Today we have author JW Troemner visiting. Welcome!
What would you like to tell readers about yourself?
* JW Troemner was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States, where she lives with her partner in a house full of pets. Most days she can be found gazing longingly at sinkholes and abandoned buildings.
Today JW Troemner will be talking about the first book she read that had a big impact on her.
* Hello Casey, and thank you so much for the opportunity to be here today!
* You asked me to talk about the first book that made a big impact on me. As a lover of dark fiction, I have to wonder if you had a chance to read the same series that I did when you were younger, because it left me with a craving for darker stories that’s lasted me the rest of my life.
* I’m speaking, of course, of the Animorphs series.
* Yeah. The ones that were huge in the 90s with the goofy covers of a person turning into an animal on the front cover. They were the length of a typical mid-grade book and usually on the shelves between the Saddle Club and Goosebumps.
* I started reading them in the first grade or so, while I was still struggling to learn English, and I kept going through all fifty-three main books, all the prequel series, and all the multi-POV special editions. I used to sit around on the playground with my best friend, making up self-insert characters to go on adventures with them (mine was a spy that helped the protagonists get top-secret information; my friend’s was one of the main characters’ little sister).
* All of this sounds sweet and adorable if you’ve never actually read one of these books.
* From the first book, they were full of violence, gore, and trauma. The protagonists are child soldiers fighting a guerilla war against body-snatching aliens, and it’s played absolutely straight. Nobody ever comes to save the heroes at the last minute. Every character constantly wrestles with terror, depression, despair, and their own fracturing humanity as they have to make progressively darker choices. On several occasions they have to decide the fate of entire species—which ones are eradicated, which ones are enslaved, and which ones are saved—and it weighs heavy on them. And (spoilers for a book series that concluded in 2001): almost all of them are dead at by the series’ end.
* Now, none of this is done in a sadistic or cruel way, and never once did I get the impression that the author was going for gross-out humor. I also noticed that for all the times that a character was said to swear, I distinctly only remember seeing it once in the series. The entire time I was reading, it was incredibly clear to me that the author knew her readers were primarily kids, but she wasn’t talking down me.
* K.A. Applegate just laid it out exactly as it was: leadership means you’re the hero, but it also means all the hardest choices and all their worst consequences are on your shoulders. You can save people, but there will always be someone you can’t save. Warriors may be awesome, but they’re also absolutely dripping with trauma. Just because somebody is a family member or in a position of authority doesn’t mean they are trustworthy, or even good people.
* I add this as an afterthought because I only ever noticed it as an afterthought: the stories were remarkably diverse. Two of the five protagonists are girls, and the girliest of them is also the most ruthless combatant in the series. One of the protagonists is a black girl; another is Latino. Two are Jewish; one of them comes from an abusive household; one is raised by a single father. No attention is ever brought to these facts. They’re simply part of the characters, not the traits that define them. Cassie isn’t the Black Chick™, she’s the gentle and compassionate one who knows practically everything about animals and medicine. Marco isn’t the Latino™, he’s the guy who always has a wisecrack but can zero in onto the central conflict of every situation. I never even noticed the diversity until years later, when I started approaching my childhood loves with a more critical eye.
* In a lot of ways, I’ve found myself trying to live up to K.A. Applegate’s style of writing, and I hope that shines through in Urban Dragon.
A look into Mark of the Dragon…
~ Blurb ~
* Rosario Hernandez doesn’t ask for much. She’d like to sleep on a bed instead of a sidewalk, to know where her next meal is coming from, and maybe, if she’s really feeling optimistic, to get a girlfriend. More than anything, though, she wants her best friend Arkay to not murder anyone— because Arkay is a dragon, claws and all, and she has a penchant for vigilante justice. When Arkay’s latest escapade goes sour, Rosario gets stuck with a stolen van and a cooler full of human organs. Now they’re on the run, and it’s not just the cops who want answers. The owner of the cooler is still out there, and they want to replace what they’ve lost— by any means necessary.
~ Excerpt ~
* Occult ‘R’ Us:
* The room was lined with dozens, maybe hundreds, of unlit candles in shades of white and red and black. The line of candles only stopped at a bookshelf full of old, leather-bound tomes and even older-looking brass weapons. An iron circle had been pounded into the concrete floor, which had been liberally smeared with rust-brown stains. The far wall was shiny and steel with a big door that looked like a walk-in refrigerator, the kind you’d find in a restaurant kitchen.
* Arkay had apparently ignored Occult ‘R’ Us entirely, except to stack the old books under a window and try to pry open the glass with a rune-covered dagger. “Think you can fit?”
* “I’ll suck it in,” I said.
* “Then give me just a minute. I’ve almost got it.”
* So during that minute, I did The Thing. You know, that one thing you usually see people in horror movies doing. The one that makes you facepalm and shake your head at the sheer stupidity.
* Because Arkay was busy with the window, and Matheson and his goons were scratching at the door with what sounded like a screwdriver, and I had nothing else occupying my time or my mind.
* Nothing but that giant freakin’ door in the shiny metal wall, just begging to be opened.
* Three guesses what I did.
Buy Mark of the Dragon here…
Thank you for joining us here today, JW Troemner! It was a pleasure getting to know you and your story.
ANNOUNCEMENT! JW Troemner will be awarding $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour! So be sure to leave a comment AND use this RAFFLECOPTER LINK to enter the drawing. Also, visit the other tour stops for a greater chance of winning!