Book Nerd Interview
Del Shannon is a writer and a civil engineer; skills which many agree are an interesting combination. Del has written fiction and non-fiction as standalone novels, for newspapers and magazines and essays. His first children’s novel – The Map – was published in several newspapers around the country in serial form (1 chapter a week for 15 weeks) as part of the Newspapers In Education program. Kevin’s Point of View is his second children’s novel. He has been a featured columnist for the Denver Post as part of their Colorado Voices program, and in 2007 his humorous essay “Republican Hair” was a runner up for the Erma Bombeck Humor Writing competition.
As a civil engineer, Del works on water projects around the world. In 2007 he received the Award of Excellence in the Constructed Project from the US Society on Dams for his work as the lead designer for the Pine Brook Dam located in Boulder, Colorado. This project recognizes the best water storage project in the US.
Del lives with his family in Boulder, Colorado.
Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Storytelling creates connections and, ultimately, shared experiences between people. At its most basic level, this community provides safety, comfort, joy and all the other things we seek as part of the human experience. There are thousands, if not millions, of permutations of these stories, but they are constant and pervasive and constantly sought out by all of us.
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I design and build dams. To most people it seems like a strange career, but our water supply is a vital part of our survival. In 2007 I received an award from the US Society on Dams for designing and building the best dam project in the country.
Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
I struggled in school by most of what I was given to read. They were considered classics, but I never connected with the writing or the message. On a whim one day while a freshman in college I bought Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and immediately fell in love with the story. It was irreverent, hilarious, startling and everything I’d been looking for in literature. I can’t say exactly when it happened, but at some point while reading the books in this series I decided that I could do write something like this as well.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Find your own voice. It’s not a bad idea to take inspiration from other successful writers, but when you begin parroting their style you lose yourself. The reader wants to hear you, not an imitation of someone else. I loved that advice.
What are some of the common challenges that new and experienced authors face and what advice do you have for over-coming them?
For me, the challenge has been just finding (or making) time to write. Once I start writing I don’t have any trouble continuing for hours, but it’s just starting that the biggest problem because it’s hard to find those continuous hours.
In your new book; Kevin's Point of View, can you tell my Book Nerd Kids Community a little about it and why they should read your novel?
Kevin’s Point of View is the story of 12-year-old Kevin Tobin who has an highly overactive imagination, which he’s been forced to use to escape the pain of his father’s death. This drives everyone around him completely nuts and even Kevin knows it isn’t very healthy, but it’s the only way he can cope. This goes on for a year until a mysterious package, containing a strange device called the Influxitron shows up on his door unexpectedly. The owner of the Influxitron, the very evil Devin Talon, wants it back and will do anything to retrieve it. But what is the Influxitron and what does it do? Is it somehow related to his father? Kevin’s imagination, which to many is his biggest weakness, suddenly becomes his biggest strength as he tries to outwit Devin and his henchmen while simultaneously unraveling the mystery of the Influxitron.
For those who are unfamiliar with Kevin, how would you introduce him?
Kevin is your typical 12-year-old boy. He’s mischievous, funny, loyal, full of energy, and – above all – loves his family. Kevin doesn’t spend a whole lot of time planning or thinking about things. His greatest strength is his ability to think on the fly and, by nearly any means possible, he’s able to make it through his days. This includes using his highly active imagination. It’s not always pretty, but he’s able to keep going one day at a time.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Scratch, the pizza dude, is one of my favorite characters to write and I think he’d love meeting Zaphod Beeblebrox from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” books. The conversations those two would have would be epic.
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Good literature doesn’t have to be serious or address controversial issues. Good literature can be whimsical, make you laugh, and even be silly. The only requirement a reader should have is to enjoy what you’re reading, whatever form it takes.
What book are you reading now?
“A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World” by Tony Horwitz. It looks at all the European explorers (Vikings, Spaniards, French, English, etc.) who came to North America prior to the Pilgrims landing in Plymouth, MA in 1620.
Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?
Here in the US I don’t think there are better places than Seattle, Washington (where I was born) and Boulder, Colorado (where I now live). Outside the US I really enjoyed traveling in England and Scotland.
What is your favorite room in your home and outside environment?
We remodeled our house about 10 years ago and created this really great master bedroom. It has great views of the mountains, a fire place with a big chair and a desk. It’s really fun to hang out in this room, look at the mountains, and just relax. Outside, nothing beats Puget Sound in Washington State. I love being around Puget Sound.
What's the worst summer job you've ever had?
In high school I lived in western Oregon (not far from Mt. Hood), and the area had hundreds of Christmas tree farms. One summer I got a job trimming Christmas trees to make them conical and actually look like Christmas trees, instead of big green bushes. It was miserable.
When was the last time you cried?
I teared up a little at the end of the documentary “Waiting For Superman.” It made me appreciate my education and the opportunities I’ve been given.
What is your favorite food?
There are too many to name, but I really enjoy a big, nasty bacon cheeseburger, a huge bowl of spaghetti with homemade meatballs, and I can eat popcorn practically non-stop.
Where can readers stalk you?
I have a personal Facebook page and one for Kevin’s Point of View. I love new friends at both locations!
Kevin Tobin is a relatively ordinary 12-year-old dealing with the aftermath of his father's death in a mountain biking accident near their home in Boulder, Colorado. To escape from his emotional turmoil, Kevin has developed his imagination into a dangerous foil and a powerful ally. While he antagonizes his sister through his superhero antics on an average Wednesday morning, his ability to escape inside a character's head become critical to his survival after his life is once-again turned upside down a year after his father's death. A mysterious package arrives in the mail, Kevin and his best friend are hunted down by a ruthless villain set upon world domination, and after enlisting Kevin's teenage sister and her pizza-delivery boyfriend in a battle for control over time itself, the secret of Kevin's whole existence is revealed to him by a source we never expected. Del Shannon's imaginative story, appreciation for the powers of family and the desire of young boys to both escape reality and prove themselves within it, and fast-paced, adventure-filled storytelling style make this a book with wide appeal for readers of all ages.
You can purchase Kevin's Point of View at the following Retailers:
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