"Chewy Marmot" is an action/adventure novel of great proportions, and within it are many themes. In general, one could just say that it is a simple story about someone who makes a plan and then life happens, but if they lean into their new circumstances with the best of intentions everything will turn out okay in the end. That in fact, while on the journey, they will find themselves accomplishing things that they never even knew they had the power to do! Our main protagonist, Chewy, definitely experiences this. For him it’s about gaining true friendship and about making conscious choices. Not doing something based purely on factual information, but rather trusting his gut and being flexible. And sometimes it’s just about doing the right thing. After all, Chewy just wants to be a good marmot. But he also gets to do some really cool things!
My main goal was to create a really fun story with lots of action, but I just couldn’t help myself! Throughout the book I’ve planted little seeds that, hopefully, will get young minds thinking critically. I explore the notion of “being good”. Free will and morality are ever present. Logic comes up. Ethics come into question when Chewy believes that he might have conjured a friend to magically appear on a mountain. Chewy grapples with the issue of destiny, and winds up accepting it, but on his own terms. There are existential questions. Is there something outside of ourselves guiding us along our path, or might our destinies solely lie within ourselves and be of our own creation? How powerful is nature and what is our relationship/responsibility to it? I even snuck in the idea of alternate universes. What it means to be a good friend plays hugely in the story, and there is a bit about making sacrifices. And after all of this, I’d say the most important theme of all is being loving, because by making love our priority we make the world a better place.
Yes, but very few. First, though, I should mention vocabulary... I purposefully developed a classic storytelling cadence, and I didn't want to dumb it down by avoiding "bigger" words. There are definitely some in there, which I think is terrific. Kindle has a dictionary feature, so that when you highlight a word it will define it. I can't think of a better way to learn! There is mention of berry mead and cider, but no drunkenness whatsoever. It is all very innocent. In the last part there is a skirmish, and some animals wind up dead. Some might find the scene to be a bit graphic, but I've toned it down. It's really all about the action. And I use the word, "kill" very sparingly, opting instead to say, "drop", or "dropped". I'm careful with that. The hardest thing to take might be when a beloved character is killed. It is quite a wrenching scene. I still cry, and I've read it about a hundred times. But it is a touching and somber scene, and I don't think it is any different from when Aslan died in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I'm inclined to think the Aslan scene was scarier because of the witch, although Marculf is pretty scary...
I said no to all of that. I compromised by dividing the story into three parts while keeping the sections together as one book. It takes a very long time to write this much! Well, for me it did, anyway. For one thing, it was important to build an interesting world and to be as descriptive as possible. I’ve always liked small details in books. I wanted a story an avid reader would be able to sink their teeth into. Have you ever read a book that you were so into that you didn’t want it to end? This book delivers on that.
Well, I never set out to write a series, but it’s in my nature, so I know that I will! I’m already outlining it in my head, and I have a feeling it won’t take nearly as long as the first one did. This one will be about the original war, when the lotus was still only halfway through its cycle. It will focus on the older characters in Chewy, back when they were younger. I’d like to have more fun with Binna and her tornado of spells, and I will definitely develop Philbus’s wife, Aurelia, and Horace’s wife, too (“Whistler’s mother” – ha, I love that!). Leffrin will be in there, for sure. There’s also the possibility I’ll move forward with the story at some point. I leave a giant Easter egg at the end of the first book, but I don’t want to give it away!
My children are both adults now and they heard about Chewy from the time they were born. It was important for me to set an example for them that it's possible to finish something of this magnitude. I didn’t start writing it until a few years ago. I also want to give young readers something they will enjoy because I loved reading as a kid. It was transportive! Maybe it will get some kids to start writing their own stories, too. That would be great! Also, while I was writing the book I kept seeing it in my head as a movie, even though that wasn’t my original intention, so….hey Steven Spielberg or Studio Ghibli…if you’re out there, give me a call! I think" Chewy Marmot" would be a blockbuster.