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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Interview: Jackson Keene

Today, author Jackson Keene is stopping by for an interview. Jackson is the author of the new YA novel Nolichuck! TJ's Wild Frontier Adventure...

TJ’s just an ordinary fourteen year old kid with extraordinary problems at home and school:  A broken up family from his parents’ bitter divorce, evil bullies almost every afternoon, failing grades, boring classes, snobby girls, mean teachers, cut from basketball tryouts, few friends. 
     Life is rough for TJ Cockrell.
     And then that mysterious little green book had to go and throw him into the past.  And not just any past, but into the untamed forbidding forests of 1802 eastern Tennessee along with the savage Indians, wild beasts, bloodthirsty robbers, backwoods ruffians, and log cabin living!  Yup, it’s definitely not 2011 Knoxville anymore.
     And he thought his present life was bad news! But TJ’s adventures are only beginning.  Along the way, he fights off killer beasts and bandits and braves, meets the young Davy Crockett, gains a world of confidence in himself, finds his first real love, and is befriended by a fantastic frontier family who really has it together.
     When he returns to the present, he’s a brand new person––but there's killers loose in his house, bullies waiting to beat him up at school, a pretty new girl at Highland High he's hasn't even seen yet.  And the aftermath of the little green book to deal with!

Q1. What three words best describe Nolichuck! TJ’s Wild Frontier Adventure? 
Angst, Adventure, Accomplishment
     Oooh! Sounds exciting

Q2. In one sentence please tell readers why they should read your book. 
 NOLICHUCK will be an interesting read for teens as they will probably relate well to TJ's problems and experiences.

Q3. Now, using as many sentences as you’d like, can you tell us a little bit more about your book?
      TJ’s just an ordinary fourteen year old kid with extraordinary problems at home and school:  A broken up family from his parents’ bitter divorce, evil bullies almost every afternoon, failing grades, boring classes, snobby girls, mean teachers, cut from basketball tryouts, few friends.
     Life is rough for TJ Cockrell.
     And then that mysterious little green book had to go and throw him into the past.  And not just any past, but into the untamed forbidding forests of 1802 eastern Tennessee along with the savage Indians, wild beasts, bloodthirsty robbers, backwoods ruffians, and log cabin living!  Yup, it’s definitely not 2011 Knoxville anymore.
     And he thought his present life was bad news!  But TJ’s adventures are only beginning.  Along the way, he fights off killer beasts and bandits and braves, meets the young Davy Crockett, gains a world of confidence in himself, finds his first real love, and is befriended by a fantastic frontier family who really has it together.
     When he returns to the present, he’s a brand new person––but there's killers loose in his house, bullies waiting to beat him up at school, a pretty new girl at Highland High he's hasn't even seen yet.  And the aftermath of the little green book to deal with!
Q4. Where did the idea for Nolichuck! TJ’s Wild Frontier Adventure come from? What inspired you to write this story?  
There have been many books written about the big events in American history.  What I wanted to do was focus on lesser known eras and create a tale of excitement and adventure in the past combined with continuing action in the present.  Also, I wanted to write a book that deals with many of difficulties teens face in high school: Bullying, mean girls, being made fun of, not quite being good enough to make the team, boring teachers and subjects, few good friends, unhappiness and instability in home life, inability to communicate and share with parent(s), lack of confidence, not being popular, etc.
     I love the idea of mixing time travel and real life situations.

 Q5. Why did you choose to send your character to Frontier Times? What is it about this time period that makes it so exciting? 
 I grew up watching the Davy Crockett episodes on the original Walt Disney show (I even got my parents to buy me the coonskin hat!), and I always wondered what it was like for him growing up as a teenager during that period.  Everything was wild and untamed back then, and even in everyday life there was danger and adventure around every corner.

 Q6. What do you hope readers will learn or walk away with from your book?  
I sincerely hope that teen readers will realize they are stronger than they realize, that they have innate abilities to grow, to learn, to overcome, to be victorious even in the harshest situations at school or home.

Q7. What’s next for TJ? Will there be more adventures? 
The next book in the series will be Reds! TJ's Wacky War Adventure.

Q8. If you could be transported back in time (or into the future!) where or when would you go? What would you do there?  
There are SO many exciting periods of time to explore that it would be difficult to pinpoint just one.  For example, I would love to be in the mountainous area of western North Carolina or eastern Tennessee during frontier days.  That part of the country is very beautiful.  As far as the future, being part of one of the first colonies on another planet would certainly be a tremendous adventure.
     As a NC resident, I agree, western NC is beautiful and I'd love to what it really looked like in frontier times!

Q9. What’s the one book you think everybody should read at least once in their life?  
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, for sure (okay, I'm fudging, that's three books, plus you really want to start with the Hobbit, which makes it four).  I have many, many favorites, and several of the current YA series are classics in their own right, but I think there's magic in starting with the original fantasy of Middle-Earth, don't you think?
     I wholeheartedly agree! The LotR series is a MUST read.

Q10. If you were to bake a Nolichuck! TJ’s Wild Frontier Adventure inspired cupcake what would it taste like and what would you call it?  
It would definitely have to be a cornbread cupcake because baked foods made with corn were common back then.  The cornbread texture would have to be the light moist "cake" version rather than the heavy gooey "steamed" version.  I would call it a "Nolichuck Cake"!
     Hmm, sounds intriguing and yummy!

I want to thank Jackson for stopping by and answering my questions! And guess what...he'll be stopping by again tomorrow with a guest post!

Connect with Jackson: Goodreads



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