As a writer, I hold in high regard—and higher awe—authors who pen “epic fantasies.” Whether it's Harry Potter, where wizards and strange creatures live in the shadows among the rest of us, or Game Of Thrones, with sorcery and treachery and dragons, the level of sheer imagination involved in their creation is mind-boggling. Central to any fantasy novel is the concept of “world building.”
When setting a book in a place that doesn’t exist, the author must ask: What does their world look like? What do their people look like? What happens in their world that can't happen in ours?
The answers, no doubt, are more intriguing than the questions themselves, and to me seem like half the fun of writing an epic fantasy.
The Extraordinary eTab Of Julian Newcomber may not be “epic.” After all, Julian’s “world” looks a lot like Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where my family and I live. Likewise, many of the people populating Julian's world resemble the folks around here.
But some fantastic things do happen in Julian’s world.
First, imagine what Julian's house must look like. The book introduces us to a few of his father's crazy inventions like “The Attention Getter,” which is supposed to (we can only assume) produce an attention-getting sound, but succeeds only in propagating a regional blackout. Or “No Squeak,” meant to stop the old floors of the Newcomber home from groaning in protest, but which manages to give Julian temporary Spiderman powers. And who knows what else is tucked away in a cabinet, under the stairs, or hidden beneath his father's workbench, just waiting for its own adventure?
Let's not forget the eTab itself, a mysterious device as flat as a piece of piece of paper, light and flexible enough to roll up and fly like a paper airplane, and yet capable of reorienting the neighbor’s satellite dish. Oh, and sending people through time and, to a certain inexplicable extent, place.
Speaking of places...
Upon deeper inspection, Whispering Falls does seem like a unique little town, with stores like Mr. Wiggles Slinky Shoppe and Gronkowski’s Groceries & Greetings, where Mr. and/or Mrs. Gronkowski always manage to greet each and every person who walks through the door.
And speaking of the people…
The environs of Whispering Falls are populated by some pretty out-there folks. Look no farther than Julian’s antagonist, Biff Masterson, the human eclipse with size-nine shoes and breath like microwaved bacon. Or middle school science teacher Mr. Nitro, whose science experiments gone awry have been known to result in an overnight jungle (complete with spider monkey) sprouting up in his lab.
So perhaps The Extraordinary eTab Of Julian Newcomber is epic. Just a little.
Epic or not, I hope readers and joy their time in Julian's world as much as I enjoyed creating it.