Today I have the pleasure and the honor of interviewing Sharon Ledwith, author of the newly released The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis. Hello, Sharon, and welcome to my humble blog home.
Sharon, I would like to begin this interview with the blurb for your book, if we may.
When Amanda Sault and her four classmates are caught in a major food fight at school, they are given the choice of suspension or yard duty. It was a no-brainer. A two-week crash course in landscaping leads the kids to discover a weathered stone arch buried in an overgrown backyard. Instead of a forgotten lawn ornament, it turns out to be an ancient time portal from the lost continent of Atlantis. Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers—legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from an evil force—the five children, along with two offbeat adults, are sent on the adventure of their lives to save the Earth from an uncertain future. The Timekeepers’ first mission lands them in England in 1214, where they must find an adolescent Robin Hood and his band of merry teens before history is turned upside-down.
This sounds like an interesting adventure that would be a lot of fun for middle grade readers, and even, say, old women of a particular age. You’ve gone back quite a distance in time for this novel, and I’d love to know what methods and resources you incorporated in doing your research.
First off, Cordelia, I want to thank you so much for having me here on your blog today. Cheers to you! As for my methods and resources? Hmm. I guess most of it comes from using my imagination. I’ve always loved history and many of the legends that make up part of our history. The legend of Robin Hood is no exception, and because of its popularity in books and film, the story of Robin Hood continues to live. The same goes for the legendary continent of Atlantis. My strategy for my time travel novels is to do the necessary research, then see where I can bend the truth to give it my own unique brand of writing. In other words, I truly have fun with recreating the past to fit into my story-lines. But, it’s my characters and their reactions to their situations that give the story substance and truth.
In your story, Sharon, Robin Hood is a teenager. I’d like to know, if you could travel back in time and meet Robin Hood, and you were of an age, what would your reaction be? Would you want to join his merry band, or would you be repulsed by him?
After reading about the living conditions and the way people treated each other back then, my guess is that I’d probably be repulsed. Sad, but true. I know it was of a different mindset in 1214, so I’ll cut Robin some slack for that, but we’ve certainly come a long way in our evolution in the way we respect ourselves and others. Now, if we could start respecting nature in the same manner, that’d be awesome!
I definitely pick up the feeling that you are a huge fan of magical spells, Sharon. If you were given the ability to cast a magical spell of your own, what would it be, and what would you do with it?
World peace. Okay, I’m shooting for the moon there. I think everyone could use a do-over spell. A one time only, one chance to get it right spell. Think about the power of that spell. You could say the right thing at the right time to the right person, when you knew you should have in the first place. You could make the correct choice. Or you could just be there and say nothing. I bet everyone wishes they could do-over at least one thing that’s happen in their life.
That would be a great spell, but I would need it to be available much more than just once. Seems like I have a huge habit of saying or doing the wrong thing.
Amanda is one of your main characters in The Last Timekeepers. I understand she has been appointed the position of scribe for this crew of timekeepers, so it would seem she has a serious side, or is at least a responsible young person. If your book is picked up for a movie, who would you hope to see playing the part of Amanda, and why? I’d also love to know who you envision for the parts of the two adults that go along with the kids on this wild adventure.
Yes, Amanda Sault is the main character in this novel. The next story belongs to Jordan Jensen. What would I do ‘if’ my book is picked up for a movie? Wink. I honestly have no idea who could play Amanda or any of her classmates. Believe me I’ve tried to envision the actors, but I keep drawing blanks. Now the adult roles are different. I thought Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap fame) as Professor John Lucas and Amanda Tapping (Stargate and Sanctuary shows) as Melody Spencer. I can see the ‘Rock’ Dwayne Johnson playing Belial and singer Taylor Swift as Lilith. For a bit of comic relief, Professor Marcus Crowley could be played by Jim Parsons ( he plays Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory), but that’s my choice, and believe me I’m no casting director!
Oh, dear! Sheldon is such a strange little man. He would certainly bring an interesting twist to things, wouldn't he? Okay, now you’re going to think I’ve totally lost my mind, but I want to switch gears. I know others on the tour will ask lots of questions about your book, but I want to get to know more about you as a person. So, having said that, let’s pretend that you have just found uncontestable proof that fairies are living in your garden. What is the first thing you are going to do with this information?
