“What If?” by Jeffrey M. Daniels is a beautiful and charming book with an excellent main character. Jeremy Shuttle is clever and quick witted but that isn’t always enough to escape bullies and other problems.
He is a likeable character and his main talent is drawing. One day he receives a notebook which has the power to bring anything he draws to life. This discovery brings a lot of fun and adventure with it, but also some deeper and thoughtful notes.
I found the book hugely enjoyable. All characters are drawn very well and don’t resort to black and white stereotypes and predictability. I would certainly love for my nieces to read this young adult fantasy book and chose Jeremy as role model over any other books in the genre.
The first in the series, the book leaves a few questions open and scope for great things to come.
Here is my interview with Jeffrey:
How did you come to writing?
I’ve been writing since I was old enough to read. I used to make my own comic books (drawing and filling in the word balloons). After that, it was all downhill…er…uphill? Eh, this wordsmithing is tough.
How did you come up with your stories?
Usually, my story ideas come up somewhere in the bathroom (if it makes it less queasy for you, think showering or shaving). The outline and story arc for Jeremy Shuttle Adventures came to me during the last few mindless years in Corporate America.
You have created great characters. Which one is your favourite?
People closest to me think Jeremy is modelled after me, but it’s really Mitch the Ant, the pipsqueak, wisecracking, know-it-all who I like the best (and just might really be me). I’m also proud of Natalie, the smart, sensible girl who keeps saving Jeremy’s bacon.
Were the plot and subplots completely planned from the start or did they change during the process, and if so, how?
The characters pretty much took control of the writing from me early on; I was only there for the typing and buying toner for the printer. A number of plot points pivoted during the writing, including the shopkeeper and the nature of the “other” behind Jeremy’s travails.
What is your main reason for writing?
Enjoyment. Doubly so, when others share the feeling.
I‘ve only read one of the books so far. What is the idea behind your series?
It’s a little about growing up and a little about the freedom of dreams and the danger if they actually come true.
What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?
Writing is art with words. When the words blend and mix perfectly, it is breath-taking to behold. When the words clash or run…well, I don’t have enough hair left on my head to pull, anymore.
Play tennis, read, draw, spend time with family, cook.
Tell us one odd thing about you and one really mundane thing.
This will capture both: I won’t wear any new clothes before washing them. This includes socks.
What else would you like us to know about yourself and your books?
I love words. Writing is one expression of my love. My books are written to be enjoyed, young and old.
How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?
I am at war with my appreciation and frustration with self-publishing. It allows me the freedom to release my books to a wider audience without delay but forces a huge burden of skills onto me that are not within my competency (marketing, for one).
What is your advice to new writers?
Write. Read. Write. Don’t fall in love with any words or ideas but don’t move on before you’re sure you’ve explored your story fully.
Who are your favourite authors?
I’ll only list one, since there are many, but Jack Vance is my favorite all-time. His word craft, in dialog and description, is gorgeous.
What makes you laugh?
This will confuse you: everything. My Dad wishes I laughed less. What a weird concept (especially since he’s the one who gave my sense of humor its start).
How do you handle criticism of your work?
I curl into a ball and sob. Four seconds later, I move on.