March 27, 2014

THE RIVERMAN Blog Tour: Interview with Aaron Starmer

So it's Middle Grade time here on the blog. Are you guys ready for an Aaron Starmer interview? I know I am!

Title: The Riverman (Riverman #1)
Author: Aaron Starmer
Release Date: March 18th, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Indie Bound | Book Depository
"To sell a book, you need a description on the back. So here's mine: My name is Fiona Loomis. I was born on August 11, 1977. I am recording this message on the morning of October 13, 1989. Today I am thirteen years old. Not a day older. Not a day younger."

Fiona Loomis is Alice, back from Wonderland. She is Lucy, returned from Narnia. She is Coraline, home from the Other World. She is the girl we read about in storybooks, but here's the difference: She is real.

Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary is her neighbor in a town where everyone knows each other. One afternoon, Fiona shows up at Alistair's doorstep with a strange proposition. She wants him to write her biography. What begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a frightening glimpse into a clearly troubled mind. For Fiona tells Alistair a secret. In her basement there's a gateway and it leads to the magical world of Aquavania, the place where stories are born. In Aquavania, there's a creature called the Riverman and he's stealing the souls of children. Fiona's soul could be next.

Alistair has a choice. He can believe her, or he can believe something else...something even more terrifying.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]
Now you know what the book's about. Also, just in case you're interested, you can click HERE to read my review of THE RIVERMAN. All read up? Ready for my interview with Aaron? Good. Read on.

For those who've just stumbled upon this interview, summarize THE RIVERMAN in 6 words or less.

Your neighbor went to Narnia. $15.99.

When you're not writing, what's your favorite thing to do?

I love to travel. Before I got into writing middle grade novels, I used to work in the travel industry. It opened my eyes up to a lot places I wanted to see (too many perhaps!). I was lucky enough to spend a few months hiking in New Zealand, to go on safari in Kenya, to raft the Grand Canyon and cruise the Galapagos, among many other adventures. I have a baby daughter now so traveling is a bit harder, but my wife and I are going to do our best to show her the world. I know it’s a cliché, but travel is the best education there is. Sorry Ivy Leaguers.

Which authors were your biggest inspirations for THE RIVERMAN?

It’s funny, people often say it reads like Stephen King or Neil Gaiman, but I actually haven’t read all that much of either of their work, though I’ve seen plenty of Stephen King movies. There’s an epigraph at the beginning of the book from William Maxwell’s So Long, See You Tomorrow and that’s a book that not many people know about. It’s definitely worth reading, especially because of how it confronts the reliability of memories. I actually broke down 99 of my inspirations on my website. You can check them out here.

Of all the characters in THE RIVERMAN, who was the most difficult to write?

Yikes. I don’t know. Maybe it was some of the smaller characters. Keri, maybe. The various parents. They’ll all essential to the narrative, but they don’t get that much space, so every choice you make for them has to reveal a lot. When you’re writing minor characters, you have to treat them like they’re in a short stories and reveal their lives in small individual moments. I hope I accomplished at least a little of that.

When you started writing THE RIVERMAN, did you have the whole book plotted out or did the ending surprise you?

I always have certain moments in mind, and I usually have a general idea of how my books will end when I start them, but for a reader to experience surprises, then the author also has to experience surprises too. At least that’s how I work. The surprises come organically for me that way. And I hope they seem natural to the reader. And I hope there are many, many surprises!


Aaron Starmer was born in northern California, raised in the suburbs of Syracuse, New York, and educated at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. His novels for young readers include Dweeb and The Only Ones, and his travel writing has appeared in numerous guidebooks. He lives with his wife in Hoboken, New Jersey.

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Did you guys enjoy Aaron's answers to my questions? Maybe now you're so excited about THE RIVERMAN you have to go out and buy it ASAP. Be sure to let me know what you're thinking in the comments below!