The Third Book of Ore: Blaze of EmbersFebruary 1, 2017
The final book of our trilogy is coming! It will be available on April 12th, and here is a peek at what it looks like:
Mysterious Galaxy Birthday BashApril 19, 2016
23 years of “Martians, Murder, Magic, and Mayhem” will be celebrated on May 7th – and that fits us to a T! We are honored to have been invited to the greatest bookstore with the greatest staff on the greatest day. Come join the festivities! Here are the details.
WAYBOUND Event at PagesApril 11, 2016
We will be at the amazing book store Pages in Manhattan Beach on April 13th at 6:30 – come heckle us! Details are here.
WAYBOUND Launch EventMarch 2, 2016
It’s settled! Our launch event is going to be at our favorite place in Los Angeles – The Last Bookstore! Not only that, but the Grammy-nominated California Feetwarmers will be joining us for a champagne-fueled good time. Here are the details. If you are in the area, swing on by!
In the MinesFebruary 16, 2016
We’ve been in the dark for a while now, building the final volume of ORE. Many things are brewing, including the release of Book 2 – WAYBOUND, which we’ll be posting more about very soon. Until then, check out this first review for WAYBOUND – and exciting take from Kirkus that you can see here.
More Upcoming Events!April 6, 2015
Wondering where you can see us in the coming weeks? So glad you asked!
- Saturday, April 11, Irvine Marriott– Cam and Benny will be speaking on a panel and signing books at the Literary Orange Festival.
- Saturday April 18– We will be talking about animation at the Expo Park Library
- Sunday April 19– Come meet us at the LA Times Festival of Books! We will be signing at Booth 834 from 2-3:50. The festival is free, and it will be chock full of amazing authors. We can’t wait!
Upcoming Events!October 9, 2014
Hello everyone! We’ve been busily pounding away at books two and three, but we wanted to let you all know about some upcoming events. Hopefully you’ll be able to stop by and say hello. Unless indicated otherwise, we will both be there.
We have a few other events pending, and will add those to this list when they are confirmed.
- Oct. 12, 2pm- Teen Read Week, Central Library 630 W 5th St, Los Angeles 90071.
- Oct. 31, 1pm- Arcadia Park Branch Library 1302 North Justin Ave., Dallas TX 75211 (Cam only)
- Nov. 7, 4pm- Book Club, Northwest Branch Library, 3323 W. Victory Blvd.,Burbank CA 91505
- Nov. 8, 12-4pm- Hollywood Children’s Book Fair, Cheremoya Ave Elementary, 6017 Franklin Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90028
- Jan. 4, 2-4pm- Mt Lebanon Public Library, 16 Castle Shannon Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15228 (Benny only)
LIFT OFF!April 25, 2014
(The least flattering picture from our launch event that we could find.)
If we could bottle the feeling we had all last week, we would be kings. To see our brain baby out in the world, the thing we have been working on for years, on shelves and in people’s hands is by far the most gratifying feeling of our careers. We journeyed around the Los Angeles area, hit more than thirty stores, and signed hundreds of books. We met bookstore managers who were thrilled to be introduced to our book and shy but eager kids whose eyes lit up when we personalized a copy to them.
Totally crazy. And that was just during the week.
Then the weekend came, and we had the honor of speaking on a panel with Peter Straub at Wondercon (something we can’t stop talking about.) Not only did we avoid making complete buffoons of ourselves, but Peter was amazingly gracious and genuinely interested in reading our book – he even asked for a signed copy! So there we were, signing our debut novel… to Peter Straub. Also, the wonderful folks at Mysterious Galaxy hosted a signing for us at Wondercon, then it was on to our launch event at Children’s Book World.
And it went off without a hitch.
A lively crowd of family, friends and strangers squeezed in to listen to us talk about ourselves and read from our book. What a thrill that was! For our first public reading, we are happy to say we have reports of chills. The word “verklempt” was even bandied about. Such an amazing audience and such a beautiful event, and our signing wrists didn’t even get tired. The week was basically… perfect. A rare and wonderful thing – we are still over the moon, if you couldn’t tell.
And what now, you may ask? What are we going to do with our giddy and fortunate selves?
THE COUNTDOWNApril 5, 2014
(Image by Robbert van der Steeg)
This is that crazy, mind-melt time we have heard so much about from other authors – the days that lead up to release of your first book. Time is glacial, sometimes ecstatic and other times cruel, but always punishingly slow. Yet part of us wishes we could have more time; time to get the word out and to amplify our signal even more.
