Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Meet Young Adult Author Edwin Hanks

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes a fellow Colorado author. Edwin Hanks writes YA fiction and shares his story Uprooted from The Brothers of Orinthia series with my readers.

First, a bit about Edwin:

I’ve been writing since I was a kid.  In 5th Grade, I was writing a historical fiction book, and classmates would ask to borrow it so they could read it, and then they’d hand it back, saying they couldn’t read my handwriting!  I used to play these complicated games, from companies like Avalon Hill and SPI, and I started writing stories about the games.  I’ve continued to do that – both play and write about games – up to the present day.  I studied World History in college because I couldn’t pin myself down to any particular country or region.  A knowledge of history has really helped me understand how people (and nations) think, and given me an awareness of the real human stories that are reflected – often I’d have to say imitated – in fiction writing.  For the past 25 years I’ve been employed to write and edit for others (even though I failed Grammar in high school – sorry!), but now I’m finally getting to write, and publish, for myself.

Why did you choose to write books for Young Adult?
I feel like I was at my most creative as a young adult and prior.  Because of that, a lot of the stories I’m turning into books today were actually conceptualized when I was in middle school.  But even the new stories I think of often include young adult characters because I think that’s a great age to be a character in a story – real or fictional.  I also like to highlight to young adults that they can “be somebody,” or make a difference, even at their age.  History is replete with youths in their teens and twenties who held positions of astonishing authority.  For instance, one of my in-progress stories is about the man who would become Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany – he was an army officer at age 10 and commanded troops as a Captain in the Napoleonic Wars when he was 17.  George Washington was an adjutant general at age 21.  For that matter, I was given positions of authority while in Civil Air Patrol, even over adults, when I was still just 17.

What types of books do you like to read?

Mostly modern history, and often this comes in the form of biographies of interesting people.  My fiction reading is mostly fantasy and science fiction.  I do read some historical fiction, though I often prefer to imagine my own such stories.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

I love hiking with my wife and dog in Colorado’s wilderness.  We’ve been fostering a dog from the shelter – a basenji mix – and will be adopting her soon.  I love watching movies, though I’m often too busy to do so.  I also play historical strategy games.

Tell us about Uprooted and The Brothers of Orinthia series and how the story came to be.

The story in Uprooted involves two young brothers who stumble upon a body in the forest – a murder scene.  They accidentally get caught up in a power struggle between magic users and a mystical mage-assassination cult, and spend most of the book fleeing for their lives.  It’s a story of mystery, intrigue, mysticism, magic – a fantasy thriller which is only the beginning of something a lot bigger.  Epic fantasy.   The story also fleshes out a number of the world’s religions and central philosophies, so it’s maybe more thoughtful than a lot of other stories.

There’s nothing particularly special about these youths – they’re just real people who’ve become embroiled in events that are much larger than they are, and they try to cope.  I feel like that’s the real human condition – most of us aren’t “startouched" or “pawns of prophecy” like in too many fantasy stories.  We’re just regular people trying to make our way in the world.  But people like us can make our mark, one way or another.

I developed some of the original concepts 15 years ago for a homebrew role-playing game I developed to play with friends.  Since I had largely created a world, and we’d barely begun to explore it before players moved on or away, I figured it would be fun to explore it more extensively through fiction.

Here's a peek at Uprooted:

The odor of damp earth and warm forest penetrated Caran’s nostrils.  He lay on his side, rocks and twigs uncomfortably prickling through his tunic.

A youth in his mid-teens, dressed in simple woolen earthtones, his tousled brown hair eclipsed his searching green eyes ever so slightly.  He peered out from a concealing copse of trees and brush, hoping to catch sight of his prey.

Caran glimpsed nothing of interest.  Just the gray-whiteness of a thousand aspen trees.  The clustered red of the tappery bushes.  No movement but the flutter of small green leaves.  No sound but the call of a hawk circling high overhead, its piercing cry sharp like its talons.

A wise hunter is patient.  Still.  Silent.  Eyes scanning. 

Have you written other books?  If so, tell us a bit about them.

Uprooted is my first published novel.  I have written some historical fiction – the aforementioned story about Kaiser Wilhelm I and his sons and grandsons – on a gaming fansite.  I plan to resurrect, reposition and rewrite this story and publish it as new fiction.  But the work I did previously is still out there and is pretty highly regarded by the gaming fans on the Paradox forum (There’s no shortage of great historical fiction stories by many talented authors there.).  Mine was originally called Fire Warms the Northern Lands.

What’s next for your writing?  Are you working on a new story?

Shockingly, I have no fewer than 50 story ideas outlined or otherwise conceptualized, and I lack only for time to finish them all.  My short list includes sequel volumes to Uprooted, but also two other series which are oriented toward young adult readers. 

I had a blast serving in Civil Air Patrol as a teenager and later (kind of like boy/girl scouts, but in Air Force uniform).  I worked quite a bit in search and rescue, and I’m writing several fictionalized accounts drawing from experiences I had.  I figure it might encourage some people to try it out and have fun like I did.

In middle school, I used to daydream about big events centered on me, my friends and our school.  My Lockwood Middle School series brings some of this wonder to the printed page.  A group of friends notices shadowy, seemingly paranormal creatures taking an uncomfortable interest in their school and try to figure out why and how to stop them.

What advice do you have for other authors?

I’ve only recently realized how impatience spoils my work.  Given time to sit for a few weeks, or even months, I look back and see faults in my writing that I couldn’t see before.  It’s a maturity thing.  Many writers will tell you this, but few aspiring writers will believe it’s true until they see it for themselves.  Also, for young writers, I’d say go ahead and write your ideas and stories even if you don’t feel completely confident as a writer – you can always come back and revise it later.  I have a pet theory, which I can’t prove, that George Lucas conceived most of the Star Wars story when he was in middle school.  It has elements to it that I think really point to that.

Anything else you want readers to know?

I covet reviews of my stories.  Honest reviews are great; honest positive reviews are even better!  Reviews really are the lifeblood of authors, so if you’d like to support my writing, don’t just sign up to follow me – please read my stuff and leave feedback that will guide others to find it!

Where can readers find you and your books?

Follow me on Twitter, on Facebook, and my blog Fantastic Stories.

For now, Uprooted is on Amazon.


  1. Love book reviews where you get to meet the author! Thank you for a great post and a book recommendation!


  2. Your stories sound fascinating, great interview and thanks for joining us on the Kid Lit Blog Hop

    1. Thanks! I just yearn for more time to write -- so many stories I'd love to get out there.

  3. Great interview and the books sound fantastical!