About Jon: Born early enough to remember rotary phones, typewriters, and the glory years of Atari, J.S. Lewis has lived a rather obscure life in the shadows of many nearly famous people.
A member of the Grey Griffins (a secret club of courageous children who have vowed to save the world from evil overlords, alien invasions and Brussels sprouts), Lewis grew up in the heartland of America. Yearning to become a marine biologist, but perplexed by the lack of exotic saltwater marine life in both Iowa and Minnesota (perch don’t count), he headed west. Sadly, his quest for the sea ended too soon, stranding him in the blustering desert of Arizona, where dreams of discovering new breeds of ferocious sharks were all but destroyed.
So it was, dejected and wandering like a drifting vagabond, that Lewis explored an eclectic career that would include news reporting, radio producing, animation, multi-media design, mural painting, speech writing, video game development and marketing.
Ever searching for new forms of creative expression, Lewis and boyhood friend Derek Benz sought to make their indelible mark through the written word. Thus from that collaboration was penned the Grey Griffins series by Scholastic, Inc.
Lewis is currently working on a variety of projects that include feature films, comic books, graphic novels, animated series, and a variety of philanthropic endeavors. You can learn more about his most recent adventures by visiting http://www.myspace.com/jonslewis.
Jon was kind enough to join us at Fire and Ice today to answer some exclusive questions about his newest series.
Tell us a little bit about the CHAOS series
The series is about how an alien invasion affects the life of sixteen year old Colt McAlister and his friends. It turns his life upside down, and forces him to make critical choices that will not only affect his life, but the lives of the people around him. It’s fast-paced from beginning to end, and will (hopefully) make it hard for readers to put down without having to read at least one more chapter . . . then one more chapter . . . then one more chapter. .
Have you started on book 2 yet? Any other books in the works? I’m working on it right now. This first story has a three book arc and then we’ll see from there . . . but you never know. It could end up like Star Wars will all kinds of spin-offs investigating fun worlds and interesting characters.
Invasion has large comic book influences. What are your favorite comics? I grew up on comic books and still love them today. I really appreciate the visual storytelling as well as the limited space for text — it’s not easy to write a story that’s only about 2000 words long and have a compelling beginning, middle and end. My favorite comic book is Fantastic Four, but I tend to follow particular writers or artists, like Phil Hester, Jonathan Hickman, Rick Remender, and many others.
And, why did you incorporate the Phantom Flyer into the book?
I thought it would be interesting if one of the pulp heroes, like The Spirit or Doc Savage was actually real. So I came up with a war hero from that same era that flew around on a jet pack.
What book has been the biggest influence on your life and why? I’d say the novel that had the biggest effect on me was The Hobbit. I first read the picture book when I was six and I was hooked on the idea of other exciting worlds just waiting to be explored.
What are you reading right now? Right now I’m reading Water Wars by Cameron Stracher, and I recently finished Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, which was incredible. I really dig dystopian stories. There’s something about that who end of the world scenario that I really enjoy, which doesn’t make a lot of sense since it’s such a dark, sad subject.
Are there any authors that you would name as influences? Well, I’m not sure anyone has influenced my writing directly — more my imagination. That would be George Lucas, Stan Lee, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Maurice Sendak.
What songs do you envision playing through out Invasion? I actually had a mix of songs for different characters and different scenes, but here are a few of the songs: Wake Up by Arcadia Fire, Intergalactic by the Beastie Boys, My Last Days On Earth by Bill Monroe, Life in Fast Forward by CATCHpenny, Find Me Tonight by Everyday Sunday, Ooh Aah by Grits, Stars by Switchfoot, Graveyard Girl by M83, and Last Night on Earth by U2.
As a child were you drawn to fantasy or mythical creatures like bigfoot? Which creature do you hope to meet? Yes. Very much so. If I could meet anyone, it would be Chewbacca. And I’m happy to say that I have — I had dinner with Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and his wife. In fact, I dedicated an upcoming book called The Relic Hunters to him.
What can we expect to see in book 2, without spoiling anything of course!
Colt is off to the CHAOS Academy where he is going to be trained to save the world against the coming Invasion, but things go sideways — and not just at the academy. Colt has relationship problems of the worst kind! And there will be lots of interesting conspiracies, tons of action, and most of all, it will be fun to read.
Do you have any photos of the setting? I don’t have photos, but I do have some amazing concept art (beyond what’s in the back of the book). The artists are off the charts amazing! http://www.jonslewis.com/art/invasion/
Your main character Colt loses both of his parents. What advice would you give to teens in a similar circumstance or who have lost a parent? Wow. The closest thing in my life to that was a very close friend of mine passed away. He was a mentor, and his children were in high school at the time. As close as I am to their family, I still can’t imagine what it would be like. I feel completely unqualified to give advice, but I would say that remembering the good times is critical — as are the life lessons. When people leave us, they often leave behind an amazing legacy.
Thanks so much to Jon for taking time out of his busy schedule to be with us. Read our review of Invasion here and be sure to watch for it at your nearest bookstore!