Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Interview with Joshua McCune, author of TALKER 25

Today, the Inkpot is thrilled to interview Joshua McCune, a debut author who’s going to have people talking about his book. It’s called TALKER 25 and has one of my favorite covers of 2014. Here’s the Goodreads summary:

 It's a high school prank gone horribly wrong-sneaking onto the rez to pose next to a sleeping dragon-and now senior Melissa Callahan has become an unsuspecting pawn in a war between Man and Monster, between family and friends and the dragons she has despised her whole life. Chilling, epic, and wholly original, this debut novel imagines a North America where dragons are kept on reservations, where strict blackout rules are obeyed no matter the cost, where the highly weaponized military operates in chilling secret, and where a gruesome television show called Kissing Dragons unites the population. Joshua McCune's debut novel offers action, adventure, fantasy, and a reimagining of popular dragon lore.

Welcome, Joshua! Let’s dive in with some questions!

There are many dragon stories out there, but I haven’t read anything quite like this one. Where did you get the idea for modern day dragon wars?

I was on an airplane, daydreaming out the window, and the image of a dragon popped into my head. Then a first line popped into my head (Normally it’s the farmboys who become the heroes in the stories with dragons.) The first line ended up changing, but the basic idea of dragons in the modern world developed fairly organically. I grew up on epic fantasy (Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, etc.) and so the natural scope for me was something big, a modern day tale where technology is the magic to counter/combat the ostensibly evil dragons.  

I think Melissa is a wonderful heroine – so complex and imperfect. How did you find her as a character?

For some aspects, I drew from those closest to me. My wife, my mother, my sister. Complex personalities, for sure. In terms of character arc, I’ve always imagined Melissa as a young Sarah Connor. She starts off as this every-woman who gets thrown into an extraordinary situation. She toughens both internally and externally, goes a little mad in the process, but learns what’s most important to her.

Quick aside while I reminisce about one of my all-time favorite shows. WHY did you cancel Sarah Conner Chronicles, Fox TV, why? Not to be over dramatic or anything, but I will never not be sad about that.

Anyway Joshua, tell us a little about yourself. Have you always been writing?

I was born in Brazil, grew up in Washington DC, earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in Houston, and got married in New Zealand. I’ve been writing the entire time, most of it badly. I wrote my first non-assignment story in third grade. WWIII. Complete with pictures. A sign of things to come, though I did once write a lighter story about an intrepid squirrel named Charlemagne, his basset hound sidekick, and their lemur guide (note: this was the first story I ever queried, back when I knew nothing about the industry – 81,000 word MG… I did mention that I grew up on epic fantasy, right?)

What are you working on now?

I just sent my editor the first draft on the TALKER 25 sequel and am now outlining the final book in the trilogy. I’m also polishing up a MG about a boy thief recruited by a covert government organization with patriotic pretenses and sinister intentions.

How exciting! We can't wait! Now for some quick answers:

Beach or Mountains? Mountains
Most irresistible dessert? Angel food cake (preferably slightly smushed)
The last book you could not put down? EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN (Lindsey Lane)
Most listened to song on your playlist? Recently: Tired (Stone Sour). While writing T25: The Sound of Madness (Shinedown)
Worst job title you’ve ever had? Telemarketer (though it did come in handy for the call center scenes in T25 J)

You can learn more about Joshua and his books on his website here. If you want to purchase a copy, please support your indie bookstore first! Find the one nearest to you at Indiebound.


  1. Wow. This sounds very unique and exciting. You had me at Dragons on Reservations.

    And I want to read that story about Charlemagne, his basset hound sidekick, and their lemur guide!

    Fun interview. Congrats, Joshua!

  2. I love the sound of dragons in a modern day setting - very cool!! Congratulations on your trilogy.
    You mentioning your grade school story of World War III reminds me of the kind of stuff I wrote about in comprehensive school - people waking up to discover they were the last person alive,
    haunted dying men and ghost on the seashore - we were obviously similarly happy souls ;)

  3. I had the privilege of reading an ARC of TALKER 25 and it's fantastic - terrific characters, compelling worldbuilding, and some of the best aerial dragon battle scenes around. Josh has a big future ahead of him.

  4. Ooooh - I can't wait to read this one - it sounds fantastic! And if Mike recommends it, too - it is a must read! I will pick it up this weekend! And you're right Jen - that's a great cover!

  5. I enjoyed your interview. Great story about the idea for the story coming to you on a plane and a first line that didn't make the cut. I can relate. Love those random connections that seem to come from nowhere. :) Your heroine sounds awesome. Love the dragon reservations too. Super inventive!

  6. This looks so so good! I am going to have to buy a couple of copies to give out to some of my favorite readers. Dragon reservations! WOW!!!! And I love that phrase "ostensibly evil" - awesome.

  7. Thanks everybody for the dragon love!

    Ronald, I did love that squirrel story (Jack Basset and Corybant the corybantic lemur =).

    Keely, it sounds like you had a far broader imagination than I did! But, yes, happy dark souls FTW!

    Mike, I love you! ;)

    Erin, next week, over at EMUs Debuts, we're hoping to snag an interview with the cover designer, Paul Zakris... he does some amazing work.

    Lena, it's something about airplanes... probably when I get half my ideas... maybe to distract myself from thinking about fatigue stress. Lol.

    Martina, ostensibly evil is a prevalent idea in my writing ;)

    Thanks again, everybody! And thank you, Jen!


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