Book Nerd Guest Post
Christopher Healy was born in the quaint Northeastern town of New York City. It was there, while still an infant, that Christopher chewed the pages of his very first book. Later, he learned that the squiggles on those bound-together pieces of paper actually had meaning. And thus, a lifelong reader was born.
Even in his youth, Christopher knew he would someday be a writer. And he wrote numerous Tables of Contents to prove it, a few of which sounded like they might have been pretty great books had he actually written the stories to go along with them. It would be quite some time before Christopher actually got the chance to write for a living. And his career took many detours in between: cashier, actor, toy store shelf-stocker, person who types things from one place into another place, haunted house zombie, person who checks the spelling of celebrities’ names, etc. Eventually, he cobbled together a tiny little video game review — and it actually got published. Thus, a writer was born.
From there, Christopher penned articles for numerous magazines, newspapers, and websites — stories about everything from new video gaming gadgets to the costumes worn by characters in video games (okay, there wasn’t that much breadth back in the early days). Then his own children were born — and Christopher began writing about them. He wrote about their behavior, their taste in room décor, the books they read, the movies they watched, and more. He did so in the pages of Cookie magazine for years, as well as online at ParentDish.com. He even wrote a whole book about being a new dad (titled Pop Culture — get it, PopCulture). But finally, he decided he wanted to write a something for his children. And The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom was born.
And with two more Hero’s Guide books due to be released within the next two years, that’s pretty much what he does now. He still likes to write about kid stuff, too, though — and does so regularly, which is why his entertainment reviews blog, KidPop… and Beyond was born. And, to be honest, he writes about all sorts of other things, as well. Including himself. And thus, this About Me page was born.
It would come as a surprise to exactly zero people if I were to say that Grimms’ fairy tales were a source of inspiration for the Hero’s Guide books. They were, of course—half of my protagonists come directly from those stories. But so many of the books and stories I read when I was a kid have had an influence on my writing today. When I look at Saving Your Kingdom and Storming the Castle now, I can see where A.A. Milne and Dr. Seuss, for instance, have laid their fingerprints all over my creative process. Here are three literary works and how they—perhaps unexpectedly—inspired different parts of the Hero’s Guide series.
• Winnie-the-Pooh: A.A. Milne (possibly my favorite author of all time) begins the original Pooh book in second person—speaking to a child who just happens to be named Christopher. When my mother read the book way back when, I made the natural assumption that the whole adventure was written specifically for me. Obviously, the book made an impact.
And the aspect of Milne’s writing that stayed with me most was the genius wordplay. Some of my favorite Pooh scenes are those in which conversations go astray thanks to silly verbal misunderstandings—when Pooh mistakes the word “issue” for a sneeze, for instance. If you wonder how those particular sequences may have influenced me, check out the scene in Storming the Castle that revolves around the word, “subtly.” If I can fill my pages with even a small fraction of the wit that Milne put into his books, I would think of it as an accomplishment.
• “Too Many Daves”: This may be one of the shortest of Dr. Seuss’s stories, but it is without doubt my favorite of his works. If you haven’t read it (it appears in The Sneetches and Other Stories), it’s about a woman who regrets having named all twenty-three of her sons Dave, and fantasizes about other possible monikers she could have given them. The entire thing is basically a long list of silly names. And it’s hilarious. It’s got names like Sneepy, Marvin O’Gravel Balloon Face, and Oliver Boliver Butt. You can’t beat that. “Too Many Daves” is the story that made me realize how much humor can be mined out of ridiculous sounding names.
• The Hobbit: Okay, a fantasy writer being influenced by Tolkien is about as surprising as finding a girl in a gothic gown on the cover of a YA novel. But there’s one very specific way in which The Hobbit had an impact on Hero’s Guide: The spelling of the word, “dwarves.” One of the more talked-about bits from Hero’s Guide has been the battle over the pluralization of “dwarf.” That comes straight out of a real-life argument I had with one of my elementary school teachers. In my book report on The Hobbit, I repeatedly used the spelling, “dwarves”—and my teacher crossed it out every time, overwriting it with “dwarfs” in red pen. I contested it, because Tolkien, of course, used the “V”—which, in my humble opinion, is the One true spelling. But my teacher didn’t care about that. And thus occurred one of the only times in my entire school career that I found myself the subject of a teacher’s wrath.
But alas, such fame and recognition only last so long. And when the princes discover that an object of great power might fall into any number of wrong hands, they are going to have to once again band together to stop it from happening - even if no one will ever know it was they who did it.
Christopher Healy, author of the acclaimed The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, takes us back to the hilariously fractured fairy-tale world he created for another tale of medieval mischief. Magical gemstones, bladejaw eels, a mysterious Gray Phantom, and two maniacal warlords bent on world domination - it's all in a day's work for the League of Princes.
It always fun and exciting to find a story that is highly-inventive and full of creativity. That is exactly what readers will find in this series. From the first book, readers are immediately drawn to its unique world and intriguing characters. Author Christopher Healy continues this format and presents readers with another fun-filled adventure.
Storming the Castle is the perfect follow up and it provided room for the characters to develop. There are some surprising growths for each character as the Princes and Princesses discover that relationships are not always about what the future holds, but it is a work in progress the whole way through. The journey they embark on permits them to personally learn more about each other.
The characters are the natural draw for this book. I enjoy how Christopher puts much emphasis into their voice and attitude. This careful and much detailed approach develops them into characters that are simply memorably unforgettable. There are pools of medieval fairy tale fantasies available out there but the Princes Charming naturally puts this book in the front as being unique and exceedingly captivating. Christopher’s writing style and the tone set forth place readers right in the middle of everything soaking up all of the glory of an adventure only medieval mischiefs can bring. Storming the Castle has a strong presence and it’s a delightful read for its targeted audience. As the ending suggests more fun is on the horizon, it will increase readers’ impatience to know what will happen next to these wonderful characters.