Saturday, 5 October 2013

Guest Post: Dream Interview by J Joseph Wright

The Description of Jack James and the Tribe of the Teddy Bear 

Ten-year-old Jack James has a secret. He's found a teddy bear he swears is really a mysterious animal with supernatural abilities. Soon he discovers its name is Takota, a Tanakee on the run from some ruthless and sinister forces. After a storytelling enchantress teaches them of a centuries-old bond between humans and Tanakee as well as an ancient evil bent on destroying the entire universe, Jack and Takota are thrust toward their shared fate. On their journey for survival, Takota must conquer strong inner turmoil and learn the true nature of his emerging mystical powers, while Jack has to help harness a revolutionary device invented by his father in the hopes of rescuing them all fromc ertain extinction.

Read on for the Dream Interview!


Since my book, Jack James and the Tribe of the Teddy Bear, has quite a divergent set of themes and concepts, I thought it interesting to have a different interviewer for each question. An expert in each field, so to speak.

For the scientific aspect, multiple dimensions and what I call omnidimensional power, the perfect questioner is the late Carl Sagan, cosmologist and author. 

Q: I have stated the possibility that billions and billions of other dimensions could exist right alongside our own. How did you use this concept to develop the idea of omnidimensional power absorption?

A: Now that you mention it, Dr. Sagan, I was quite inspired by you, and your astonishing theories on the cosmos. You and scientists of your ilk have postulated long ago about parallel dimensions, an idea that has captured my imagination since I can remember. And it has propelled my thinking into new and unsuspected realms where ideas of things like omnidimensional energy absorption became possible. Let me explain. In Jack James and the Tribe of the Teddy Bear, Jack’s father invents some cutting edge technology in the form of a handheld device he calls the O/A. The concept is this: there are parallel universes. Infinite numbers of them. And in each universe is another you, another me. Infinite yous and mes. Now imagine a device that could combine the power of all of those yous into one single body, your body. You would have super powers, both mentally and physically. That’s the idea behind omnidimensional energy absorption, and its seeds were sown in the fertile soil of Carl Sagan’s groundbreaking philosophies.

For the idea of Teddy Bears coming to life, I thought the late A.A. Milne, creator of Winnie The Pooh, would come up with a great question. 

Q: My Pooh characters were inspired by my son’s real life stuffed animals. What inspired the Tanakee?

A: It’s funny because I never really was a stuffed animal type of kid. My obsession, and it was an obsession, revolved around my blankie. I took that blankie with me everywhere. Put Linus to shame, I did. Even though I never got into plush bears and puppies and bunnies, I still found them fascinating, and always felt a little sad for them when I would see one at the store, waiting for a child’s love. Almost like seeing a lonely puppy at the pound. One day as I was shopping and thinking these strange thoughts about teddy bears, I wondered what if there was more to the stuffed toys that meets the eye? What if they came to life after the store closed and ransacked the groceries? What if they weren’t teddy bears at all, but magical creatures pretending to be teddy bears? I must say, either subconsciously or otherwise, my childhood love of Winnie the Pooh influenced my creative process. Thank you, A.A. Milne.

For the overall Fantasy aspect of the story, the witches and giants and ancient legends, who better to ask a learned question than one of the greats, JRR Tolkien? 

Q: In Lord of the Rings, I created a mythos using very deliberate language and concepts. Were you aware you were creating a mythos of your own?

A: Mythos? Are you kidding me? When I first contemplated writing this story, the only thing on my mind at the time was how would I pull it off? I mean, before Jack James, most of my stories had two, three characters. Five tops. Jack James and the Tribe of the Teddy Bear has dozens of characters, plus several different story arcs that interweave and, finally, converge at the end. I’d never written a story so complex, so brimming with diverse characters and concepts. I was just worried about keeping everything straight. Creating a mythos was the furthest thing from my mind. Then, in the end, after I’d created a whole new world—the world of ten-year-old Jack James and his teddy bear protector Takota—after creating the Tanakee and omnidimensional power and the great, unseen force called Eteea, I stood back and realized something wonderful. I had indeed created a mythos without really intending to do so. A belief system. A set of values. A way of looking at the world and how we all connect with everything else. It was never my intention to create a philosophy. I only wanted to write a story about a boy and his magical teddy bear. The rest was a happy accident.

For a discussion about the ultra-bad guy in the book, a menacingly fearsome shape-shifting creature I call a Nagas, why not have the King of Horror ask the question? Stephen King.

Q: Davos is a Nagas, a singularly frightening beast. A being who transforms from his human guise into a mass of nasty, winged serpents. This horrifying character is an archetype for my novels. Are you sure he’s appropriate for a children’s book?

A: That’s a great question, and I am happy for the opportunity to address it. Jack James and the Tribe of the Teddy Bear can be quite frightening at times, and most of the fear factor surrounds the main antagonist, Davos Mann. As you said, Davos is a scary, scary fellow. He might be too scary for really little kids, which is why we recommend parental guidance for children younger than 8 or 9. I realize that with Teddy Bear in the title, young kids are going to be interested, and that’s fine. There’s plenty in the story for little tikes, only mom and dad might want to read it first, just to be sure. This type of thing is not new in children’s stories. I remember being young and having Charlie and the Chocolate Factory give me the heebee-jeebies. And, though mostly cute and innocuous, many Disney movies have scenes or characters that are upsetting for the younger ones. It’s a balancing act. There has to be a bad guy, and that bad guy has to be bad.

And, finally, for something about me, and what inspired me to come up with such a truly unique story, I thought one of the most unique authors of our age would be a wonderful choice as interviewer. Douglas Adams.

Q: A boy finds a teddy bear that’s actually a supernatural creature. A device that gathers energy from the multiverse. Fairies and dwarves and elves that form out of sticks and leaves. Evil beings that can shape-shift from human form to flying snakes at will. This is either extraordinary genius or mind-bogglingly amazing luck. By the looks of you, I’m counting out genius. So what explains your good fortune?

A: Ha! Cheeky. Very Cheeky. But seriously—if I may be serious with such a flippant query—I do sometimes read what I’ve written and often cannot believe all of these characters, this epic story came out of my head. It really is a magical process. Yet, at the same time, there truly is no magic about it. Sit down and write. It’s as simple as that. Of course I did a whole lot of daydreaming. Still do. Daydreaming was my pastime as a child, and that has translated into writing rich, character and plot-driven fantasy in my adulthood. If you can call it an adulthood. I call it an extended childhood. So I guess if there was one way I could explain my innate imaginative abilities, I would say that somehow I never lost that childlike wonder of the world, never disconnected from the magic we see all around us when looking through the prisms of youthful eyes.