Friday, March 15, 2013

Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud by Jon Thomason: Interview and Excerpt



Where do you dream of traveling to and why? 

I travel quite often to international destinations, but in spite of this, there are many places I still dream of traveling to. The list is long, but here are a few of them: Machu Picchu in Peru. Thailand. Vietnam. The temple complexes in Cambodia, including Ankor Wat. Fiji and Truk Lagoon (to scuba dive). Saudi Arabia. Mount Kilimanjaro. A safari in Kenya. Frustratingly, I have not been to Egypt (where several scenes in Max are set!). I'd like to go to Antarctica. Maybe even Afghanistan. I know you asked why, but I'm not entirely sure, other than the sensory experience of being somewhere new. I love photography, but even so, a picture cannot give you the feeling of gasping for air climbing at 8,000 feet above sea level, or shivering in your parka on Antarctica. I mention Afghanistan because in another life, I could have been a war correspondent and photographer. 

What do you think makes a good story?

I love the perfectly crafted traditional novel: deep characters, multiple conflicts, suspense and anxiety rising to a crescendo and then the sigh of resolution. I used to think that "real life" was boring and that of necessity, good stories had to be fiction. The older I get, however, I find that real life is more incredible often than most fiction. Stories are all around us. For me the perfect story is deep and multifaceted. Boundaries between good and evil are not well-defined. Villains are interesting. People lie. Even to themselves. And (almost) everything is resolved by the end.

What book are you reading now? 

Immediately as we speak, I'm reading Silent Joe by T. Jefferson Parker.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up

I wanted to be three things when I grew up: a writer, an engineer, and a fighter pilot. Two of these came true!

What are your favorite TV shows?

Honestly, very few. I like the well-crafted novel with its plot progression and resolution. Twists are good, but in good measure. TV shows, by their nature, are unsure how long they will go on. Each show has to have some form of conclusion, but from week to week, the writers are forced to come up with new things that are often jarring and are on a tangent from the original direction. Suddenly new powers are invented, or characters "discovered." I much prefer a good novel. I can still get past my annoyance and love some well-written shows. The new Battlestar Galactica series was exceptional. I love Breaking Bad. I liked the first couple seasons of Lost, and J. J. Abrams's earlier series, Alias (but both went far afield in later seasons in perplexing ways).

What is your favorite meal? 

A perfectly grilled dry-aged Ribeye, preferably Oscar-style, or perhaps peppercorn.

What group did you hang out with in high school?

I was a debate geek in high school and also hung out in the computer room. In other words, about as geeky as you can get!

Do you play any sports?

Mostly I coach my kids now. But I still enjoy a good game of basketball and run and ride my bike.

What are you passionate about these days?

So many things! Writing, of course, but also photography, and more recently, video and video production. I've also somewhat recently gotten into 3D modeling. There are few things I'd rather do than write computer code. In my day job, I'm an executive at a large semiconductor company where I'm fortunate to be able to help design mobile phones and the software that drives them.

Morning Person? Or Night Person? How do you know?

Definitely a morning person. I can work, write, code so much faster in the morning than later in the day. There are also many fewer distractions while everyone else is sleeping!

What would we find under your bed? 

Chargers. I have so many devices that need charging that I have two power strips near my bed. The standardized USB charger is one of the best inventions in history!

What makes you happy? 

Many things make me happy. Time with family, of course. Also, the satisfaction of creation. I like to read my own books, look at my own photography, and watch my own videos. There's something very fulfilling about building something tangible--a product, some art. I can't imagine being in a job or having a hobby where I couldn't create, or help create things.

What is the next big thing?

The next big thing is the current big thing: smartphones and tablets. Maybe the next big thing will be digital glasses or a smart watch. I doubt it will be something on the web.

If I came to visit early in the morning would you impress me as being more like a chirpy bird or a grumpy bear? 

Chirpy bird, definitely.

What one word best describes you? 

Can I use three? Talks too fast!

Do your friends think you are an introvert or an extravert? Why? 

Extrovert, definitely. I'm always telling a story about something or other.

Do you have a favorite quote, quip, or saying? What is it?

Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Thomas Alva Edison (1903)

Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it?

Ditto. Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud

Max has anger management issues. But she has a secret, too. She can make things happen. Like magic. She almost killed a loser skate punk and nearly used it on her stuck up older sister. The question is, can she do anything other than blow things up? Can she learn to control it? And is it really possible that an obscure teenage girl is the key to keeping all of humanity safe?

Philip just got his ring back. He got it taken away for messing with his teacher’s mind so he can cheat on a test. Now that he has his ring, he thinks he should be able to use his power to make his life better. A lot better. The problem is that people want him to be responsible. But if you could do magic, wouldn’t you use it to escape work in any way possible?

