Author Jeremy Rodden: Whereabouts unknown.
His message asking for our help: “Someone has hijacked my blog as part of the Indie Book Collective’s Masquerade blog tour! Not only has the fiend kidnapped me, but they also stole my shtick in talking about cartoons!
Read the post and try to figure out which of the 12 authors stole my blog for the day. If you comment on the post, I will give you a free eCopy of Toonopolis: Gemini, my Kindle bestselling cartoon novel!
Also, you’ll be entered into a drawing for my prize pack called “Cartoons Through The Years,” including a Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD, Animaniacs Volume 1 DVD, and an autographed hardcover copy of Toonopolis: Gemini.
Come help me pull the mask off this villain. If you are a meddling kid, all the better!”
Bookwormcastlegirl: I am one of the sponsors for the Masquerade Blog Tour! Check out the site here for more info!
Review of Toonopolis by Jeremy Rodden
It has the fantastical quirkiness of Alice in Wonderland, the uniqueness of Willy Wonka, the magic of Never Never Land, along with a sprinkle of the darkness/gothic wonder from Tim Burton and the other-worldness of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, and then some. But at the same time it is an unparalled
universe (or parallel universe) Tooniverse that is all its own.
You want to know what is going on with this character as he wakes up and finds himself in this new alternate reality, feeling quite disoriented and a bit like he fell down the strangest rabbit hole known to man (or cartoon, for this matter). The main character, who christens himself Gemini, (having to pull a name from the
air, the Mad Hatter’s hat, his scattered and lost memories) really pulls you in as you discover this new world he is thrown into. It is a fantasy type world where everyday is Saturday morning, the popular time for nonstop cartoons. He becomes a cartoon version of himself, so to speak, although he is actually dubbed an Outsider. Lucky for him, this means he has even more power than the toons around him do.
You won’t find Bugs Bunny here or The Famous Mouse (as Gemini sadly discovers), but you will find many loveable characters as you embark with Gemini on this adventure. He at first views it as a fun experiment type virtual world (which is partly true) but then he starts to see the bigger picture. He realizes that they are real, just like him and they do feel courage, fear, pain, love, loss and other emotions.
Science fiction and fantasy fans are not the only ones who will love the world of Toonopolis, as it will pull in anyone who loves an adventure (read:epic) and it works really well to remind you of that childhood joy you found in a really good story. Toonopolis has it all: Great references to some of your favorite cartoons, childhood stories and movies that you loved as well as amusing jokes about the current trends in books and what people like to read about (Bloodthirsty vamps? Anime? Superheroes and annoying sidekicks? It’s all here!)*Insert Distracting Sidenote: There is even some (hidden) love for fans of a certain video game (which is my all time favorite one now that you mention it) that involves a talking frog, time travel, a silent type as the leading character and a tomboy princess, as well as a couple magical worlds of its own- are you a fan? Please comment by following the link in the parentheses, glad you found me!) END DISTRACTING SIDENOTE (For New Game+ option click here – for real!) *
Back to the world of Toonoplis, you will find yourself smiling and laughing along with the characters. In the cartoon world, there is a fun mix of tongue in cheek humor, puns, parodies, and plays on words.
The back story is also very enthralling to follow, as you get an inside look at this “experiment”- i.e, how and why Gemini was thrown into this world and what he does/doesn’t remember. This could be very dangerous for him and adds a serious undertone to his adventures that shows there is more at stake than meets the eye and makes the read even more into one of those books that you just can’t put down.
This is a great place to visit and you will find yourself wanting to return to this world to hear more about the character’s adventures and this very unique creation that is the Tooniverse! Luckily for you too, as there will be more to come in the Toonopolis Files. Keep reading for more juicy info about the Tooniverse below and to find out more about the kidnapped author!
