I welcome fellow Story Monkey E.J. Patten, incipiently-world famous author of Return to Exile and (coming this Fall) The Legend Thief. E.J. launches off today on his marathon tour of bookblogdom, so in order to avoid tiring him out too early, we’ll ask him five simple, straightforward questions, of the sort his publicist assures us he’s used to answering.
You can follow E.J. on the rest of his blog tour by watching this calendar.
Ready, E.J.? Here we go:
1. Polyp or pustule?
I’m going to go with pustules because “polyp” sounds like “pull-up” and I hate pull-ups.
2. Is it true that when Rick Riordan read Return to Exile, First Snare of the Hunter Chronicles, he was so ecstatic that he wept for an hour and then called you to beg you for awesomeness lessons, even though it was three in the morning?
This is, in fact, an outright lie. It was two in the morning. Rick called right after I wrestled a pot of gold away from a greedy leprechaun and gave it to the Roald Dahl Home for Imaginary Children’s Book Orphans. You see, I’d just had dinner with the queen and…well, I don’t want to bore you with the details. Suffice it to say, in the world of my imagination, Rick Riordan has actually heard of me, read my book, and liked it enough to say nice things about it. In reality, I’ve never met him, but I love his books and have learned plenty of awesomeness lessons from those.
3. Which is better for treating poisoned injuries — Barrow Weed or Foxglove?
That’s a trick question. The answer is neither. Hunters use Foxglove to speed up the heart rate of Harrow Wights and Harrow Knights so that their bronze skin oxidizes, making them vulnerable.
Barrow Weed distracts the mind from pain and intrusion, mainly because it smells so bad. Barrow Hags grow the stuff in their swamps. No one’s quite sure how, but rumors say it involves kittens, armpit hair, and their own somewhat truculent natural gas.
If you have to treat a poisoned injury, use Jack Seed or Crow’s Feet (Piebald’s Feet, really). Or, better yet, don’t get hurt in the first place. Always exercise caution when dealing with bloodthirsty poisonous monsters.
4. Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fhtagn!
Ph’nglui Mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.
5. If you had action figures for all the Return to Exile characters, whom would you cast in the movie, and would they have detachable arms?
I would love, love, love to see Return to Exile made into a movie, and I wrote it with that in mind. Last year, my agent pitched it to several studios. Hollywood tends to think in broad swaths and rather than read the book, many listened to the pitch and said “there are already several monster movies in production.” That’s it. They categorized it as a monster movie and passed. It’s sort of like saying “we’re not going to make Harry Potter because it has magic in it, and several magic movies are already in production” (i.e., at the time, LOTR, Enchanted, and others—very different kinds of movies, but all involved magic). Execution and approach matter. More recently, we had some interest from Shawn Levy who did the Night at the Museum movies. Producers at his company actually read the book and loved it. They pitched it to Fox and Fox said “we don’t do middle-grade.” Once again, Return to Exile was labeled with a broad paintbrush and dismissed. As far as I know, Fox never read it.
All the money is in teen/YA at the moment. Box office bombs like The Golden Compass and A Series of Unfortunate Events have soured the market for middle-grade. Fortunately, Hollywood’s tastes change weekly and a “no” now may be a “yes” next week. There’s still hope for a Return to Exile movie. All it takes is one box-office hit to change a trend, and Hunger Games is refocusing attention on young books. Hopefully some of that attention trickles down into middle-grade.
In my mind, I’ve only cast two of the characters: Phineas and Sheriff Beau. Phineas—Sky’s eccentric monocle-wearing uncle—would be Johnny Depp. He would come with detachable arms and a detachable monocle. Sherriff Beau would be played by Harrison Ford. He would come with nonsensical action phrases (“Everyone’s got their reasons. Doesn’t make them right, but there they are all the same.”) and a Wargarou tusk that children could shove through his stomach.