A small part, really. Most parts of us just want to get the book out there NOW.
But as we slither closer to the starting line (we would say finish, but getting the book out is just the beginning), it has been hugely gratifying to share some of the concept art that went into the making of the book. Check out the ongoing series of art posts on Twitter and Facebook leading up to the book release on April 15th.
(Art by Jon Foster)
There have also been some pretty crazy fantastic reviews, like this one from Booklist. This bit pretty much floored us:
“The imaginative world, whirlwind adventure, tense emotional stakes, and some well-placed laughs put this first in a planned series in the same stack as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.”
And this one from School Library Journal:
“The authors have created an imaginative and profound world. The descriptions of the Mekhans are so original and detailed, readers might think these creatures actually exist… A fine addition to any middle grade collection.”
And on top of it all, we got the very exciting news that we will appearing on a panel at Wondercon with none other than the inimitable Peter Straub.
All in all, its been a pretty wild time as we reflect on a project that started with the seed of an idea over breakfast back in 2006. Since then it has slowly evolved into something that has fully dominated our lives for the past three years. And pretty soon, it will be out in the world.
Still hard to wrap our little minds around…
BRIGHT AND SHINY!March 7, 2014
It has arrived – the advance print of our first book…
All we can say is that we had to put on our sunglasses. Even the good folks at Hyperion said the book was blinding people in the office. When we saw the cover art and the eye-catching graphic design, we were thrilled. Now that everything has come together in this incredible, glimmering package… honestly, we are gobsmacked. And that’s not a word to use casually. If ever.
Along with this amazing object, we received one of the highest compliments we could fathom. And from the influential Kirkus Reviews, no less. Our book has been likened to the work of Dr. Seuss. He is one of the pillars of our creativity, and to be mentioned in the same sentence as him is hard for us to grasp. Do us a favor and check out the review here so we can be sure we aren’t imagining it.
More exciting things are starting to bubble up, and we can’t wait to announce them soon. Mark your calendars for the book release date – Tuesday, April 15th, 2014!
Cover Reveal!January 30, 2014
Here it is, at long last: the jacket illustration for our debut novel, The Foundry’s Edge!
This beautiful painting was done by the exceptionally talented Jon Foster, with the striking graphic design and art direction by Marci Senders. We are thrilled with this piece and are honored to be associated with such top-notch work.
It’s tricky, having a singular image chosen from your story to represent the whole, especially a story such as ours with VERY specific ingredients to the world. We don’t know about you, but this image makes us hungry for more. And just wait until you see the design of the rest of the book – it’s gonna be a very pretty thing!
Only a few more months now —
Q&A: Part 2January 3, 2014
Join us as we plunge into another revealing exchange between two collaborators.
B: So now it’s my turn to take the mic and ask the questions. Last time we were discussing some of the challenges and complexities of world building. I know I covered everything important, but did you have anything to add?
C: Okay, okay! Just calm down – put down the fillet knife, and I’ll talk.
I guess I would just say that the job is never done. Like our own world, fantasy worlds are constantly in flux. It’s easy to assume that just because a book is in black and white that it is set in stone, but it’s crazy when you realize that every written world is truly alive. As anyone who has gone back to re-read a series of books would know, it is never the same place twice. That has its plusses and minuses. The upside is that writing and creating in a make-believe world is like being a kid in a sandbox with infinite possibilities. The downside is that infinite possibilities equals infinite possible mistakes – the rules and logic of the world must be upheld with every new addition and adjustment.
B: And it gets hard to keep track of all the rules and stuff that’s been established. So how about the characters? What would you say has been particularly difficult or rewarding about that development process?
C: Bringing a new character into existence is a lot like parenthood – it is a heart-racing thrill to have brought someone to life, but after that initial high wears off you wonder “So now what?” So you ask them. And then, like a real child, they start talking. And walking. And they make you laugh. And they make you angry. Then, inevitably, you get into a fight, and they stop talking to you. That’s the tough part, when you bend over backwards and do everything you possibly can to reach out to them, but your characters give you the cold shoulder.
B: I think I see where you are going with that– even though we are obviously in control of their fates, it does feel like we discover their motivations and desires, and their actions stem from that, sometimes unexpectedly. I know especially with Goodwin, we were very conscious about trying to avoid cliche “I want to take over the world!” purposes and typically ‘villainous’ tropes.
