Tuesday, February 28, 2017

P.J. Hoover Author Interview

Photo credit: Sam Bond Photography

P. J. (Tricia) Hoover wanted to be a Jedi, but when that didn’t work out, she became an electrical engineer instead. After a fifteen year bout designing computer chips for a living, P. J. decided to start creating worlds of her own. She’s the author of Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life, featuring a fourteen-year-old King Tut who’s stuck in middle school, and Solstice, a super-hot twist on the Hades/Persephone myth. When not writing, P. J. spends time with her husband and two kids and enjoys practicing kung fu, solving Rubik’s cubes, watching Star Trek, and playing too many video games. For more information about P. J. (Tricia) Hoover, please visit her website www.pjhoover.com.


Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Grade Level: 3 - 7
Series: Tut: My Immortal Life (Book 2)
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Starscape (February 28, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765390825
ISBN-13: 978-0765390820


“Hoover (Solstice) brings her interest in mythology to a middle-grade audience with this entertaining tale, which reimagines the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun as a perpetually 14-year-old immortal…The entertaining premise and fast pace keep this adventure on track, while the way Hoover reimagines the Egyptian pantheon—Isis owning a chain of funeral parlors, for instance—is pleasantly reminiscent of Rick Riordan’s work.” —Publishers Weekly 

“Being an immortal 14-year-old pharaoh isn’t all scepters and servants; there’s also the overthrowing of a homicidal cult—and finishing one’s homework…Merging the voice of an outspoken contemporary 14-year-old with centuries-old expletives (“Holy Amun!”) renders Tut both comedic and devoted to his origins…A pyramid history buffs and fantasy fans will delight in excavating.” —Kirkus Reviews 

“[R]eaders will be pulled into this adventurous story of the young boy ruler and his ordeal….it quickly becomes a fast-moving adventure with surprising twists. The ending is satisfying, with a hint that a sequel may be in the works. The author provides historical notes about the real King Tutankhamen, which may spark an interest in learning more about Egyptian History. Fans of Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series (Hyperion) will surely enjoy this title. A fine purchase for libraries where historically based adventures are in demand.” —School Library Journal 

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
I adore having stories told to me! Stories, whether read or listened to, really let the reader escape from the everyday world into a place of wonder, fantasy, the future, whatever! This escape feeds our daydreams (or maybe our nightmares J ), and allows us to consider situations beyond our own which can feed our compassion and our own creativity.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I’m a third degree black belt in kung fu. I love designing computer games in Scratch to go along with my books. And I’m also a level 89 Fire Wizard in Wizard 101. I guess that’s three things :)

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I think I differ from a lot of the author community here in that I didn’t start writing until I was 34. It was while I was still working full-time engineering and had two kids. I decided it would be really fun to start creating worlds of my own. So I did. I started writing my first book which turned into THE EMERALD TABLET, my first published novel.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?

I took a comparative religions class one summer at Virginia Tech and loved the idea of how much commonality there was between so many religions. From origin stories to flood myths, it was just really cool.

In your new book; TUT: MY EPIC BATTLE TO SAVE THE WORLD, can you tell my Book Nerd Kids Community a little about it and why they should read your novel?
Sure! Let’s see . . . the TUT books are really great for people who love to geek out on mythology like I do. They’re great for Percy Jackson fans who are looking for more. They’re fun for people who love the fact that King Tut’s tomb was hidden under the desert undiscovered for over three thousand year.

The premise of the stories is this. King Tut never really died. Nope. Instead the gods made him immortal, which is really cool. It means he’s going to live forever. What’s not so cool is that he’s 14 when this happens so he’s going to be stuck in middle school forever. But the stories are set in modern times, in Washington, D.C.. There are lots of Egyptian gods, other middle school kids to deal with, oh, and a really cute girl full of mysteries.

For those who are unfamiliar with Gil, how would you introduce him?
Gil is like the cool older brother that everyone wants or wants to be like. In the case of TUT, it’s the latter. Poor King Tut, being stuck at 14, is not really thrilled about this. He’d much rather be immortal at 18, like Gil. Also he’d rather have Gil’s special immortal powers than his own. Gil can do cool things like throw fire balls and melt metal. Tut can make plants grow.

Gil’s not actually Tut’s older brother. Nope. He’s really Gilgamesh, ancient Sumerian king, also immortal. He’s got a secret life, all on his own, that Tut doesn’t know much about. And he’s super over-protective of Tut.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I bet Chloe from SOLSTICE would love to meet Gil from TUT. They’d be a perfect match, and I totally ship them. Gloe? Chlil? They’re both eighteen, both immersed in the world of mythology, and both walk a little outside the rules.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Tolkien, because his world building is like nothing I’ve ever seen. It threatens to draw me in and keep me every time I read one of his books or watch one of the LOTR or Hobbit movies.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Always believe in the future! Always stay hopeful!

