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Today I’m excited to have Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson here to share about their new book, STARBOUNDERS, a sci-fi adventure story which was released on June 4, 2013. Adam and Andrew are also the authors of THE FAMILIARS, a middle grade fantasy series being made into a 3-D movie. And Sam Raimi is the producer.

You can find my first interview with Adam and Andrew HERE. I learned for that interview that Adam and Andrew met in a parking lot in the apartment complex they both lived in. They went on to write in the film industry together and when I interviewed them wrote their books together in the same room all day. I read that they even bought homes a few blocks from each other.

I’m excited to share STARBOUNDERS with you because it sounds like a great action-packed story that will appeal to middle grade boys as well as girls. And I just read a review of it on one of the book review blogs I follow and the blogger said her middle grade son loved the book.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson, authors of The Familiars books, bring their mix of laugh-out-loud humor and thrilling adventure to the sci-fi world of Starbounders.

Zachary Night can’t wait to start his top-secret Starbounders training at Indigo 8. But he’s barely started learning the skills he’ll need to protect the galaxy when a space mission goes wrong. Zachary and his friends are accidentally sent to the front lines of an intergalactic skirmish, and they quickly discover a plot to destroy Indigo 8. Piloting a space ship under attack, they must get back to earth before the training center—and the planet—is annihilated.

Middle-grade readers who love the funny science fiction of Star Wars and the Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast series will love Starbounders.

Hi Adam and Andrew. Welcome back!

1. Tell us where you got the idea for STARBOUNDERS. Whose idea was it?

When Adam was a kid, he attended Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama. There, they simulated zero gravity in large underwater tanks and taught kids how to flight a large space shuttle on a simulator. It was amazing, but it only made Adam want to go into space even more. He grew up loving movies like Star Wars, but that story took place in a galaxy far, far away. He wanted to tell that same story much closer to home.

2. Awesome how the trip to the Space Academy and Star Wars inspired this story. So when I interviewed you in 2011, you were writing your stories line by line together. Are you still doing that or are you each writing from a character’s POV? If you’re still writing together, why do you think that works for you?

We still collaborate on all of our books and screenplays line by line together. We’re even answering these interview questions the same way. In fact, we’re not sure if Adam just said that or if Andrew did. More than anything, this works for us because it forces us to sit in front of the computer every day from 9:30 to 5. We have each other to ensure that we put those hours in writing. On your own, the discipline to simply sit your butt in the chair is possibly the single hardest part of a writer’s job.

3. That’s great that you keep each other disciplined, because you’re right it is hard to stay focused. And I’d say you’ve developed a funny joint voice that I hear in your answers. What made you decide to write a sci-fi story instead of another fantasy? Do you have a preference for writing in either genre?

After writing three Familiars books that were in the fantasy genre, we were ready for a little change. Something that would feel like an entirely different world from the one we had previously created and been living in for so long. We’ve always found that writing in different genres is energizing and fun. Our preference tends to lean towards the story we’re most excited about telling rather than any particular genre.

4. Yes, you have to be excited about what you’re writing. We spend too much time with our
stories not to be excited about them. Tell us three things you loved about writing STARBOUNDERS.

We loved imagining how scientific theories like wormholes could be used for space travel or figuring out how zero gravity could be replicated on earth.

Although it’s not about the actual writing process, Adam always loves sharing the finished book with the kids in his neighborhood.

And there’s nothing more gratifying than getting to the end.

5. The neighborhood kids are lucky. Share about a challenge you faced in writing STARBOUNDERS and how you overcame it.

We probably rewrote the opening of this book three or four times. Figuring out who Zachary was and how to introduce readers to this world in an exciting way. We had a prologue at one point. In one version this world of Starbounders was a secret to Zachary and he was finding out about it for the first time from his grandmother! Ultimately with the help of our editor and through the process of rewriting, we found an opening that started with a bang and really conveyed a sense that Zachary was the determined young Starbounder he was destined to become.

6. Glad your editor helped you get it right. Do you think you’ll ever write a YA series or do you prefer middle grade stories? Why?

When we started writing books, we didn’t even know the difference between a middle grade story and a YA one. We just had an idea that we loved and wanted to write. That’s what will always drive our decision to embark on the journey of writing a book. Telling a story that we’re passionate about, whether it’s a children’s book, a middle grade story, a YA, or even adult fiction.

7. What have you found to be effective ways to market your middle grade books and what advice do you have for aspiring middle grade authors about spreading the word about their book?

This remains one of the biggest challenges of writing middle grade books. We’re still trying to figure out the best way to get the word out. We know one thing. Without a publisher advertising your book or having a movie adaptation of your book in theaters or on TV, the only thing that really is guaranteed to sell books is going on book tour. Beyond that, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, blogs, etc. help spread awareness but there’s no sure correlative to sales. Another thing that was a home run for us with The Familiars was the state book award circuit. It was nominated in over a dozen states and that really helped move copies of the book. And writing series books helps, too. Each successive book in the series helps get the first book in the series to sell more copies.

