Thursday, June 28, 2012

C. Alexander London Answers our Questions

Earlier this week we had the opportunity to talk to children's author, C. Alexander London. Our Skype call was cut short due to time limits and a bit of technical difficulties. As a result, we emailed him some questions we still had for him. Have a look at our interview below.

1. How old were you when you wrote your first book?
I was 8 when I wrote Lawrence & Luther Lizard go to Summer Camp. I also illustrated it. Luckily, my writing got better than my illustration and I started writing what would become my first published book (It's called One Day The Soldiers Came) when I was 21. It was not actually published for another six years, when I was 27. In total now, I've written two books of nonfiction for grown-ups, 4 novels in the Accidental Adventures series, a new series for young readers called Dog Tags that will be published in the Fall. Also a young adult novel. So I keep busy!

2. Where are you originally from?

I'm originally from Baltimore, Maryland, but I spent a semester in Berlin when I was 16. While In Berlin, I dyed my hair bright green because...well...I was 16.

3. Have any of your travels, trips, or places you have visited appeared in your books?
In some form or another, yes! In fact, I got the idea for the Accidental Adventures books while I was traveling. I've never actually been thrown out of an airplane or battled an angry Yeti, but I thought of the idea for the series while I was on a flight between Rangoon, Burma and Mumbai, India. In Rangoon, the capital of Burma, thousands of red-robbed monks were battling with hardened government soldiers, and I literally walked into the middle of it. Within days, the government had sealed off the country from outsiders, shut down the internet, and scrambled all foreign television stations. No CNN. No Cartoon Network. And I really missed it. Even though I was having the adventure of a lifetime, all I wanted was to be curled up on the couch at home watching TV. So it was on that flight as I left a country in upheaval that I first imagined Oliver and Celia Navel, who are doomed to have a life of adventure, when all they want is peace and quiet. They aren't just some kids I made up. They're me. And my older sister. Not exactly, of course. I've thrown in a good chunk of daydreaming. And my sister isn't nearly as bossy as Celia. Or so she tells me...

4. Has your pal, Baxter, appeared as a character in any of your books?
Yes. The poisonous lizard, Beverly, who appears in the Accidental Adventures books is based on him. And the dogs in the Dog Tags books are also inspired a bit by his behavior.

5. We think your take on adventure is very interesting. Is there an adventure from your childhood that you would like to share with us?

Ooh, that's a tough question. There are so many adventures in my childhood. In every childhood, really, but I guess I can tell you about one adventure that I didn't have. Behind my friend Adam's house, there was this concrete slab that covered some sort of underground opening in the side of a hill. We used to play all around it, and make up stories about what was in it. Some days it was an ancient tomb, other times it would lead to another dimension or creepy cave or a room filled with treasure. Sometimes there would ghosts on the other side. Sometimes we'd press our ears against it and hear their moans of agony. We'd run screaming and laughing, only to go back the next time I came over. It's not that we were merely playing make-believe. As we played, for a few brief moments every time, I, at least, really believed the stories we told each other. I think that kind of playing helped me to become a writer. I believe in stories, even when I know they are not, or cannot possibly be, true. But just because they aren't true, doesn't make them any less powerful. We felt real emotions and real excitement over the stories we played out around that concrete slab. We never did get it open for real. I am sure we would have been disappointed. The adventure was in not knowing. Like great explorers of old, it was in a blank place on the map that our adventure lived.

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