C: Yes, but it’s important to make sure they are still bad guys. Bucking too hard against the standards can be just as annoying as going full-stereotype. I have a passion for villains, as do all animators. You can take them as far as you want to, and then push them even further, and its okay because they need to be extreme (or at least they need to be capable of it.) Thankfully, this series overfloweth with villainy.
B: But hopefully arising from sympathetic and recognizably human intentions. This raises what I think is the most common question I have been asked – “How do you write a book with someone else?” How do you describe our process to people?
C: I usually say “Partner? What partner? I did this all by myself.”
I guess I would answer by continuing my family metaphor. Having a writing partner is a lot like being married. It’s a commitment that is entirely reliant on one’s ability to communicate and resolve conflict in a productive way. Of course, in a relationship, both parties frequently disagree and want to do things in exactly the opposite way. Then, either you dig your heels in and fight, or you acquiesce and show you are reasonable. Fortunately for me, I have a work wife who tires of fighting easily, so I get my way a lot. Thanks, dear!
B: Haha. And what would you say are benefits of that way of working?
C: Because the process of writing a book is so all-encompassing (especially one with intensive world-building) it is a huge comfort to have someone else to shoulder the burden with. We both have kids and day jobs, so it’s nice to be able to share the workload. It also helps that we have particular strengths and weaknesses that fit together well and balance us out.
B: Aw shucks, that’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.
C: No, it’s not. It’s not even about you. What are you even talking about?
B: No seriously, quit with the compliments.
C: Stop trying to start an argument. Why can’t you listen to me? I swear, just once I wish you’d––
Whew, thanks officers. That was a close one. Just don’t hurt him too bad – I need him for two more books.
More Q&A to come in our bright and shiny 2014, the year of ORE!
Q&A: Part 1December 19, 2013
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Benny Zelkowicz, co-author of the middle-grade novel THE FIRST BOOK OF ORE: THE FOUNDRY’S EDGE. Standing at 5’10” tall with his poofy coif of curls aflutter, Benny had a sort of restless look about him, like he had a million thoughts clinking about behind those stylish, photochromic eyeglasses. But he was generous enough to speak with me, and I’d like to share with you our exchange.
C: Hi Benny! Thank you so much for taking the time for this little chat. I know how busy you are – it’s really quite an honor. I was hoping I could ask you a few questions. Firstly, congratulations on the upcoming publication of your first book. Are you ready to call yourself an Author?
B: So nice to finally meet you. You are shorter than I imagined. Ready to call myself an author? Maybe when I actually get to hold the book in my hands, it will sink in- or more likely, when I hold the entire series of books it will feel real. Since writing is only one of many avenues I have been waltzing down over the past few years, it seems weird to claim it as my primary identity.
C: Hmmm, I see. And what would you say has been the most rewarding part of writing this book? And conversely, what has been the hardest?
B: In a way, the most rewarding and the hardest are one and the same- the world building. You nail down a few ‘rules’, things that define key aspects of how this new world operates, and those are usually the things that exited you about this idea in the first place. But that’s the equivalent of tossing a pebble in a pond- it creates ripples that intersect and move and affect everything else.
We didn’t want to take anything for granted- not even basic things like the color of the sky- but we wanted to be sure there was a logic and purpose behind every choice. It constantly brings up questions of history, biology, and physics, and often the answers that crop up necessitate key changes in the plot. It can be a frustrating rabbit hole, since you sometimes have to take several steps backwards, deconstruct something you have been working on for a long time, and rebuild it in a way that is consistent, logical, and compelling. And every move changes something else. But in the end, hopefully, you end up with a world that feels both original and credible, with weight and a pulse.
This reminds me of a story I read in elementary school. It was called “Rain Rain Go Away” by Isaac Asimov, and it was about a family who has some very strange neighbors move in next door. They are constantly fretting about the weather, always listening to forecasts on their radio, terrified of rain. I think they go on a picnic or something, and at the end of the story, they get caught in a downpour and melt, and the other family realizes their neighbors were made of sugar. And the other kids in the class all went “Whoa!” and I remember thinking “Why? Why are there sugar people? What do they want? Why do they live in secret? Are there more of them?” Of course, none of that was addressed in the story. But even at that age, I think I sensed that no creative choice really exists in a vacuum when it comes to fantasy. And sometimes the questions posed are more intriguing than the original answer. Starting now from the premise of “sugar people exist,” I think we could create a strange and fascinating world.
