Monday 19 December 2011


Readers, The Write Companion (which is most definitely my alter-ego) wants more than anything to celebrate authors! The authors who are not up on the movie screen, or who have written vampires that will be placed in the Webster’s Dictionary one day. Don’t get me wrong, those authors are fine, too! BUT, there are many YA authors out there who do not yet have a “well-known name” who sat down and created a true work of art when it came to their novels. And - especially in this holiday spirit that we have now - I wish to promote these authors who really deserve your time and attention. And this week, we are going to promote a man by the name of Sean J. Quirk.

A book came out on October 31, 2011 that was SO refreshing to read, I actually set everything else aside to delve into the truly adventurous story, and was reminded of something. In 1998, there certainly was no big ‘cry out’ in the world for a boy whose Aunt and Uncle loathed him enough to make him sleep in a cupboard underneath the stairs, but when you look back over a decade, you can certainly see that Mr. Potter WAS needed to offset a world that constantly talks about war, economic horrors, job deprivation, and other equally hideous subjects. We needed a hero! And we still need them.

Sean Quirk has been kind enough to provide a brand new one! I mean, this book not only offers a great plot with fantastical characters, but it was also invigorating and inspirational to read. I mean that. It was so thrilling to read a YA with not one ‘fanged one’ in sight.

Augustus Tomlin (Augie) is the new hero of YA fiction. This is a young boy who was found by a couple on a sailboat floating in the middle of the ocean after a hurricane - a couple who adopted Augie and raised him. The one real fear Augie has is of the water - not surprising, considering how he was found. And he has no memory of a family or where he was born, where he came from, nothing. All he has is a seashell medallion around his neck with some very odd writing on it that he has never been able to understand.

From carriages pulled by hippocamps to a ‘drac’ named Krimwing, the world of Grim’s Peak where Augie ends up is truly a whole lot of fun. People and creatures are after Augie, yet he has no idea why until he learns what his seashell medallion actually is, what happened to his parents, and why he was found floating in an ocean when he was very young. As I stated in my review, take a wee bit of Harry Potter, combine it with Peter Pan’s Lost Boys, throw in some Eragon, and infuse all of that with a new author whose imagination is stellar - and you end up with the world of Grim’s Peak.

I was lucky enough to be able to ‘sit down’ with this imaginative author and speak with him about how he feels about the literary world, and his emotions, creativity and ideas that will help readers come to know a brand new “Harry Potter.”

So, without further adieu, here is Mr. Quirk!

YA has become the biggest selling genre in the literary world. What made you, specifically, want to write this YA book?

Well, to be honest, I was always drawn to writers like Dean Koontz and Stephen King, so when I envisioned the types of stories I would write one day, I always figured they would automatically fall into the ‘horror’ category. The funny thing about Betrayals is that it happened by accident in the sense that, when I was trying to tap into that “great big library in the sky” (you know…the place where all good stories come from) for my next idea, I must’ve wandered into the wrong section. And once I had the concept of the story it simply took over. Everything else was shelved and the more the idea developed in my mind, the more I started to think that I so wanted to live in that world.

Have you been writing a long time, or is this your debut novel?

I've been writing since my early teens. My friends and family can attest to the fact that back then, wherever I went, my ugly blue typewriter went with me. And the thing weighed a ton! I started taking writing a lot more seriously a couple of years ago and Catch, my debut novel, was agented and came very close to being published. But you know what they say about near misses… It was disappointing, sure, but I got to work with some amazing people during that time and will forever be indebted to them, because my writing would be nowhere near where it is today without them.

As I spoke about in my review, it is truly refreshing for me to receive a book that has no vampires, suicide, the ‘hideous’ side of life, etc. You must have a tremendous gift to come up with such fantastical characters that do NOT mimic any of the other books on the market today. Have you always been this creative?

Let me start by saying that my main goal when I set out to create these characters and the world around them, was to make the book fun and easy to read. I think there’s enough doom and gloom out there. Grim’s Peak is a colorful, vibrant place filled with interesting people and places, not to mention the sometimes uncooperative fauna and flora, and I’m hoping readers will love going there as much as I do. It’s a place where you can just kind of take a break from things, catch your breath and come out feeling good.

I’ve never really thought of myself as being particularly creative. In his book, On Writing, Stephen King said that all writing is telepathy, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. I know it sounds a little weird, but I think whoever it is that is beaming the story down into my brain is the creative one. I’m just the conduit, and my job really is just to put it down on paper and not interfere too much.

Augustus Tomlin (Augie) is your main character. Is he based on anyone specifically?

