You have written many children's books. Do you find it more difficult to write for children than adults? Which do you enjoy doing more?
Great question. Itís far more difficult writing for children. When I write for kids, Iím never completely sure what will resonate with them, because, alas, it has been many years (decades) since I was one myself. I still demand of myself that my plots for kids are complex and contain surprise twists, but for an adult book I can totally let myself go with respect to the complexity and sophistication of both concepts and sentences. When I wrote my first kids book, I had no idea it would be so popular with adults. After I discovered it was, I tried to make sure each successive book would appeal to both kids and adults alike, which makes things even more challenging.
Are you working on another book now? If so, could you tell us a bit about it?
As a matter of fact, I just finished the first draft, and Iím very happy with it. This one is a not in the WIRED/AMPED universe, but like these books, I made sure it had a complex plot, lots of action, thought-provoking concepts, and that it touched upon religion, philosophy, ethics, and the nature of humankind. Also, it has another remarkable woman at the heart of it. Iím not sure why women seem to play the biggest roles in my adult thrillers, but for some reason this has been the case with all three that Iíve written.
What new doors has your writing opened up for you? Were there any opportunities that you had never considered before?
Actually, yes. I already mentioned being invited to speak at Comic-Con, which was a huge thrill. To be a special guest along with the likes of Ray Bradbury and Stan Lee was totally surreal. In addition, an editor at National Geographic KIDS magazine read my first kids book, loved it, and asked me to try my hand at writing for the magazine. I ended up doing thirteen feature stories for NG KIDS, which has a readership in the millions, and my pieces have been translated into a dozen languages in sixteen countries.
Do you ever become bored with what you are writing? If you do, how do you get past that point?
Never bored, but sometimes frustrated. When I donít have a good handle on a scene it can be very painful to slog along until it begins to crystallize.
What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I read a lot of non-fiction books to plant knowledge in my brain for possible future use, including books on physics, philosophy, ethics, etc. With respect to fiction, I pretty much read what I like to write: science fiction and technothrillers.
How do you manage to balance your time between family, friends, and writing?
It isnít easy. I wish there were two of me. But in the end, I always remind myself that friends and family have to come first, and force myself to act accordingly.
If you could spend one hour with just one person (dead or alive), whom would you choose? Why?
This may seem obvious, but Albert Einstein. I recently read a biography of Einstein, and his story is amazing. Working as a full time patent clerk, he totally revolutionized the way we see the universe.
Do you have any advice for writers who are striving to be published?
People have long advised writers to write what they know. Iíd modify this to, write what you have a passion to write about, whether you know it or not. Whatever you donít know, you can Google and learn. Iíd add that if youíre passionate about a story, donít talk yourself out of it because something in the same vein has already been done. How many different vampire and dragon novels have been written in the past hundred years? Yet there is always room for one more ó as long as you tell a compelling, well-written story.
Thank you, Mr. Richards, for such a wonderful interview. Amped, as well as any other book you write, is definitely been added to my list of books to read.