The Dreamhouse Kings Series
by Robert Liparulo
(Dreamhouse Kings Book 1)
Dream house...or bad dream?
When the Kings move from L.A. to a secluded small town, fifteen-year-old Xander is beyond disappointed. He and his friends loved to create amateur films . . . but the tiny town of Pinedale is the last place a movie buff and future filmmaker wants to land.
But he, David, and Toria are captivated by the many rooms in the old Victorian fixer-upper they moved into--as well as the heavy woods surrounding the house.
They soon discover there's something odd about the house. Sounds come from the wrong directions. Prints of giant, bare feet appear in the dust. And when David tries to hide in the linen closet, he winds up in locker 119 at his new school.
Then the really weird stuff kicks in: they find a hidden hallway with portals leading off to far-off places--in long-ago times. Xander is starting to wonder if this kind of travel is a teen's dream come true . . . or his worst nightmare.
(Dreamhouse Kings Book 2)
It's not just the house that's keeping secrets.
Pretending everything's all right is harder than it sounds. But the Kings know that even if they told the truth about the bizarre things happening in their house, no one would believe them. They're hyper-focused on rescuing their lost family member before anyone finds out what's going on.
But when a stranger shows up to take their house, their options start dwindling fast. Why would he be so interested in a run-down old place? And what secret is he hiding--just as he hides the scars that crisscross his body?
The mystery gets stranger with each passing day. Will the Kings be able to find a way to harness the house's secrets and discover who is watching their every move before another gets snatched into an unknown world?
The Dreamhouse Kings Series has three contests that you will not want to miss...Dream the Scene, a weekly "Thanks For Reading Trivia contest, and the Dreamhouse Kings Street Team contest. There are also free bookplates that you can request, and a chapter of each book that you can download!
I was looking forward to these books because I have read Robert's book "Comes A Horseman" and it was innovative and breathtaking. I wanted to see what his take on a "teen series" would be. Well, he does not disappoint! From the beginning he got my attention and never let it go... I was fortunate in that I had the 2nd book in the series sitting on my desk ready for me as soon as I put the first one down. And believe me, as soon as I was finished with House of Dark Shadows I picked up Watcher in the Woods and went to town on it. If this tells you anything at all - at the end of the books instead of saying "The End" these books say "NOT The End..."One of the unique things about this book is that as I was reading it I kept thinking what a great movie this would be... who knows, just maybe??? (See what Robert has to say about this in the interview) I recommend going to Robert's website where you can read the whole first chapter, and I certainly recommend these books. I couldn't read Gatekeepers fast enough when I got it this month and said so many good things about this series that my husband actually read all three of them. Now, you have to understand that my husband really doesn't read fiction... he has read War and Peace 3 times, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich at least twice and when he was younger he read the encylopedia for fun, but he is not big on fiction. Yet, his only complaint about this series... he has to wait til July to read the next one! So if my recommendation isn't enough for you, then take my husband's advice and get this series - see bottom to see what Robert has agreed to give away!
Now let's meet Robert...
1. You have developed a very unique series in the Dreamhouse Kings. Where did you come up with such an amazing plot - house with multiple portals to different times and places, danger abounds, mom is kidnapped, people are breaking in and Xander, David and Toria have to set everything right...
The basic plot of a house haunted not by ghosts but by time actually came to me as a dream when I was eleven years old. I was living in the Azores (a group of nine islands in the Atlantic), where my father was stationed in the Air Force. It’s a mystical, magical place (and I mean that in the Godly sense of the words): lush forests, misty grounds, cobblestone roads, beautiful lakes hidden in steep valleys, stone walls. One day, I found an old playground in a forest clearing that caused my imagination to soar. I started dreaming of this place. In each recurring dream, my mind added a new element: the ability to fly in this area only, shadowy figures watching me from the woods, and finally an old house. Between the dreams and my continued fascination with this place, I started thinking of what I might find inside the house. Over time, I decided that it was a place that God had created with a very specific purpose, but to know that purpose, I’d have to experience a lot of adventures, I’d have to go through a fire, if you will. The progression of the Dreamhouse books is toward that purpose, through that fire. Of course, when I finally sat down to write the story, I replaced what had always been me in my imagination with the King family. As far the the dramatic details (such as Mom getting kidnapped), I think they come from my belief that our true characters come out in times of extreme stress, when we feel the heat of a life or death situation. I wanted the Kings to find out who they are inside: what do they really believe in, what things are they willing to fight for. I wrote a column for the January 2009 issue of Christian Fiction Online Magazine called “Better the Devil You Know than the Devil You Don’t,” which explains more about my thoughts on this topic and why I write spooky stories.
2) You have been sucessful in the adult arena with Germ, Comes a Horseman, etc... What made you decide to write a YA series?