What do you mean proof that fairies exist? Are you telling me that they don’t? I know for a fact fairies exist! I was keeping it a secret, but now you had to blab to the world that the fair folk are really living, breathing, flying beings, and that they’re living in my garden! Great. The jig is up.
My apologies. I have always known they were real, but I guess others are not enlightened. Now the fairies reveal to you that they have been living in your garden for thousands of years, just waiting for you to come along. They want you to come to the fairy realm to help rekindle the childhood belief in the wee creatures. In exchange for your help, they will allow you to continue writing and will even make sure your novels get published. Of course, it’s a permanent change of address. You have two options. Go with them, or call the lawn service and have them obliterated for all time. You will have to also take out the thousand year old oak tree that your town is famous for.
Again, not a revelation! I see them all the time. I give them their space, they give me mine. But if the head-hauncho fairy did ask me to help them by entering into the fairy realm forever, well I guess I’d submit myself. After all they do protect me from undesirables like bad reviews and lousy press. It’s the least I could do.
Well, that was certainly fun. Now let’s get serious. In your own personal experience, what have you found to be most useful in helping you to grow as a writer? Is it web sites that offer forums and opportunities for on-line critiques? Or is it attending conferences and other places where you can get one-on-one, immediate feedback? Or is it something else entirely? I just know that there are many resources available to writers today, and I wonder which ones are most productive or seem to be most helpful.
Originally it was my writing circle—a group of three wannabe authors—who I met during a ‘Write Your Novel’ college course. Writing workshops were another source. One of the biggest I’ve found is meeting other like-minded authors through the Muskoka Novel Marathon. It’s a fundraising event for literacy in my area where about 30 authors try to produce a novella over the course of three days. Believe it or not, this event has produced some brilliant work that has gone on to get published. I would also like to include the power of the world wide web, where any information a would-be author needs is at the tip of his or her fingers.
Okay, let’s revert back to another fun question. If you could be any character in any book you’ve ever read, who would you be and why? Also, would you do anything differently that might alter the ending of the story?
That’s easy. Quasimodo. Think about it. He rings bells for a living. He brings awareness. How cool is that? And yes, Quasimodo must get the gypsy girl at the end. After all, he did give her sanctuary. It’s the least Esmerelda could do.
Have you ever read a book that was so terrifying that you couldn’t finish it? I don’t mean terrifying in the sense of horrible writing. I’m thinking more like a hideous monster of some kind, or a story premise that was just too scary for you to deal with?
Honestly, no. I remember reading The Shining when I was babysitting. Now, that was a mistake. I had all the lights on and read with my back against the wall. The parents must have thought I was a wing-nut at the time. Maybe that’s the reason I never got a call back?
I could never read The Shining, or even watch the film. You're a brave soul, Sharon. Oh, it’s the last question already. Seems like we just got started. But since we’re here, I have to ask, do you intend to keep writing for this particular age group, or do you think you might want to venture into something different?
Actually, I started out writing for another genre until I was pulled into the spiral of middle-grade/young adult books. My genre of choice was paranormal romance. I wrote a whopper of a novel between 1996-98 about a shapeshifter and a detective—a modern-type Beauty and the Beast so-to-speak. Then one night, during my writer’s circle, one of my writing girlfriends said something that floored me. She mentioned that I hit the twelve-year-old voice bang on. This got me to thinking—how hard would it be to write a young adult novel? It was a stupid question. Of course it was hard! But, boy, it was fun! The idea for The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis came to me in a dream I had around 1998. In this dream, I saw seven arches, and there were seven people (five kids, two adults) with crystals in their hands, walking up to these arches. It definitely had an “Indiana Jones” feel to it. So, to answer your question—I’m open to all possibilities.
Thank you, again, Sharon. It's been such a pleasure having you here and letting others get to know you a little better. I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Timekeepers and look forward to the next episode.
Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, debuting through Musa Publishing this May 18, 2012. When not writing or digging up the past, she enjoys reading, yoga, kayaking, time with family and friends, and single malt scotch. Sharon lives in the wilds of Muskoka in Central Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, a water-logged yellow Labrador and moody calico cat.