Toonopolis: Interview Questions
Bookwormcastlegirl: Thank you for joining me for this interview! I know you have been kidnapped as part of the Masquerade Blog Tour, so I am glad that I was able to get this clandestine interview without your kidnapper finding out… 😉 I know you don’t have a lot of time before your kidnapper/blog hijacker notices, so here goes:
What was your goal in writing Toonopolis?
Jeremy: I had two goals. The first goal was to get the ideas out of my head that have been floating around since I was in high school. Toonopolis was a world created for an online fiction game when I was a senior in high school and it never left. Second was just to tell a fun story that had humor in it. I find so many stories in my favorite genre (fantasy) tend to have ulterior motives and underlying messages (like Narnia being one long Christian allegory or His Dark Materials heavily espousing atheist ideology). More of them need to just be what they’re supposed to be: fantastic stories for entertainment purposes.
Bookwormcastlegirl: Toonopolis is a unique world all its own. I know you are a devoted reader as I am and have mentioned Alice in Wonderland as the type of fantastical magnetism you wish your own created world to have, among other books as your inspirations. Where do you get your inspiration from for this world you have created? Related to this, what are your favorite childhood stories and/or cartoons?
Jeremy: A lot of my inspiration comes from some of my other favorite childhood stories such as The Wizard of Oz and The NeverEnding Story as well as movies such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the Pagemaster. My favorite cartoons as a kid were Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs. There is a reason that many people pick up the connection to the parody-style humor of these shows, as they were the ones I watched the most when I was younger!
Bookwormcastlegirl: Once I got enchanted by the world you had created, I did not wish to leave it and definitely wanted more of Toonopolis and the dynamic characters. Where do you see this world and the characters going?
Jeremy: I have a lot more books planned, including the recently released novella for Anchihiiroo (the Rogue from Animetown). I have several more novellas planned for minor characters as well as two more books to the Toonopolis Files series. These will introduce new characters (and new sections of Toonopolis) as well as explore more from existing characters. Lastly, there is also a dual-trilogy planned to follow up with the Toonopolis Files that will be co-written with another author who has known Toonopolis since I first created it. This will be a trilogy of paired novels (six books total) that tell a brand new story. I will be writing the story from the perspective of my protagonists (such as Gemini, Jimbob, etc.) and Nelson Díaz will be writing it from the perspective of brand new antagonists.
Bookwormcastlegirl: About those characters that I love. How did you make the characters so unique?
Jeremy: I can’t really answer that except that they are very alive in my mind. With some of the secondary characters, I started with stock characters (such as Miss Fire and Hawk) and just allowed them to grow and respond to situations that they normally wouldn’t face. A stock character in a stock world is boring. A stock character in a different world becomes a whole new creation. My main characters have existed in my mind for over ten years. They’ve grown and changed over the years. Gemini, for example, was originally Kid Gemini and 3 years younger. Jimbob gained a new wrinkle a few years ago that people will learn when they read the book.
Bookwormcastlegirl: Jimbob is definitely a great character! When writing your characters, do they ever surprise you?
Jeremy: Absolutely! When I write my Toonopolis stories, I often outline the chapters very loosely. I put the characters in a new environment, give them a purpose, and then see what happens from there. The end result is often surprising to me but I’ve learned that it is much better (and usually funnier) to let them react and just capture it that way.
Bookwormcastlegirl: How did you create the rules for the cartoon world, i.e., the abilities of the cartoons as well as the “Outsiders”, who have different “rules” so to speak?
Jeremy: I started with some core rules when I first created Toonopolis for my online fiction writing game ten years ago. A lot of the cartoon rules (such as C-Space and Gravity Effectiveness Displacement) are adapted from watching lots of cartoons myself (and there exist websites online that have documented many of them). As for the rules of how the Tooniverse works? Those have been developed over the years. I have some good friends who know and love Toonopolis and will often just ask me series of ‘what-if’ questions. These questions helped me fully understand the complexity of Toonopolis and the Tooniverse well before I sat down to write even the first book. As crazy as this world is, there is order amongst the chaos!
