Alan Tucker, author of A Measure of Disorder and A Cure for Chaos, is a dad, a graphic designer, and a soccer coach; mostly in that order. He's had a lifelong adoration of books, beginning with Encyclopedia Brown, progressing through Alan Dean Foster's Flinx, and continuing on with the likes of Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine and Naomi Novik, to name a few. Tucker's first book, A Measure of Disorder, has, "a dreamy, movie-like quality to it, which my mind effortlessly brought to life," according to a recent review from Squeaky Clean Reads. Austin at Reading Teen says about the second book in the series, A Cure for Chaos, "I really admire the genius of Mr. Tucker for creating this world that is so awesome and … well, believable." Describing his motivations, Alan says, "I wanted to write a book that I'd enjoy reading; one that I hoped my kids would enjoy too!"
- Tell us about ‘A Measure of Disorder’.
The story is about an eighth grade science class that goes on a field trip into the forest near their hometown of Boise, Idaho. While there, they mysteriously fall asleep and find themselves in a new world they later discover is called Mother. Through their travels in trying to find a way home, they are transformed into people and creatures native to Mother, each presenting its own challenges of adjustment and acceptance.
- Why did you write this book, and what do you hope to achieve with it?
I loved adventure stories as a kid. I particularly identified with Alan Dean Foster's Pip and Flinx books, which fostered a love of reading in me. I found myself with some extra time in the summer of 2009 when my daughters were away, visiting their mother, and I decided to use that time to develop a story idea I'd had kicking around in my mind for a while. At first, it was just a fun exercise for me, but as it progressed and I had a few people read it and tell me how much they enjoyed it, I decided to polish it up and see where it could go. When all was said and done, I just wanted to write something that my daughters would enjoy reading. It thrills me to no end that they do and that others have shared in that enjoyment.
- Is there an underlying message in ‘A Measure of Disorder’?
There are several issues dealt with lightly in the book: pollution, stereotypes, and societal expectations. But, really the story is about growing up and all the adversity that our teenage years create. My main purpose in writing is to entertain, not educate or preach.
- You are a graphics designer. Has this skill helped in the development of this work, and if so, how?
Being a graphics designer helped me more after I typed "The End," than before. My decision to self publish, largely came from my professional background. The eBook revolution we are currently in, was in its first phases of the royalty debates. I queried a handful of agents, but in my further research I realised it could take years, if ever, for my book to see the light of day through traditional means, so, why not use that time to see what I could do with it on my own? I did all of the formatting for eBook and print, and even did the cover artwork (to mixed reviews I have to admit). It was all a great learning experience and I'm so glad that I went that route.
- Of the characters you’ve created, do you have a favourite? If so, why this particular character?
Oh gosh! I can't really pick a favourite. They are all different and, because I write the stories from different characters' perspectives, I get to explore many of them deeper than if the story was told from just one point of view.
- How is writing fantasy different from writing other genres?
Fantasy is nice because the canvas is completely blank to begin with and you can paint whatever you wish upon it. The trick is, once you've established the ground rules for your world, you have to remain consistent or the readers will pick up on it and quickly lose interest. Just because you have magic in your world doesn't mean anything goes. You still need to create laws that govern your world and remain true to them.
- What did you find most rewarding in the writing process?
Typing, "The End!" Seriously, it was an amazing moment to realise I'd finished the whole thing, from beginning to end. Then, the harder part started: rewrites!
- What did you find most challenging, and how did you overcome it?
Finding a balance between things that I wanted to explore as a writer, and keeping the story moving at an appropriate pace. It took several months of editing, and suggestions from other writers in critique groups, to figure out where that balance might be.
- What have you done to promote and market your books, and what advice would you give to other authors?
Even though I've been in the advertising industry for many years, I'm still a novice at selling books. I've gotten the book reviewed on a few blogs, done a handful of interviews, and a number of giveaways, with mixed success. At the moment, my advice for others is what I try to remind myself every day: write! Lots of folks write a book, throw it on the web and expect people to beat down their door to get it. It doesn't work that way. It really helps to have a catalogue of work in your arsenal, rather than just a "one off." I'm hard at work on the third book in the series now, called Mother's Heart.
- Who, do you imagine, would be your ideal reader?
Anyone who enjoys fun, fantasy and adventure.
- What advice would you give to help others build the confidence required to write their first book?
Write about something you know and love. And don't worry about what you're going to do with it after it’s finished. Write simply for the enjoyment of it.
- Would you like to see your book adapted for the screen? If so, do you have any aspirations, or reservations, regarding this?
I see scenes in my head like I would watch them in a movie or television show; so yes, I'd love to have that happen someday. Of course I'd hope it were done well; but honestly, it would just be amazing to see the stories on screen.
- Tell us a little about a good science fiction or fantasy book you’ve read recently.
Oh, where to start? I read a great deal. I've really enjoyed Jim Butcher's Dresden Files books and he has a new one just coming out that I'm anxious to read. I just read Foster's Flinx Transcendent, the final story in the Pip and Flinx series and that really took me back to my boyhood days. I've also read Simon Green's Eddie Drood series recently and enjoyed those as well.
- What are you doing now?
Besides answering interview questions? I'm working on the third book in the Mother-Earth series, called Mother's Heart. My goal is to have it available some time by the end of the year. I'm also in the beginning stages of ghost writing an historical fiction for a client of mine, as well as making notes on another sci-fi fantasy project that's been running around in my head for a while.
- Describe ‘A Measure of Disorder’ in one sentence.
A group of eighth grade students travel to another world, to find out who, and what, they really are.
- Where can we find you and your book?