This is one of those OMG moments in my life as a publicist at Scholastic. I was recently asked if I wanted to blog an OOM interview with author Bruce Coville whose book The Last Hunt – the finale to the Unicorn Chronicles series was just released this month. I mean, we all have our *squee!* authors like Morgan *squees!* Ann M. Martin. Bruce is definitely one of my *squees!* as I grew up with his books including one of my all-time favorite books in life, Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher!
I can’t believe the Unicorn Chronicles series has finally come to a conclusion after more than a decade! I even remember ordering the first novel of the series, Into the Land of the Unicorns from Scholastic Book Clubs back when I was in middle school. The cover was a bit different, but surely you recognize it too (pictured at right).
I can’t wait to read the books again, but I couldn’t help wonder, how does Bruce feel after writing this epic series? It must have been quite emotional.
So this was my opportunity to ask THE man himself some Barber Walters-esque questions. Enjoy the Q&A below and make sure you read all four books in the Unicorn Chronicles series including, Into the Land of the Unicorns, Song of the Wanderer, Dark Whispers and finally, The Last Hunt!
Me: What was your biggest challenge in writing the conclusion of The Unicorn Chronicles series?
Bruce: Actually, there were two big things that I struggled with. The first was that the story had become so big (far bigger than I had anticipated back when I began!) and had so many strands that needed to come together to make a satisfactory conclusion that it sometimes seemed impossible. But I knew it was important to finish the current storyline with this volume – heck, some people had been waiting sixteen years to see how it all came out, which seemed quite long enough! So I also knew I had to answer all the questions. Just getting everyone in the same place for the grand finale was a challenge.
The second issue relates to that time gap between Book I and Book IV. Because so many readers had been waiting so faithfully (if not always patiently!) for this last volume, and because the letters I receive about the series are so passionate, I felt a huge internal pressure to make sure I really delivered. I was terrified of letting the fans down, and wanted to create something that would live up to their expectations.
Me: How did you feel when you finished writing The Last Hunt?
Bruce: I actually finished writing the first full draft in the middle of the night in a hotel room in Bangladesh, where I had gone for a speaking engagement. I wept when I wrote the final sequence, not because I was sad to be done, but because I was so personally moved by what happened to some of the characters. (Okay, so I’m a sucker for my own writing. But if it doesn’t move me, why should I expect it to mean anything to my readers?)
Beyond that, I also felt an enormous sense of relief. Writing those final words was like finally making good on a long-overdue promise. There was not a day between the time I finished SONG OF THE WANDERER and the time I finished THE LAST HUNT that I was not keenly aware that I needed to bring the series to a conclusion. Of course that night in Bangladesh I knew I still had a lot of work to do. But I also knew that, at last, I had a book!
Me: I’ve read that you’ve had jobs as a toymaker and even a gravedigger! Have these jobs influenced your writing?
Well, I used to get great story ideas while I was digging graves. That kind of work – something you’re doing that keeps your hands busy but only occupies a small part of your mind – is excellent for creative thinking. I actually have one book, The Ghost Wore Gray, that has two kids digging up a grave. I can honestly claim to have done my research for that one!
Probably the biggest impact any job has had on my writing came from the seven years I spent as an elementary school teacher. I draw on that time in my life constantly when I am writing about kids.
Me: You’ve written about magical unicorns (not that there’s such a thing as an ordinary unicorn) and dragons too. If you could be any mythical creature, what would you be?
Oooh, good question! Lemme think for a minute (pause for thinking) . . . OK, I’m back.
It’s a tough choice, and it depends partly on how you think a given creature really lives. For example: are unicorns intelligent and capable of language, as in The Unicorn Chronicles? Or are they – as in most of the original tales – beautiful and magical, but no more intelligent than other animals?
With that in mind, I think I’d like to be a merman. Living under the sea would be amazing. Plus, I would have other merfolk to hang out with. Of course, I don’t know what I would do for coffee . . . Even so, I think that’s what I would go with.
Me: What are you working on now that you’ve finished a whole series?
Bruce: I’m trying to catch up on all the books I was supposed to that kept getting set aside while Dark Whispers and The Last Hunt kept getting longer and longer . . . and longer!
Plus trying to talk my editor into doing some more books about Luster . . .
THANKS BRUCE AND CONGRATS! Also, as a bonus, you can watch Bruce working on the audiobook version of The Last Hunt in his recording studio:
Previously On Our Minds:
* Gaga for Ga’Hoole
* The Truth About…The Baby-sitters Club
* What would you give up to help send books to kids in need?