Not really. I don’t like to base my characters on people that I know for the simple reason that I want them to be free to develop on their own, rather than become what I like to call a “factory-character,” and by that - I mean a character put together on a figurative assembly line, made to fit into a prefabricated mold. Whenever I try to steer the story in any particular direction is when it usually ends with disastrous results! The funny thing is if you were to see the prep notes I made before I started and compared them to the final result, you’d think someone else wrote it.

Earl and Marge really show readers what a truly kind, adoptive couple can be. This and other areas of the book really ‘teach’ young people lessons about life. Was that something you were intent on accomplishing?

I didn’t set out to do that. At least, not intentionally. However, by creating characters like Earl, Marge, Fife, and mostly, Hiram, I suppose I did it indirectly because that’s who those characters are, and during the writing process I make every effort to give them the freedom to say whatever they are going say. A lot of times I’ll look at a finished sentence and think, wow…I had no idea you were going to say that!

As far as Marge and Earl go; I know that every great story lives or dies by the conflict in it. If everything went perfectly, and every character was perfect, there just wouldn’t be much of a story to tell. So, in that aspect, I’m sure this story might have been a little more interesting on some level had Augie indeed been raised by ogres masquerading as humans, but I don’t necessarily think hardship and mental toughness are mutually exclusive. Sometimes coming from a stable, happy home environment will make you just as tough as the next guy (or gal).

Are you currently working on Book II of the series? And how many books do you believe will make up the series total?

The second book is still in the development stage. Nothing on paper just yet. It’s hard to say exactly how many books there will be in the series. Grim’s Peak is just one small corner of the world ‘down there’ and I’m really looking forward to introducing readers to the rest of it. The possibilities are endless, but I can tell you it probably won’t be less than 4 or 5 books.

Can you offer readers a ‘sneak peek’ at the next one?

Not yet, but rest assured, this is the first place you’ll see it! (You heard it here folks - WE will have the scoop!)

Our readers always like background on our authors. Could you tell us a little bit about where you come from, and what your career and interests are?

I grew up in South Africa. It’s a beautiful place, and I grew up in this small town about two hours outside of Durban on the east coast. I was always fascinated with animals and was pretty lucky to live in a place where there is such diversity in that regard, not to mention everything down there that can kill you – snakes, spiders, scorpions, and let us not forget the big stuff like the lions and the hippos. There’s no place quite like Africa.

When I was 22 I moved to the U.S. My day job for the last 13 years has been a horse trainer. In a nutshell I deal with the tough ones that people don’t want to ride, and help the owners and their horses communicate better with each other. You’re probably beginning to see now why there is such a focus on the hippocamps (half fish/half horse creature of legend for those of you that don’t know) in the book.

I’ve worked in 11 different states on the professional polo circuit and do everything from starting the young horses, to giving riding lessons, to dealing with refusal issues, etc. And I do it all the nice way without any kind of violence. Breaking a horse is a common term for getting them under saddle, but it describes exactly what happens. I start them.

I love reading of course. My main guilty pleasure is just about every show on the WB! And my favorite food is lasagna the way my mom makes it (with bacon).

And, as with all YA authors, we have to know. Are you a Twilight fan?

I am. I’ve read all the books and have seen all the movies. However, were Mira and Bella to ever face off, my money would be on Mira all the way! She’s tough, independent, strong willed, and smart; someone I’m hoping young girls in particular can look up to.

And for the fun part of our interview that readers truly seem to love, we add a few James Lipton-‘esque’ questions with every author:

What is your favorite book?

Lightning by Dean Koontz, for the simple reason that after I put that book down I knew I wanted to become a writer.

Who is your favorite author?

I’d have to say Mr. Koontz out of blind loyalty.

What is your favorite word?

Deliquesce – it means to melt away.

What is your least favorite word?

Whatever – although, if it were ever classified as a curse word, I’d probably put a blush on a room full of sailors in no time because of how much I use it, myself!

What sound or noise do you love?

The sound of the ocean.

What sound or noise do you hate?

The squeaky sound of a chip bag being opened gets under my skin every time!

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?


What profession would you never like to attempt?

Trapeze artist.

And if readers can come away from your book with one lesson learned - what would that lesson be?

Not to touch the hippocamps! No, in all seriousness I think one thing you could take from this story is to treasure your friends; you’re going to need them when things go ‘pear-shaped.’

You heard it here, folks! Not only is Mr. quirk an amazing author, he is a gifted writer of everything - even interviews. For all of you who trust my judgment (and that should be ALL of you ), go get The Betrayals of Grim’s Peak today! Enjoy the holiday season and get on board with the next YA that is pure adventure and solid enjoyment!

Until Next Time, Everybody!


For more information about Sean Quirk:

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