While my thrillers for adults have a lot of violence—mostly because I’ve always believed in depicting evil and violence as being as awful as they truly are—I’ve tried to avoid gratuitousness. I think my novels would be rated PG-13 if they were movies, because they don’t contain a lot of the things that make moves R rated. The unintended result of writing like this is that a lot of middle schools began putting my novels on their reading lists. I began getting a lot of mail from seventh-, eighth-, and ninth graders who’d read them. That lead to getting to meet these young readers in their classrooms and in assemblies. I loved that they asked about story and plot and character development, instead of the typical “business”-type questions I fielded when addressing adult audiences (how did I find my agent, how many hours a day do I write). Essentially, the kids reminded me of why I wanted to be a novelist in the first place: I love stories. I decided that I would love to try my hand at writing specifically for this age group (and a bit younger and older). Through God’s grace, at about this time my publisher casually wondered if I’d ever thought of writing a young adult book. How could I say no. I decided that to accommodate younger readers I would change the way I write in only two ways: the protagonists would be their age and the story itself would be something I thought would appeal more to them than to adults. I wouldn’t change my vocabulary or my style of writing, my voice. I think that’s why a lot of adults have said they’ve enjoyed the Dreamhouse books as much as their kids have: I’m not talking down to anyone.
3) You had an interesting contest to reader's involved in the writing process of the 4th book and I saw that the first 2 winners have been announced - tell us about the contest and how that is going?
I really wanted young readers to think about the adventures the King family experience. Writing the first two book was so fun, it just hit me that readers should have the opportunity to get involved in the same way I did, by letting their imaginations go wild, by participating in they creation of this story. So I invited readers to submit ideas for where the Kings should go to look for their mom. Since the story is about their mom getting kidnapped into history, without anyone knowing where in time, she is, they sky’s the limit when it comes to the adventures the Kings could experience. We call it the “Dream the Scene” contest. Winners get acknowledged in the books and win an iPod Nano. The response has been phenomenal. Everyday, I get all kinds of while ideas: “David should go through a portal and find himself in the cockpit of a Kamikaze plane as it’s diving toward a battleship”; “The Kings should meet Christ, Who teaches them how to forgive the person who kidnapped Mom.” Every now and then, some author friends and I get together and read through the entries. We have a lot of fun with them. The entries don’t have to be professionally written. They can be in paragraph form or bullet points—whatever gets the idea across. One young man sent in a crayon drawing of his idea. If he wins and I write what I think his drawing implied, he might find that I completely misunderstood. I figure he’ll have an iPod to comfort him, so all won’t be lost. I wrote the first two winning entries into the story for the fourth book, Timescape. One involves David (the twelve-year-old protagonist) and his father stepping onto the deck of the Titanic as it’s sinking. They have to find the way home before the icy Atlantic gets them. The second idea was about David and his fifteen-year-old brother wandering into a Viking siege on King Alfred’s castle in the ninth century. That one was truly frightening. It’s a great way for me and the people entering the contest to learn about history and have fun doing it.
4) Some people might ask what the spiritual meaning of the books are - what are the main points you are trying to get across to your readers?
As the story unfolds, we start to understand the purpose of the house and how God is using it. But it does take six books for that to fully form. In the meantime, I’m trying to show how important it is to be honest and for family members to work together to achieve a valuable goal. I read a lot of young adult novels before diving into Dreamhouse, and one of the “tricks” to create tension (which is necessary in all stories) that authors tended to use was to pit kids against adults. It was a recurring theme that I think is not only overdone and a cheap device, but one that I don’t think fairly represents the relationship between kids and adults. I thought back to a television series I enjoyed as a child, Lost in Space. In that show, the family had to work together to solve each week’s problem and ultimate to find a way home. I wanted to write something like that. In the first book, we realize that there was a breach of trust in the family that does cause tension between Xander (the fifteen-year-old) and Dad. But early in book two, Watcher in the Woods, that issues is pretty much resolved and it lays the groundwork for a lesson in honesty (though I hate to use the word “lesson,” because I hope it plays itself out in the story and is not something that readers feel I hit them over the head with). Another theme that will be clear by the end of the story is that we all have a purpose in life, which God has appointed for us. Each of the characters in the story reaches a point where he or she struggles with that purpose and has to decide whether to embrace it or try to escape it. It’s something we all have to deal with sometime in our lives.
5) In a developing series like this, do you even know how it is all going to end?
I know pretty much how all the strands eventually come together. I don’t outline too extensively because I want the characters to tell me how to get there. I guess you can say I know the high points. How we get to each point is dictated by how the characters respond to the what’s happening around and to them, as it happens. One thing that helped immensely is that early in the writing process Hollywood came knocking. Producers were very interested in the story and they wanted to know everything: how did it end, what were the character arcs, why were these things happening in the story? It wasn’t anything I wasn’t hammering out anyway, but it forced me to be more definite about everything, and they posed wonderful questions that made we think long and hard about each direction I was steering the story. (Currently, I’m working with a producer on developing the screenplay.)
6) What do we have to look forward to in this series (besides the fact that we have to wait until July 2009 to see the fourth installment!)?
Lots of adventure, lots of twists and turns. Some of the places the Kings go are wildly exciting, some very thought-provoking. Not only do they have to brave any number of history’s most turbulent times to find their mom, but they have to fight and outwit a nasty villain in our own time. This is a guy who wants them out of the house so he can use it for his own evil purposes. We learn that what they do when they’re in other times can effect the course of history, for better or worse. They have to figure all that out. We also find out that mom’s rescue is only a small part of what they have to accomplish.
7) Where can readers find you online?
The Dreamhouse Kings blog, which covers breaking news and hosts a weekly trivia contest, is (www.robertliparulo.com/blog.html)
And you can find more about the Dreamhouse books and the “Dream the Scene” contest at (www.dreamhousekings.com)
Thank you for doing this and congratulations!
Thanks, Janna. This was a blast!
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