Pursued is the first book in a gripping futuristic series, Secrets of the X-Point, by Gary Urey. In it, Axel Jack and Daisha Tandala are two thirteen-year-old friends running from a billionaire madman who killed their scientist parents and now wants what the kids have—GeoPorts (Geographical Transportation Systems.) The GeoPort, invented by their parents, has the ability to transport a person to any place on Earth within seconds. Soon, the chase becomes more than just a high-tech game of hide-and-seek, but a war for control of everything—money, culture, politics, and power.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Gary and talk about basing fantasy in reality, changing directions, and Pursued.
Q. What’s the easiest and hardest part of creating a book?
A. There is no easy part of creating a book. However, there are plenty of hard parts, like filtering through a hundred bad ideas to get a good one and slogging through until the end. I have a few books that have sputtered out at the 20,000-word mark because the idea wasn’t strong enough. You need a lot of self-discipline to sit in a chair for hours and write when every fiber of your being wants to walk the dog, play on the Internet, or go jogging. Other than that, it’s the greatest job in the world!
Q: What was your inspiration for your title?
A: Honestly, Pursued was just a working title that survived the editor’s (the awesome Kristin Zelazko!) red pen. The series title, Secrets of the X-Point, made sense because the X-Point, a real phenomenon also known as an Electron Diffusion Region where the earth’s magnetic field connects with the sun, is the final piece of the puzzle that makes teleportation possible in the book.
Q. What was the process of working with your editor like?
A. Ha! It’s exciting and humbling at the same time. Exciting because you are working together to make the book better, humbling because a particular character, chapter, or paragraph you may love gets hacked by the editor and never makes it into the book. Writers need editors because the author is often too close to the material. Stuff that you thought was better than Shakespeare in reality may just be confusing to a reader. Also, grammar mistakes and poorly-worded sentences need a second pair of eyes to clarify.
Q. What makes your book stand out?
A. The science! The GeoPort device the kids use to teleport is only possible because of advanced GPS technology. The book is a traditional action/adventure thriller—kids on the run, bad guys want what they have, etc—but the kid’s ability to teleport isn’t through magic. Everything is possible because of advancements in science. Also, Pursued is just a gripping read with fun protagonists who must survive against almost overwhelming odds.
Q. Do you have any writing quirks?
A. Only if you call writing in a customized shed in my back yard quirky. I live in Maine where the winters are extremely cold. My shed is insulated and wired for electricity so I can plug in a space heater. Rarely do I need an air-conditioner in the summer. It takes about thirty minutes for the 6×6 shed to heat up so I can write. Also, I live near a busy intersection so I always wear Bose noise-reduction headphones. They completely block out all sound.
Q. Are you working on any other projects?
A. Yes, I’m working on books two and three of Secrets of the X-Point. I can’t wait to continue Axel and Daisha’s adventure! I’m also working on another humor book in the vein of Super Schnoz and am currently developing a pen pal-style book about two boys in outer space with the very funny Bart King of Bart’s Big Book of Girls Stuff, Boy Stuff, Gross Stuff, Spy Stuff, and many others.
Q. What books did you like to read as a kid?
A. Comic books! I was obsessed with them. My favorites were Spiderman, Green Lantern, Silver Surfer, Captain America, Fantastic Four, Night Crawler from the X-Men, and many others! My favorite books as a kid were How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell and Of Wolves and Men by Barry Lopez, a non-fiction book about the primal connection between wild wolves and humans. I still have my original copy!
Q. Why write children’s books?
A. My goal was never to be a writer. As a young man, I wanted to be an actor. I graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC and hit the audition trail. I had a roommate during those days who was an artist. His name is Steve Casino, a well-known pop artist today, who back then wanted to be a children’s book illustrator. He landed a job illustrating a book about the life of Wild Bill Hickock. I remember picking up the manuscript the publisher had sent him and hearing a very powerful bell ringing in my soul. From that moment on, I wanted to write children’s books.