Interview with Jon Thomason, author of Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud (Giveaway)


Jon Thomason lives with his family in San Diego, after many years in the beautiful Seattle area. He has a successful career in high tech where he’s been fortunate enough to participate in many big-name industry releases.

Storytelling permeates everything he does. In the moments when Jon is not helping build the story of the tech world, he can almost always be found working on a project: writing, photography, videography, graphics design, or 3D art.

And he’s always careful to conceal his jinni magic abilities, though perhaps might slip one day and be discovered…

You can join the conversation with him at or on Twitter at @jonthomason.

Thank you for joining us today, Jon. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I’m thrilled to be able to call myself a writer. People would ask, and I had a hard time saying it until the novel was real. Finished. And now it is!

I have a successful career in the high tech industry, where I’ve been able to use my creative side more than you’d stereotypically think. But books have always been a passion for me, as is storytelling. I’ve written a number of stories over the years, but this is my first attempt at novel-length fiction.

I’ve never shaken the feeling of being a kid. I’ve always asked myself, “when exactly do I grow up?” 

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I don’t remember exactly, but it was very young. My mother taught me to read at an exceptionally young age, and I have always read anything and everything I could get my hands on. Perhaps it’s ego, but I would say to myself, “I could do this.” So, I’d write my own stories. But it wasn’t until I took some extended time off work that I got serious and tackled something novel-length. 

Why did you decide to write stories for this market?

Like I mentioned, I have never been able to escape the feeling of being a kid. So, writing where I could pretend to still be one is the most natural thing ever. 

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

My favorite part of writing for middle grade is that you can add in some goofy things that would make a kid laugh. The book doesn’t have to be so terribly serious and uptight. The biggest challenge for me is restricting vocabulary and making sure the concepts don’t go over the head of the middle grade reader. What I try to do is make sure that the story elements are layered. The lower-end of the middle grade readers see one level, but the upper end (and adults) see something deeper. That’s what I strive to do across the board to span the range of readers. 

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

Shhh! I shouldn’t tell you this, Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud is not fiction. They got to it and spun everything I wrote to sound like a novel, but it’s not. It’s all true. I’ve been there. To Zumuruud, that is. I can’t tell you much about it here, but it blows your mind.

I’ve met Max. She’s good-hearted, but don’t get on her bad side! I saw Philip once on his skatecarpet getting chased by some men in long black coats, but I bolted. I want nothing to do with that action.

In real life, people think of me as your average, boring, high-tech engineer. Little do they know of my secrets.

I’m just afraid one day I’ll slip and my jinni powers will be discovered…and I’ll be taken and experimented on by the guys in white coats and long syringes. Gulp.

Just read the book. It will explain everything. And remember: shhh!  

What inspired you to write it? max

I am a vivid daydreamer. I have loved to read from quite a young age and always imagined what it would be like to be able to do magic–really do the magic. What would it feel like to make something across the room move? Or what would it be like to play a trick on an unsuspecting classmate? While I love creatively constructed worlds, I’m generally more interested in things happening just next door. The idea of intrigue and conspiracy and hidden things fascinate me. Might there be a shadowy group pulling the strings somewhere? Powerful people behind the scenes? And then one of our children had a form of leukemia as a child, and the powerlessness of this gave way to the idea of good from evil, and of being transformed. I’m also well acquainted with anger management issues of the teen female, and contrite, bland dialogue, just doesn’t work. Throw in some cynical sarcasm from our villain, and the story just poured out. 

Where can readers purchase a copy?

Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud is available on both as a paperback and as an Amazon Kindle e-book. An easy way to find it is to go to

 What is up next for you?

I’m already working on the sequel to Max. I can’t share the title yet, but suffice it to say that while the story wound down at the end of the first book, there are many more adventures remaining for Max, Aaron, and Brynn. And don’t think Philip is out of the picture yet, even though he might seem to be… 

Do you have anything else to add?

It’s so energizing hearing all the positive feedback! The reason I like to write is to be able to share stories with other people, and to hear that people actually like the story and are begging for the sequel makes me feel great and propels the work on the remainder of the trilogy. 

Thank you for spending time with us today, Jon. We wish you much success.

And thank you for listening and for the opportunity to share my book with your readers!


