Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Kenneth Oppel Author Interview

Book Nerd Interview

I was born in 1967 in Port Alberni, a mill town on Vancouver Island, British Columbia but spent the bulk of my childhood in Victoria, B.C. and on the opposite coast, in Halifax, Nova Scotia...At around twelve I decided I wanted to be a writer (this came after deciding I wanted to be a scientist, and then an architect). I started out writing sci-fi epics (my Star Wars phase) then went on to swords and sorcery tales (my Dungeons and Dragons phase) and then, during the summer holiday when I was fourteen, started on a humorous story about a boy addicted to video games (written, of course, during my video game phase). It turned out to be quite a long story, really a short novel, and I rewrote it the next summer. We had a family friend who knew Roald Dahl - one of my favourite authors - and this friend offered to show Dahl my story. I was paralysed with excitement. I never heard back from Roald Dahl directly, but he read my story, and liked it enough to pass on to his own literary agent. I got a letter from them, saying they wanted to take me on, and try to sell my story. And they did.

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What was your first introduction to YA literature, the one that made you choose that genre to write?

When I started writing, YA literature didn’t really exist, unless you consider Catcher in the Rye to be (retroactive) YA literature. Probably the biggest catalyst for writing for young readers was Roald Dahl. I loved everything he did, for kids and adults.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?

That I’m fabulously funny and charming in person.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I wrote my first book, Colin’s Fantastic Video Adventure over two summer holidays when I was fourteen and fifteen. It was published in 1985.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?

High School? That it would soon be over, and the best was yet to come.

Did you learn anything from writing Such Wicked Intent and what was it?

Many things. That a sequel can be harder than the original. That even after writing 25 books for young readers, it doesn’t necessarily get any easier. That it’s incredibly satisfying when a scene works well. That Victor Frankenstein needs a therapist.

Which character have you enjoyed getting to know the most over the course of writing The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein Series?

Victor, easily. He’s a great character to work with. I modeled him in part after Lord Byron who was reputedly described as “mad, bad and dangerous to know.” I loved writing Victor. As a writer I think you strive to create characters that exercsie the full range of human behaviour and emotion -- and often these things are not heroic or noble or attractive. Victor is certainly a larger than life characters. He's smart, arrogant, rash, selfish, but also loyal and loving and brave -- in short, he's no more an antihero than most of us on the planet. It's huge fun to let loose a character with a temper, but also with a passion and a plan. I think you sympathize with Victor's sense of inferiority around his perfect identical twin, and any reader would sympathize with someone who tries so hard to be good at things, in the shadow of another. Sometimes envy makes people do rotten things. So Victor's not always nice, but you always want to watch him -- and I think you want him to get what he wants, even if it's a bit appalling. I mean, he's Victor Frankenstein, not Harry Potter.

For those who are unfamiliar with Victor, how would you introduce him?

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

What part of Konrad did you enjoy writing the most?

Konrad is so steady and good-natured, but I liked writing the scenes when Victor has pushed him too hard, and we see him in extremis: furious, jealous, scared.

If you could introduce Elizabeth to any character from another book, who would it be and why?

I’d introduce her to Bella in Twlight. They could talk about good books together.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

My mentors were the writers whose work I devoured as a child and teen: Roald Dahl, Ernest Hemingway, John Updike, GB Trudeau. I didn’t have a creative writing teacher per se, though I did have some very good English teachers in high school who would read and comment on my work.

How many books have you written?

I think it’s 27 now.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?

The coolest thing is feel comfortable with who you are.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?

I never lie. It’s in my contract.

Who was your first girlfriend?

My wife.

What's the worst summer job you've ever had?

Cleaning bathrooms in a community pool.

Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?

Jennifer Anniston. I figure she’s had a worse day than me, filled with ongoing heartbreak.

When was the last time you cried?

I’m crying now as I answer these questions.

Where can readers stalk you?

The usual places: facebook,, my blog, twitter, and that little convenience store on the corner of Haslett and Thorn.

Devotion turns deadly in this second Gothic thriller from Kenneth Oppel.When does obsession become madness? Tragedy has forced sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein to swear off alchemy forever. He burns the Dark Library. He vows he will never dabble in the dark sciences again—just as he vows he will no longer covet Elizabeth, his brother’s betrothed.

If only these things were not so tempting.

When he and Elizabeth discover a portal into the spirit world, they cannot resist. Together with Victor’s twin, Konrad, and their friend Henry, the four venture into a place of infinite possibilities where power and passion reign. But as they search for the knowledge to raise the dead, they unknowingly unlock a darkness from which they may never return.

Kenneth Oppel’s second book in The Apprenticeship of Viktor Frankenstein, Such Wicked Intent, is a dark and an outrageously innovative story of young Victor Frankenstein. Collaborating with the classic tale from Mary Shelley, Kenneth steers the story towards a backstory that is quite glum and menacing. Viktor’s fidgety attitude towards knowledge and power escalates him to explore places he has never gone. When he and Elizabeth stumble across a portal to the spirit world, the first thought that came to them is seeing Konrad and the possibility of bringing him back from the dead. Although they have a goal in mind, they will have to survive such a dangerous mission that may ultimately be more than what they had hoped for.

Kenneth’s approach in the life of Viktor Frankenstein is absolutely amazing. Readers are given a personal tour inside the mind of Viktor and to see all of his defects. Describing the attitude of a man like Viktor is hard to capture in words but Kenneth manages to depict it perfectly. Readers get a first hand feel about Viktor’s crave for forbidden knowledge and endless power. His addiction to this newly found world is described with precision as it gives him a better understanding for his wild thoughts and visions.

The story itself is truly remarkable. There is nothing smooth or sweet about it. Viktor seems to find himself in the wrong side of every situation. From the beginning, readers will have no problem turning the pages as each one represents something wild and heartbeating-fast worthy. It will grab the reader immediately to a point that putting down the book is not an option. Such Wicked Intent is quite memorable and will stick to readers’ minds way after it has been read.

You can purchase Such Wicked Intent at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Kenneth for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I love Kenneth Oppel's books, especially the Silverwing and Airborn series.

  2. I loovveeee Kenneth's work I was sososo happy when I found out that he had teen series as well

  3. Thanks Kenneth for the giveaway!

  4. Thanks Kenneth for the giveaway!

  5. Thank you for this awesome giveaway! This gothic thriller sounds fascinating.

  6. Thanks for stopping by and the awesome giveaway!

  7. Thank you so much for the giveaway!

  8. Thank you so much Kenneth for the giveaway, I've always loved your books since you came to visit our school 4 years ago and this one looks amazing:)

  9. I know my daughter and I will fight over this one.

  10. Thank you for the giveaway Kenneth Oppel and Jean BookNerd!!!

  11. I really loved the first book of this series! Thanks for the awesome giveaway, Kenneth and Jean!

    (entry name: Felicia)