Monday, November 19, 2018

SHELTER ISLAND by John Paul Tucker

SHELTER ISLAND by John Paul Tucker, Middle Grade/Fantasy/Adventure, 224 pp., $14.95 (paperback) $2.99 (kindle)

Author: John Paul Tucker
Publisher: Brownridge Publishing
Pages: 224
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy Adventure

Thirteen-year-old Cary and his sister Clarisse must return home every
day after school to mind their eight year old brother, Gregory. “It’s a
non-negotiable,” insist their work-obsessed parents. There is another
problem. Clarisse and Gregory don’t like Cary much, and Cary doesn’t
much like anything, especially being tagged with his gummy-fingered
little brother. But their troubles are about to grow talons.

While bickering over the contents of a small, intricately embroidered
pouch, the siblings unintentionally summon three mail-clad birds, who
hasten their three young conscripts to Shelter Island, refuge to a long
divided realm hidden from the children’s homeland for hundreds of years.
Spotted above enemy territory, the small company is attacked. Clarisse
and Gregory escape to the caves of Husgard. Cary’s captors dispatch him
to Vangorfold, a centuries old stronghold sworn to Husgard’s
destruction. Entangled in a centuries old conflict, the children’s own
blur of problems comes into sharp focus, hastening the fortunes, for
good or ill, not only of a forgotten civilization of birds, but of the
children’s homeland.



Clarisse hovered over the tiny
artifact the same way
her parents would have
conducted their research. The letters
on the scroll were written in
the same spidery golden
threads of the embroidered
feather on the pouch.
            She hesitated to check a word.

            Three fair feathers travellers are,
            Bearing friends or foes afar.
            Bound together, by bearers three,
            Summons three bearers to bear ye.

            “It’s a riddle,” said Gregory, his eyebrows climbing with
each new revelation.
            “Maybe,” said Clarisse, who had recalled a passage
from a story she had read. “It
sounds more like an enchantment.”

John Paul Tucker holds degrees in Theatre
and Theology and has many years experience as an Ontario Certified English
Language Teacher, in addition to teaching mime, puppetry and Drama to teens and
children. His unique journey has furnished him with an eclectic head of ideas.
He is currently celebrating his 50th
article on,
an educational website he created for writers, featuring writing tips and
techniques harvested from the books we love to read. He has published poems in
the Toronto Sun, Little Trinity Print Magazine and Imago Arts
. His poem City Sidewalks won first prize in a Toronto
wide poetry contest. Two of his short stories, The Crooked Tree and The
Debt Collector
have each won a prize awarded by The Word Guild and The
Prescott Journal
respectively. You will find one of his fantasy
stories recently published in the popular Hot Apple Cider anthology Christmas
with Hot Apple Cider
. JP has been busy polishing up The Rooster and the
Raven King
& The Rise of the Crimson King, Books II & III of
The Song of Fridorfold trilogy, pursuing Cary, Clarisse and Gregory on
their fantastic adventures.

John Paul is excited to be putting the
final touches to his fourth novel, a YA fantasy inspired by the remarkable
storyteller, George MacDonald. Gather the latest news about JP’s upcoming
novels, enjoy a book trailer, dive into some free stories and poems, contribute
some art work, take a peek at some photos, or for no other reason drop by to
say hello at his official author website

John’s latest book is the middle grade
fantasy adventure, Shelter

Interview with John Paul Tucker

How did you come up with the name of this book?

Shelter Island was not the working title of the book. I originally titled it after a climatic scene three quarters of the way through the story, a threat which confronts a rebel stronghold on the Island, but the title was too obscure and a spoiler. After completing the book — actually, following many additional edits, Shelter Island emerged as the title, which like a pitcher, best held the book’s contents without spilling anything. Also, my publisher liked it.

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?

I read every day and my targeted material is varied. I love middle grade fantasy —everything from Charlotte’s Web to the works of Tolkien, Bradbury, Charles Williams and beyond. I also wade into adult literary fiction, plays (I have a past life in theatre!), and the works of a few poets simply for the joy of what words can do. I wanted to share that joy so I created, a free educational website for writers, highlighting fiction writing tips and techniques harvested from the books we love to read.  

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?

Silence — is there such a thing? I prefer silence but put up with a lot of ambient interference: the odd horn from traffic, the washing machine, raindrops on leaves (That’s a welcome one.)  I suppose silence is akin to the empty canvas for a painter or the silent slab of marble to the sculptor. But even then the artist hears the brush strokes and the hammer striking the chisel. So, I cannot avoid some measure of noise. Recently, construction sprung up in my neighborhood. I do enjoy hearing the odd hammering, sawing and workaday chatter. Perhaps it’s because we’re both making things.

What do you feel you can accomplish with this book?

After submitting my manuscript to an editor, he commented, You know you are bucking the trend here. I thought, I hope so. Shelter Island is a story for those readers, like the book’s protagonists Cary, Clarisse, and Gregory, who must look somewhere other than their own troubled hearts to find the courage they need to face extraordinary circumstances and enemies older, stronger and more cunning. A lot of children’s books beat the same feeble drum. Their message? Just dig deep enough, take charge of yourself, and everything will work out. Simply reach into your heart and you will find everything you need. That advice seems a naive sort of cure-all. What if one’s ‘heart’ should fail? What if he reaches into his heart and finds nothing but the ashes of regret and loneliness? Exploring the possibilities that arose from such questions made a strong contribution to Shelter Island.

What is your next project?

Happy you asked. Inspired by George MacDonald’s classic fairytales for adults, Lilith and Phantastes, my next novel is a Heroic Fantasy for ages 12 and up. Will Flint’s longing for his missing father ignites a dramatic and fateful quest into a mythical country in which the unseen things of the world have transformed into creatures of elemental power, a land in which one impulsive request transforms one realm and shatters another. It’s a little darker than my first books, but who doesn’t like to feel their heart thumping once in a while?

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