All Things Writing

Book dissection: "The World of the Orb" by Michael Thompson

January 09, 2021 Bryan the Writer Episode 2
All Things Writing
Book dissection: "The World of the Orb" by Michael Thompson
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All Things Writing
Book dissection: "The World of the Orb" by Michael Thompson
Jan 09, 2021 Episode 2
Bryan the Writer

I want to give a big shout out to the listeners in San Jose California who are listening the heck out of the show. I greatly appreciate it, you guys are the best.

As a reminder, if you like anything you here please remember to hit that like button. But enough of that, now onto her show. At the beginning I read a quote and that quote comes from a book written by a good friend of the show, Michael Thompson.

World of the orb fits into what could rightly be considered the midgrade and young adult categories. So why what I read it? After all, Bryan the Writer is a horror, mystery, and science fiction Writer. However, that really doesn’t do justice to what I read.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s really important to remember that if you are an author, reading far and wide is really important. The example I read to you at the beginning of the show is a wonderful example of world building.

Let me read you the back of the book, so you can get an idea of what the storyline is about. “Best friends Marvin and Andy have just discovered the Museum of Natural History’s unnatural secret: the orb, a mysterious relic that plunges these two modern teens into a medieval world of monsters, myth, and magic. To return home, they must embark on a global treasure hunt to unite five elemental crystals, all while eluding the eye of a tyrannical warlock bent on conquering the realms. This isn’t the field trip they expected.”

The world that Michael has built is called Enkartai and is divided into six different lands. In order to complete their quest, this band must cover all of the different lands to retrieve these crystals.

Intrigued yet?

The transitions that Michael uses to get from one spit of land to another are equally as engaging. You feel the chill of the air when the characters are moving through snowy landscapes. You feel the grit of the dirt when you’re on rocky and barren lands. When the characters first arrive in the dark lands, there’s a wonderful passage where you’re getting a description of the change in atmosphere. You can feel the oppressive change from the other parts of Enkartai.

Fortunately, no matter how much we say we grow up, in some respects we never really do. There’s a part of us that still loves to watch animated cartoons, no matter how old we are. There’s a part of us that still likes reading comic books, chewing bubblegum, feeling the wind through her hair a bike ride, there’s a part of us that always will want to go on a grand adventure.

That’s why reading this book is such a great experience. You get to tap into these emotions which are latent inside of you. In some ways you’re always going to put yourself in the place of the main character, as you live in this world that was created. And that’s what Michael does particularly well.

That’s it this week for all things writing. Next week is a bye week for me, so there will be no show. However, after that I am going to cover the topics of copywriting and what the heck is an ISBN anyway, and why should you have one.

If you enjoyed today’s show, remember to hit that like button and also feel free to donate to the show, you can do so by hitting the button in the upper right-hand corner which will take you to a page where you can donate directly to my cause.

Until next time, that’s it for me. This is Bryan the writer, signing off.

Support the show (http://paypal.me/BryanNowak)

Show Notes Transcript

I want to give a big shout out to the listeners in San Jose California who are listening the heck out of the show. I greatly appreciate it, you guys are the best.

As a reminder, if you like anything you here please remember to hit that like button. But enough of that, now onto her show. At the beginning I read a quote and that quote comes from a book written by a good friend of the show, Michael Thompson.

World of the orb fits into what could rightly be considered the midgrade and young adult categories. So why what I read it? After all, Bryan the Writer is a horror, mystery, and science fiction Writer. However, that really doesn’t do justice to what I read.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s really important to remember that if you are an author, reading far and wide is really important. The example I read to you at the beginning of the show is a wonderful example of world building.

Let me read you the back of the book, so you can get an idea of what the storyline is about. “Best friends Marvin and Andy have just discovered the Museum of Natural History’s unnatural secret: the orb, a mysterious relic that plunges these two modern teens into a medieval world of monsters, myth, and magic. To return home, they must embark on a global treasure hunt to unite five elemental crystals, all while eluding the eye of a tyrannical warlock bent on conquering the realms. This isn’t the field trip they expected.”

The world that Michael has built is called Enkartai and is divided into six different lands. In order to complete their quest, this band must cover all of the different lands to retrieve these crystals.

Intrigued yet?

