Mad Hatter Reads is excited to have Andy Gavin here as part of the Untimed tour! I’m so happy that you stopped by to answer a few questions Andy!
MHR: Andy, will you tell us a little about yourself?
AG: I’m an unstoppable storyteller who studied for his Ph.D. at M.I.T. and founded video game developer Naughty Dog, Inc. at the age of fifteen, serving as co-president for two decades. There I created, produced, and directed over a dozen video games, including the award winning and best selling Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter franchises, selling over 40 million units worldwide. I sleep little, read novels and histories, watch media obsessively, travel, blog (a million hits last year!), and of course, write.
Untimed is my second novel.
MHR: Jak and Daxter is one of my favorite games! How has the transition from video game developer to published author been?
AG: From at least high school on I always intended to write a bunch of novels. Work just got in the way.
And the thing about making games is that you can no longer do it mostly by yourself. These days, most games are big teams of over a hundred people, with budgets over 50 million dollars. All that means that it’s not about your creative expression (most of the time), but about getting it done, well, on time, and on budget. And the roll of team lead is largely about fire fighting and resource (achem people) wrangling.
So, I really wanted to focus directly on the creative aspects. Dozens of story ideas have been bouncing around in my head for years, and I felt it was time to let a couple of them out.
MHR: What can the readers expect from Untimed?
AG: Untimed is aimed at anyone who likes a rip roaring adventure in the tradition of the great 80s adventure films like Raiders of the Lost Arc. I wanted a lightning paced romp that showed unfamiliar takes on familiar places, times, and people. Charlie is 15, but slightly younger readers will probably appreciate the action, and adult readers enjoy the well thought out time travel system and carefully worked historical implications. Charlie’s voice is frank and compelling, but light hearted with an edge, and I dance across serious themes without getting too heavy. It’s PG-13, no racier than today’s network teen shows.
One of my major agenda’s was to show the past in a fun but accurate manner. History doesn’t have to be boring, and while situations and society changes, people stay the same. People in the past are just as human, but things really have improved in many ways. Charlie, as a contemporary kid, serves as our representative, experiencing different times first hand –up close and personal with chamber pots.
MHR: What is your favorite scene from the book and are there any scenes that are hard for you to write?
AG: One of my favorite scenes in the book is right after Charlie first meets Yvaine and realizes she’s also a time traveler. He doesn’t know much about the whole business and has all these questions, but she’s simultaneously plying him with alcohol, sounding him out, and trying to rip him off.
Action and dialog scenes are easiest for me, with scenes involving deep emotional crisis are the hardest. One of the worst to write in this novel was right at the act 2/3 break (a notoriously difficult spot) where Charlie comes to the realization that his Dad isn’t always right. There’s a lot of exposition in this scene, and a lot of conflict. Trying to keep it moving and lead to a believable outburst was a real challenge. Multi-layered time travel action is easy by comparison.
Actually, that’s not totally true, as when Charlie has to come to the same time and place multiple times makes for a sophisticated puzzle. Just one layer can be complex in its own right, like the central church fire scene. Repeating the action is really hard, in no small part because you don’t actually want to repeat, that would be boring.
MHR: Who are your favorite authors? Any major influences?
AG: I have so many, but to start: George R. R. Martin, Dan Simons, Tim Powers, Orson Scott Card, Guy Gavriel Kay, Sherri S. Tepper, Octavia Butler, Ian M. Banks, Jack L. Chalker, Robin Hobb, Stephen King, Gene Wolfe, Katherine Kurtz, and Vernor Vinge.
MHR: What are you reading right now?
AG: A bunch of things, mostly non-fiction. William Goldman’s Adventures in the Screen Trade and a book on artisanal cheese making. I pound through stuff fast. Fiction-wise, I need to finish The Akhenaten Adventure by P.B. Kerr, I got to 90% and then put it down because it was paper (I went out of town – which means Kindle only).
MHR: Is there anything you would like to share about upcoming projects?
AG: Right now, I’m writing two more novels and adapting Untimed into a screenplay. The new books are the Untimed sequel and a totally separate short novel that involves old school fairies and iambic pentameter.
Thank you so much for stopping by today Andy! It was such a pleasure to have you!
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More about Untimed:
Charlie’s the kind of boy that no one notices. Hell, even his own mother can’t remember his name. And girls? The invisible man gets more dates.
As if that weren’t enough, when a mysterious clockwork man tries to kill him in modern day Philadelphia, and they tumble through a hole into 1725 London, Charlie realizes even the laws of time don’t take him seriously.Still, this isn’t all bad. In fact, there’s this girl, another time traveler, who not only remembers his name, but might even like him! Unfortunately, Yvaine carries more than her share of baggage: like a baby boy and at least two ex-boyfriends! One’s famous, the other’s murderous, and Charlie doesn’t know who is the bigger problem.When one kills the other — and the other is nineteen year-old Ben Franklin — things get really crazy. Can their relationship survive? Can the future? Charlie and Yvaine are time travelers, they can fix this — theoretically — but the rules are complicated and the stakes are history as we know it. And there's one more wrinkle: he can only travel into the past, and she can only travel into the future!
More about Andy Gavin:
Andy Gavin is a serial creative, polymath, novelist, entrepreneur, computer programmer, author, foodie, and video game creator. He co-founded video game developer Naughty Dog and co-created Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter. He started numerous companies, has been lead programmer on video games that have sold more than forty million copies, and has written two novels.
His first book, The Darkening Dream, has been well-received by fans and critics alike. Publisher’s Weekly called it “gorgeously creepy, strangely humorous, and sincerely terrifying.” Untimed is an even more ambitious follow-up. It is a lavish production with a cover by acclaimed fantasy artist Cliff Nielsen and twenty-one full page interior illustrations by Dave Phillips.
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