C: Haha! Boy, you do go on and on, don’t you? What was the first book you read where you thought to yourself, “I want to do that”?
B: I’m not sure I had that experience exactly. I think my passion was always to be a storyteller. Over the years, I’ve been an actor, animator, filmmaker- one summer I literally had a job as a storyteller at a camp- and book writing has just been the most recent opportunity to scratch that itch. I was a voracious reader as a kid- John Bellairs was a particular favorite. I think I read everything of his. Who could resist titles like “Spell of the Sorcerer’s Skull”, “Eyes of the Killer Robot,” or “The Lamp from the Warlock’s Tomb?”
And Lloyd Alexander’s “Chronicles of Prydain.” Those were huge inspirations, and filled my head with monsters and magic, and seemed to continue to exist even after I closed the books. By sixth grade, I was really into Agatha Christie and Stephen King, but I don’t think I ever imagined writing a book– except for the time when “Jaws” inspired me to write a book about an escaped lion. It was called “Terror in Tinseltown” and I never got past the title page.
But I was also hugely influenced by movies- the old Universal horror flicks had such a defined and pervasive atmosphere that I loved. And “King Kong” was the most moving story I had ever encountered. And “The Dark Crystal” both terrified and fascinated me. Those made me want to create worlds, although I wasn’t sure how to go about it.
C: Of course, of course. That’s all very interesting. And lastly, what is it like working with an unmitigated, scientifically-proven genius?
B: Aw, gee, we are out of time. Looks like the warden is here to take you back to your cell. I’ll visit again next week!
Discover more of these captivating conversations in future posts….
December 18, 2013
And if you are so inclined, follow us on Twitter @camandbenny to get even more of our insightful, blathering nonsense.
The GalleyDecember 17, 2013
It has arrived – the first bound copy of our very first book! It’s a weird, quivery sensation to know that so much work, so many years and sleepless nights you can just suddenly hold in your hand. Or you can use it as a coaster. Or your daughter can throw up on it. Our lives since March of 2011 are now officially contained in a singular object.
The galley is the first pass on the bound book. This is without the final jacket artwork, but the logo and graphic design are top notch, thanks to Marci Senders at Disney-Hyperion. We have read the book through and through too many times to count, but it still somehow takes on a new life when it is “a book.” Then it will suddenly become surreal when it is an actual final booky-book. Can’t even imagine that feeling quite yet. So for now, we are content —
The Big Reveal…November 16, 2013
Lots of people have been asking us, “So what is your book about?” Up until now, we’ve been keeping mum. But no more! Here is a brief summary:
In opulent Albright City, twelve-year-old Phoebe Plumm leads a reclusive life of luxury, concocting sly pranks to torment her rowdy servant boy, Micah. The illustrious Dr. Jules Plumm is her father and only friend, but because of his work at The Foundry, a global corporation with a monopoly on technology, she rarely gets to see him. Then one fateful night, Dr. Plumm is brutally abducted. Phoebe and an uninvited Micah risk everything on a daring rescue, pursuing her father down a mysterious train tunnel and into a land unknown. The kids find themselves stranded in a world of living metal, intruders in a majestic yet fearsome realm and fugitives of the all-powerful Foundry.
Pampered Phoebe and would-be hero Micah must learn to trust each other if they hope to survive. But as the unlikely pair get closer to Dr. Plumm, they will unearth the tie that binds their world to this one, a sinister secret that could change everything.
Oh, and it’s official. “The First Book of Ore: The Foundry’s Edge” comes out in April 2014!
Announcing…October 27, 2013
Hi everybody! Indeed, we have been tight-lipped on some of our book updates, but its entirely out of necessity. Elements change so frequently with this project, we try to not start blabbering until we feel the information is as locked and reliable as it can possibly be. The being said, we’d like to announce the title of the first book of our trilogy: “THE FIRST BOOK OF ORE: THE FOUNDRY’S EDGE.”
Our book is currently set to be released in the spring 2014. We couldn’t be more proud of the work we have done with our publisher, and we are chomping at the bit to get it into people’s hands. So there you have it – a name for the thing that has so thoroughly taken over our lives. Thank you everyone for your continued love, support, and interest!
