Local author will visit Ecker Hill, Weilenmann and Dolly’s
A number of reasons pushed Salt Lake City-based writer James Wymore into the world of Young Adult books.
The first was author Kurt Vonnegut.
"I remember picking up one of his books because I liked the back cover, but once I began reading, I couldn’t put it down," Wymore told The Park Record during an interview. "I didn’t know who he was, but his writing blew me away. I had never experienced anything like that. And from there, I knew that I wanted to write with power."
The second was the craft of constructing sentences into stories.
"I’ve always been artistic," he said. "I played music in high school and I’ve enjoyed all the arts, including a little bit of sculpting and some painting, but writing is the thing that stuck out the most.
"I’ve always enjoyed it," Wymore said. "I’m a copycat like everyone else. If I read something I liked, I would go home and write something similar."
Wymore, whose new book is a science-fiction work called "Theocracide," will share his love of writing with Ecker Hill Middle School and Weilenmann School of Discovery students in separate assemblies on Friday, March 29. Later that day, he will be at Dolly’s Bookstore, 510 Main St., for free book signing from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.
"At the school presentations, I will discuss the creative process about what an author pours into a book," Wymore explained. "I won’t talk about the publishing part of writing a book, as much as I will talk about what makes a good story and what editors look for when they are deciding if they want to invest in your work."
He will also talk about how writing, like any other art is possible to do badly, and how important is for new writers to be prepared to write for a long time to hone their craft.
"You can see that with big publishers who crank out these genre fictions that are almost carbon-copies of each other," Wymore said. "They feed an audience that is buying these books, and I understand that. But the more I work with independent books, the more I find that there are gems out there that offer world-changing writing. However, those books don’t get the attention they deserve because of these mass-produced genre stories."
The genre stories such as paranormal romance and young wizards, grow out of what Wymore calls "fan-fiction desire," where people read something they like and want to write their own similar story that features the same characters.
"The problem is that we, as a society, want to clump things into groups," he said. "For example, in young adult fiction, Harry Potter shows up a few years ago, storms the castle, and everybody gets on the bandwagon.
"Fantasy books, which haven’t sold in years, begin to move., and there is an excitement about this new YA novel," Wymore said.
In actuality, the statistics showed Harry Potter didn’t increase the amount of reading in youth, he said.
"The youth were still reading the same amount, but they were just reading the Harry Potter stories," Wymore explained. "Harry Potter was awesome, but he’s done now and we need writers to take things to the next level, which they will eventually."
Wymore began writing science fiction because he was an imaginative child.
"I always loved movies and any kind of media that transported me to new places and new ideas," he said. "When I saw movies like ‘Star Wars,’ or ‘Tron’ or ‘The Last Starfighter,’ I wondered when I would also get to blast off into space myself."
That love of new worlds came into play when he began writing "Theocracide" in 2009.
"That book came from a lot of different ideas," Wymore said. "I collect ideas in journals and little files as things inspire me, and one day, I came up with an idea about some glasses that you could wear that would scan the world and project whatever you wanted to see on top of the scenery.
"They, to me, became the ultimate augmented reality where you just look at a street and instead of seeing a street, you see pirate ships or a rock ‘n’ roll concert," he said. "These glasses change all the spaces, people and objects into whatever you want to see."
Once the idea crept into Wymore’s mind, it wouldn’t leave.
"Then a lot of the other ideas that I had prior to that kind of attached themselves to the glasses idea and had to be written," he said. "And that’s how it all began."
"Theocracide" is about a boy named Jason whose very existence is an affront to an undying emperor, the Theocrat.
Jason’s characteristics were comprised from bits of people Wymore knows.
"While the characters in ‘Theocracide’ do have little pieces of people that I know in them, there is not just one person who becomes the character," he said. "(Jason) just came out into the world that I wanted to create. He needed to be able to buck that world a little bit."
"Theocracide" is Wymore’s first published book, but he’s written 14 others. His second published book, "Exacting Essences," will be released in May.
"I have another book under consideration that will be out by the end of this year, and I’m also working on a collaborative book with author Aiden James," Wymore said.
But, he says, being a writer poses unique challenges.
"One of the biggest for me is time, which I think is for everyone," he said. "I have a family and teach science at a junior high school in Salt Lake City. All those things take up all my time, but my soul wants to write all the time. So, forcing myself to live the day job is like the side of the superheroes you don’t hear about, you know?"
Wymore declined to name the school because he doesn’t want his career as an author to impact his students in a negative way.
"It’s not that I’m ashamed of it, I just don’t want the two worlds to overlap each other," he said.
The author is also an acquisitions editor at Curiosity Quill, the company that published "Theocracide."
"I was hired on after the company published the book, because, as you know, I had so much free time," Wymore laughed.
The writer said it is important for him to speak at school assemblies, because it helps students understand the different reading options that are available to them, and he has seen an over-saturation of young-adult books that are geared for girls.
"It’s true that boys read less and that’s an issue that needs to be addressed in the schools and in society, but for a long time, there was a cry in schools at how girls were not doing well in school," Wymore said. "They weren’t succeeding in math and they were dropping out more."
These days, girls are getting higher grades and have higher graduation rates, he said.
"So, now that we’ve steered in that way, we need to address the question, ‘Why aren’t boys reading books?’" Wymore said.
Part of this is because of the popularity of Stephanie Meyers’ "Twilight" series.
"Without giving opinions on that particular work, I believe the paranormal romance novel hitting the YA novels created a revolution and now the genre is saturated with these stories," Wymore said. "Every kind of creature in the world that has ever been thought of is now subject to romance. And that pushes boys away, because the books aren’t written for them, and they go play XBox."
Wymore said it would be great if another revolution geared toward boys popped up in young-adult fiction.
"It would need to be something with action and grit," he said. "That would be a good way to swing the pendulum back a little."
Author James Wymore will sign his new book "Theocracide" at Dolly’s Bookstore, 510 Main St., on Friday, March 29, from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. Admission is free. Earlier that day, he will give assemblies at Ecker Hill Middle School and the Weilenmann School of Discography. For more information, visit jameswymore.wordpress.com/appearances/
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