What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
I worked at City Hall in Alexandria, Virginia for a couple summers. It was my first “full time” job. I will never forget how tired I was at the end of the first week. I’ll also never forget the wonderful lunch breaks sitting outside by the fountains reading. Great city. Great place to work!

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a kid?
I was a kid of the seventies and eighties which was pretty cool, so I’ll go with that. Star Wars. The dawn of computers and video games. Prank calls were still an option. Great music! Overall a winning time to be a kid.

What scares you the most and why?
Driving across really high bridges makes my stomach go a little wonky. I guess it’s the fact that I’m so high up, and if something broke (completely not my fault), I would not have a chance.

What is your greatest adventure?

If life counts as an adventure, then I’m on it every day, living it and enjoying it as best I can while hopefully leaving a positive wake behind me.

When was the last time you told someone you loved them?

This morning, when my kids and husband left the house.

Where would you bury hidden treasure if you had some?
In my own backyard so there would be no question of whose it was.

When was the last time you cried?
I get teary-eyed all the time at Facebook videos and Internet stories. I’ve also laughed to the point of tears in the last few months. Ugly cry? No clue.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?
I adored the CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE books because there were so many of them, and so many different options in each one. I loved reading through them over and over, looking for ways to keep the story going forever. My favorite of them was THE CAVE OF TIME.

1) You like action and adventure
2) You adore mythology
3) You like just a touch of romance
4) You enjoy a fast-paced story
6) You think P. J. Hoover is an awesome author
7) You are fascinated by King Tut
8) You think being immortal would be really cool
9) You have a cat who may be an Egyptian god in disguise (or you just like cats)
10) You always wondered if King Tut’s curse was real

Tut: My Epic Battle to Save the World by P. J. Hoover is the second action-packed novel in a fast and funny series for young readers about the adventures of King Tut, now an immortal eighth-grader living in Washington, D.C.. This rollicking fantasy adventure begins with Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life.

Tut sets out to find his brother and protector, Gil, who has gone missing from their Washington, D.C., town house. Tut discovers that Gil is being held prisoner by the Egyptian god Apep. With the help of the Sun god, Ra, Gil managed to vanquish Apep thousands of years ago, and now the god is back for vengeance. It’s up to Tut and his friends Tia and Henry to stop Apep before he succeeds in his evil scheme to swallow the sun and plunge the world into darkness forever.

Where My Cat Conspires Against Me
I could outrun anything. Messenger bikes. Angry hippopotamus. Cheetahs. Okay, I’d never actually outrun a cheetah, but I was sure, given the chance, I could. I was the great pharaoh Tutankhamun after all. King Tut. Plus I was immortal. Except in this weird nightmare I was having, whatever was chasing me, was gaining on me, and I couldn’t seem to pull on any of my immortal powers no matter how hard I tried. It wasn’t going to end well.

Just before my imminent doom, I woke up covered in sweat to the sound of someone pounding on the door of my townhouse, and a renewed sense of dread filled me. Something besides the nightmare was right at the edge of my mind. I knew when I remembered it, I wasn’t going to be happy.

I stumbled downstairs, right as the shabtis were letting my best friend, Henry, in. His messy blond hair looked like he’d passed through a hurricane on the way here, and his mouth was filled with a huge bite of bagel and cream cheese. He finished chewing and then uttered the four dreaded words that restored my memory.

“Time for science camp.”

Things that an immortal fourteen year old pharaoh living in Washington, D.C. might do over summer break? Stay out late. Try out every food truck on Pennsylvania Avenue. Swim in the reflecting pool. Science camp was not on the list.

“I’m not going to camp,” I said, rubbing my eyes to clear my head from the nightmare. It had felt so real.

“But you promised.” Henry took another bite of the bagel. Pure disbelief covered his face as he chewed. Not that I had any clue how he could be surprised. The last thing I intended to do over summer break was go learn about a bunch of science stuff I already knew. Why anyone would willingly spend two weeks of summer vacation in camp was beyond me.

“I never promised,” I said, trying to remember my exact words.

“You did, back in January,” Henry said. “You said that it was the least you could do after your crazy uncle tried to kill me.”

Ugh. He was right. My uncle had tried and nearly succeeded. If the god Osiris hadn’t intervened and transferred all the energy from my scarab heart into Henry to heal him, Henry would have died. But afterward, I’d been caught in a moment of weakness. I’d been feeling sentimental. After all, I’d been willing to give up my immortality to save Henry. It was without a doubt the most unselfish thing I’d ever done.

But now science camp wasn’t sounding like such a fun bonding experience. Images of boring classrooms and songs about the periodic table filled my mind.

“Hmmm . . .” I said.

“You were sitting on the futon when you said it,” Henry said, like that would help refresh my memory.

