Jump into a universe of adventure with the interactive book series for Middle Graders, VOYAGERS!
Welcome back Patrick! It’s great to have you on MMSAI again!
Happy to be back in the hood. Today it’s Me, You, You’re Shelf, and You. That’s got a good ring to it.
Let’s talk about your new Middle Grade Series, VOYAGERS. You’re a pioneer in the interactive books for kids, tell us a little bit about how the VOYAGERS books and online website work together to bring kids a one of a kind experience.
Voyagers puts the reader in outer space, searching for six elements that need to be found in order to solve Earth’s power crisis (it’s even worse than we thought!). So there’s a nod to Star Trek in this story – going where no kid has gone before, meeting aliens and exploring new planets. Since it’s science fiction, I wanted to connect to the ship in a new way. Every reader is also a cadet on the Cloud Leopard, the ship that takes them out into the universe. The web site allows them to explore the planets, test their knowledge, and create their own robot commander. There’s also a very fun game app that puts kids on the planets, let’s them collect dozens of different robots, and basically save the world. It’s all connected across books, the web, and the app. I’d have loved the broad connectivity of Voyagers when I was a kid. You can find all this stuff at www.voyagershq.com.
This isn’t your first interactive book series, in 2009 the SKELETON CREEK series launched as an interactive book set as well, where did the idea for the interactive novels come from?
I can’t believe I came up with Skeleton Creek seven years ago. Wow. In tech time that’s forever, and things have sure changed a lot in those years. Skeleton Creek was a very simple idea: read and watch a story unfold, and have the videos really matter. Thirty million video views later, I think it worked! Some young readers want that kind of connection with a book more than ever, so Voyagers takes interaction to the next logical place. Voyagers is a series of books with a game readers can play and a world they can explore online. And everything is connected in a way that makes the whole experience feel like it belongs together.
Oh wait – there was a question there and I missed it – where did the idea of an interactive book come from? It was a basic thought process: what will get kids who don’t want to read to turn more pages? Way back then, the best thing I could think of is if they could watch part of the story every couple of chapters. I thought that would pull them through the book, especially if the videos were a little scary. Voyagers is a natural extension of that idea.
VOYAGERS is a bit like the 39 CLUES series, where each new book is written by a different author, who are some of the authors we can expect to see on the line up?
I’m so pleased with the Voyagers writers –I’ve read all six books, and they are awesome. And we were able to put together a group with different kinds of readers, so hopefully all types of kids will explore Voyagers. D.J. Machale wrote the first book, Project Alpha, and he knocked it out of the park. If you have ever dreamed of going to space camp, beating out the competition, and heading into space, you’ll love D.J.’s book. Robin Wasserman took on Meta Prime, an all metal and machine planet and she aced it. I wrote the third book, Omega Rising, and I love it! Then we have the amazing Kekla Magoon on the fourth book, followed by Jeanne Duprau for five. Jeanne is very exciting for us. Her City of Ember series is such a classic. And bringing us home is the very talented Wendy Mass. My kids were excited about Wendy, because they read her books growing up. She closes out the series like a master.
If the readers stop into https://www.voyagershq.com/ they will be met with tons of fun features, such as a quiz to see if they have what it takes to save the world and a ZRK Commander generator – have you created your own ZRK Commander? If so, would you share him with us?
I have a pink and orange Zrk Commander, because I like my robots stylish. And I’ve collected half a dozen Zrks for my commander to control. Those are in the app, such fun.
Can readers get a taste of the features on the VOYAGERS website, without yet having one of the books? What benefits will they find to having a book with them when they log in?
If you have a Voyagers book, you can unlock all kinds of secret stuff at the web site that will blow the world of Voyagers wide open for you. There’s a cool code wheel included for each volume, and that will help you unlock the best stuff. Each book has a new set of unlockables at the web site that will take you deeper into the planets and the alien life forms. Tons of fun.
What do you hope kids take away from VOYAGERS, both the books and the interactive website?
I loved Star Wars growing up. It was a world I could get lost in and imagine being a part of. Every element of Voyagers was designed to make kids feel a part of the adventure, like Star Wars did for me when I was a kid. The books and the technology bring a sprawling world into existence, one I hope young readers will find a home in. We’re also releasing the books very quickly – one every two months for a year – in order to get kids into orbit and keep them there. Voyagers isn’t a series where you have to wait a long time between books. Once you’re engaged, we’ll keep the action coming. I’d also say that any person who finishes the series and explores the technology along the way is going to learn a lot of STEM: science, technology, engineering, and math. That stuff is stealth – it’s all over the story – so kids will learn it naturally.
What’s up next for you and for the VOYAGERS series?
I’ll be out touring in early 2016 to 20 cities over two months, bringing the world of Voyagers to schools and bookstores everywhere. It’s not heading out into space, but it’s going to be a long haul! I’m pretty focused on getting the word out about the series and preparing for one of the longest tours I’ve ever done. Excited to get out there!
Thank you so much for stopping in!
Of course! Thank you for inviting me over and letting me talk about the series. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. No more me. It’s all you!
Buy Voyagers #1 Project Alpha by DJ MacHale
Pre-Order Voyagers #2 Game of Flames by Robin Wasserman
Pre-Order Voyagers #3 Omega Rising by Patrick Carman
Pre-Order Voyagers #4 Infinity Riders by Kekla Magoon
About The Author
I have been a lifelong writer and storyteller. Salem, Oregon is where I spent my formative years and I graduated from Willamette University. After college, I spent a decade living in Portland, Oregon where I worked in advertising, game design, and technology.
I've written young adult and children's books for Scholastic, Little Brown Books For Young Readers and Katherine Tegen Books/ HarperCollins Publishers.
I've been fortunate enough to have had some bestselling series work: The Land of Elyon, Atherton, Elliot’s Park, 39 Clues, and Skeleton Creek. Here's a fun note...the books have been translated into approximately two dozen languages. Currently I'm developing a few new-media projects. Check out DARK EDEN to experience this type of cross-platform project.
When I'm not writing or creating a story, I spend my free time supporting literacy campaigns and community organizations, fly fishing, playing basketball and tennis, doing crosswords, watching movies, dabbling in video games, reading (lots), and (more than anything else) spending time with my wife and two daughters.