Monday, April 23, 2012

Episode 13: Going PG

A**hole: Hi and welcome to lucky number thirteen of this, the smart weiter's blog number 2, the very one without any syp-err...diseases of any nature. This is our first show interviewing an author of a children's book so instead of us acting like smutty teenagers on meth in some dorm room, we are toning down our superfluous, or rather brilliant, ways of speaking for the little ones out there. And so for the children readers out there, let me be the first to say that we on our show fully support your way of life. We hang our hats upon the mantle that holds Harry Pothead and the Five Stoned Dragons, Midnight Twi-style, the Girl Hunger Games and of course the always popular, The Lion and the Witch in the Wardrobe for Five Minutes.

Brim: You've just dragged down some of the best franchises out there with your warped, cynical view of the world.

A: It's not warped. It's merely my artistic expression or for the lawyers out there, "satire."

B: You’re ridiculous.

A: So for this week, we've come up with a new section to the show entitled the greatest sequels never written. This week I nominate Stephen King's The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger. Solid book but I really think there was a lot of room left to explore on that. Mr. King left a lot of money on the table with that one.

B: Are you high?

A: This is our PG episode Brim so yes, I'm high on God...'s to smite list.

B: I'm gonna introduce our author this episode. Author Reno Charlton comes on the show to talk about her book The Secret Portal. How are you Reno?

Reno: I’m very well thanks. Been burning the candle at both ends with my writing so I’m pretty worn out but other than that, I’m good!

A: I'm burning the candles too for my lady friends.

B: Let's start off with you just describing the story and how you came up with the idea?

A: I had this idea once but then I realized I was on drugs.

Reno: I was actually on vacation in Florida and I’d been toying with the idea of starting a book for some time, as writing has always been a passion for me. This holiday was the first chance I actually got to sit back and really think about it and before I knew it I had planned out the first four or five chapters and done rough notes on all of them. I thought of the initial idea based on my love of kids’ magic and fantasy books and then just developed it as I went along. The story is about four boys who all start at the same boarding school at the same time as first years. The main character, Jack, and his friend Simon share a dormitory and because they both arrived late they end up being given a room that had been unused for many years other than for storage. To cut a long(ish) story short, they discover a portal to another world in the room behind the chest of drawers and they go through it to find themselves in an academy filled with other worldly students studying the human race. However, the portal is a two way one and is discovered by an evil vampire teacher from the other side, who escapes into the human world to prey on humans. It is then left to Jack and his friends to try and stop him.
A: Now I didn't read it but I think it's safe to assume some of the human students get eviscerated and drained of blood?

B: I thought you were going PG for this interview?

A: I'm not going f***ing Mormon. It's a simple question. 

B: I guess. Reno, did you set any rules before you started writing the book in terms of keeping in mind the audience and what would be tolerable for them? Or did you just write the whole thing, then go back and restructure any scenes that may have been too graphic?

Reno: Well, given the age group I was writing for I thought it best to steer clear of dead bodies – although I have thrown in a couple of half dead bodies, which I didn’t feel was quite as bad lol. I went for more of a darkly comic take on the story, so although the vampire, Gladstone Gore, is inherently evil he does also have a dry wit about him.  It  takes time for him to grow his vampire teeth when he escapes into the human world, so to buy himself time he has to take over human bodies, the first of which is the boys’ overweight history teacher

A: The sequel should have zombies and brain eating. Lots of brain eating.

B: You have sort of this catch all world for imps, Martians, ghosts and vampires. When it came to the world building, did you have this sort of world in mind that you thought kids would enjoy or was it just the inspiration that brought you to this on your holiday?

A: It's called vacation.

B: That's just the American way to say it.

A: But I'm French.

B: No you’re just an idiot.

Reno: I kind of already had the idea that it would be an academy where there would be a selection of students from other worlds and races studying the human race before I started writing – in fact, I almost called the book ‘The School Next Door’ based on this. However, I hadn’t worked out what sorts of races or beings would be included until I started writing and the plot started developing. I didn’t want to have just one single race studying there, as I know kids like to read about all different types of characters and races. So, with that in mind I decided to turn it into an academy for all races from around the universe to add more excitement and variation for my readers

B: Why did you become a children's author? It seems like a lot of authors throw something out there and simply remove the swears and violence, cut a book by half its size and say it's for kids. But what do you think really makes a book especially for kids?

