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Tony Abbott
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Tony Abbott   Tony Abbott is the bestselling author of over 80 books for young readers, including the Secrets of Droon series and The Haunting of Derek Stone series. He was the recipient of the 2006 Golden Kite Award given by the society of Childrenís Book Writers and Illustrators to recognize excellence in childrenís literature. In all, he's sold over 10 million books.

Buy Tony Abbott's Books at the following locations: (downloadable audio books) (independent bookstores)
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This episode originally aired on 12/17/2009 with the following authors:
Note: The following interview has been transcribed from The Author Hour radio show. Please excuse any typos, spelling and gramatical errors.

Interview with Tony Abbott

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Bonus Question(s) that Didn't Air on the Live Radio Show

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Matthew Peterson: Let me ask you a bonus question. You talk to a lot of children. You have a younger audience here for many of your books. What are some of the things you hope that children would take away from your books?

Tony Abbott: Oh, gosh. Thatís a loaded question. I hope kids take--not that I purposely put these ideas into the stories--but thereís always friendship in the stories and kids working together finding that they canít do things properly alone; they need to have a support group, even if itís small, even if itís among peers. And I guess itís the idea that when you work together and do things together and you solve problems together itís much better for everyone. I donít know, how does that sound?

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. That sounds good. That sounds good.

I interview a lot of adult authors and a lot of . . . but I want to do this episode with some younger middle grade fiction Ďcause I think thatís really interesting.

Tony Abbott: Thatís great, yeah. I look forward to becoming a listener of your show.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, good. Thank you. Yeah, our first episode was Terry Pratchett [Discworld series]; Eoin Colfer, who did the Artemis Fowl books; Jody Lynn Nye, who did the Myth Adventure Books--whoís continuing them on; and then Pierce Anthony, who did the Xanth novels.

Tony Abbott: I have to say I love Terry Pratchett; heís the funniest writer.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, yeah. No, the funny thing with him... I interviewed him in person actually. And so we do the interview and I said, ďWell, let me ask you the bonus question. I hear you like video games. Whatís your favorite video game?Ē That question took longer than the entire interview for him to answer, Ďcause he really got excited with that. [laughs]

Tony Abbott: Oh thatís fun. You know itís funny. I saw him... He was doing a reading in New Haven--and this is just about the time that Kringle came out--and so I got one of his books and I waited through the line for him to sign it and I gave him one of mine and signed it to him and Iím sure he, you know, probably tossed it, Ďcause heís traveling around--he doesnít need extra weight--but that was a sort of ďthank youĒ for all these funny books.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, heís a nice guy. He really is; heís a very down to earth... down to earth guy.

Tony Abbott: Yeah. He is just hilarious.

Extra Material That was Cut from the Show Because of Time Constraints

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Tony Abbott: You know, itís funny how many things start from something else youíre working on, or a book that you read that youíre not really thinking anything much is going to come from it, but so all these things sort of combined. Thatís where I usually find series... or books come together, several things collide in different areas.

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Tony Abbott: But that begins sort of The Haunting because something very big is happening and Derek kind of finds himself in the middle of it. So thatís a little bit about how it got started.

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Tony Abbott: He has an acne problem. Heís not all that popular. Heís certainly not athletic. He has one friend that he made over the years. In contrast to his older brother, Ronny, whoís like the king of the school. You know, for most of his life heís just been sort of on the back burner of the fanwagon.

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Tony Abbott: The story that it might take from here on relies on some elements that are seeds that are planted in the four books, but the reader may not have picked that up. Thereís another story in there waiting and right now. Iím working on a couple of the things, but I kind of canít wait to get back to Derek.

I feel so bad for him, in a way, because he starts from this sort of negative position, you know, his physical parents--his family--gets wiped out in a matter of a few moments, you know, and then he suddenly begins to hear things. Something happens in this accident; his ear gets sort of mashed a little bit and then he starts remembering things sometimes and hears voices. You know, the poor kid, heís just trying to make it as a teenager. And heís got a whole slew of other things to deal with besides the heat... I mean, itís summertime in Louisiana.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, yeah. I lived in Alabama for a little bit. I know what youíre talking about. [laughs]

Tony Abbott: So, you know, itís just very damp, very humid and you know with his extra weight, heís suffering especially.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Tony Abbott: Iíd love to get to Derek and give him some other things to do. He needs a girl. You know, nothing, no sparks fly or anything, Ďcause heís a bit too young, but still thereís a story to be told there too.

* * * * * * * * * *

Tony Abbott: Yeah, I mean one of the nice things thatís happening this year is Iím sort of celebrating the 10th anniversary with that series. [Secrets of Droon]

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Tony Abbott: I wrote The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet and then Journey to the Volcano Palace and The Mysterious Island, and City in the Clouds. I wrote those. . .

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Tony Abbott: I get a lot of emails and some from even first graders or even preschool kids who read the books with their parents, all the way up to 5th and 6th grade. Slower readers, like I wasĖI was a fairly slow reader to start--but you know they like the longevity of it, so even a 5th and 6th grader can read these knowing that there are more to read. And so, yeah, the fan base is really, primarily I guess, itís second and third grade. I have some college kids, if you believe it--theyíre freshman and sophomores this year--who started with the series back in 1999.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, wow! And theyíre still going on.

Tony Abbott: Still going on. Well, thatís something about fantasy Iíve found, even older kids like anything. You know, they love cartoons, they like comic books, they like shorter books, just because they love fantasy.

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Tony Abbott: And I guess Iíve heard from a number of adult readers, Ďcause I give these books out to my adult friends and they like them. I guess I invest a lot of my adult sensibility, not that the books are difficult to read in any way, but thereís something there for the older readers as well. Kringle, which is a Christmas fantasy thing, is something that I guess Iíve wanted to write for like 50 years. Itís sort of my encapsulation of what Christmas can be.

Matthew Peterson: But you donít think of goblins and Christmas, [laughs] you know, with Kringle.

Tony Abbott: Well, that was a challenge, I pitted to myself for this one, Ďcause I wanted to combine kind of a fantasy involving goblins and elves and the snowy north and all that with the actual nativity story, and Iím thinking, ďWell, how do you possibly do that?Ē So I got that in Rome and Britain that the early 5th century... and there are these monks that come from Rome to disseminate Christianity and this character Kringle whoís more or less a pagan hears the Christmas story, you know, the Bethlehem and all that from one of these monks. And he sort of, in his own mind, combined that with his knowledge of elfin magic. Something I guess... thatís the thing that Iíve wanted to do for a long time, is sort of bring in that sort of dangerous snowy north of the Santa Clause, the pagan Santa Clause, gift giver figuratively, you know, with the Christian story and so, you know, I do get emails from parents who say, ďWow, you know I never thought this was going to be possible.Ē

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

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Tony Abbott: And then Firegirl is much smaller, quieter, slower story; itís a school story just about some kids in about a 3 week period, and then The Postcard is a mystery... itís a comedy. So I guess Iím not trying to write the same book twice, in that sense. I write the fantasy thing over and over in a series like Droon, but standalone books are going in different directions, each one.

* * * * * * * * * *

Tony Abbott: Those are fun, you know, Iím not quite sure how they translate into popularity on the kid level, but theyíre just wonderful recognition by your peers. [regarding winning contests]

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