It’s no secret that Rick Yancey likes to tell epic tales of adventure.
He has delighted young adult fiction readers with an action-filled fantasy series about Alfred Kropp, a hapless teenage misfit who saves the world from a swarm of top-notch villains including tenacious knights, scurrilous demons and nasty secret operatives.
His first novel in the series, “The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp,” was named a Best Book for Children by Publishers Weekly and was a finalist for the Carnegie Medal in 2005.
Now, readers are enamored with Yancey’s latest likable protagonist Will Henry, a 12-year-old monster-hunter-in-training in the horror-adventure series “The Monstrumologist.” Young Will accompanies Dr. Pellinore Warthrop on grisly quests to eradicate evil by slaying gnarly monsters in late 19th-century New England.
Yancey’s first novel in the series, “The Monstrumologist,” received the 2010 Michael L. Printz Honor Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.
His latest in the Monstrumologist series, “The Curse of the Wendigo,” was published in October and ratchets up the storytelling - and the suspense - to new blood-soaked heights.
A conversation with Rick Yancey gives some insight into this accomplished author:
Q: Congratulations on winning the Printz Award for “The Monstrumologist.” How did it feel to win this award?
A: “I was shocked. When the committee called to tell me my book had been chosen, my first question was, “Is this a gag?” I never thought “The Monstrumologist” would win an award. I just didn’t think it was the kind of book that won prestigious awards. I don’t think I fully believed it until the presentation ceremony. I kept waiting for someone from ALA to pull me aside and say, ‘Oh, we’re sorry, someone’s made a terrible mistake!’”
Seriously, though, it has been a very humbling experience to be in the company of some really fantastic authors. Now I feel such pressure to live up to receiving the honor. Each sentence can’t just be good; it has to be perfect!”
Q: You write about cool gadgets in your Alfred Kropp books. What is your current favorite gadget?
A: “I love the Kindle my wife bought me last year. My 14-year-old son is really into his iPad, but I’m not good with touch screens. Clumsy fingers.”
Q: What kind of student were you in middle school and high school?
A: “I was a cool geek. I began middle school as a nerdy geek, but then I got into theater and “got my cool on.” I was also very polite to teachers. I felt sorry for them. Most of them anyway.”
Q: What are you currently reading?
A: “I’m reading Markus Zusak’s ‘The Book Thief,’ a young-adult book like ‘The Monstrumologist,’ which is more ‘Adult’ than ‘Young,’ but that’s publishing. ‘The Book Thief’ is a very good book by the way.”
Q: What advice would you give young writers who dream of becoming professional writers?
A: “It’s harder than the harshest winter and more joyous than the most perfect spring. There will be times when you hate writing and maybe hate yourself a little, too, and then “BOOM!” you write something that floors you. It might not floor an agent or a publisher or even your mother, but it floors you, and that’s really all you can hope for.
Writing is like whittling: the more you do it, the better you get (unless you have clumsy fingers like me and slice off a digit). This explains about 70 percent of the success that most writers have. Pick up at random any book on the bestseller list and honestly ask yourself if this person writes well. Your answer will probably be, ‘No, but they write well enough.’ Keep writing until you write well enough.”
Learn more about Rick Yancey by visiting his website, becoming a fan of his on Facebook, or by following him on Twitter.