Category Archives: Author Q&A

A chat with the ‘Colin Fischer’ authors


‘Colin Fischer’ is a modern-day Sherlock Holmes story, focusing on a 14-year-old who cannot stand being touched, detests the color blue and needs index cards to recognize simple facial expressions. On the first day of high school, Colin becomes involved in a mystery that only he can solve.

It’s a inspiring book, filled with mystery, humor and really great trivia. ‘Colin Fischer’ is from the writers of X-Men: First Class and Thor, but the book isn’t about superheroes. Instead, the book is about the emotional experience of high school, seen through the eyes of a particularly interesting young man.

We recently spoke with ‘Colin Fischer’ authors Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz about their new book.


Can you explain the premise of “Colin Fischer.”
Ashley: “Colin Fischer” is about a boy (who just happens to be high-functioning Asperger’s) on his first day of high school. During lunch, a gun goes off in the cafeteria and the school bully, Wayne, is accused of the crime. But Colin sees that there is chocolate frosting on the pistol grip and realizes the gun couldn’t have belonged to Wayne because Wayne is a very fastidious eater. He sets out to prove that the bully is innocent. The book follows the adventure and the friendship that develops from Colin’s selfless devotion to the truth.

Where did the idea for this character come from?
Zack: In thinking about being a teenager, we thought about how scary and new all of the social situations are that you encounter in a high school, and how in many ways we all feel like outsiders. And in creating Colin, a boy who because of his Asperger’s syndrome has a particularly hard time understanding the emotions and intentions of others, we saw that we had a character who let us take all of those difficult experiences and make them even bigger and more extreme.

After writing a few big Hollywood blockbusters, what made you guys want to write a book?
Zack: Well, we both consider ourselves storytellers first and foremost. The medium isn’t important; the story being told is. And when we came up with Colin, we realized that it was a story that could live best in the novel format, and we were eager to stretch those new creative muscles in writing it.

Ashley: “Colin Fischer” started life as an idea for a television show. It didn’t go anywhere, but the character and his story stayed with us. It spoke to us a on a very deep level, and we kept talking about finding a way back to him. We’ve always thought of ourselves as character writers. We certainly do big, loud, exciting things in a lot of our work, but we believe the most effective moments we’ve written have been about the people in those stories. “Colin” is very different for us, but not so much as you’d think.

What are some of your favorite books?
Zack: I’m a huge fan of nonfiction, in particular books on history and science. For fun, I mainly like reading science fiction and detective novels both old (Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett) and new (Robert Crais, Michael Connelly, Don Winslow, and others.) One of the things that really got me into science fiction as a kid, actually, was the comic strip adaptation of John Christopher’s Tripods trilogy that ran in the back of Boys’ Life! (The entire first book of the Tripods trilogy, The White Mountains, originally appeared in issues May 1981 through July 1982. To access our archives and read the cool story, click here.)

Ashley: As a boy, I loved “Where The Red Fern Grows”, “A Bridge to Terabithia” and “Watership Down.” All of those books were about very similar things: family, the power of love, the power of belief, and the discovery of a new world. They’re stories about outsiders who find their own place through connection with others. I also can’t get around the fact that these books are very much about death, and dealing with loss. They taught me to be more human. I love Heinlein and Tolkien. Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” is a personal favorite.

As movie buffs, are there any upcoming films that you guys can recommend to our readers?
Zack: As a ginormous fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, I’m really excited about the movie adaptation of The Hobbit. I’m also looking forward to the next Star Trek film, and also just saw a really fun movie called Chasing Mavericks (out in November) that’s sort of about big wave surfing but really about a teenager without a father who finds an unlikely mentor.

Ashley: I have high hopes for “The Hobbit” and I can’t wait for the next “Star Trek” movie.

What’s next for you two?
Zack: We’re currently working on the scripts for several movies, including a new version of Robert Heinlein’s classic science fiction novel ‘Starship Troopers.’ We’re also hard at work on the sequel to Colin Fischer, which desperately needs a cool title.

Finally, with such an extensive superhero writing past, who are your favorite superheroes?
Zack: It sounds so boring, but I love me some Batman and Superman. In terms of lesser-known heroes, I’m a big fan of the Doom Patrol, Dr. Strange, and some of the more magic-wielding characters of the DC and Marvel universes.

Ashley: Writing “Thor” was a dream come true because he was always one of my very, very favorites. I know that character backwards and forwards – I have a complete collection of Walt Simonson’s run on that book. It made a huge impression on me as a kid. I love the X-Men as well, but Thor was the man. Or the god. Or the incredibly powerful guy from another dimension. I also could be one of the biggest Batman fans in the world. My collection of Batman comics – and by that I mean every book related to Batman and the “Batman family” – is complete going back to roughly 1986. Thousands of comics, all bagged and boarded. For the record, I loved the Tim Burton films and I love the Christopher Nolan movies even more. “The Dark Knight” isn’t just the great achievement in superhero films, it’s one of the great achievements in film… period.

