Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Authors Pick Five: Ryan Jacobson

Today I'm reviewing, as part of a blog tour, this fun little choose your own adventure book called Can You Survive Jack London's Call of the Wild by Ryan Jacobson. (See my review here.) As part of that tour I've asked the author my favorite author question:

What five books are most important or influential to you? 

Here is what he had to say:

Five books? Important and influential? Wow, good question. Okay [deep breath], here goes:

Batman vs. the Incredible Hulk (DC Special Series #27)
Yes, I know, it’s a comic book—er, actually, graphic novel—but comic books count. Right? Well, it’s my list, and I say they do. If there’s one book that got me reading as a child, this was it. Thanks to their respective TV shows, Batman and the Hulk were my two favorite superheroes back in 1981. I read this graphic novel so many times that it literally fell apart; my mom had to buy me a second one. I like to credit comic books for teaching me about story pacing and cliffhanger endings.

Daredevil #208: The Deadliest Night of My Life
Three years later, I discovered my other favorite childhood comic book. (Why, yes, I was a reluctant reader/comic book nerd. Thank you for asking.) I absolutely loved watching the superhero escape booby trap after booby trap. I didn’t know it at the time, but it may have been my most important lesson about plot: goal vs. conflict. Daredevil is a character on a mission (survive!), but his problems keep getting worse and worse.

The Forbidden Castle (Choose Your Own Adventure)
You can’t tell, but I’m kind of blushing right now. You see, I’m not sure I’m naming the right story. (Hey, it was a long time ago!) But anyway, in reading my first choose your path book, I became a knight on a quest. I loved everything about the experience, especially choosing my own weapons. Well, okay, I didn’t love the part where I died just because I was born on an odd-numbered day. (Lame!) But, still… Twenty years later, my memory of reading this book—and others like it—inspired me to pen my own choose your path books.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia)
The best thing about being an English major? No tests. The worst thing? Reading the classics. Yuck! I hated them. I was forced to read books like Moby Dick, Paradise Lost and Pride & Prejudice. Okay, I actually kinda liked Pride & Prejudice, but don’t tell anyone. The “classics” really turned me off reading. After forcing my way through Great Expectations, I swore I’d never read another book again! But my love of reading was rekindled when I rediscovered The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. And believe it or not, that’s when I read the rest of the Chronicles of Narnia for the very first time. (Did I mention I only read comic books as a child?)

Dinosaurs Before Dark (The Magic Tree House #1)
No big deal: The only thing this book did was convince me to write children’s books in the first place! My kindergarten-teaching wife brought Dinosaurs Before Dark home one day. On a whim, I read it and immediately fell in love with the early reader format. I said, “I could write a story like this.” The rest, as they say, is history.

Ryan Jacobson has written several books that range from picture books to YA novels. He loves to give school presentations especially to ignite the love of reading and writing in the kids. He says he nearly became a teacher, which some think he should have been, but instead, he stumbled upon this author path! Please check out his website for more about him. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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