“Funny or die.” I say this to my kids all the time. Their response is usually “whatever – Mom is weird.” But humor is something I feel strongly about. It’s important and when it’s done well, nothing is better. Toss in a little adventure and I’m happy as a clam.
Humor and adventure define Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy, Gareth Wronski’s recently released middle grade novel, and he handles both so well. Holly will go perfectly with your trips to the beach or the pool or the lake or the river. Add it to your summer reading list right away. But first take a minute to read an interview with the author….
Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
I was pretty sad and lonely in school, and I think to some extent writing (or just imagining things, really) became a way to escape that negativity. There’s always that one kid who would rather stare out the window than at the blackboard, and then there’s always that other kid who’s a way better daydreamer and knows you can’t tip anyone off to your daydreaming or someone will stop you, so you have to ignore the window altogether and figure out how to make the blackboard interesting.
What was the hardest part of writing Holly Farb and The Princess of the Galaxy?
Finding the right balance of tone was always tricky. I wanted the book to be funny, but I also wanted it to be an adventure story with real stakes, and sometimes those two things go well together but sometimes they can undermine each other. It’s hard to create strong stakes if you have too many jokes, and it’s hard to make it funny if characters are always on the verge of getting axe murdered. So you need to thread that needle carefully.
Your novel is described as Guardians of the Galaxy meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is about the best comparison I can imagine! Did you have either in mind when you were writing your book?
Nope! So many people have compared it to Hitchhiker’s Guide, but when I was writing it that never really occurred to me. I thought it was similar to The Wizard of Oz, to the point where I viewed it as basically The Wizard of Oz in space, but whenever I told people that they just stared blankly at me. So maybe it’s not like Wizard of Oz much at all.
People seem to like the Hitchhiker/Guardian comparison, though, so I’ll take it! Hopefully it’s not just because they all have “Galaxy” in the title.
Do you enjoy writing good guys or bad guys more?
Bad guys are usually more fun to write in the short-term because you don’t need the audience to get too invested in them, but I try to remind myself that long-term you need to enjoy writing your good guys since they’re more important. As the book went on, I definitely liked writing Holly more and more, and hopefully that comes across.
Writing for middle grade readers is a challenge. What about this age range/genre appeals to you?
I love writing adventure stories and middle grade seems like the category where adventure is king. I don’t think something like Holly Farb would really work in any other age group.
Who are your favorite authors?
J.K. Rowling and David Foster Wallace.
What is your favorite thing to do when not writing?
I like to do outdoor photography, watch movies, and sometimes I try to make video games, although I’m taking a break from that right now to focus on writing, and also because making video games is super frustrating and annoying.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on two fantasy books and a bunch of screenplays.
How do you prefer readers get in touch with you?
You can email me through the contact form on my website (www.garethwronski.com), or say hello on Twitter (@garethwronski). I try to respond to both as quickly as possible!