“Colin Fischer” is in bookstores now. Recommended for ages 13 and up. Click here to read an excerpt from the book.

Author Q&A: James Dashner

As author of the Maze Runner Series and Book 1 of the new Infinity Ring series, James Dashner has had a busy year. BL caught up with the author for a quick chat about his new books, Infinity Ring: A Mutiny in Time and the Maze Runner prequel The Kill Order.


It’s a big month for you, with two books, The Kill Order and Infinity Ring, releasing soon. Are you writing something now, or do have a break after such a busy year?

I’m always writing something because I love it too much to take a break. Very soon there will be an announcement coming from Random House about a new series that I think my fans will love.

What draws you to writing for a younger audience?

There was just something magical about reading when I was a youth, and writing for them is the only true way I can return to that magic.

When you were younger, which authors were your favorite?

I loved Judy Blume, Madeleine L’Engle, and the Hardy Boys books.

Aside from your own, do you have a favorite young adult book or series? New or old?

My favorite of all time is the Ender series by Orson Scott Card. (For those interested: Ender’s Game the movie will be released in Nov. 2013. Watch for a Boys’ Life story on the movie-making process.)

There is a current trend in Hollywood, adapting YA books into blockbuster movies. Most recently with “The Hunger Games” and “Twilight” series. Is there any news on the Maze Runner movie, or adaptations of any of your other books?

The Maze Runner movie is still in development. Fingers crossed that it happens soon!

Speaking of The Maze Runner, its prequel The Kill Order comes out this week. What can fans of the original three books look forward to?

The prequel will give my readers a first hand glimpse of all the terrible reasons the trilogy needed to happen in the first place.

Could a newcomer to jump into The Kill Order without reading the other Maze Runner books?

I highly recommend that people read the trilogy first because so much of the magic in that story is discovering things piece by piece.

Will this be the final entry in the world of The Maze Runner, or is this the start of new series?

The Kill Order is definitely the last book in the series. That story is done and I’m excited to move on to others.

Infinity Ring seems to have a lot of moving parts, with a multi-platform experience for readers. What is the series all about?

Infinity Ring is a story about an alternate reality of our world where “Great Breaks” in time have caused the modern day world to be in really bad shape, plagued by things such as rampant natural disasters and a ruthless government. The main characters find themselves involved with an ancient society that sends them back in time to correct those Breaks in history.

After the final book in the Infinity Ring series, what’s next for you? Or have you even gotten that far into planning?

There will be a new young adult series with Random House, as well as other stories I have up my sleeve. Many fun things to come!

Take a look at the video preview for the final book in The Maze Runner series:

The Kill Order and Infinity Ring: A Mutiny in Time are in bookstores now. Check out for the latest info on Dashner’s books.

Webcast with author Christopher Paolini

Best-selling author Christopher Paolini answered questions from Boys’ Life magazine readers in a live webcast on Dec. 12, 2011. Christopher is the author of the Inheritance Cycle, which consists of the books Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and the recently released Inheritance.

More about Christopher Paolini:

Christopher Paolini chats about new book

The latest installment in Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle hits bookstores Saturday, Sept. 20. Following in the footsteps of “Eragon” and “Eldest,” “Brisingr” will be the third of four planned books in this fantasy adventure.

In an interview with Boys’ Life, Christopher spoke of reading, dreaming and adventure as a child in Paradise Valley, Mont.

Christopher spent his days exploring mountains and rivers. Fantasy fiction caught his attention and he attacked the local library. He read anything and everything, including Boys’ Life.

At age 15, he sat down to write the kind of story he’d like to read. His family self-published “Eragon” in 2001. Christopher traveled the country in costume, speaking to students about the magic of reading and sharing his own story.

“It was intense,” Christopher says. “I dare anyone to put on a medieval costume when you’re 17 and walk into a strange high school. It was a great experience, but definitely a formative experience.”

The experience paid off.

“Eragon” landed in the hands of Carl Hiaasen’s stepson. Hiaasen, who’s written “Hoot” and other young adult novels, sent “Eragon” to Random House Publishing. Soon, Christopher’s story became a bestseller.

“Eragon” has since become a film, and “Eldest” also became a bestseller. It’s been quite a jump for the young man from rural Montana.

Christopher traces all his success back to reading.

“It’s done everything for me. Reading is probably the single most important skill I’ve learned in my life,” he says. “It’s crucial that you find books that you yourself enjoy. People who haven’t fallen in love with reading yet, I tell them to try another book, try another genre. There’s so much out there. Take another look.”

Click on the audio players below to hear portions of Christopher’s interview with Boys’ Life.

Christopher on how the outdoors and the Montana landscape have shaped his stories:

Christopher on why he started writing “Eragon”:

Christopher on how he invented the different languages used in the Inheritance Cycle: