few quotes from the story?)

Sebastian is the intellectual 5th grader who aces all his tests yet cannot throw a baseball. Sara is the popular athlete who struggles in school.

How do you come up with those special names for the characters? It seems like a difficult part of writing the book.
I keep a journal of names that jump out at me from time to time. When I go to sit down at with a story I can pull from them. It makes it an easy, and fun, part of the writing process for me. With that said, names are a tool that should not be overlooked. I teach my students that names offer another layer and opportunity to "show" rather than "tell". For example, Tolkien is a master of this in his Lord of The Rings trilogy. You have characters like "Wormtongue" and "Treebeard", but he (being a philologist) had almost every name mean something. Names of swords, names of rocks and mountains, etc. It's another layer to the story that, if the reader peels back, offers a reward of discovery. With that said, sometimes you just want to name a character Stu and leave it at that. 

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2 opmerkingen:

  1. Thanks so much for giving this one a try! I'm really happy to hear you enjoyed it! And thanks for hosting a tour stop as well!

    1. A big thank you to you for hosting this and helping us with all the extra's :D