“I always sit on the futon.” I plopped down on it for effect. It was the only real seat in my family room besides Gil’s chair, which was faded and covered in patches and was so old it had probably been made during the time of the dinosaurs. Gil was my older brother—or at least he pretended to be. His chair had been empty for the last six months, ever since he went away. The leader of my shabtis, Colonel Cody, asked if we could rid the apartment of it on a daily basis.

“That’s beside the point,” Henry said, eyeing Gil’s chair and then opting to sit on the faded green camel seat instead. I hadn’t sat in Gil’s chair either. I kept waiting for him to come back. And if Gil sauntered in the door and someone had their butt in his chair—or worse, if his chair wasn’t here—he’d be out for revenge. I wanted Gil back, but I didn’t want him to put shaving cream in my pillowcase once he got here.

Two of my shabtis, Lieutenants Virgil and Leon, ran over with a huge glass of orange juice and a plate of scones. Now this, to me, was the perfect way to start the morning. Science camp was not.

I should explain about the shabtis. They were these six-inch tall hand-painted clay figures that had been placed in my tomb to wait on me in the afterlife—three-hundred-sixty-five of them, to be exact. But unlike me, who’d never actually be placed in the tomb, they’d been stuck in there until 1922. Then when my tomb had been opened, they’d found me here in D.C. Ever since, they’d been my eternal servants. I know it sounds kind of weird, like I have pint-size clay butlers waiting on me hand and foot, but they’d been bound to me from the moment they were created. The spells written on them made it that way. Also, it made them really happy.

Horus sat silently on the top of his cat scratching post, swatting his tail back and forth, watching scarab beetles scurry across the room. He’d softened a bit toward Henry in the last six months, but he still kept his distance. I think he never got over the fact that Henry had almost chopped his tail off with a sword.

“Then what is the point?” I said. I grabbed my spiral notebook from the coffee table in front of me and flipped through it. In the last six months, I’d listed out every place in D.C. that I’d searched for Gil and also all the places I still planned to go. I was getting way closer to the end of the list than I wanted to.

Henry grabbed a scone from the plate and started picking little pieces off it. It looked like blueberry today. That or maybe rhubarb. Lieutenant Virgil made a different flavor every day. It was a new thing he’d been trying, part of his effort to serve food befitting a pharaoh while still staying up with the times. Scones were great and all, but I was hoping he’d go through a donut stage soon.

“The point is that you promised you’d go. I asked, and you said, ‘Yes,’ and if that’s not a promise, then I’m not sure what is.”

It wasn’t exactly how I remembered the conversation.

“I said maybe.”

“You said yes.”

“Henry’s right,” Horus said, finally deciding to enter the conversation. “And if you two don’t stop bickering about it, someone’s going to get eviscerated.”

Coming from Horus, that wasn’t an idle threat. Horus was a god, and things like evisceration were nothing unusual with the gods. Also, seeing as how I’d known Horus forever, I figured Henry was the one in danger. Horus would never eviscerate me. I think.

“See? Even Horus agrees,” Henry said, edging away.

“Horus just wants you to stop complaining. Right, Horus?”

Horus jumped down from the top of his scratching post and onto the coffee table in front of me.

Yes. Horus was a cat, in addition to being a god. A talking cat. It was a god thing. And when he wasn’t a cat, he was a falcon. It was a little confusing, but those were the basics.

He narrowed his one good eye at me. The other had been scratched out in an epic family disagreement. Losing an eye might seem horrible, but Horus definitely came out ahead in that fight.

“What I want is for you to do something besides look for Gil,” Horus said. “You haven’t don’t anything else since school let out, Tutankhamun.”

This is probably a good time to address that Tutankhamun thing. Yes, I was King Tut, Ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt. At least I was before my uncle, the worst relative anyone in the world could have, yanked me from the throne and tried to kill me. Thankfully, the gods smiled on me and made me immortal. Pretty cool, right? Except they’d made Uncle Horemheb immortal, too, which wasn’t quite so cool. It took a long time, over three thousand years, but I was happy to report that Uncle Horemheb was no longer a problem in my life. He’d been cast into the underworld. Devoured by the crocodile goddess, Ammut. She probably had indigestion.

Me? I was still immortal. I got to live forever. I could never die. What wasn’t quite so lucky was that I was stuck at fourteen. I used to rule Egypt. Now I was never going to get out of middle school.

“That’s because I intend to find Gil,” I said

You can purchase Tut: My Epic Battle to Save the World at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you P.J. HOOVER for making this giveaway possible.
5 Copies of Tut: My Epic Battle to Save the World (Tut: My Immortal Life #2) by P.J. Hoover.
MARCH 2nd THURSDAY Sabrina's Paranormal Palace REVIEW & DREAM CAST 
MARCH 3rd FRIDAY Wishful Endings GUEST POST 

MARCH 5th SUNDAY The Silver Dagger Scriptorium RANDOM THINGS 
MARCH 9th THURSDAY The Avid Book Collector EXCERPT

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