Sometimes an exclusive comes along. Today is one of those days. David Alvin is a prolific writer who has seen a steady rise in his sales since he wrote his first book. Today, he is more of a powerhouse than ever. His latest book is called Refugees From the Emerald City. I was able to snag a Q and A with David and THEN managed to get a copy of the book for review! See! Don’t say I am not good to you!
Q) Hi David! Great to meet you for this exclusive. So, can you give my readers a rundown of what Refugees is about? I’m sure it would come better from you!
A) Hey, Nick! Sure…What if the Nome King and his armies had conquered Oz? And let’s assume all the fantasy stories you read as kids (and probably still do read as adults, heck) ARE true, somewhere?
It helps if you’ve read L. Frank Baum’s sixth Oz book, “The Emerald City of Oz,” but it’s truly not required — simply put, the Nomes and their evil allies dug an underground tunnel and got to the Emerald City, destroyed it and enslaved its people, and spread out over the land of Oz.
AND BAUM COVERED IT UP.
Enter David Garrett, a noted children’s book author who comes to Miami and is attending a symposium on the 100th anniversary of “The Emerald City of Oz” (so the novel’s set in 2010). He arrives at the hotel, but no symposium. In the process of finding out who got him there, he runs into Jamie with whom he graduated high school and is now a nurse in Miami. Then he meets Dorothy who escaped the Nomes. Then Guph, the general of the Nome army who after years and decades of successful conquest is finding himself — well, finding that something’s .. not … right.
Enter the Reapers, characters drafted from failed versions of their to-us-fictional worlds where evil and darkness triumphed and introducing David, Jamie, Dorothy, and Guph who are asked to believe in more than they ever have and act in less than they’ve ever known … to get their histories right.
Q) Fascinating stuff! This book has been quite a long time in the writing. Is it the book you’ve always wanted to write?
A) I’ve always wanted to write an Oz book, but I must admit Refugees was not quite what I had in mind.
I wrote this over a month in 2010 for National Novel Writing Month, so I had the general plot in mind for at least a year. I wanted its release to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the book it takes off from.
For a few reasons that didn’t happen according to plan, but you know life … pure and simple, how do you and I relate to the revelation in our own time that there’s a lot more to reality that what we have experienced before? How DO we interact with our favorite characters when they’re flesh and blood and otherwise in front of us, not pixels on a screen or words and pictures on a page?
It’s almost like Emma Swann’s epiphany in the TV show “Once Upon A Time” when SHE finds out that stories that she always regarded as fairy tales had/have a distinct reality of their own. That, and she’s part of the story.
So are we.
Q) As a writer you are rather prolific. Is it always your intention to draw a reader in as part of the story? That seems to be one of your themes.
A) Well, you do want your readers to think “hey, this could be happening where I live, or someplace I imagine” (the ten dollar word for that is “verisimilitude”) and having a common touchstone of a childhood memory can’t hurt …
I can’t say I ALWAYS write that intention, but it bleeds through the more you commit to a story. I believe it has worked very well.
Q) The big question! Is this your best work to date? Be honest!
A) For its chosen subject? Yes!
Q) Good to hear, David! Now for all your fans out there– have you got anything on the go as we speak??
A) Let’s see … “Victory,” the concluding novel of a superhero fantasy trilogy that’s the last chance to save the world in on its final pages now … “The Persian Trilogy” a Bible study of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther written along the lines of “The Burning Bush …” that you’ve previously reviewed . Those I KNOW are cooking!
Q) Cooking crazily I’d say, David. Thanks for your time!
A) Not a problem, Nick!
Review: Refugees From the Emerald City
David Alvin is known for writing long tomes. His previous works have included “The Burning Bush Wants to be Your Friend,” for example. Now, I sit and wonder to myself– what do I think of this latest book of his? Well it’s both good AND bad I’m afraid. It’s a great story, but I do think it could do with some improvement. However, let me get to that bit later.
Let me ask you a question. Have you read Frank Baum’s sixth book “The Emerald City of Oz”? You did? That’s great– you are going to love this book. You didn’t? You may find yourself puzzled like me. For all you guys and girls who haven’t read the Baum book– it happens like this. The Nomes take over the Emerald City and then take over Oz. Everyone gets enslaved and a bad moon rises. It’s crisis in the world of make-believe. Now you are fully equipped to go and read this book by David Alvin.
Without giving any secrets away, this book is a journey into an alternate reality. The story will help you wile away a few hours and leaves you with some satisfaction. David weaves a story that will be of interest to some of you– but for many of you– like me– you can find your eyes wandering off the page and looking for the latest cereal box to read. That said, if you give the book a chance you will get into it. I guess it all comes down to your love for Oz. Do you believe that you need a journey in Oz? I think if you do then you will be totally drawn into this book.
Not to be too negative– David writes well and he writes with definite strokes of talent and love. He creates characters who are interesting and he has a great way with dialogue. He creates vivid fantasy characters and makes them talk, walk and jump off the page. At times he is long-winded, however; and a reader can find themselves losing track of what was said– back up two pages and find that nothing was said. I think the book could have been shorter and more concise. However, don’t let the long-winded paragraphs drag you away from the characters who are fantastically crafted. I just found it hard to get to the characters sometimes with all the flourishing descriptions and happenings taking place.
What do I think of the concept? I think it’s great and I think David showed real respect to his favourite childhood writer. I do believe that this book will be too much of a trawl for kids, but I think a lot of adults will pick this up. Bestseller? Maybe.. Cult classic? More than likely. Movie? Maybe… An achievement for David Alvin? Certainly. Be proud of it, David, but please, next time say what you want to say in less time. The rest of the book works so well. I do believe that Refugees is this writer’s best work to date… Long live Alvin!