Bookwormcastlegirl: Speaking of rules, are there any “rules” you stick to for writing, such as times, methods, or how you plan a novel?
Jeremy: I have preferred methods but being a stay-at-home dad to two boys (6 and 1) makes those fly out the window. I love to be sitting alone with music playing (usually something instrumental, like video game or movie soundtracks) in large chunks of time. Since that can’t work, I just write when I can. Sometimes it’s early in the morning if the baby decides he wants to be up at 5 AM. Sometimes it’s during that blessed time of day where the 6 year old is at school and the baby is napping (of course, often I have a boatload of housework to do during this time). As for planning out a novel, I don’t write out very detailed outlines. I prefer to just put the setting and 2-3 bullet points for the chapter. This allows the story to flow where it feels more natural instead of me forcing it into detailed ideas that I plan out in advance. This works well for me considering the fluid nature of Toonopolis itself, but might not work as well for someone writing a more serious work.
Bookwormcastlegirl: Enough about rules 😉 … Now for a more “creative/fun” question: If you got stuck in a cartoon of your choice, what would it be and why? Would you be able to get back out of this said cartoon (if you wanted to, that is)?
Jeremy: Man, that’s a tough one. Right now I am enjoying Thundercats and Voltron Force a ton, but I think both of those worlds are a little serious and dangerous for me. I think I’d have to go a little more classic and get into the Looney Tunes world (but not the Looney Tunes Show currently airing, because I’d have to punch Lola repeatedly in the face). It’d be fun to be in one of the worlds where it all began. Watching Wile E. Coyote demonstrate laws of cartoon physics in person would be great. Also, being a classic cartoon… no one ever REALLY gets hurt or dies. That’s one of the core rules of Toonopolis that is… erm… rarely broken… unless…
Bookwormcastlegirl: Unless…?! I know, I know, your hands are tied. 😉 Onto my next question, then. As you may know, I have a new special page on my blog for all of our fellow and prospective writers. What advice would you give to all of the writers out there? Any advice about the world of publishing?
Jeremy: The first bit of advice is to make sure you never stop reading. I found I have trouble writing during chunks of time where I don’t keep reading the way I normally do. It also helps to read outside your own genre to improve your writing ability and range. Publishing is a scary thing, especially if you plan on going on your own like I did. I created my own publishing company and spent 3 months filling my brain with information on printing, fonts, formatting, and all sorts of craziness that isn’t nearly as fun as writing. If you’re going to do it, just remember that it takes time and a lot of work but is very worth it in the end. Just make sure that you can produce a professional quality product if you want to be able to be taken seriously. This includes a pro-looking cover (I paid an artist to do mine) and proper editing (again, worth the investment to hire a pro). Just because you feel you can self-edit, make your own cover, and throw your work on Kindle just because you want to save money, doesn’t mean you should (unless you are an editor/artist/etc.).
Bookwormcastlegirl: Is there anything else that you would like to share or expand on?
Jeremy: I would love to throw out the information regarding a completely different project that I am currently working on. I am accepting submissions for non-fiction essays by other stay-at-home dads to be published as a collection under the title The Myth of Mr. Mom. Anyone interested can get all the details here: http://www.toonopolis.com/2011/10/06/hey-stay-at-home-dads-wanna-be-published/
Bookwormcastlegirl: Thank you so much for your time, it is always fun to find out more about a world that you love being pulled into as you are reading! I hope you haven’t been roped into this too much and hope you get free soon!
Jeremy: Thanks for taking the time to interview me. I’m glad the kidnapper didn’t take away my iPhone so I could still communicate with people! It’s also the only thing giving me light!
Read the author’s free novella Anchihiiroo here! It is the backstory of one of the characters from the Tooniverse, review to come soon!
Don’t forget to comment below to get a free eCopy of Toonopolis: Gemini, a world you will not wish to leave once you enter it! You will also be entered into the drawing! Visit The Tooniverse to find out more about the novel, the Masquerade Blog Tour, as well as how to find out what happened to Jeremy!