I love to read books, edit books for authors, and participate in the wonderful blog tours for smaller authors who are still working on getting into the mainstream! I also tutor S Korean students online while being a single mom to my 12 year old daughter with Williams syndrome :) Perfect life!
Roger Mantis by Tom Alan Brosz Blog Tour and Giveaway :)
Roger Mantis by Tom Alan Brosz
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Publisher: Tantrum Books
Baseball is Roger McGillicutty’s
whole life. That is until he wakes one Saturday to find he is no
longer a normal eleven-year-old boy. He's a five-foot-tall praying
Roger has school on Monday, the
carnival comes to town next week, and his baseball team is poised to
play their biggest rival in one week. Being a giant bug will
seriously cramp Roger’s style!
To Roger’s surprise, his parents and
friends are supportive. Even his dog isn’t spooked. But not
everyone’s thrilled about Roger’s change. Some people are
frightened and others would like nothing more than to squash him into
the ground like the bug he is.
And when Little League officials oust
Roger from baseball, his world collapses.
When a reporter from the city comes
snooping around rumors of a man-sized baseball-playing praying
mantis, Roger must choose between hiding his true self or being the
hero he's always wanted to be.
Alan Brosz actually is a rocket scientist (sort of), having done
design and engineering work in the private space industry back before
the private space industry was cool. His qualifications for writing
this book are that he has experience in raising children who like
bugs, and raising pet mantises for those children. Normal-sized
mantises, of course.
My first book was Castle Falcon.
I used to tell my kids stories at night. I always preferred just
reading to them, because inventing a story on the fly isn’t easy.
but the kids really liked the ones I told them, since they were in
the stories. So, I’d look around the room, see something to build
on, and go for it. I told them once that someday I’d put these all
in a book.
One Christmas, my kids presented me
with a yellow loose-leaf notebook. Inside were sheets with summaries
of all the stories they could remember.
“Here’s the stories,” they said.
“Do the book.”
Of course, then I had no choice. It
took me almost three years to finish. I accumulated 127 rejections on
it before I eventually published it myself in 2012. I suspect the
length, 146,000 words for a kid’s book, had something to do with
it. I elaborated quite a bit on the original bedtime stories.
Roger Mantis was my attempt to
show I had another book in me. Starting a book is the hardest part
for me, and I cast around for inspiration. One was a list of “famous
first lines” in books, and I looked at the first lines of Kafka’s
The Metamorphosis: As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from
uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a
“What if this guy was just a kid?”
I thought. “And what if the story was fun, not depressing?” Since
Roger’s story was originally pretty episodic, plotting wasn’t a
problem, and I had a first draft in a month, with a version of the
Kafka opening line as the beginning.
you have a specific writing style?
Humorous, I hope. I want my books to be
fun. It’s really hard for me to write uncomfortable or painful
scenes, although they’re sometimes necessary. I have a lot of fun
writing dialogue, and plow through it so fast that I usually just
skip the punctuation and quote marks and clean that up later. If I’m
lucky, my characters pick up the story and run with it.
you come up with the title?
I named the protagonist “Roger,”
which is “Gregor” spelled backwards. Sort of. “Roger Mantis”
is a takeoff on a baseball player of the 60s, Roger Maris.
a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I wasn’t really pushing one.
Persistence in the face of adversity shows up a lot. Roger is not a
quitter. I wouldn’t think of it as a good metaphor for tolerance.
Being tolerant of a giant insect is kind of pushing the envelope for
of the book is realistic?
Everything except Roger the Giant Bug
is as real as I can make it, especially the environment of the
mid-70s. The people of Roger’s town are probably a lot more
accepting than they’d be in real life, but in real life Roger would
probably end up in a tree surrounded by people with torches and guns,
and that’s not the story I wanted to tell.
experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not really. I visualized my home town
in some of the scenes, but the kids in the book are completely
imaginary. I didn’t play sports in school, and I know there were
sports nuts like Roger in my school, but I never hung out with them.
books have most influenced your life most?
As a fiction writer, the SF and fantasy
of my younger years included famous writers like Heinlein, Clarke,
Asimov, Lovecraft, Bradbury, and many others. I loved the classics,
like Wind in the Willows, Mary Poppins, Dr. Doolittle, C. S. Lewis,
Kipling, Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and T. H. White’s Once and
Future King. Most of my reading was from writers for young people
that don’t see a lot of exposure now. Danny Dunn, Tom Swift, the
Mushroom Planet Books. Authors like Evelyn Lampman, William Pene
DuBois, and many others. Black and Blue Magic by Zilpha
Keatley Snyder was a special inspiration for Roger Mantis, about a
boy who gets wings. Roger’s night flight in my book was a version
of a flight over San Francisco at night in Snyder’s book.
More recent favorite authors include
Jim Butcher, Neil Gaiman, J. K. Rowling, and Terry Pratchett. I read
George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series, but oddly, not Game of
There are probably a dozen authors I
will remember later.
had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
That’s a tough one. My writing is
informed by most of the authors I’ve read. When I was younger, I
wanted to write like Ray Bradbury. Later, I wanted to write like Neil
Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Of course, nobody really can.
book are you reading now?
I read some new books, but often
re-read old favorites. “Comfort reading.” I just finished The
Terry Pratchett “Discworld Science” series. I’m severely
handicapped that most of my lifelong favorite writers aren’t
writing any more new books.
there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I love discovering new authors,
especially if they’ve already written lots of books. The Kindle
“sample” function is a godsend. I discovered Jonathan L. Howard,
Phillip Reeve, and Richard Kadrey this way.
your current projects?
