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Friday, January 8, 2016

Interview with Gregory Funaro, author of Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum

Gregory Funaro visits The Hiding Spot today to celebrate his second book! Available just this week, Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum is the sequel to last year's debut, Alistair Grim's Odditorium. Don't miss out on this fantastic MG series, which is packed with humor and adventure!


In this sequel, the characters embark on an underwater adventure in search of the legendary sword Excalibur. Can you share your inspiration behind the otherworldly Avalon, home to Excalibur? 
One of my favorite movies growing up was John Boorman’s Excalibur—and truth be told, I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to Arthurian mythology (like Professor Bricklewick in Aquaticum)—so basically I was looking for any excuse to have Grim go after the titular sword. Having Excalibur reside in Avalon was really just an excuse for me to revisit Boorman’s concept of Camelot in my head. That’s what I was picturing when I was writing about Avalon. Is that cheating? 
Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end? 
I hate outlines. I have tried to use them, I swear, but I find them too inhibiting. I had never heard of the term “pantser” until fairly recently, so I think I’m a combination of both a plotter and a pantser. I usually have a general idea of where the story needs to go, but at the same time I allow myself plenty of room to make things up as I go along. I have to start at the beginning, but sometimes I’ll think of something really cool that I want to happen toward the end and have to figure out how to get there. For instance, in Aquaticum, I knew I wanted the villain, Prince Nightshade, to take over the Odditorium, I just wasn’t sure how he was going to do it until much very late in the process. For me, making it up as I go along is half the fun, so I don’t really get the whole outline thing. I envy writers who can outline, I really do. 
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing or provided inspiration? 
I used to be an actor and have been a theatre professor for almost 15 years now, so that has definitely given me a pretty good sense of narrative arc and dramatic action. I’m also very by disciplined by nature, which helps me maximize what little free time I have to write. 
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why? 
Ugh, I hate these kinds of questions because I’m always afraid of sounding lame. Serendipity is one because I associate it with romance. Maybe eloquence, too, because, since I was a kid, it has always made me think of Audrey Hepburn. 
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book that provided you with a hiding spot. 
Watership Down. It helped me through a very difficult time in my life and continues to do so. 
What can readers look forward to next?
I’m hoping that Disney-Hyperion will pick up the final book in the trilogy, but that remains to be seen. I just started a young adult novel that has me pretty excited, and I also just finished the first book in a new middle-grade series that will go out on submission soon. So keep your fingers crossed for me, okay?

About the Book
When Grubb, an orphan and runaway chimney sweep, entered the wondrous world of the Odditorium, his life changed forever. Apprenticed to the mechanical marvel’s strange proprietor, Alistair Grim, Grubb unfortunately must settle into his new position on the lam, as the whole of London is convinced that Alistair Grim is a villain bent on mass destruction. Grim, however, has come up with a plan to expose the real villain: Prince Nightshade, a wicked necromancer who wants the Odditorium’s power source for himself.

With the evil prince hot on their trail, Grim, Grubb and the rest of the Odditorium's crew embark on a perilous adventure to find the legendary sword Excalibur: the only weapon capable of penetrating Nightshade's magical suit of armor. As expected, their quest turns out to be anything but ordinary. Not only can the Odditorium fly, but it can also swim! And so the crew battens down the hatches and sets off on an underwater voyage to the otherworldly realm of Avalon, home to Excalibur. Along the way, they must battle a banshee assassin, sea monsters, and a witch who seeks revenge on Alistair Grim for stealing her magical objects.

But that’s not all. Unbeknownst to Grubb and the others, their fate has been written in an ancient Avalonian prophecy—a prophecy that holds the key to a destiny not even Alistair Grim could have possibly imagined.
About the Author 
Gregory Funaro is the NY Times Best Selling author of the Odditorium series from Disney-Hyperion. He grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island, and wrote his first story, The Ghost in the Window, in the fourth grade. He considers this to be his finest work, but unfortunately it has been lost to time. Following high school Greg majored in theatre at the University of New Hampshire, and after various acting gigs, received his AM in Theatre Arts from Brown University and an MFA in Acting from the FSU/Asolo Conservatory. Greg teaches drama at East Carolina University, and spends far too much time on the internet looking for vintage lunchboxes.


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