Aaron wants to be a soldier. He knows there are lots of people who would try to take over, and he’s determined to stop them. The problem is that there’s this new girl. And she might be not be on the right side of things. She’s really talented and pretty, but she might be able to destroy everything he believes in. Whatever the case, he knows he needs to learn to be world class with the magic sword while he figures out what to do.

Brynn never gets out. Her grandfather won’t permit it. Her only access to the outside world are high fashion magazines, so she has an unusual idea what she should wear. She’s dying to get out and travel. And adopt animals. Any kind of animal. Is she a lonely future granny with cats or are her ridiculous clothes actually the next fashion craze? What possible role could she play in the destiny of the world?

Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud is a fast-paced fantasy adventure for all ages (10 and up) and is the first of a planned trilogy. Fans of magic, swordplay, secret agents, and conspiracies set in a modern everyday world will not be able to put the book down. Jon Thomason is a debut author and paints a vivid world of magic right under our noses and delivers rapid-fire action that keeps the pages turning.



"Impressively inventive and enjoyable...vivid storytelling and exceptional characterization...Max's personality is layered and complex...conveyed flawlessly...keeping readers intrigued and engaged...writing style is smooth, and a subtle sense of humor comes through...narrative tension builds at a good pace and easily flows toward a satisfying and exciting conclusion...parents are likely to both approve of the story and enjoy reading it themselves...talented writer...sure to find an appreciative audience that will eagerly anticipate the next book in the series." -- ForeWord Clarion Review

"Thomason shines in his heroine's characterization...magical" --blueink Review

Max was assaulted with the smell of scorched food as soon as she opened the door. Her spirits fell. Not only would the shower have to wait, she’d be forced to deal with her sister. On cue, her mother’s voice drifted from the kitchen. “Max, is that you? It’s dinner time.”
Max looked forward to dinner and time with her sister about as much as she looked forward to a trip to the dentist. Maybe less. At least after going there, her teeth would feel clean! Spending time cooking was incompatible with her mother’s busy social calendar. Dinner was usually a frozen entrée superheated by an oven as hot as a blast furnace. Her mother seemed to think that the fiery temperature would make up for the meal not being homemade.
Then she heard an oh-so-perfect laugh from her oh-so-perfect sister. Max wasn’t sure she could handle the confrontation after everything that had happened that day. Even worse, her father was out of town, so she’d have to face her sister with no mediator. She knew she should probably skip dinner and slink away to her room, but the smell, bad as it was, had triggered a fierce animal hunger in her. And she would not give her sister the satisfaction of scaring her away, so she continued on into the kitchen.
Perfectly coiffed, blond, and beautiful, 16-year-old Alexandra was the spitting image of her mother, that is, minus the age-weathering and the plasticky attempts to reverse it. Max became aware of the squishing sound her sopping shoes were making just as she locked eyes with her sister. There was no mistaking Alexandra’s disgust at having her mommy time interrupted—and her contempt of her unworthy younger sister in general. The fight started before Max even made it to her chair. “Whathave you been doing, Maxine? Mud wrestling?”
Alexandra’s smirk, and artful toss of her golden hair relit Max’s rage. She threw herself into her chair, nearly knocking it over. “I borrowed your makeup, Alex, to try to look like you, but I must not have put enough on.” Alexandra liked being called Alex even less than Max liked being called Maxine.
“Stay out of my stuff, you filthy brat! And Mom, look at the mess she’s making all over.”
“I wouldn’t touch your toxic waste!”
“Girls, please try the lasagna,” pleaded their mother. Max stuffed a bite into her mouth. It was so hot that tears came to her eyes. The food came right back out and onto her plate.
“Eeew, you’re such a disgusting pig!” Alexandra said. “You must have been adopted. There’s no way you’re related to me!”
Max’s mouth hurt too much to respond. Her anger flared. With it, a fire built inside her. It was hot, but did not burn. It built in intensity and pressure, and itched for release. It was the most natural thing in the world to focus it on Alexandra, but then she remembered the explosion and the moans.Blood and glass. Max stood and screamed in rage and fear, her chair falling backwards with a loud clatter. She was only dimly aware of the shocked look on Alexandra’s face as she ran sobbing to her room.
What had she almost done to her sister?

Author Jon Thomason

Jon Thomason lives with his family in San Diego, after many years living in the beautiful Seattle area. He has a successful career in high tech where he's been fortunate enough to participate in many big-name industry releases.

Storytelling permeates everything he does. In the moments when Jon is not helping build the story of the tech world, he can almost always be found working on a project: writing, photography, videography, graphics design, or 3D art.

And he's always careful to conceal his jinni magic abilities, though perhaps might slip one day and be discovered...


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 a copy of Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud

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