Saturday 29th September 2012
at Dempsey Corner Orchards Farm, Aylesford, Nova Scotia.
“Time Flies When You’re Chasing Spies”
Interview with local author Allison Maher
Interviewer: What is the book about, Allison?
Allison: This is an action-adventure spy novel for young adults; for teen-aged boys mostly. It’s about empowerment, to take responsibility for your own life and to do things, not to avoid them because you think you are too young.
Interviewer: Why a spy story?
Allison: I used to sell spy gear. I figure if I could train somebody with a 10-lb belt buckle how to spy on people then I could probably train a 14-year old boy.
Interviewer: Is there any connection between this book and your earlier book “I The Spy”?
Allison: This is the next part of that book. There are the same characters. I hadn’t run through my bag of tricks in the first book so I had to come out with new scenarios for spying and sneaking around people to continue with my bag of tricks … and there is already a third book.
Interviewer: Explain the cover on the new book.
Allison: The majority of the book takes place in and around Halifax and the airport. The exploding clock tower is one of the scenes in the book. Two boys are seen racing against time to save mom.
Interviewer: How much of you is in the high-tech spy-gear mom in this book?
Allison: When I write a book and when I read a book I am actually all of the people, and at the same time I am none of the people. It’s like turning on a television set in my head. These characters show up and speak and I write what they say. So, in a way, it’s all me. In another way, none of it is.
Interviewer: Is there something that appeals to you about the high-tech spy-gear mom?
Allison: Most of scenarios I imagine are what my sons’ lives would have been like had I stayed in the high-tech spy-gear industry.
Interviewer: The two boys in the book, do they get into mischief?
Allison: They don’t find mischief. Things happen around them that they have to react to in an instinctual way.
Interviewer: You write for young adults. Why this group?
Allison: Because there does not seem to be many books for the young adult boy market. A girl can read a boy-book or a girl-book. But not many boys are interested in both adventures and babysitting, or in the pony club. When I stand in a bookstore and look at the books that are available they say that teen-aged boys don’t read and I think it’s because there are too few books for them. Inside me, I am a teen-aged boy so it is easier for me to write because I have two teen-aged sons. I was a tomboy when I was a teenager so I think it would be easier for me to write a book for boys than a book for girls.
The book is written for the same age bracket as the Harry Potter books. There will be many younger readers who read this book, but there will also be many adults who would want to read the book.
Interview: There are two boys in the book. How would you characterize them?
Allison: I think 13-year-olds are at that awkward stage. In some parts of the world they would be considered adults. In our part of the world they are still considered children. They have, in their 13 years, developed enough skills to function on their own but most adults try to hold them back. If you took a 13-year old they should generally be able to live on their own. They should be able to wash their own clothes, cook their own food and figure out some of their own problems. This book, I hope, tries to show that they can empower themselves to take action and to do the right thing.
Interviewer: Do you think 13-year olds are given that chance?
Allison: Not much in our society.
Interviewer: What inspired you to write this particular story?
Allison: I had these two boy-characters running around in my head. If I start with these two characters that show up I don’t write any particular story. It’s like turning on the television and that was the episode that was on. I had no idea what they were going to do or where they were going. I just watched my mind’s TV and wrote what happened. That’s what the boys told me they wanted to do. I never know what I’m going to write on any given day; sometimes it’s funny and sometimes it’s scary. When the characters tell jokes I had never heard the jokes before in my entire conscious life. They just come out of the mouths of these boys.
Interviewer: Why is the book set in Halifax, and why the G-8 summit?
Allison: My first book was set in the country so I did a lot of scenarios that would happen in a rural setting. There wasn’t enough time in 200 pages to recreate scenarios that would have happened in a city as well. When I wrote about the tunnels under the Citadel these are things that I already knew, but I had to research some more specifics. I ask a lot of questions. About the G-8 summit, it’s not that this is any secret. Where it was going to be or where it was. I took some of the mundane things that everybody would know and put it together with some of the things that people just don’t think about. I made sure anybody could relate to it.
Interviewer: About your writing … how do you set up your environment for writing?
Allison: I just send everybody to bed. I have insomnia and I want to write, so I say “Let’s have hot chocolate! I give my family something warm and fuzzy to drink and a gigantic meal. I kiss them “goodnight everybody”. They go to bed early then I can start writing.
Interviewer: Is this book movie material?
Allison: [laughs, but appears reluctant to directly answer the question]
Lots of exciting things happen. It’s not slow-paced. You’d have to have really athletic actors.
Interviewer: Tell me a little about your promotion of the book.
Allison: My first action-adventure spy book was well received. It was on recommended reading lists and nominated for a Red Cedar Reader’s Choice award. With this new book, I am doing a series of readings and spy hunts at some schools, starting with one in Halifax. I’m having a book launch here at Dempsey Corner Orchards, on our own farm near Aylesford, on Saturday 29th September.
If you like to read, you’ll love to read this book. If you can get a youngster to read to page ten, I can get them to page two hundred.
Allison was interviewed by Edward Wedler with The Inside Story
“Time Flies When You’re Chasing Spies”
by Allison Maher
Trade Paper, published by Nimbus Publishing