Happy New Year!
So excited to share a great interview I did with Ryan Dalton, author of THE LAST ADVENTURE, which comes out February 1st!
About the Book:
1) The relationship between Archie and his grandfather is absolutely beautiful, but what I really loved was that they played together. I’ve never seen that in a MG novel before but it is so awesome! What inspired that choice and did you have a similar relationship with any of your grandparents?
I didn’t fully realize it until I’d completed This Last Adventure, but I’m drawn to stories that include multi-generational relationships. You get to experience the differences in characters that grew up in very different eras, yet the benefits of a familial bond that provides an underlying security, even when there’s conflict between the characters. There’s also a level of vulnerability that families can have with each other, something deeper than with other characters, and I love writing scenes with lots of words and powerful emotions flying around. I never lived in the same house with my grandparents, so we didn’t have the daily connection that Archie gets to have with Grandpa, but I did enjoy the time I got to spend with them. It was especially fun when personality traits of their younger selves would peek through and I would get a glimpse of playfulness.
2) Archie and his mom are dealing with A LOT. And in very different ways. Can you talk about the choices you made in that relationship?
From the start, I wanted to establish that they were a team with a deep, unbreakable bond, but now that bond was going to be tested and changed in ways they never expected. I knew that was going to cause conflicts because they would struggle at times to understand each other. There would be layers of challenges because, in addition to dealing day-to-day with Grandpa’s condition, they also had their own ways of coping with the emotional toll (some healthy and some not so healthy). So I had to spend a lot of time with them before writing, coming to understand what Archie and Penny would do and why. Then there had to be a path that led to them understanding each other better, which meant there would have to be tough conversations about difficult feelings. I try to feel the emotions I’m writing about in the moment as deeply as possible, wanting them to leap off the page as strongly as possible. So those deep interpersonal scenes can be exhausting to write, but they’re also incredibly rewarding.
3) A universal longing for all of us is that we are remembered. But Archie’s grandfather is haunted by things he’d rather forget. And yet he makes a brave choice which in turns encourages Archie to be brave. Both acts of bravery could have negative repercussions. Why did you want to to frame bravery the way you did? (and bravo by the way!)
I wanted to show that bravery is not dependent on the outcome. Through his own experiences, Grandpa had learned that taking the leap is the important thing. It carries its own reward. So he wanted to teach Archie to go through life unafraid of taking chances, of reaching as high as he could for what he really wanted, knowing that he would be okay even if he fell short or didn’t always get what he wanted. From there, my goal was to show Archie doing exactly that and receiving mixed results – some successes and some failures – and seeing for himself that what Grandpa taught him was true.
(I’m really glad you enjoyed that. It’s one of my favorite parts.)
4) Sometimes, we choose to carry burdens by ourselves, how does that manifest in your characters and what do you want your readers to take away from those choices?
In real life, when we try to carry heavy burdens by ourselves, that often doesn’t work out too well. Yet that’s usually the first thing people try to do. These characters needed to learn the same thing, which meant at first they’d have to try handling problems on their own and then experience the repercussions. It’s only when they start relying on each other, learning how to act like a team again, that things begin to improve.
5) If you could go back in time (or perhaps now!), what would you loved to ask your grandparents?
I would want to hear about the most treasured adventures they had in their life, memories they look back on with the deepest joy. A long life carries many hidden depths, and I’d love to hear the stories they haven’t told in many years.
6) What’s next?
While preparing for publication of This Last Adventure, I wrote another middle grade book that we’re currently taking to various publishing houses. In February, I’ll begin writing my next book – something I can’t talk about in detail yet but am so excited to begin. I have so many stories floating around in my head, just waiting to be written, so I hope to be publishing books in a variety of genres for many years to come. Stay tuned!
Guys, THE LAST ADVENTURE is a wonderful book. I highly recommend it as a great jumping off point for kids to connect with their grandparents!
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT RYAN DALTON OR CONNECT WITH HIM ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
VISIT HIS WEBSITE!