PackagingSeptember 14, 2013
We’ve picked up thousands of books throughout our lives and can honestly say we have never given much thought to the extensive decision-making involved in designing a novel. Sure, we’ve thought about cover art, but how about the particular shade of white of the paper? Or the kerning of the font on the type-set page? Then there are endpapers, title pages, chapter headings, section breaks, margin design elements, and dust jackets, and case covers, and so on and so forth.
Though we aren’t directly involved in much of the book design process, the team over at Disney-Hyperion has been great about running things by us and picking our brains. So far, we have seen a mock-up of the cover and some sample pages, and we have to say we are blown away! There is a tremendous amount of attention is being paid to every detail. The end result is sure to deliver on our shared ambitions: to make the package of the book truly unique in order to properly reflect the story. We aspire to create a beautiful object that visually conveys something about the world in every single design choice. It’s inspiring to watch this project we invested SO much into become a real book, and then blossom into even more than just the words we have been painstakingly poring over for years.
Brain JengaAugust 22, 2013
Over the last few months, we’ve been deep in construction mode for book two of our trilogy. While the first story establishes a number of intersecting plot lines, the second, as with all “second acts,” is much more complicated––more of a tapestry of threads weaving together. The entire trilogy was still malleable when we were working on book one, but now that the text of the first volume is mostly locked, certain rules and realities are set in stone. Our responsibility now is to build on what we have already established and explore new and unexpected possibilities, all while setting the pieces into place for the final story.
Plotting these books feels like a super intense, high-stakes game of brain Jenga. Each individual story piece relies on the structure of the others, and if one is out of place (due to a plothole, or to a misjudged character motivation) a whole section crumbles. Then we pick up the pieces and go about carefully reassembling it all over again. And again. And again.
Thankfully because of our diligence, we haven’t had any total collapses. But there are a dizzying number of pieces in play at this point, and an essential part of the game is the constant re-evaluation of every single one. As the structure grows and expands, we discover some pieces that were once essential and load-bearing are now loose and removable. Periodically, we have to nudge the whole thing to evaluate its balance before the next piece is laid on top (usually a nerve-wracking feat.) Though the process is tedious and insanely challenging, it is also one of the most exciting stages in a way––it is when the possibilities are truly without limit. And now that we are done with the Brain Jenga for book two, the drafting begins!
Crossing i’s and Dotting t’sAugust 7, 2013
We are nearly done finalizing the copy edited manuscript for book one of our trilogy! Writing a book has proven to be so much more ridiculously complex than we could have ever imagined. Just to put it into perspective, we started working on the seeds of this project back in 2006 and began writing it full time back in March of 2011. Even things like settling on a title that suits everyone’s needs turns out to be rather involved. But Disney-Hyperion, our publisher, has been enthusiastic about the project, and this train keeps right on rollin’. It’s been an astounding learning process for us so far, and we are getting better at this thing every day.
In the meantime, we are very eager to jump into the illustration process for a change of pace. And, of course, we have been stoking the fires on book two, which is even bigger and badder. We’ll keep you posted on how that adventure is coming along, providing whatever information we can.
And we thought writing book one was an exercise in insanity. . .
A Book Update!July 16, 2013
We emerge from our hidey-hole with news… The first book of our trilogy is in the hands of the copy editors over at Disney/Hyperion! That means that the manuscript is dangerously close to being finalized. All signs point to an April/May 2014 release for book one, so mark your calendars and clear your nightstands. But our work is far from done! We will be sure to update as things progress – we will soon reveal the official title, plus we will have some exciting updates on illustrations, cover art, and our process on book 2.
We want to use this as a platform to talk about the labor and love of being first time authors, so check back frequently for more updates!
A Nod to MollyDecember 8, 2012
The animation aces over at Cartoon Brew gave us a kindly tip-of-the-hat. They posted our “Made by Molly” short and put up a little blurb for folks to see. If you are curious what people are saying, take look here.
WelcomeOctober 23, 2012
Hi folks! Thanks for swinging by our home on the intertubes – it still has that new site smell. Check this news area on occasion, and we’ll keep you posted (we are always busy working on something.) We’ll also periodically update the “SLIDESHOW” and “WORK” pages, so keep an eye on those, too. The biggest thing coming down the pike is undoubtedly the first book of our trilogy! We are hard at work revising the manuscript, and simultaneously laying the groundwork for Book Two. We’ll reveal more info as soon as we can, including the title, release date and all that. Check back soon under the “BOOKS” section. And don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook as we will post updates there, too.