A: Free lollipops, out of a van, down by the river.

Reno: I think that creating characters and places that allow kids to really use their imagination is the key to writing for kids. At the same time, however, I think that there has to be something for kids to relate to in real terms. That’s why The Secret Portal – and in fact all of my other kids books – are based around realistic characters who have real life problems, friendships, etc. The magic is just a part of the overall theme, which means kids get to benefit from character that they can relate to and situations that enable them to give their imagination a good workout.

A: My turn. Who does your pictures for the books? I'll charge half as three times your rate! You can admire my portraits around the website.

B: You realize that's more, right?

A: Shut the f*** up., we got a deal Reno?

Reno: Lol – I might have considered it if I wasn’t getting such a good deal already! The illustrator who did the work on my books actually did it for free, as we were both signed up to the same publisher a few years ago before I decided to publish independently. I was signed up as an author and she was contracted to do illustrations. She is a successful artist now, doing all sorts of artistic work for clients around the world, which means that I probably wouldn’t be able to afford her now! Her name is Sarah Langstone.  

B: What has your road to publishing been like? Did you try being professionally published first or did you jump into the self-pub market straight off?

A: I self-pub every night but only cause my wife doesn't like to get her hands wet.

B: Whoa, whoa. PG! PG man.

A: I don't know what you’re talking about. This is a no innuendo type of show.

Reno: I was actually signed up with a publisher some years ago, but I found that I had little control over anything related to my work. On top of that, it was quite a small publisher and did little to nothing in terms of marketing, so I decided to go it alone. I did have some interest from larger publishers as well, with many of them stating that they liked my work. However, JK Rowling was dominating the children’s fantasy genre at the time and it was impossible to get a deal because none of the other publishers wanted to take a risk and go up against her and the great Harry!

B: So what are you working on now?

Reno: Since writing the two Secret Portal books I completed a third novel, also for children but probably slightly older kids, perhaps early to mid-teens. That one is called the Sceptre of Zanafiar and is also available on Amazon Kindle and in paperback. It is set partly in our world but mainly in another world ruled by elementalists and mages. In addition to this I write under a pen name of Emily Ho, writing short stories for older readers (usually supernatural or stories with a twist at the end). One of the short stories won a Curtis Brown Short Story Award and the others have had some great reviews. I’m currently working on a collection of short stories under my pen name, which I hope to release in the autumn. I am also planning to start working on the third installment of The Secret Portal series, which I would like to complete before Christmas if possible.

A: I have one last question and it's something I really care deeply about. It's something that's been close to my heart for years as a matter of fact. It keeps me up at night and makes me question my very existence. Reno, how many dollars are in a euro?

B: Seriously?

A: I need to know exchange rates!

Reno: Lol – well, according to XE you’ll get 1.31 dollars for a Euro. Not that I use euros – we’re still on pound sterling over in the UK!

A: Everything I know is a lie...

B: So nothing?

A: Aren't you a funny f***.

B: So Reno, do you have a website or any other place that fans can reach on the web?

Reno: I do. I’ve tried to create a really fun, colourful website with moving images and sound so that kids can enjoy browsing. The address is

A: Was there anything that you think Brim should've asked you but didn't because he's a f***ing idiot?

B: Simply putting stars in place of the swear isn't keeping it PG you know.

A: Kind of like how eating that one apple a day isn't really making you lose weight?

Reno: I have a weird story about apples – actually, it might not be quite right for a PG rated show, I’ll save it for another time. No, I think that just about covers it!

B: Thanks for coming on Reno. It was a pleasure talking with you.

Reno: Thank you, it’s been a pleasure to be on your show for my FIRST ever proper interview! Thanks to both of you and to your listeners!

A: All right you penny pinching a**holes, you've wasted more of my god da** time coming back to this dumba** show. I want to thank Reno for joining us and humoring us as we continually lower the bar for any respectable author out there and Brim, as always, for doing none of the work and forcing me to read another pack of mindless crap these people call "books". If you'd like to purchase Reno Charlton's children's book, simply go to and search for it by her name. Make sure to come back in two weeks as we will still not have another interview up but you can roll your eyes and curse us for our ineptitude anyways. Bye!