America's greatest magic school is New York City's School of the Ages. Simon is a teen from Queens, New York. When he answers an advertisement in a magazine, the South Wind shows up at his door to introduce him to a world of adventure, power, and tragedy that feels both strange and right: ghosts, elementals, time travel, magic duels, teen romance, sacrifice, and ultimate loss. The evil spirit of a bitter and scheming heretic from ancient Alexandria attacks him and forces him to risk everything in order to save his soul. Kids and adults won't stop reading -- The Ghost in the Crystal.
Learn how to purchase the book and others at the end of the interview!
Welcome, Matt! To start with, tell us a bit about your inspiration as a writer.
I love to write about magic and I have long been attached to the fantasy trope of the young person learning and ascending to power. As a teacher I watch this scenario after a fashion, but not as much as I would like to as life is very difficult for the current youth and they are not ascending as smoothly as I want them to. The other day I saw one of my former students working in a car wash with a rag in his back pocket. I was happy that he had a job.
I am also inspired by history and culture and so I want to write books that it's fun to read with Google to look up passing references. Ideally, I have blended real history and real occult history and genuine paranormal phenomena with invented material so smoothly that readers will not be able to tell which is which. For example, in Level Three's Dream there is a secret museum in Paris where one room has a series of dummies of historical magicians. None of them are invented -- all of them come from the actual history of western occultism.
Would you associate with your characters? Why or why not?
They are more brave and capable than I am, and sometimes I find myself trying to model my own response to problems upon what my protagonist Simon would do. When he sees a reason to make a stand he does, and without fearing the consequences. That's easier for a teenage magician than it is for a middle-aged teacher with mortgages, but I could still be a little more like him than I am.
I would be more than happy to hang out with my characters, but like most teenagers, they hang out together and they would find me being around a little awkward. Instead, I modeled one character in the novels on myself -- the Dean -- and although they like him well enough, they don't go sit in his office and chit-chat.
Do you read the same kinds of books you write? If there are any differences between the two, what are they?
I mostly read what other indies share with me. The majority of my reading is books by people I meet online who are also Kindle authors (like you, Jennifer!). I also read The New Yorker which keeps me abreast of current events and ideas.
I rarely buy YA books, and without serendipitous discoveries, I wouldn't even know how to find anything that I would like. Right now I have about 50-60 unread books on my Kindle 2, and it would be silly for me to go shopping for more. That said, I do occasionally get a recommendation and wind up reading the book. I read the first Mysterious Benedict Society novel, and I read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. After reading the latter, which had a flawed structure but some beautiful descriptive writing and great characters, I made the mistake of writing to offer my friendship to Ransom Riggs. I didn't realize that he has been anointed by the Big Six publishing establishment and can't be bothered to acknowledge an indie author, which, naturally, he didn't. So I guess I will recommend Trenton Lee Stewart's books, since I never wrote to him and he didn't get a chance to ignore me.
Let me just point out that I wrote to Piers Anthony, who has published more books than Ransom Riggs has hairs in his armpit, many of them all-time classics, and Mr. Anthony responded to EVERY SINGLE EMAIL I sent to him, and reviewed a book that I sent him, helping my career in an unselfish manner.
I grew up reading the classic fantasy of the 1980s, and this has probably influenced me most. If any fantasist in my lifetime has written better than Anthony, David Eddings, Robert Asprin, Alan Dean Foster, Fred Saberhagen, or early George R.R. Martin, I don't know who it is. I devoured Harry Potter, but all the time I did, I was thinking, "I like this, mostly, but such-and-such-and-such could be done better." Now that Joanne Rowling has signed to write adult novels, we'll see how well she has mastered her craft. I don't know what she is going to write, but if we get a very stuffy book about political courage, don't be surprised: J.K. has a bully pulpit now, and anyone who critiques her will be accused of jealousy, so she can do whatever she bloody well wants.
A magic school in New York City -- what else do I have to say? Okay, here's the rest. Ghosts, elementals, time travel, magical duels, romance, tragedy. In the second novel, all of the above, plus autism and Asperger's and Alice in Wonderland.
School of the Ages is magic in the world we know, with all its varieties and cultures, and unlike some series, I acknowledge, incorporate, and integrate religion, philosophy, and science. The magic is mostly mental rather than flashy, although there is some big stuff coming in the third book.
School of the Ages is stories about kids growing up. There is no prophecy, no ultimate evil, no menace to the planet. It's kids discovering who they are and what they can do, loving and losing, struggling with their abilities and their hearts. Although I have a main character, Simon, I work with an ensemble cast and try to give lots of kids subplots of their own in each book. My characters are known for having distinctive voices; I pride myself on snappy dialogue in particular. You will love Goldberry Tinker, Simon's best friend, who is a sincere and good-hearted girl but a little bit snide.
Goldberry: Oh, thank you very much indeed for your judgmental remark. He really is a dreadful fellow, Ms. Rainey. But you may as well read the books anyway, since I'm in them.
Lovely to meet you, Ms. Tinker! And Mr. Posner, if you can tell us, what is it you're working on now?
Next for me is Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships, co-written with non-conformist Jess C. Scott. This is a nonfiction advice book we wrote to help teens who may be curious, confused, scared, or in need of new ideas about how to deal with these crucial aspects of human experience. See this link for more on the book. http://schooloftheages.webs.com/apps/blog/show/12694335-matt-posner-and-jess-c-scott-announce-teen-guide-to-sex-and-relationships-
After that, this summer I will proudly present Book Three of School of the Ages: The War Against Love. As the kids take on a gang of adult Nazi magicians, what will happen when Simon meets the volatile but amazing Czech wizard Ana Vorkina and her father the Arch-Mage of Elementals?
I am also working on short story books and may have one or two of those come out this year, but it's very hard to get anything written on those till the two major books come out. By the way, I hope I will be part of a Kindle All-Stars anthology this year; we'll see.
Goldberry: He won't if he keeps making comments about me; I'll see to that.
What two supernatural beings would you like to see fight?
I am waiting for the big dust-up between hobbits and houyhnhnms.
Thank you for stopping by, Matt, and if you, gentle reader, are interested in purchasing the School of the Ages books, here is where you can:
Buy The Ghost in the Crystal at Amazon US: http://tinyurl.com/5wf5ypu
The Ghost in the Crystal at Amazon UK: http://tinyurl.com/3pepoby
Buy The Ghost in the Crystal for Nook: http://tinyurl.com/44k8eto
The Ghost in the Crystal in Paperback: http://tinyurl.com/3gvapuk at Amazon or http://tinyurl.com/44j8klr