Author: Randy Coates
Purchase at AMAZON
Paul Brager is twelve when his father tells the story of Iduna and her apples. Mr. Brager always tells stories before bed to entertain Paul’s little brother, Adrian—a ritual that has become even more important since their mother died. Iduna was a goddess who grew apples that made the gods younger and stronger, but one day she disappeared, along with her apples. Paul doesn’t think much of the myth; he has other things on his mind. Paul and his best friend, Chad Tremblay, are excited to start the school year as seventh graders at Dorian Heights Public School. Even when they hear about the new principal, Mr. Theisen, they aren’t worried about ending up in his office. When Paul finally meets the principal, however, he finds him to be strange, mysterious, and extremely fond of apples. That’s when things start going wrong. Theisen develops an uncomfortable interest in Paul, claiming he once knew Paul’s father. It becomes apparent to Paul and Chad that Theisen is after something, maybe some kind of treasure—and it involves the Brager family. Paul believes his family must be protected and that Theisen must be stopped. Still, he can’t get the story of Iduna’s apples out of his head; there seems to be an odd connection to the tale his father told. He and Chad want to know the answers, but learning them may put their lives in danger.
1. Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
More Precious Than Rubies takes place mostly in an elementary school where the main character, Paul Brager,is bothered by the idea of a new, mysterious principal in his school.
Paul soon learns that the principal is a reincarnation of an evil Norse God and is somehow linked to Paul's family and who wants something from them.
Paul incorporates the help of his teacher and friends to find some way of protecting his family from the principal.
I am a teacher myself so this undertaking of mine to write this novel was not only because I enjoy writing but also to encourage children, especially boys, to read. Sadly, I see too many students lose interest in reading as they become pre-teens.
2. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?
Iwanted to make this book in the genre of fantasy since many children's books aim at fantastical happenings to draw in their audience; however, I am not very knowledgeable about mythology which plays a major part in my novel.
The most difficult part in writing this book was to first research various myths and then, secondly, to tie in the myth with a school setting. Since I wanted the book to be in the present and not to involve time travel,Ihad to think of a way to bring the mythology to the students.
A challenge that Ifind with all books is keeping it up-to-date in our ever-changing world.
As all writers know, a book can take years to write from the initial germination of an idea to the last,polished draft that gets published. Or, if you're a prolific writer, it might only take weeks.
Regardless of the time span, things change. So, for example,if one mentions an iPhoneS in the first draft of his novel,it could be an iPhonelO by the time he publishes.
3. Do you plan subsequent books?
I am always planning new books. I always have ideas gestating. Otherwise, I would not be a writer.
Interestingly, More Precious Than Rubies is a children's book and I never ever thought Iwould be so enthralled with writing YA books. However, I am currently writing another YA book but it is not fantasy. It is more like social commentary but with characters engaged in both inner and outer conflicts.
There are genres that I tell myself I would never attempt; however, as we grow, we change. Look at what happened to me with children's books.
4. When and why did you begin writing?
I have been a writer for as long as Ican remember. Writing may not be an inherited trait but I truly believe that creativity, much like other qualities, is more inherent in some people than in others.
Iwas never good at using my hands (e.g.,fixing things,technical trades) but I have been good at using my creativity, such as acting and writing.
I write because I can do this better than fixing the plumbing. I enjoy injecting life into new characters. In that sense, Iam a Dr. Frankenstein but hopefully not as dangerous.
5. What is your greatest strength as an author?
I tend to write very good, realistic dialogue. I believe that my characters assert themselves and their qualities through my dialogue.
Generally, I am a very patient author. When I receive an editorial evaluation of my work and I am encouraged to alter some aspect of my writing that does not work, I may be downhearted at first but I take the criticism ser iously and try to improve my work.
6. Did writing this book teach you anything?
This book was the first I wrote that went through many changes. This happened because I let two of my friends read it first and give me advice about how it worked and how it failed.
I also let my cousin read it and asked him to give me feedback since he owns a children's bookstore and knows the audience for the kind of fantasy Iwrote.
Lastly, I had an editorial evaluation done on the book.
Having had all the support from these individuals, I've noticed that the finished product still needs work.
However, I have learned that writing needs to be critiqued,then revised to accommodate the critiques,then critiqued again.
Circles,as the Lion King knows,are a part of life.
Randy Coates graduated from the University of Waterloo with a bachelor of arts degree and went on to acquire his teacher’s certificate at the University of Western Ontario. He is currently an elementary teacher in the Toronto District Board of Education.