Extraordinary Sam & The Adventurer’s Guild is a fun, action-packed novel that’s a great summertime read for middle graders. We caught up with Kevin and asked him about his enthusiasm for adventure stories.
Middle Grade Mafia: Have you found that the book is most popular with a certain group of readers?
Kevin Springer: When writing Extraordinary Sam, I didn’t think about writing for a specific group. I wanted to create a story that is relatable to whoever picks it up. My reviews have been from kids as young as six and even a group from a senior care center. There have been parents of kids who have written me to tell me that their child enjoyed it, so they picked it up and loved it just as much as their kid.
MGM: For those who haven’t read it yet, what other books/movies would draw a comparison to Extraordinary Sam?
KS: There have been many stories written about kids being transported into a different world and have to overcome obstacles to get home (it fits very well within the Hero’s Journey construct). So, if you enjoy a good adventure book, you will feel right at home reading Sam. As for movies, I found inspiration in a few places. There is a little bit of Secret Life of Walter Mitty, with a dash of the TV show from the 80’s, Quantum Leap, and a sprinkling of Pirates of the Caribbean and Treasure Island. I named the realm Sam travels to Ashling, an Irish Gaelic name meaning dream or vision.
MGM: After the initial release, it is up to the author to continue promoting their book. What have you felt has worked best for you?
KS: Over the past year, I’ve made it a priority to get school visits. Being in front of my target readers is the best place to create buzz about the book. I have also tried to get my name out there by being active in my regional chapter of SCBWI, contributing to a group blog, and volunteering to be a mentor for Pitch Wars. I have to admit, I have started up conversations with parents that are with MG age kids that are carrying a book or talking about reading. In some ways, I am like a proud parent who talks about their kid’s piano recital, but less pushy and annoying (I hope). I’ve learned I can’t be afraid to put myself out there and talk about my book.
MGM: What was the best feedback you received from a reader?
KS: I have received some amazing feedback from readers. Probably the best is a parent who wrote me to tell me that their kid snuck a flashlight into bed and stayed up until 2:30 am to finish the book. What made it even more special was that this was a kid who “usually doesn’t like to read.”
During school visits, kids always ask when the movie is coming out. That is a huge compliment since I aimed to have the book play like a movie in the readers mind. I am a very visual person and tried to create a world kids could get sucked into along with Sam.
MGM: When can we expect the much anticipated sequel?
KS: I am on the final stages of the first draft of the second book (Extraordinary Sam & the Curse of the Mind Master) and hope to have edits completed in the fall. If all goes as planned, release should be early 2017.