The transitions that Michael uses to get from one spit of land to another are equally as engaging. You feel the chill of the air when the characters are moving through snowy landscapes. You feel the grit of the dirt when you’re on rocky and barren lands. When the characters first arrive in the dark lands, there’s a wonderful passage where you’re getting a description of the change in atmosphere. You can feel the oppressive change from the other parts of Enkartai.

Fortunately, no matter how much we say we grow up, in some respects we never really do. There’s a part of us that still loves to watch animated cartoons, no matter how old we are. There’s a part of us that still likes reading comic books, chewing bubblegum, feeling the wind through her hair a bike ride, there’s a part of us that always will want to go on a grand adventure.

That’s why reading this book is such a great experience. You get to tap into these emotions which are latent inside of you. In some ways you’re always going to put yourself in the place of the main character, as you live in this world that was created. And that’s what Michael does particularly well.

That’s it this week for all things writing. Next week is a bye week for me, so there will be no show. However, after that I am going to cover the topics of copywriting and what the heck is an ISBN anyway, and why should you have one.

If you enjoyed today’s show, remember to hit that like button and also feel free to donate to the show, you can do so by hitting the button in the upper right-hand corner which will take you to a page where you can donate directly to my cause.

Until next time, that’s it for me. This is Bryan the writer, signing off.

Support the show (http://paypal.me/BryanNowak)

Delicate strands of fog strayed from the burdensome murk, slithering across the sandy shore, weaving through trees and vines, and climbing up mountainsides to escape the wicked, whirling tempest that festered above the dying tides. The smoky overcast from which they fled mutated into horrible formations: a thick, gray shroud of obscurity that the light of enkartai’s twin moons could not pierce. The clouds instead filtered an abnormally dim moonglow, the color of unpolished siv, which cast muted tones across the land. The stars were invisible as well, and even the forest’s menagerie of bioluminescent creatures seemed absent that night.

Greetings, and welcome to the next episode of all things writing. I would like to share with you a couple facts before we begin. At the end of the year, pod casters who use Buzzsprout get this really cool report. In this report it tells you all about the cool things that happened during the past year.

For example, in the first season of the show, I uploaded 980 minutes of content, produce 30 episodes, and for the year I had a total of 700 downloads. Actually, that number was quite a bit higher, they must’ve taken that total a little earlier than the end of the year as it happened here in Virginia.

Most of you are listening to this on either directly from the links that I post, which take you to the website of the show, or on Google podcast.

The longest episode I did came in at 52 minutes and the shortest episode I did came in at nine minutes 21 seconds.

But what’s also really fascinating is the number one city in America who listens to the show All Things Writing is San Jose California. So I want to give a big shout out to the listeners in San Jose California who are listening the heck out of the show. I greatly appreciate it, you guys are the best.

As a reminder, if you like anything you here please remember to hit that like button. But enough of that, now onto her show. At the beginning I read a quote and that quote comes from a book written by a good friend of the show, Michael Thompson.

In a few of you who have listened to the show for a while will remember that Michael Thompson was on the show not that long ago talking about his ongoing projects and how he writes. At that time I offered up that I had just started reading his book, World of the Orb. And today, I’d like to go into a bit of a review.

But this being all things writing, I’m not just gonna simply do a book review, I want to do a little dissection.

As I read the book, World of the Orb, I thought about how Michael approached different aspects of the storyline. I thought about things like, why was reading the book in the first place. Yes, you can argue that Michael is a friend, so of course I would read his books, but it goes beyond that.

World of the orb fits into what could rightly be considered the midgrade and young adult categories. So why what I read it? After all, Bryan the Writer is a horror, mystery, and science fiction Writer. However, that really doesn’t do justice to what I read.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s really important to remember that if you are an author, reading far and wide is really important. The example I read to you at the beginning of the show is a wonderful example of world building.

As a matter of fact, I would likely point to the world of the orb is a great example of world building in general.

Let me read you the back of the book, so you can get an idea of what the storyline is about. “Best friends Marvin and Andy have just discovered the Museum of Natural History’s unnatural secret: the orb, a mysterious relic that plunges these two modern teens into a medieval world of monsters, myth, and magic. To return home, they must embark on a global treasure hunt to unite five elemental crystals, all while eluding the eye of a tyrannical warlock bent on conquering the realms. This isn’t the field trip they expected.”