8. I think a lot of middle grade authors find promoting their books challenging. There’s much more buzz about YA books on blogs. Tell us a bit about THE FAMILIARS series and where the movie is production-wise. How involved are you in making the movie?

Because The Familiars is going to be an animated movie, the production has taken years and we’re still not there yet. We’ve written multiple drafts of the screenplay, had artists working on concept art and storyboards, and a director overseeing it all. We’re more anxious than anyone to see the movie realized, but know that in Hollywood, things can take a LONG time. So stay tuned.

9. Hollywood sounds a lot like the publishing world. What are you working on now?

Familiars #4: Palace of Dreams will be coming out in December and Starbounders: Rebellion, the follow-up to Starbounders, will be out in June of 2014. We also have a brand new children’s book/interactive app called Mystery Box that was just recently kickstarted and should be available on Amazon by the fall (TBD).

Wow! You’ve been productive. Thanks for sharing all your advice, Adam and Andrew. You can find Adam and Andrew at:

Adam and Andrew have generously offered a copy of STARBOUNDERS for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on October 5th. I’ll announce the winner on Octobeer 7th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. If you follow me on Twitter, mention this too and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. This is for US/Canada residents only.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Next Monday I’m interviewing a sixth grader in a writing club for my ASK THE EXPERT series and giving away a copy of THE DREAM THIEVES and ORLEANS.

Thursday next week I’m interviewing Meagan Spooner as part of her SHADOWLARK blog tour. This is the second book in her Skylark dystopian series. I can’t wait to read this and have Meagan share with us all. And there will be a giveaway of SKYLARK and SHADOWLARK too.

The following Monday I’m interviewing debut author Mindy McGinnis and giving away an ARC of her YA post-apocalyptic story NOT A DROP TO DRINK about a world with little water. I loved that this was a really character driven story that had a contemporary feel to it.

The Monday after that I’m interviewing Jenny Lundquist and giving away an ARC of THE PRINCESS IN THE OPAL MASK, a YA fantasy about a girl forced to always wear a mask. This was a fantastic story that kept me up into the wee hours of the night.

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Unknown said...

I'm a big SF fan (more so than Fantasy), so the new book sounds terrific to me. I think it's so cool the way Andrew and Adam work together. Yes, BIC is the hardest part. and I wish I had a collaborator to help me with discipline, too.

Looking forward to your post on Princess in the Opal Mask. That sounds good. :-)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

An animated movie! Very cool.
And I can vouch that releasing another book in a series bumps up sales of the first one.

Crystal Collier said...

Super cool. This is one my kids would adore, and with a movie coming? That's just too cool!

Emily R. King said...

I bet this is great. My family loves The Familiars books, and I'm sure we'll like this too!

Beth said...

What a charming book! It sounds like they work perfectly together.

Julie DeGuia said...

This sounds like one for my son! What a great cover too! Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

mshatch said...

Great interview and boy, that sounds like a fun read. I'll have to keep it in mind for my nephew. Thanks :)

Brenda said...

Great interview. I really enjoyed The Familiars, their blog tour for its release was hilarious. It's also a great book and happy to hear the next is coming soon.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I like the sound of this book. I am eager to read a MG Sci-fi.

Carina Olsen said...

Love the interview! Thank you all for sharing. <3 But aw, US only giveaway? Oh, well. I am going to buy this book one day, because I think it sounds amazing :)

Anonymous said...

Sweet interview! Thanks for sharing some insight into how the authors work. I'm intrigued that they work line by line together. It must create the fluidity in their style. I've posted the link to my twitter & FB accounts: fb/jaimiengle and twiter/jaimiengle. Look forward to the book, even if I don't win...

MeganC said...

Great interview! I'm always so fascinated by writers that choose to write together. Writing is such a solitary lifestyle, and I think it would be fun to have a friend with you the whole way. Sounds like a great series!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Wow! Writing line by line together sounds really cool. I can see where you could push each other through the tough spots, and spur each other on with excitement and encouragement.
Both series sound like fun reads . . . and you get to work with Sam Raimi. Wow!

Rosi said...

I am seeing more and more collaborations. This sounds like a fun series. Thanks for the chance to win.

Carmen said...

We're huge Star Wars fans, so I'm sure my son and I would love this book. Sounds awesome!

Jill the OWL said...

I like their theory that you write the story you want to tell and let all the professionals decide where it fits!

PK HREZO said...

Oh man I wanted to go to Space Camp so badly when I was a kid. And I wasn't far from Cape Canaveral either. But it was just too expensive.
Starbounders sounds awesome! Something to read with my son, who wants to be an astronaut. :)

Robyn Campbell said...

Super interview! I NEVER heard of this story. Sounds like a fun one to read though. I'll be buying it if I don't win, so either way I'll get it, right Natalie? :-)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. It sounds like something I would enjoy. :)


Anonymous said...

I tweeted about it here:

Jocelyn Rish said...

My brother and I have written several screenplays together, and that's the way we do it - sitting beside each other going line by line. But I can't imagine doing that with someone who wasn't family because we can easily disagree or even yell at each other knowing that we'll still love each other in the end.