Today we have with us author of Chasing Prophecy James Moser. He wrote a wonderful guest blog piece for us. I have spoken to James several times and he is about one of the most down to Earth, nicest men you will ever meet. I am glad to have known him through a book tour and now on my own. Before his piece, I would like you to know a little more about James.
The author works with high school students because young adults inspire him. As such, he wanted to write about teenagers transforming themselves to overcome obstacles, which is what he watches them do every day. This book's mission is to entertain adults while inspiring teens. The result is "Chasing Prophecy," a story about love, loss, redemption, and monsters.
Boo Radley is the author's all-time favorite literary character, which is how the Seattle-area legend of Bigfoot entered "Chasing Prophecy".
The author lives in Seattle with his beautiful wife and lively eight year old son. When he's not reading and writing, or talking about reading and writing, he's watching too much television and snacking on frozen treats from Trader Joe's. Man, those things are good.
I started my career as a high school English teacher in Snohomish County, Washington, which is about an hour north of Seattle. When I became a teacher, I thought that my job would mainly be about helping people with their essays, reading Lord of the Flies-you know—the usual high school English-y stuff. I quickly found out that the best part of my job was in getting to know my students as people. I don’t remember which essays I assigned when I was 25, but I remember the venison that Kurt brought me back from eastern Washington. I remember salmon jerky that Brandon brought me, and I remember the goldfish that Nicole gave me for Christmas when I was having a rough time. Nearly 100 of my Facebook friends are former students (they’re all in their late 20s and early 30s now, many with kids of their own). Teenagers have been my greatest teacher. In Chasing Prophecy, the lessons my students taught me are seen most clearly in the teen characters’ sense of humor, in their strength, and in the presence of Bigfoot.
“Funny” is the word that has come up in every review, so far. I wish I could take credit. The truth is that there is something about being a teenager which just makes people plain smarter and funnier than adults. Maybe it’s because this is when we’re looking around really hard, thinking really hard about who we are, what we want to be, and what inspires us. Great humor is in the details, and no one notices the details more than teenagers.
The stuff people find funniest in the book is mostly just straight out of my journals. I like to write down some of the great things they say. I once asked my juniors to write an essay comparing an author to someone noteworthy. One student turned in a paper he called:
“Hemingway and my Noteworthy Uncle Thad--What a Couple of Drunks”
Later in that same school year, a student turned in something she called,
“Some articles who think Huck Finn is gay”
These might be the 8 funniest words ever written. It’s amazing how many things are communicated in those eight words. It’s a title that says “Mr. Moser, I am more bored by this assignment than any assignment anyone has ever given me. In the history of education, the boredom I’m feeling right now is unsurpassed at any time, on any continent. Please, next time you’re thinking about assigning something this boring, just don’t. Rather, pick up something heavy and hit me in the head. Please.”
While reading Lord of the Flies, one of my all time favorite kids told me, “If William Golding were a dinosaur, he would be a Boring-o-saurus.” Then his friend across the room one-ups him, by saying, “No, this book is so bad, William Golding would be a Boring-o-saurus REX—the apex predator of all other Boring-o-saurs.”
OK, so I’m a writer, I try to be clever and all that, right? I have NEVER written anything that funny in my life. Even if I’m able to pull off my dream of making Chasing Prophecy a best-seller, I can never stop teaching because I would run out of material for dialogue. When you’re loving the way my characters talk to each other, I’ll take credit for the punctuation and that’s about it.
I’ve spent the last few years working with high school students who have mild to moderate reading disabilities. I’ve been really inspired by how hard these kids fight to improve their reading. For struggling learners it’s really important to have an interesting story—even more important than it is for adults. There’s so much extra work that goes into reading for some kids that they have a much lower threshold for boredom. One of my main tasks was to make this interesting enough for adults, but easy enough for struggling readers. So far, people think I pulled it off.
I’ve talked about monsters a lot while promoting this book and people think I’m just talking about the bad guys or Bigfoot. Really, what I’m talking about are obstacles for teens to overcome. Sometimes these monsters are reading disabilities. Sometimes the monsters are abusive home lives. Sometimes the monsters are their own fears, self-doubts, and insecurities. Sometimes these monsters are drug addiction or alcohol. I’ve been so inspired by watching kids stare down all kinds of beasts. I wanted to create characters as strong and courageous as my own students.
Beyond the symbolic, I’ve always been fascinated by plain old scary monsters with big teeth. I’m especially into the ones we only see in glimpses and therefore make bigger in our imaginations. So of course my all time fave book character is Boo Radley from To Kill a Mockingbird. My Boo Radley is our own Seattle-area legend of Sasquatch. I can’t say much more about that without spoiling the best scenes in the book. I’ll just say that my own experience with him is through two of my students who went looking for him for a class project. They either found him, or they found something that looked, sounded, and smelled like him, because they came back shaking and pale and quickly grew tired of talking about it. They did not attend the senior picnic, even in broad daylight and with 200 classmates, because it was held in the same part of the Mount Baker wilderness. These were popular boys—not the type to shy away from attention or make up stories in order to draw attention. Real or not, Sasquatch is real to them--and that makes him real to me.
So that’s the pot of stew that makes my book. Boo Radley lives in society but doesn’t want to be a part of it. So do many hippie communities. I made a harmless group of hippies turn into a monster (cult). The kids are based on every student I’ve ever had, in some way. The story is about a funny group of friends who have each other’s backs no matter what. They must change to survive. The monster they fear saves them, while the real monsters turn out to be people they’ve known all their lives. This book is by, about, and for legit teens, and also for those of us who are older and wish we could go back for just one day-- to see and hear as perfectly—to feel as deeply—as we did when we were seventeen.
Cherish the past, embrace the present, race into the future. This is Chasing Prophecy
That was amazing. Thank you so much for enlightening us about where you draw your inspiration from. Definitely one of the more interesting pieces I have read in my time blogging. I really appreciate you being here today. I wish you much success and I hope you will come back for an interview when I read your book!
If you enjoyed what you read, pick up James' book Chasing Prophecy here:
Amazon: Click here.
If you want to get in touch with James or say hi to him (he will say hi back!) here is where to find him:
And James has a surprise for you - a giveaway! James will be giving away SIX copies of his book to SIX lucky people. It has received wonderful reviews so you will want to get in on this one. Also to two lucky people, James will be giving away a $10.00 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice. So make sure you enter!! The rafflecopter form will be up shortly. I want to again thank James for this wonderful giveaway.