Is the kingdom's fate in the hands of an orphan cat?
Running fast to save his life, Aldwyn ducks into an unusual pet store. Moments later Jack, a young wizard in training, comes in to choose a magical animal to be his familiar. Aldwyn's always been clever. But magical? Jack thinks so—and Aldwyn is happy to play along.
He just has to convince the other familiars—the know-it-all blue jay Skylar and the friendly tree frog Gilbert—that he's the powerful cat he claims to be.
Then the unthinkable happens. Jack and two other young wizards are captured by the evil queen of Vastia.
On a thrilling quest to save their loyals, the familiars face dangerous foes, unearth a shocking centuries-old secret, and discover a destiny that will change Vastia forever. Their magical adventure—an irresistible blend of real heart, edge-of-your-seat action, and laugh-out-loud humor—is an unforgettable celebration of fantasy and friendship.
Hello Adam and Andrew! So glad to have you share with us on YA Fresh! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?
A & A: We began writing screenplays together just out of college. Our first script sale would become the 2001 Sony film, NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE. That led to years of steady film and television writing, on various features and the MTV Movie Awards (working with comedians ranging from Jimmy Fallon to Jack Black to Andy Samberg). Then, in 2008, we decided to write our first novel, THE FAMILIARS. It was picked up by Harper Collins in May of 2009, and optioned for film soon after. The journey from writing teen comedies to middle grade fantasy fiction has been quite a ride!
Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.
A & A: One of the unique things about this book is that we co-authored it. The two of us literally sat in the same room for months and months (we pretty much put in banker’s hours, 9-5 Monday through Friday) writing every word, sentence, and paragraph together. Andrew is the typist (because he’s frankly a much faster typer), while Adam sits beside him, or across from him in a nice, comfy chair, or sometimes paces around. After our initial conversation about the idea, we loosely outlined the first few chapters and just dove in. Then after writing about 45 pages, we meticulously plotted out the rest of the story. Of course we discovered many details along the way, but we had a basic sense of the major plot points and where the first book would end. Neither one of us were English majors in college or had any book writing experience previously, but we’ve both read a lot, watched a lot, and lived inside our imaginations since we were little kids.
Please tell us about your novel The Familiars and what we can expect from your characters.
A & A: The Familiars is our debut novel. It is being published by Harper Collins Childrens and will be released on September 7th. Back in 2008, when we hatched the idea for The Familiars, it all started with Adam asking Andrew, “Do you know what a familiar is?” Andrew said he didn’t. Adam explained, “A familiar is the animal companion to a witch or wizard, like Hedwig in ‘Harry Potter.’” Andrew immediately took to the idea. We loved that familiars were always in the background, doing very little. What if we told a story where the familiars were front and center? And they were the ones going on the adventure. And Adam’s simple question quickly led to the creation of Vastia and all the magical animals inhabiting it. Our three main characters are an orphan alley cat named Aldwyn who is mistaken for being a young boy wizard’s familiars; Skylar, a know-it-all blue jay with the ability to cast magical illusions; and Gilbert, a bumbling tree frog who can see visions of the past, present, and future in puddles of water… sometimes. We didn’t have to look very far for our inspiration for Aldwyn. In fact, he was right in Adam’s backyard. There was a stray black-and-white alley cat named Ben, missing a chunk of his left ear, who visited there every day. The rest seemed to just flow effortlessly. The Familiars is targeted at middle readers, ages 8-12, but we really believe it will appeal to anyone who loves animals, magic, or fantasy. It takes inspiration from “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings” and hopefully puts its own unique spin on the classic hero’s journey.
Sounds wonderful! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.
A & A: We have recently completed book two of The Familiars, which will be out in September of 2011. And we have been concurrently adapting the screenplay for the 3D animated film, due in theaters in 2013!
Congratulations!! Thank you again for stopping by, Adam and Andrew. I wish you the best of luck with this awesome new series. Would you like to close with a writing tip?
A & A: The same three words that Oliver Stone gives to aspiring writers: “Butt plus chair.”
ADAM JAY EPSTEIN spent his childhood in Great Neck, New York, while ANDREW JACOBSON grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but the two met in a parking garage out in Los Angeles. They have been writing for film and television together ever since. The Familiars is their first book.
Adam Jay Epstein lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Jane, their daughters, Penny and Olive, and a black-and-white alley cat who hangs out in their backyard. Andrew Jacobson lives with his wife, Ashley, and their dog, Elvis, four traffic lights away.
THE FAMILIARS will be produced for film by Sam Raimi and Sony Animation. To learn more about The Familiars visit, www.thefamiliars.com.