I recently had the pleasure of "chatting" (as in chat window) with Aussie author George Ivanoff. It’s well worth checking out George’s site especially if you have middle grade to young adult kids who like to READ.
My son has a copy of George's Gamers' Quest and I decided to ask some questions and give George a bit of free PR....
PETE: What is the main theme of Gamers’ Quest?
GEORGE: Reality! The two main characters in the book are computer constructs within a game environment, but they don’t know it. They think they are real people in a real world. As they progress through the various challenges they are faced with, they begin to question the nature of their reality. Eventually, they rise above their programming and become what they want to be. In many ways, the reader is asked to think about what constitutes reality.
Having said all this, the novel it primarily an action/adventure. So while this theme is running throughout the book, it is in the background rather than being slammed into the reader’s face.
PETE: I love the metaphor, and this might be a dumb question but why did you set your novel against a backdrop of computer gaming?
GEORGE:It all started with a documentary I saw on the ABC about online gaming. It was a fascinating insight into the lives of people who are seriously into gaming, but also an insight into the intricate worlds they ‘virtually’ inhabit online. That lead to me writing a short story called “Game Plan”, which was published in an anthology called Trust Me! (Ford Street Publishing, Melb., 2008). And this lead to me writing the novel.
There was also the desire to simply write the sort of book that I would like to have read as a teenager. As a teen I was obsessed with playing Space Invaders on my Atari console (yes, I’m a child of the 80s). I would have LOVED a book set inside a computer game.
PETE: Ah, Space Invaders. So many memories. So. Who do you hope will read this wonderful novel and what are they likely to get out of the experience?
GEORGE: I hope that EVERYONE will read it! [George adds a happy emoticon to his chat at this point :) ] It’s being advertised as suitable for 10+, but I think that teens should like it too. Certainly I’ve had good responses from teen readers as well as younger readers. I think that younger readers see it purely as a sci-fi adventure, whereas older readers see the deeper questions about reality.
My greatest hope is that it might attract some computer game players who wouldn’t normally read a novel. And what I would hope they’d get out of it is a realisation that reading can be as much fun as playing a computer game.
PETE: So how have you encouraged your kids to be readers?
GEORGE: There’s an old saying: lead by example. My kids are growing up watching my wife and I being avid readers. And we have both read to them since they were babies. My eldest daughter has followed in our footsteps and is really enjoying reading. My youngest is still at the being read to stage, but she really enjoys the time we spend going through the plethora of picture books that she’s been given.
PETE: You told me you’re a SAHD? What do you find are the specific positives and negatives of the Stay-At-Home Dad as compared to “work-away-from-home” Dad?
GEORGE: By far the biggest positive is being there as the kids are growing up. Working away from home would mean missing out on all the little things — the first smile, the first roll-over, the first wobbly step, the first half-formed word, the first tantrum. These are the things that I wouldn’t trade all the money in the world for.
The biggest negative is that as a freelancer, my income fluctuates.
PETE: Bummer. So apart from cashflow, what challenges do you face in professional writing while managing a family?
GEORGE: The biggest challenge is find the time to write. Children require a lot of time! My eldest is at school now, but my youngest is still at home. She has a nap in the middle of the day, so there’s a stretch of anywhere between half an hour and two and a half hours every day that I can sit down at the computer to write. She also does one day a week of childcare. So I’ve got from school drop-off until school pick-up to write. Then of course there are evenings and weekends. Sleep? Who needs sleep?
PETE: Sleep? What’s that? So what’s your next/current project?
GEORGE: At the moment I’m working of a set of six educational books about nutrition. They are aimed at grade 2 level, so trying to simplify things like macronutrients and micronutrients and the function of various vitamins and minerals is proving a real challenge. And I’ve been told by the editor that I;m not allowed to use the word “poo”.
GEORGE: Yep. Try explaining the function of fibre in a healthy diet to a Grade 2 kid without using the word “poo”. My brain is swimming in euphemisms. I’m also desperately trying to find some time to plan out my next novel. And I’m also still promoting Gamers’ Quest — doing interviews, writing guest blogs and doing book signings.
I always seem to be working on several things at once, these days. I think I’ve developed the skill of multi-tasking as a result of being a father. Although my memory now has trouble recalling all that much from the distant days prior to children, I have a vague feeling that I was only ever capable of one project at a time back then. Being a Dad certainly changes things.
PETE: Hopefully for the better. Thanks mate…
…Okay we’ll leave it there. Great to find a committed Dad writing action-adventure! Gamers’ Quest has a cool promo video which is below. Again, hassle your local bookstore to get a copy in for you. They might buy a few more while they’re at it.