We’re thrilled to have here today Tommy Dana from Leif and Jason Grundstrom-Whitney’s new Young Adult Fiction Novel, The Hidden Chalice of the Cloud People. Tommy Dana is a thirteen year old student living in Bangor, Maine.
It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!
Thank you so for this interview, Tommy Dana. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?
Well, they did portray me as pretty much a wimp at first! Seriously though, I don’t have any qualms about the way I was portrayed as I build strength over time through the many adventures that I go through with and without my formerly fictional companion and erstwhile bodyguard Shannon O’Neil. This brings up a great question about strength though. In western culture we are so fixated on the external. We seem to give lavish praise to those who appear to be Adonis-like in stature without giving credit to people that are truly strong on multiple levels, like Gandhi or the Clan Mothers of the Native side of my heritage. So here you have a kid (little old me) who is physically weak (at first) but has this indomitable character and iron will that helps him to carry forth, using wit, intelligence, and mental fortitude to examine the issues within the various intertwining stories and help to creatively problem solve them to a vaguely satisfying resolution. I really think that history tells of what strength truly is. For instance, Abraham Lincoln was immensely physically strong by all accounts, but what is he known for? His greatly persuasive rhetoric, powerful speeches and strength of character led America through its darkest days. That is what he will always be known for.
Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality? If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?
I feel these authors did a pretty good job at making my character fully HD. That’s high definition for the technologically impaired amongst you. Some of it was cringe worthy and downright embarrassing, as far as characterization goes, but overall, the authors (frustrating and mystical creatures that they are) did a commendable job showing my insecurities and positive attributes and periods of doubt and bravery and courage and also the gradual uncomfortable process of my evolution as a character.
What do you believe is your strongest trait?
I believe it must be the strength of my will and the power of my creative identity (the industriousness of my imagination). At times, sheer determination and resourceful imaginativeness were all that I had to fall back on. My creativity was able to flourish, once given license, so as to problem solve my way out of these very tight situations that allowed no margin of error.
The timorousness (a loathsome characteristic of my personality!) that frequently drains my resolve of its firmness is my worst trait.
If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?
I think it would have to be an up-and-coming star much in the vein of the outstanding performance that Keisha Castle-Hughes gave in the movie “Whale Rider”. Obviously it would have to be a male teenager though. This book, my world entire, is so modestly original and takes so many twists that it would be nice to have a fresh face, not jaundiced by the fame and fortune of the industry and the monotony of similar roles, portray the central role in its big screen rendition.
Do you have a love interest in the book?
Maybe, it is quite possible. Can someone love a fictional person who turns out of to be a lot realer than expected? Can true affection breach the lines between reality and imagination? Can an inter-dimensional mutual adoration thrive? If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then I would have say that I do perhaps have a love interest in the book. I can’t imagine seeing a sunset or a sunrise or the variety of the seasons and the change that goes with them, without an image of her enshrined in my heart, if that’s what you mean.
At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?
I became very nervous and doubtful of my chances of success when I first realized the sheer enormity of the quest I had willingly tumbled into and what that world-hopping adventure would demand of me.
If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?
If I could trade places with anyone, I would avoid the character of my nemesis Facinorous, the arch antagonist of the sprawling scene in which I was set, like the plague. He’s a bottomless abyss of devious intent and nefariousness. Who would want to be the filthy harvester of the innocent imaginations of humanity? It would be an absolute nightmare to be trapped in the mind of a nebulous ultra-powerful entity that lacks an authentic imagination. Plus, because of his rampant magniloquence, I can hardly ever understand what he’s saying.
How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?
I feel that the ending is a little too short. I would even go so far as to say that it is remarkable in its abruptness. The authors seemed a little too preoccupied with setting up the sequel. They should have invested more time instead in making a satisfying conclusion. It is a flaw common to the genre. Perhaps they were spoofing that convention. Who knows? The book I am featured in is a satire, after all.
What words of wisdom would you give your author if they decided to write another book with you in it?
For the love of the heavenly landlords of the cosmos, go easy on me next time! Seriously, I have no idea what these two authors have in store for me with their feverish creativity. I will offer a tiny suggestion though. Could you give me a break once in a while?! I am picturing a pacing similar to Proust so maybe I can ease into the peculiarities of being me once in a while.
Thank you for this interview, Tommy Dana. Will we be seeing more of you in the future?
Thank you for the opportunity. Yes, you will most definitely be seeing more of me in the future. The authors are hell-bent on prolonging my suffering and misery. I am to be the main character in three upcoming sequels. Pray for my deliverance!
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Leif Grundstrom-Whitney is the proud co-author of the epical satire The Hidden Chalice of the Cloud People; the wicked and witty character known as Facinorous contained therein is a product of his multifarious mind. He has been published in several obscure poetry journals (hold your applause). To say that he is an edacious reader would be an understatement worthy of Hemingway. If he had a spirit animal, it would probably be a raven who knows how to play a Hammond B-3 organ.
Jason Grundstrom-Whitney has been a Social Worker and Substance Abuse Counselor in the State of Maine for many years. In this time, he has introduced meditation (tai-chi, qigong, yoga, and meditation) groups to teens when told he would fail. This was one of the most successful and long lasting groups. He developed a Civil Rights/Peer Helper course that won state and national awards (for High School) and has worked as a civil rights activist. He has also worked as a long term care social worker and now works as a Hospice Medical Social Worker. Jason is a poet, writer, and musician playing bass, harmonica and various wind instruments. Lover of all styles of music he has played classical, jazz, rock, funk, country, blues, and rap. He is very excited to play bass with his brother’s band and his son’s. He is very proud to have co-authored The Hidden Chalice of the Cloud People with his son Leif.
The Hidden Chalice of the Cloud People is a young adult fantasy comedy novel written by a father and son writing duo for an intelligent general audience. It is the first book in an upcoming tetralogy. It is a darkly humorous, fast-paced, action-packed celebratory unification of the world’s rich cultural lore through the lens of an inventive fantasy concept that stands both as an occasionally subversive satire that satirizes the YA genre and an anachronistic experiment on the fusion of storyline narratives (differing stylistically and compositionally).
When Tommy Dana is abducted into a fantastical realm called Lethia, where the worthy stories of humanity are granted a physical reality, the social media-averse thirteen year old must plunge through a multi-varied meta-fictional adventure in order to save his, and the entire human world’s, imagination from falling into the thieving clutches of the witty supernatural villain Facinorous.