Q&A with John Claude Bemis

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Get to know John Claude Bemis, author of the Out of Abaton series and musician…

What author or book inspires you most, now and/or at any time in your career?

So many books and authors! However I remember very specifically the books that made me want to become an author. Lois Lowry’s The Giver, Louis Sacher’s Holes, and The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. I discovered these three my first year in the classroom as a fifth grade teacher and thought, “These are so amazing! I want to write something this amazing for my students!”

What is your favorite part of participating in book festivals?

I am equal parts introvert and extrovert. So book festivals are such a fun time to get out of my isolated office and have fun talking to other book nerds like me. I’m with my people!

When did you realize you wanted to write this book?

My latest book The Wooden Prince came to me after a trip to Italy. All these various interests that had been bubbling around in my imagination for years—medieval robots, Da Vinci-punk technology, magic being introduced into Renaissance Europe, sea monsters, djinn, all this stuff—coalesced into a re-imaging of the Pinocchio story. This series, Out of Abaton, has been so much fun to write.

Which part of the book are you most proud of?

The characters. Readers seem to love Pinocchio’s sense of wonder and earnestness at coming to life, Lazuli’s daring and loyalty. The humor and heart the characters all share. Even the villains have been so much fun to spend time with in my imagination and to bring to life on the page.

What are you working on next?

I’m finishing up the second book in the series, Lord of Monsters. Pinocchio, Lazuli, and their friends have all sorts of exciting adventures trying to save their new home, the magical island of Abaton.

At the 2017 Virginia Festival of the Book, John Claude Bemis will participate in a variety of school visits as well as From Killer Robots to Evil Emperors with Tom Angleberger (Rocket and Groot).