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Interview: October 2010

October 2008

G. P. Taylor, bestselling author of SHADOWMANCER and WORMWOOD, recently published THE FIRST ESCAPE, book one of The Dopple Ganger Chronicles.

In this interview with Teenreads.com's Michele Howe, Taylor discusses what inspired him to create the book in a new format called the "illustra-novella" --- a combination of graphic novels and illustrated plain text --- and explains the real-life influences behind the main characters. He also describes where he sees the series going in future installments and shares what he hopes young readers will take away from his work.

Teenreads.com: After having such tremendous success with your previous novels, what made you want to venture out in the yet unproven "illustra-novella" format with The Dopple Ganger Chronicles?

G. P. Taylor: I have such a great desire to inspire children to read. The first e-mail I got following the release of THE FIRST ESCAPE was from a woman in Wisconsin who told me that her 8- and 11-year-old boys had both “devoured” the book and wanted to know when the next one was coming out. That is what I wanted to do --- get kids and teens devouring books.

TRC: Does it feel somewhat risky creating and developing a storyline that is partly pictorial and partly text?

GPT: We live in a visual world. Switch on a computer, surf the net, and all you will find is image-supported reading. This is what the publishing trade should have been doing years ago. It is so hard for children to go from a game console to a book and be expected to read. We need strong visuals to support good stories.

TRC: Are there any unique challenges in communicating both the storyline and its deeper message, given the way in which this text is presented to the reader?

GPT: I think it is easier to put over a strong mesage when you use pictures as well as text. Images are so important to the brain, especially in young people; that is why games stations are so popular and music videos such a hit --- they add to the game and the song. That’s what I wanted to do with The Dopple Ganger Chronicles.

TRC: Considering the practicalities of writing this type of book, was it easier or more difficult to write?

GPT: The second book was harder to write than the first as I wrote the art adaptation and the text at the same time. It meant I was thinking all the time in pictures. I really loved it, because I grew up with movies and always think I am planning a movie when I write a book. I am constantly thinking of the visual when writing. It was an amazing adventure. 

TRC: The storyline and its main characters are completely engaging. Did you base the three teen protagonists on real-life kids?

GPT: I base all my characters on people I meet. Sadie and Saskia are two twins I know with a bit of some other people thrown in. I got the name Saskia from an actress at my local theatre.

TRC: How important do you believe it is to draw out the genuine feelings/emotions and struggles of your characters so they are not only relatable to readers, but so your fans will learn from these fictional characters' choices and decisions?

GPT: "Friends" was a big hit in the USA. The story is quite simple; it is about the everyday life of a bunch of people. That is what people like. With my books I throw in a lot of adventure plus interesting and intriguing characters, and that is the hot sauce for a good book.

TRC: There is a strong element of comedic effect as to how the characters, both the good and the bad ones, relate to one another. Do you believe this intentional use of humorous dialogue stays with readers longer than a purely serious message?

GPT: I love thriller films --- especially Bruce Willis action movies. He is a great actor for bringing in comedy at a point of friction or fear. I try to do the same in The Dopple Ganger Chronicles. It takes off the heat when the plot is tense, and after all, some villains do really stupid things, and some heroes look crazy with their shorts over their pants --- right, Batman?

TRC: What should readers take away from Saskia's interaction with Madame Raphael?

GPT: I have become known as the “new C. S. Lewis” --- a title I was given a couple of years ago. I want people to explore within themselves what it means to be taking up some space on this planet we call earth. What does it mean to be human in relationships --- happy? sad? fearful? What is life for and what happens at the end of it? Many writers look at the same themes. Saskia and Madame Raphael have an important relationship in developing that: what is it all about?

TRC: Will the characters you've set the story stage for in THE FIRST ESCAPE continue to be developed throughout the subsequent books in this series?

GPT: Like all good characters, they grow, change and transform. We all do that as we get older. Erik is already changing, and in book two life will certainly have some surprises for him. The twins will face more challenges, and I have a new hero called Dorcas Potts --- a 24-year-old sassy American detective who makes Lara Croft look like a school cook. The action gets hotter and the adventure even more tense. In book three, we will see some life-changing and possibly life-threatening experiences. Hold on to your seats.

TRC: Can readers expect to find more revealed about the Dopple twins' past, and will Erik learn the truth about his own abandonment?

GPT: The twins and Erik will find clues as to why they had been abandoned. It may not be to their liking. The search for parents continues, but as in life, it may or may not lead to a happy ending.

TRC: Some series begin with a more lighthearted approach to spiritual topics and then build in intensity with the titles that follow. Will this prove true with The Dopple Ganger Chronicles?

GPT: I think we have found a balance that suits people who have no faith and those who do. The relationship with Madame Raphael is a key thing. I think you can combine spirituality without making it preachy.

TRC: Do you have all six books in the series planned and organized before you begin the writing process?

GPT: I leave a lot of the creative process open to “the Companion.” He is there to guide me and push me through life. It's very much a wait-and-see process. I am usually writing three things at once, and at the moment I am composing a film script.

TRC: How much interaction do you have with your illustrator? Is there much "give and take" as you both visualize the final product?

GPT: I am very much leave-it-to-them. There is a great team at Tyndale that I trust completely. The new character drawings I’ve seen for book two are amazing. They are just how I saw the characters and less square than in book one --- totally incredible.

TRC: If you could impart a single thought about discovering faith in a world of sorrow and disappointment through your storytelling, what would you like to tell your readers?

GPT: I have had my portion of suffering in this life, and all I would like to impart is that regardless of my current situation, I know there is a God who loves me just as I am and is there for me as a Savior and Father.

TRC: What are you working on now, and when might readers expect to see it?

GPT: So much is happening. I am working on book three of The Dopple Ganger Chronicles. I am also working on the other books I release in the UK as well as visiting schools and keeping up with reader e-mails. My address is shadowmancer@btinternet.com if you want to get in touch.