Early on, Marvin and Andy meet Veronica, and Murray. Veronica is the same age as Marv and Andy, and is described as a huntress. She’s an expert at both the crossbow and a versatile weapon she carries with her. Murray is a wizard, although would be more important to point out that he is a disgraced wizard. A family tie puts him out of favor with the ruling class. It’s this family tie that leaves him in disgrace.

The world that Michael has built is called Enkartai and is divided into six different lands. In order to complete their quest, this band must cover all of the different lands to retrieve these crystals.

Intrigued yet?

The fact of the matter is, good writing is fun to read. I don’t really care if a book is young adult. If the story is well told, the characters are interesting, and the world is fun I am going to read it. And I think you should to. Going back to my example at the beginning of the show, that’s vivid writing. It’s a description of what the primary character is seeing.

The transitions that Michael uses to get from one spit of land to another are equally as engaging. You feel the chill of the air when the characters are moving through snowy landscapes. You feel the grit of the dirt when you’re on rocky and barren lands. When the characters first arrive in the dark lands, there’s a wonderful passage where you’re getting a description of the change in atmosphere. You can feel the oppressive change from the other parts of Enkartai.

That is really what you should strive to do when you write. You need to be able to put your reader in the mind of the main character. I know that sounds ridiculous because your writing, theoretically always happens in your own mind. However, I choose to believe that the characters actually live with in my mind and all I’m doing is chronicling their adventures.

There are certainly influences which shine through in Michael Thompson’s book. You can see where adventure stories of the past have definitely informed the way he wrote characters, and certain scenes. That is not to say he copied them.

In a show last season I mentioned that we are ultimately the sum of our parts. And Michael is certainly the sum of his parts when he wrote this book. You can see the other epic stories which influenced him.

Before we go on, I’d like to take a quick break to tell you a little bit more about Buzz Sprout. When we come back, working to talk about my favorite thing in the world, characters.

Did you know that podcasting is one of the fastest growing mediums? No, well, it is. You too can get your own show on the air. All you need is some gear that you likely already have, a quiet space to record, and the good people of Buzzsprout.

I will let you in my secret. Buzzsprout is my ace in the hole as they are easy to use, provide resources and advice, and make it simple to get All Things Writing listed in every major podcasting platform.

Don’t just take my word for it, follow the link posted in the show notes and check it out for yourself. Following the link lets Buzzsprout know we sent you, which helps support the show. Join All Things Writing and over a hundred thousand podcasters already using Buzzsprout to get our message out to the world. What are you waiting for? Check them out today.

And were back, thank you for staying with me for the second part of the show. You may have asked yourself, why it is that I would want to read a book about a bunch of kids. I actually thought about this a little bit before I sat down to record the show and the answer came to me from a surprising place, and that is a tiny little boy or girl that is trapped inside of all of us.

You see unfortunately, no matter how much we say we grow up, in some respects we never really do. There’s a part of us that still loves to watch animated cartoons, no matter how old we are. There’s a part of us that still likes reading comic books, chewing bubblegum, feeling the wind through her hair a bike ride, there’s a part of us that always will want to go on a grand adventure.

When I was a kid, there was essentially abandoned farmland behind our house. Myself and my buddy Scott would wander through those fields on countless numbers of adventures that we invented in our minds. Growing up as a fact of life. But that doesn’t mean that the younger version of myself doesn’t so wish I could go out on one more adventure.

There’s a love story that breaks out between Andy and Veronica. In many ways, it’s a love story which is the same kind of love story that we all wish we had when we were there age. What teenager doesn’t want to meet a girl or boy who steals their heart?

More importantly, who wouldn’t want to fall in love with someone who has that wild element to them? Listen to the way Michael describes her. “She had brown hair and bright blue eyes, and was wearing earth colored, handmade close, bracelets, and necklaces. I guess she was about our age. She stopped and studied us her sharp, periwinkle blue eyes stared into Andy and me. They were both dazzling and frightening.”

For that matter, what teenager wouldn’t want to discover they have magical powers. That’s exactly what happens to Marv. We have all wanted to have that happen to us when we were teenagers.

