Today, we are excited to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Billy Bobble Makes a Magic Wand by R.S. Mellette — a magical story perfect for both middle grade and YA readers. We’ve got an exclusive interview with the author, plus a great contest. So be sure to keep reading for all the details!
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A big part of that was walking through the Science-Fiction section of bookstores and seeing all of the vampires, werewolves, witches & wizards. Those are all fun, and I love them as much as the next reader, but they aren’t science-fiction. At the time I was shopping around a manuscript called “My Adventures With Hannah In Space” and a sci-fi element of that story, with just a little tweaking, would create scientific magic. Some of the editors looking at Hannah couldn’t wrap their heads around it not being set on earth, and none of the characters being human, (I guess they’ve never seen Star Wars!), so in mashing several other ideas up in my head, I came up with Billy, Suzy, and a quantum mechanical magic wand.
The book description states, “E = mc2 is no longer the most powerful force in the universe. Your wand is.” What do YOU think is the most powerful force in the universe?
That depends on how you define power, doesn’t it? A young girl’s pout can turn an adult’s resolve into nothing. A single vote, when joined with millions of others, can change the world. If you want to blow things up, or boil water, E=mc2 is as powerful as you’re going to get. If you want a My Little Pony for Christmas, go with the pout.
Love, of course, is the most powerful force in the Universe. It’s what makes the pout work. It’s what unites voters – unless the politicians use the flipside of Love, Hate. Love makes us do great, and sometimes horrible, things. That’s the paradox of Power. It is soulless, but having it can test the soul within you.
You’ve worked a lot in film, TV and theater. How did your experience in these areas help you while writing BILLY BOBBLE?
In my blogs, From the Write Angle and for the Dances With Films Festival, I talk a lot about Artistic Cross Training. Any artist can learn a ton about one discipline by working in another.
When an actor trains in a university for theatre, they are really studying writers. If you hang around enough, you’ll hear an actor say, “I’ve done Simon. I love his dialogue, you don’t even have to memorize, it just comes naturally.” Or, “Mamet is a trip. Sometimes the audience laughs, sometimes they get pissed.” Or something about Moliere, Sorkin, Shakespeare, Pinter, etc. Those writers become a tangible experience to an actor who has embodied the characters they wrote down.
The other great thing about theatre is the immediacy of lessons learned. You say a line that is supposed to be funny, and you hear crickets, you learn very quickly. If you get stuck in a scene where the character’s objectives are not clear, or their obstacles are not big enough, you instantly feel the audience shift in their seats. I remember talking to an old-school Hollywood producer about doing Shakespeare in the Philip Morris Tobacco plant as part of the Virginia Shakespeare Festival. I was saying that, waiting to go on for my scenes, I’d hear the audience cough and I knew we were in trouble. He didn’t get it. He didn’t understand that: 1) a bored audience will often cough a lot, (The joke being that people who made cigarettes for a living ALWAYS cough) and 2) a slow scene will affect the scene that follows it. In movies, each scene is a separate piece. It was a revelation to him that a problem in one scene might really be the result of a problem in the scene before it.
Film and television have taught me the importance of the little details. If a scene feels slow in a movie, an editor might tighten it up by simply making sure each cut comes on motion. This could possibly only cut a few seconds from the whole scene, but make it feel shorter by half. There is also so much that goes into recreating for the camera and the microphone what we take for granted in reality. If the tiniest little sound is missing, everything falls flat. Film and TV are an exercise in the mastery of deception. Some call them the invisible art, since when it’s done right, the audience will not notice. The pace and flow of a novel should be like that. While we artists are obsessed with “voice,” the reader should only feel it without knowing what makes them like it.
How do you think people could bring a little more “magic” into the world?
I think if we all stay in the moment and don’t sweat the small stuff we can appreciate the magic that is already there. Right now the Santa Ana Winds are blowing outside so it’s a T-shirt weather day in January. I’m choosing to enjoy the swaying trees outside my window, and not the jackhammer that’s pounding away on my neighbor’s hardscape backyard. If you’re protesting in Ferguson Missouri or waiting for your first child to be born, live in those moments. They are beautiful. If you are in pain for one reason or another, there is even joy there. Life is pain, as they say. I think, we can all illuminate these little magic moments in the space that’s around us… well, there are a lot of us. We take up a lot of space. Imagine how great it would be to find magic around everyone in every moment.
What do you hope readers take away most from BILLY BOBBLE?
I just hope they have fun. Sure, there are a lot of themes and some doctoral student could certainly write a thesis on aspects of the book, and that’s great. But, mostly, I want the reader to think they got $20’s worth of entertainment from a $3.49 download.
The next one – though, the 1970’s were fun.
Must-have writing snack?
Do drinks count? One shot of Tuaca, sipped slowly. I don’t always have that, but it’s nice when I do. Anything chocolate.
Favorite Disney movie?
Off the top of my head, the first Pirates of the Caribbean. I love a good swash & buckle and the sword fights in that are some of the best in cinema.
The beach or the mountains?
I live in LA, we have both! But, I like the beach.
Song that can always get you dancing?
Moondance or just about anything from Bill Withers.
Name 5 things currently on your desk (or in your writing space)
- An empty can of Cherry Coke Zero (I’m surprised there’s just one).
- A remote thermometer for my grill that reads 171 degrees. (I’ve got a turkey on the rotisserie).
- A program from Stan Lee’s Comikaze Con.
- 2 Smoke detectors (I am trying to figure out which one is beeping).
- The first draft of the second book in the series, Billy Bobble and the Witch Hunt, on page 142 with “fix” written next to the first paragraph.That last one reminds me… back to work!
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1st Prize- *signed* copy of Billy Bobble Makes a Magic Wand
2nd Prize- Season two of Xena: Warrior Princess
Open to US only. Contest ends 2/25/15
Twelve-year-old Billy and his best friend Suzy Quinofski didn’t mean to change the universe. Billy, a quantum physics prodigy, just wanted to find a way to help his hoarding, schizophrenic mother – and maybe impress a coven of older girls in high school. Suzy, his intellectual equal, wanted to help her friend and cling to her last remnant of childhood, a belief in magic. Together they made Billy a real, working, magic wand, and opened a door to the Quantum World where thoughts create reality, and all things – good and bad – are possible.
R.S. Mellette has written, directed, designed and acted in theatre, film, television, and publishing for over 30 years. His credits in various jobs include XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, NUTTY PROFESSOR II: THE KLUMPS, BLUE CRUSH, and his own JACKS OR BETTER, which won Dances With Films Best Screenplay award in 2000. He has been working with the festival ever since.
His novel, Billy Bobble Makes a Magic Wand, released in December 2014 from Elephant’s Bookshelf Press. For novelists, Mellette blogs for From The Write Angle. For filmmakers, he writes for Dances With Films.