ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ANTONIO SIMON, JR.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
That's a tough one to answer. I pride myself on my humility, you see. [Grins]. I'm a lawyer and an author. Slowly but surely I'm working my way to the point where I can devote myself full-time to writing novels.
2. In a previous author photo, you wore dark sunglasses and a suit and tie. What's with that?
Irony, mostly. You wouldn't expect a guy looking that serious to be funny. The irony amuses me.
3. When did you start writing, and why?
I started writing when I realized I had a face for radio and a voice for print. By then I figured there had to be something I was good at, and as it turns out, I'm not half bad at writing.
4. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
I write fantasy and comedy, mostly. You can get away with more things in a fantasy or a comedy than you can in more serious genres. The audience expects that you're going to bend the rules of reality a bit. And if you're clever and a little sneaky, you can slip a serious message into a book of either genre, which adds a whole new level of depth to the experience.
What's more, writing comedies makes me happy. It's a great feeling to meet someone who's seen the same movie or read the same book as you, and share the moments that made you laugh the hardest. That feeling takes a whole new dimension when you're talking about something you, yourself, have authored.
5. Tell us a little about the world of The Gullwing Odyssey.
The Gullwing Odyssey takes place in the early age of sail. Great empires jockey for dominance of the seas with fleets of enormous galleons. Piracy is rampant. Amid the royal intrigue and power struggles, smaller nations struggle for a place on the world stage, while ordinary men and women scrape by.
Marco's traveling party is a multinational group. His companions come from different countries and each harbors his or her own personal values. Much of the humor comes from how a such a varied group can work together without killing each other.
For instance, one character, the wizard, is from the tiniest nation in the world. This country is a plutocratic republic where only the wealthiest are allowed to reside. It's also where the stuffiest people in the world come from. Another character is from a country based on France under Louis XIV. His homeland is the naval superpower. Interestingly, its orders of knighthood are all nautical. Their knights are not men with horses but sea captains. And then of course we have the dragon islands. The dragons are an intelligent race of creature who live in virtual isolation from the rest of the world. Their homeland was only recently discovered in the years preceding Marco's adventure. This culture shock causes problems at home for the dragons and threatens to shake up the power politics among the human nations.
6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
For starters, there's Marco Gullwing, the titular character. He's a young man who thinks he'll never be much more than a messenger, and would be pretty content if things remained that way the rest of his life. As you already may have guessed, it wouldn't make for much of a story if he got his way, so everything that could possibly go wrong for him does.
Marco isn't your typical fantasy hero. He's no sword-swinging knight in shining armor, and he knows it. But he is a likeable-enough sort of guy. He's down to earth and you definitely wouldn't mind having a drink with him in a bar. He's also quick-witted, which is all the better for him when he gets into trouble -- which is often.
Then there's Barclay, a gruff knight and religious zealot. He is on a mission to spread his gospel and save souls. Personally, he cannot stand dragons because his religion considers them to lack souls. Yet, for reasons that make sense only to him (if at all), he is sent to the dragon islands to save the souls of beings that his religion has decreed soulless. It's paradoxical, but Barclay is not one to question his faith. If that weren't bad enough, the traveling party includes two dragons.
Dria is one of the dragons who accompanies Marco. She is the princess of her country, and she knows better than anyone (more so even than her father, the emperor) that times are changing. She realizes that, in order to keep her people safe, her people will have to change with the times. Headstrong and quick-tempered, she is something of a tomboy. She takes charge where others (like Marco) would shy away. She also holds up well in a fight, and is fun to watch in action.
7. Tell us a fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
There are many overtly funny moments in this book, but there many subtle jokes too, like "Easter eggs" in TV shows and video games. You can catch them if you really pay attention, but so far, no one has caught them all.