That’s why reading this book is such a great experience. You get to tap into these emotions which are latent inside of you. In some ways you’re always going to put yourself in the place of the main character, as you live in this world that was created. And that’s what Michael does particularly well.

His characters are dripping with realism and a three dimensionality that is really hard to accomplish.

My fellow writers please don’t mistake my previous comment to suggest that Michael has some natural power where he just knows how to write good characters, and create good worlds. I haven’t asked Michael specifically, but I’m guessing he would agree with me if I said this book didn’t just happen. He worked at it, and the craftsmanship and his skill as a writer shows.

As you know, on the show, All Things writing, we are very much anti-spoilers. So, I’m not gonna share a ton of examples for fear of accidentally spoiling anything. I will share the character description of one character who is nicknamed Fuze. “He was there demolitions expert, and much to the chagrin of the Katyra, talked rarely. He wore dark tinged goggles not unlike those of the Huntsman we fought earlier, with strips of pale cloth wrapping his arms and face in a mummy -like pattern. For a while I conjectured what they were for; they were too thin to offer much protection. I wondered if his skin had been burned, and when he lifted his project for inspection in the section unraveled, I realized he had no skin at all rather, scales of the tannish you flushed him, none of which looked to have sustained any damage. He rotated the metal sphere enough for fingered hand, face fabric parting for appointed two flying mouth to huff fog onto the surface that he then wiped clean and shined.”

Fuze is definitely a minor character. You don’t really see too much of him after this point. He does show up, but only briefly. And yet, Michael took the time and care to give this character some dimension. They don’t just exist simply to carry forward part of the story, they exist to carry forward the story and give it some dimension.

This is why am always harping on character development. For example, when the character and he finds himself injured, I genuinely worried about him. I found myself suddenly thinking of ways in which he could be healed. By the way, the way in which he is healed is ingenious, but again I won’t spoil that.

When Murry suddenly cut off from the rest, I fear for them is suddenly their wizard is no longer available. I can’t recall a single character in the novel which does not have at least some dimensionality to them. When the main characters encounter a pirate ship, I find myself wanting to go with them. The description of the pirate ship, and the pirates themselves are excellent and a lot of fun.

There are times when I read novels, or watch movies, where the bad guy lacks any real substance. I’m thrilled to say that in the World of the Orb, that’s not the case. The principal bad guy, Shamaul, is what you would expect out of a fantasy novel. He has dark powers at his beck and call, and an understanding of the magic around him. He also understands the epic importance of the crystals, and why he has to do everything he possibly can to stop the group from gathering them. Or it’s probably better to say that he needs to gather them before they do.

If there was any criticism I would levy against the book it’s that I would’ve liked to seen a little bit more of the bad guy, early on. To build dread, I do prefer to get glimpses of my bad guys in dribs and drabs early on and then lengthier doses toward the middle and end.

However, there is something purely unique about this bad guy in particular. Suffice it to say that he’s connected to the world around him in ways that are fascinating. Even Shamaul cannot be said to be all that he seems. And indeed, Michael left the door open for a another book in the series if he chose to write it. I personally would love to see all of these characters again.

Because of the magic, and the way things are portrayed in the book, it would be very easy for all of our heroes to return to the World of the Orb and fight other battles. To that end the orb itself has a bit of a lion witch and wardrobe feel to it.

Without any special knowledge, I could see a situation where the heroes return to the land they just left, not having aged a bit.

Needless to say, I highly recommend the world of the orb by Michael Thompson. I very much enjoyed the book, and I’m pretty sure you will too. Remember that being a literature agnostic, will ensure that you are being exposed to different types of literature. Don’t be afraid to go to a conference, or a book show, and buy something from an author you’ve never heard of. Don’t be afraid of buying a book from an indie writer. You may just be buying a book from the next great literary sensation.

That’s it this week for all things writing. Next week is a bye week for me, so there will be no show. However, after that I am going to cover the topics of copywriting and what the heck is an ISBN anyway, and why should you have one.

If you enjoyed today’s show, remember to hit that like button and also feel free to donate to the show, you can do so by hitting the button in the upper right-hand corner which will take you to a page where you can donate directly to my cause. Or check out the link in the show notes.

Until next time, that’s it for me. This is Bryan the writer, signing off.