Today we are very excited to share an interview with Author Tony Peckham (Children of the Black Glass)!
Meet the Author: Tony Peckham
Tony Peckham is a South African–born screenwriter, surfer, and farmer who now lives on an island in the Pacific. Decades ago, while exploring a remote, high-altitude landscape with his children, he came upon a mountain made of black glass. This story began that day. His other work includes Clint Eastwood’s Invictus and Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. He is a Writers Guild of America Award winner and an NAACP Image Award nominee. Children of the Black Glass is his novel-writing debut.
About the Book: Children of the Black Glass
Howl’s Moving Castle meets Neil Gaiman in this middle grade fantasy, set in a world as mesmerizing as it is menacing, following children on a quest to save their father who get embroiled in the sinister agendas of rival sorcerers.
In an unkind alternate past, somewhere between the Stone Age and a Metal Age, Tell and his sister Wren live in a small mountain village that makes its living off black glass mines and runs on brutal laws. When their father is blinded in a mining accident, the law dictates he has thirty days to regain his sight and be capable of working at the same level as before or be put to death.
Faced with this dire future, Tell and Wren make the forbidden treacherous journey to the legendary city of Halfway, halfway down the mountain, to trade their father’s haul of the valuable black glass for the medicine to cure him. The city, ruled by five powerful female sorcerers, at first dazzles the siblings. But beneath Halfway’s glittery surface seethes ambition, violence, prejudice, blackmail, and impending chaos.
Without knowing it, Tell and Wren have walked straight into a sorcerers’ coup. Over the next twelve days they must scramble first to save themselves, then their new friends, as allegiances shift and prejudices crack open to show who has true power.
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YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write Children of the Black Glass?
The seeds of CBG were planted on a family road trip to the eastern Sierra mountain range in California, where we stumbled on a deposit of obsidian high up in snow country. A few months later, a friend found an ancient arrowhead made from the same obsidian on a beach over 200 miles away! My young kids asked: “How did it get here?” Since I didn’t know the answer, I made one up. And so began CBG.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in Children of the Black Glass?
Lilit, Wren and Tell’s VERY ambiguous and dangerous mother, is my favorite. Mothers are automatically expected to submerge themselves in the raising of their children, and Lilit definitely does not. We never know how Lilit will react to something, and nor does she.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The title floated to the surface sometime early during the writing of the novel.
YABC: What scene in Children of the Black Glass are you most proud of, and why?
The short scene early on when Tell decides to defy Hammerhead and the rules of his village, and save his family by risking everything, is a favorite. It shows someone growing up in an instant, by honoring his own deepest instincts and feelings. And it shows how much courage that takes.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
It’s taken a long time, because we always seek the approval of others, but I’ve finally learned to trust myself – my ideas, my reactions, my methods – as a writer.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2023?
Alex, please help!
YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?
“Hatchet.” For the third time. RIP Gary Paulson.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
Some movie work, and then book 2, which I’m really looking forward to.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
The scene where Tell and Wren discover that their mother is still alive … and that she’s not too pleased to see them.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing Children of the Black Glass?
There’s an old saying: “You love your most difficult children the most.” That would be Lilit.
YABC: What is the main message or lesson you would like your reader to remember from Children of the Black Glass?
That society’s rules always benefit those making them. Changing the rules takes courage, action and integrity.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
Pacific Wildlife Care, a wonderful organization that rescues, rehabilitates and releases wild creatures in Central California.
YABC: What advice do you have for new writers?
Read. And then read some more. Read something you love more than once (knowing that you will never be able to read it for the first time, again.) Also, find a story you love – something short – and type it out, word for word, punctuation and all. This will teach your hands what it feels like to make a good piece of writing, which is very important.
YABC: Is there anything that you would like to add?
This book was inspired by the courageous kids I see all over the world, making a difference in politics, environmental issues, social work and more. CBG is a tribute to them, and a way of saying “Please don’t stop!”
Title: CHILDREN OF THE BLACK GLASS
Author: Tony Peckham
Release Date: 3/7/23
Publisher: ATHENEUM YOUNG READERS
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Age Range: 8-12