I Am the Walrus is the first book in a new middle grade science fiction series. Today I haven an interview with the authors Neal Schusterman & Eric Elfman for my stop on the tour. The book tour is being hosted by TBR and Beyond Tours. If you want to know more about the book and my interview, keep on reading!
Title: I Am the Walrus (The N.O.A.H. Files #1) by Neal Schusterman & Eric Elfman
Genre: Middle-Grade Sci-Fi
Publishing date: April 11th, 2023
Eoin Colfer meets Rick Riordan—with a little Margaret Peterson Haddix sprinkled on top—in this hilarious new sci-fi series from award-winning authors Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman.
When fourteen-year-old Noah falls from the trees on his classmate Sahara, he doesn’t understand how, or why, he would have been up there. It’s just one more in a string of strange things happening to Noah lately.
Like when he keels over and every muscle in his body freezes when confronted by bullies. And when he vanishes into the background at a moment he doesn’t want to be noticed. And when he unexpectedly blasts Sahara with a bird shriek while flapping his arms uncontrollably in the middle of a school dance. What does it all mean? And why do there suddenly seem to be so many mysterious people trying to kill him?
Noah’s friend Ogden has an idea…but like all of Ogden’s ideas, it’s out there. Way out there…
How is writing a book together different than writing a book on your own?
EE: Writing is usually such a solitary pursuit, I love having a collaborator, it makes it fun! Especially since Neal and I are usually on the same wavelength when it comes to story structure and humor. And one of my favorite things about having Neal as a collaborator is I get instant feedback – if I’m writing by myself, and I write something that I think is funny, well, that’s just me. What if nobody else thinks it’s funny? But if I say it to Neal, and he laughs, then I know at least one other person thought it was funny. And I can extrapolate out from there that many others will find it funny, as well.
NS: We’re so much on the same wavelength, that Eric said exactly what I was going to say!
What has been the favorite part of your publishing journey so far?
NS: When people come up to me and say things like “This book saved my life.” I hear that about Challenger Deep a lot, which is a journey through mental illness that helps people struggling feel that they’re not alone. When something you’ve written has a positive effect on someone’s life, it validates your own life, and the choice you made to become a writer.
EE: First was working out the story with Neal. Next, I have to say there is nothing as thrilling as opening a box filled with copies of your book that was just published. Well, the only feeling that compares is seeing your book “out in the wild” – I’ll never forget the first time I saw my first book at a bookstore, on a shelf where anyone could buy it.
If you were a character in I Am the Walrus, what kind of character would you be?
EE: Neal and I had so much fun creating all of the characters in the story, and there’s probably a little bit of me in each of them. But if I had to add one more, played by me, it might be a zany side-character at school, or maybe Agent Rigby’s boss. I mean, she has to report to someone, right? I’d keep her on a tighter leash, but I’d know she’s on to something!
NS: Hard to answer the question without giving big spoilers! I would probably be a bit like Noah’s friend, Ogden — who’s great at solving problems, but also tends to create them as well!
Describe I Am the Walrus in five words or less.
EE: Fast-paced, funny sci-fi/fantasy.
NS: Hilarious twists at every turn.
What is your favorite quote from I am the Walrus?
EE: Oh, this is a nod to The Princess Bride, and is an example of something I said to Neal that made him laugh, and so made its way into the book. When our main character’s replacement dad (don’t ask, read the book!) is killed, Noah turns to the killer and says, “My name is Noah Prime. You killed my back-up father. Prepare to die.”
NS: I second that! Also there are a number of easter-egg references in the book. Such as when they need a “beryllium sphere,” as a power source. That’s a nod to one of our favorite movies, Galaxy Quest!
What do you hope readers take away from your story?
EE: I just hope they have fun reading it. If they laugh out loud that would be a plus! We kind of designed it like a thrill ride, with a dizzying ascent and then a fast drop with twists and turns that never stop. The book does touch on themes of friendship and teamwork and identity, that I hope readers will relate to. But I mainly hope readers remember that they had a good time reading it. “Reading is fun” — maybe that’s the takeaway!
NS: And that no matter what weird stuff you find yourself facing, you’ll always find a way to adapt, and grow from it!
Could you give us 5 random facts about I Am the Walrus (think the story, writing, publishing, anything that comes to mind)?
NS – Fact 1: Mostly we work on google drive –often simultaneously in the document, because we live on opposite coasts. However Eric and I will occasionally get together in interesting locations as writing retreats — Cabo San Lucas, or a cruise ship. We actually wrote 110 pages of book 2 Shock the Monkey, on a Panama Canal cruise. That was my idea, so it was literally “a man, a plan, a canal, Panama!” (If you don’t get the reference, read it backwards).
EE – Fact 2: We originally pitched the story to a production company as a TV series. It didn’t work out, but we liked the idea so much we decided to do it as a book series instead.
NS – Fact 3: We had to figure out the logistics of a portal that crossed through the center of the earth, including making allowances for time zones, and daylight savings time — as well as figuring out if it would be more efficient than creating a portal transfer situation on the moon — which is also an homage to the game “Portal.” (And for anyone who read Challenger Deep, there are portal references in that book as well)
EE – Fact 4: We had to track actual train routes across the US to make sure Noah’s and Andi’s train journey was accurate and authentic. Even in a science fiction story, we try to be as accurate as possible when dealing with real world things.
NS – Fact 5: When we were first working on the book, we took a break to drive up to see the solar eclipse in Oregon. We passed a town named Arbuckle in northern California and liked the name, so we moved it to Oregon, and that became the town where the story takes place.
If this interview has made you curious about I Am the Walrus, click here for the tour schedule. We have quite a few bloggers and bookstagrammers talking about this book.
About Neal Schusterman
Neal Shusterman is the New York Times best-selling author of over thirty novels for children, teens, and adults. He won the 2015 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for Challenger Deep-and his novel, Scythe, was a 2017 Michael L. Printz Honor book-and is in development with Universal Studios as a feature film. His novel, Unwind, has become part of the literary canon in many school districts across the country-and has won more than thirty domestic and international awards. He co-wrote his most recent novel, Dry, with his son Jarrod, and in addition to being on numerous award lists, Dry is currently in development with Paramount Pictures. His upcoming novel, Game Changer, is in development with Netflix as a TV series, and he is co-writing the pilot episode.
About Eric Elfman
Eric Elfman is the author of fourteen books for kids and adults, including Tesla’s Attic, Edison’s Alley and Hawking’s Hallway (all co-written with Neal Shusterman), an award-winning Middle Grade series from Disney-Hyperion Books. Eric and Neal are now developing a TV series based on Tesla’s Attic Eric’s Almanac of the Gross, Disgusting & Totally Repulsive, from Random House (now in its 6th printing), was named an ALA Recommended Book for Reluctant Readers. As a screenwriter, Eric has sold projects to Dreamworks, Universal, Walden Media and Interscope. Eric is also a private writing coach, with a number of award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors among his clients.
I love that the synopsis says I Am the Walrus is a hilarious middle grade sci-fi. It’s nice to read lighter books at times. Have you read anything by either of these authors? Any you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.