I’m not really sure. If Roger Mantis
takes off, a sequel is probably in order. It’s very hard for me to
start a book, and I greatly envy writers who are cranking on two or
three new ones at any given time. I can’t focus on more than one
story at once.
entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Well, my publisher and editors, of
course, but that’s probably not what you’re looking for. I belong
to the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI),
and I have gotten a lot of good support, information, and
encouragement from members at conventions and meetings.
see writing as a career?
I’d love to make a living writing. So
would every other writer—it’s not as common as writers would
like. I’m not sure I’m prolific enough. The most successful
writers turn out at least one book a year, and some writers a lot
had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest
Not that I can think of. Anything I
might add now just goes into my notes for later books (like the
exterminator van joke), which is where I also archive things that get
cut out but I still like. Never just delete things you can’t use
right now. You never know when they may be useful later.
recall how your interest in writing originated?
It started with voracious reading. When
I was a kid, I didn’t have a local library except the one at
school, and I never lived anywhere with a real bookstore. Some books
were sold at the drugstore. I swept the school library for anything
that looked readable, mostly science fiction and fantasy, and then
went back and read them all again. Some of those books I’ve
probably read fifty times, and I still have copies of my childhood
And then? I think every fan of a book
genre gets the idea that they could write this stuff. Then the trick
is following through. Where real writers come from are the ones who
cross the finish lines, not the ones who start out. Even just
completing a first-draft manuscript is a fairly rare event compared
to the numbers who start one.
share a little of your current work with us?
Aside from sequels, I have idea folders
for a YA fantasy The Lightning Horse, and a light romance
novel built around the parents in Castle Falcon. I haven’t
started on either of them. I actually have a YA “vampire” book
completed, but it’s kind of sitting on the shelf right now.
anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Oh, Lord yes. Everything. Getting
started on a book is hard enough. Then sitting down and writing it.
Plotting is a difficulty for me. Trying to come up with original
characters. Sometimes I think I’m just changing clothes on a
character and moving them to another book.
your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about
Tough call. Either Neil Gaiman or Terry
Pratchett, I suppose. Gaiman has a gigantic imagination, and writing
skills that probably make a lot of new writers wonder if their word
processor might not be more useful as a boat anchor.
Terry Pratchett was a master of
wordplay and character. Every now and then I’ll write some clever
play on words, witty phrasing, or unique description where I sit back
and go, “Damn, that’s good.” If I’m lucky, I manage that two
or three times in a book. Terry Pratchett could pull off two or three
on almost every page.
have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, thank goodness. My wife is
disabled, and travelling at all is difficult. I work at home and like
it. I managed to get to Reno and Sparks on a trip back to the
Midwest, and check out a hotel that was one scene for my vampire
book. I can do an amazing amount of “travel” using Google Earth
and its Street View, and actually “drove” a highway I used in a
book so I could describe the scenery.
designed the covers?
For Roger Mantis, my publisher,
or specifically, Danielle Doolittle and Daniela Frongia.
the hardest part of writing your book?
Other than just getting started on it?
The editing process with the publisher. Bet no author ever said that
before, right? My episodic humor book got slowly wrung into something
with more heart and personality. Characters got deeper, and more
complex. But each bit of demolition and rebuilding made the book
learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Persistence. I got a publisher after 78
I had to hone point of view—my first
book was omniscient, moving from one character to another. Roger
Mantis was close third person, and you really have to keep the brakes
on your own mind to stay in the mind of the character, much like
have any advice for other writers?
Again, persistence. You can’t lose
the game if you refuse to quit playing.
have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope they have fun. I like reading
books where you come out the other side happier than when you went
in, and I like writing them. I don’t think I could write a book
without a happy ending if I tried. There are great writers whose
readers are improved and made more thoughtful by their writing. I
don’t think I’m one of them.
“Persons attempting to find a
motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to
find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a
plot in it will be shot.” – Mark Twain.
Works for me.
My wife (and main beta reader) says
that for her Roger Mantis is about accepting the hand you are
dealt, and making the best of it.
were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and
logistical) in bringing it to life? What books/authors have
influenced your writing?
I had to change the time of Roger
Mantis to the 70s to make it work (the modern age of cell phones
and internet would have blown the story out of the water in the
second chapter), so anachronisms had to be carefully screened. The
entire story takes place in a short time, and I had to carefully work
up a timeline for each day to make sure it all stuck together.
Research is always difficult, but it’s
kind of fun. Thank God for the internet. For Roger Mantis, I
had to find out how Little League rules worked at the time, and a bit
about mantis biology, although I got to mess with that a bit.
genre do you consider your book(s)?
Fantasy or science fiction. A lot
depends on exactly why Roger turns into a mantis, and to be honest,
I’m still not sure about that. Hey, Kafka never had to answer that
ever experience writer's block?
Writer’s block is probably my ground
state. The question should probably be, “are you ever not having
write an outline before every book you write?
Not usually. Sometimes I write one in
the middle if I’m having trouble keeping track of things.
ever hated something you wrote?
Not really. And I’m not sure that’s
a normal problem for writers. The problem comes when I like something
I write, and it actually stinks. It would be a lot easier if a writer
could routinely look at something he’s done and say, “Ugh. That
needs to be reworked.”
If all writers could do that, you
wouldn’t need test readers, or editors. Remember, the classic
phrase is “Kill your darlings,” not “Kill the junk.”
your favourite theme/genre to write about?
Fantasy and science fiction. I started
writing for younger people, and it seems to be sticking. I might want
to try hard SF, but it’s not a big part of the younger genres right
you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the
I have to jump into the head of most of
my characters to write them. Then the trick is to remember who they
are, and not make them sound like me.
your expectations for the book?
I’m hoping it sells well enough that
the publisher is happy they took it on. I’d love to see it get into
Scholastic, or have a movie made
your favorite genre of book that you read?
Science Fiction and fantasy, although
there are many exceptions. I suspect most writers tend to write what
they like to read.
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