About the author: DOM TESTA has been a radio show host since 1977. He is currently a co-host of the popular "Dom and Jane Show" on Mix 100 in Denver. A strong advocate of literacy programs for children, Dom began The Big Brain Club to help young people recognize that Smart Is Cool. More information on Dom Testa, his books and educational work can be found here at www.DomTesta.com.
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Welcome Dom! Tell us about The Galahad series and your latest novel, The Galahad Legacy.
First, NC, thanks for the opportunity to be a part of Truly Bookish. I appreciate your passion about young adult books!
I've been hosting writing workshops and assemblies with schools for about 20 years, and decided to craft a series for middle school and high school students that focused on some of the best and brightest young people from around the world. Rather than the standard YA template of making the protagonist a "troubled" or "rebellious" teen, I wondered how high-achieving young people would fare when thrown into a desperate situation.
The characters in the Galahad series are far from perfect, and that's obvious right away. But they're also sharp, talented teens who are bold and curious, and willing to take on the biggest challenge in human history. I loved the idea of discovering how teenaged characters would learn to rely on themselves and each other in order to overcome catastrophe.
The Galahad Legacy is the sixth and final installment in the award-winning series, and ties up most of the threads that began back in The Comet's Curse, the first book. Note that I said "most" of the threads... Ha ha!
Where did the inspiration for the series come from? Why science fiction?
The original idea was to explore how young people fared in a difficult situation with no adults around. So, although the plan wasn't necessarily to create a science fiction series, it turned out to be the best vehicle for what I was writing. And that's fine with me, because some of the most inspiring and thought-provoking books I read as a kid were science fiction. I cut my teeth on Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and Michael Crichton (his VERY early days).
Which one of the books in the series was your favorite to write and why?
Tough question, but I'll go with this last episode, The Galahad Legacy. I had a total blast writing this story, trying to wrap up a variety of story lines, and (hopefully) satisfying the most ardent Galahad fans.
Why do you write novels for young adults and how did you get started?
I wear a lot of hats, including hosting the top-rated morning radio show in Denver, as well as overseeing a non-profit education foundation (more on that later). But I also visit schools and help young people to discover their own creative spark. It was a natural for me to create a story specifically for those students. As for how it started: Sitting in my office in my basement with a legal pad and pen. I still have the original notes that I scribbled that day.
What is your favorite thing about writing?
It's similar to hosting the radio show, because in both instances I get to live a fantasy life for a brief time before checking back in with the real world. It's an escape, but a healthy one (usually). ;)
What are you currently reading?
Right now I'm reading two books. One is Man's Search For Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. I'm also reading the final book in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, Blue Mars. I've had that trilogy for more than 15 years and have just NOW finally read them. Sorry, Kim! But it's been worth the wait; they're fascinating books.
I love the idea behind the Big Brain Club! Tell us about it and why programs like this are so important to students.
We talk a lot in America about the various forms of peer pressure that young people struggle with, like alcohol and drugs and sex. But, in my opinion, one of the most devastating and most suffocating forms of pressure that kids face is academic peer pressure. Millions of kids intentionally dumb down because society and pop culture have continually told us that smart kids are nerds or dorks or geeks. Hollywood and television have made billions by portraying smart kids as socially awkward and inept, and young adults are incredibly sensitive to that stereotyping. Therefore, they blow off their education in order to impress their friends with how "cool" they are.
Then, when they walk out of high school, they find that they're hosed. They've wasted some of the most important years of their life trying to fit into some ridiculous notion of what's "cool." My foundation, The Big Brain Club, isn't about straight A's or honor rolls (although we like those); our mission is to help young people become the best versions of themselves. We help students visualize what REALLY matters going forward, and how what they do in a classroom today has a cascading effect on the rest of their lives.
We not only visit schools in person and through Skype presentations, but we provide technology to school libraries and classrooms, and we publish the creative writing of middle school students. More info (and a chance to donate to this registered non-profit foundation) can be found at: www.BigBrainClub.com.
Thanks for asking about that, NC
Now that the Galahad series is complete, what other projects are you working on?
Two things. I've just finished a non-fiction book about the problem that my foundation, The Big Brain Club, is addressing. The book is called Smart Is Cool.
I've also finished the first book in a new mystery series for young adults, and I'm working on the second one right now. I'll finish at least the first two before I sell the series.
Thanks again for this opportunity, NC, and thanks for all you do in the world of teen literature. All the best. Dom
Thank you, Dom!
Excerpt: Triana was quiet a moment, again gathering her thoughts. “But I don’t think I passed out because of anything physical. I think it was my mind’s way of coping with the sudden change, shutting down rather than attempting to process what was going on around it. A defense mechanism, maybe. I don’t know. But I was out.
“When I came to—and I have no idea how long that could have been—I was back in what appeared to be normal space.”
“So,” Gap said, “you have no idea how long it took to travel through the wormhole. Roc, any thoughts on that?”
Please visit Kid Lit Frenzy for the next excerpt from the second chapter of The Galahad Legacy and fill out the Rafflecopter form below to will all six books in the series!