GIVEAWAY! Visit the book’s tour page at for details on how you can enter to win great prizes!


max tour

Interview with Glen Strathy, Author of Dancing on the Inside

 Glen C. Strathy started writing stories when he was 11 years old and too shy to have a life.  He eventually found a life when he started acting in community theatre and met other writers, actors, dancers, and artists.  He discovered that the best thing about performing arts (and other arts too) is that they give people more freedom to be who they want to be.  After spending time as an actor, teacher, and freelance writer, he returned to his first love, fiction and wrote Dancing on the Inside, a novel for ages 9-12.

Glen earned an M.A. in English from the University of Western Ontario, and graduated from the Artist in Community Education program at Queen’s University, Kingston. He co-authored two non-fiction books, one of which (The Coming Economic Collapse, Warner Business Books, 2006) became a New York Times Bestselling Business Book.  He belongs to the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). His website provides advice to budding authors.

Glen lives with his wife, fellow writer Kaitlin Rainey, and their daughter in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

You can visit his website at  Visit him on Twitter at and Facebook at

Joining us today is Glen C. Strathy, author of Dancing on the Inside. This is a children’s book geared toward ages 9-12.

Welcome to The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection, Glen. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I grew up in London, Ontario, Canada, though I live in Kingston now. I’ve always had a passion for stories and the performing arts. But it’s only within the last decade or so that I started making a living as a writer.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

When I was in grade 4 I started writing science fiction stories in school. Science fiction was just about all I read at that time. By age 11, I had taught myself to type on my father’s old manual typewriter and was spending a lot of evenings writing.

I got distracted from writing as a teenager when I discovered I liked acting. I did a lot of community theatre as well as professional, non-union shows, and that took up much of my spare time. So for a long time my writing consisted mainly of bad poetry, theatre reviews, and academic papers for school.

Around the turn of the century, I started doing commercial writing for money, and that led to my co-authoring a couple of business books, one of which became a New York Times Bestseller.

Why did you decide to write stories for children?

I never really gave up my ambition to write fiction. It was just on hold for a long time. Then I had the idea for Dancing on the Inside and I felt I just had to write it. I didn’t set out to write children’s books. That’s just what this particular book happened to be.

Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

It’s hard to write fiction for any audience. Every genre has its challenges. Even picture books, which everyone thinks are easy because they’re short, are hard to write because they must be so concise while still telling a satisfying story.

What is your favorite part of writing for young people?

You have to be passionate about whatever you are writing, otherwise it’s just thankless work. There are still parts of Dancing on the Inside that I can’t read without being emotionally affected – even though I wrote the book and have gone over the words many, many times.

But what’s even better is finding out that other people were moved by your words. Hearing a positive comment by a reader or finding out that you inspired someone is the best possible reward.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

Dancing on the Inside tells the story of a very special girl named Jenny Spark. She’s smart, creative, and has a passion for ballet. Unfortunately, she also is incredibly shy. More than shy, actually. She suffers from social anxiety so bad that she can’t take a ballet class without suffering a panic attack.

But Jenny refuses to give up on her dream. So she has to find other ways to stay a part of the dance school. Eventually, it’s discovered that she has an amazing gift for creating dance, and she goes on to choreograph an original ballet.

What inspired you to write it?

The idea came from an experience my own daughter had when she was just four years old. She wanted to take dance lessons, but she preferred to sit and watch the others rather than participate in class herself. The struggle between wanting something but being held back by something inside you struck me as an interesting premise. So in creating Jenny Spark I exaggerated this tension. I made Jenny not just fond of dance but a dance genius. I made her anxiety much worse. And I made her older so that she could do some amazing things a four-year-old couldn’t.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

Dancing on the Inside is available through:

Barnes and Noble


… and other online retailers.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

You can find out more about the book at

If you’re a budding writer, I also have a website that offers writing tips called

What is up next for you?

I have several ideas I’m working on for other middle-grade novels (including a sequel to Dancing on the Inside), as well as some non-fiction books.

Thank you for spending time with us today, Glen. We wish you much success.


Video Trailer for The Crypto-Capers

Back when Renee Hand toured with Pump Up Your Book Promotion to discuss her new interactive children’s detective series, The Crypto-Capers, I created a video trailer to help promote these great books.  You’ll find reviews of Book 1 and Book 2 on this blog. 

You can visit Renee online at her website or check out her new Crypto-Capers blog.  I believe a new Crypto-Capers book is due out sometime in the fall.