Author: Randy Coates
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Paul Brager is twelve when his father tells the story of Iduna and her apples. Mr. Brager always tells stories before bed to entertain Paul’s little brother, Adrian—a ritual that has become even more important since their mother died. Iduna was a goddess who grew apples that made the gods younger and stronger, but one day she disappeared, along with her apples. Paul doesn’t think much of the myth; he has other things on his mind. Paul and his best friend, Chad Tremblay, are excited to start the school year as seventh graders at Dorian Heights Public School. Even when they hear about the new principal, Mr. Theisen, they aren’t worried about ending up in his office. When Paul finally meets the principal, however, he finds him to be strange, mysterious, and extremely fond of apples. That’s when things start going wrong. Theisen develops an uncomfortable interest in Paul, claiming he once knew Paul’s father. It becomes apparent to Paul and Chad that Theisen is after something, maybe some kind of treasure—and it involves the Brager family. Paul believes his family must be protected and that Theisen must be stopped. Still, he can’t get the story of Iduna’s apples out of his head; there seems to be an odd connection to the tale his father told. He and Chad want to know the answers, but learning them may put their lives in danger.
Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?
More Precious Than Rubies takes place mostly in an elementary school where the main character, Paul Brager,is bothered by the idea of a new, mysterious principal in his school.
Paul soon learns that the principal is a reincarnation of an evil Norse God who is somehow linked to Paul's family and who wants something from them.
Paul incorporates the help of his teacher and friends to find some way of protecting his family from the principal.
How did you come up with the idea?
The book is based upon the reoccurrence of a story in Norse mythology: the tale of lduna's apples. lduna had an orchard of apples that, when eaten by the Gods, brought them strength and vitality.
In my novel, the apples make a reappearance and, because of their power, one might consider them "more precious than rubies," gems that are comparable in colour and value.
What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?
Much of my own experience as a teacher came into play when I wrote this novel. Therefore, I did not have to rely on researching the details of being a grade school teacher and how students interact.
I did, however, conduct a lot of research concerning mythology. I knew nothing about Norse mythology which plays a huge role in the novel but I came across one myth that I believed would fit in perfectly to the novel.
When I learned about the myth of lduna and how all the Gods sought her apples for their power-giving and immortalizing effects, I applied this to the incidents in the book. But there was much painstaking research in order that I describe the Norse Gods accurately as well as the exact details of the myth.
Can you give us a short excerpt?
At the beginning of my novel, I try to establish the characters of Paul Brager and his family and the kind of relationship they have. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1of More Precious Than Rubies:
Paul Brager, twelve-years-old, knew that his father 's presence in his bedroom at this hour could only mean one thing. He was there for his nightly ritual, the telling of the bedtime story for Paul's younger brother, Adrian.
Paul had claimed the top bunk of the bunk bed for himself long ago, allowing Adrian no choice but to sleep in the lower bunk. That'swhat big brothers did, Paul thought. They asserted power over their younger brothers. They got to pick what was on television and they got to use the computer first and they got to confiscate whatever bunk they wanted before their brother had a chance.
Mr. Brager settled himself in a chair across from the lower bed where Adrian was lying. "Once long ago...,11 he began.
"Once upon a time." "Huh?"
"Allstories start 'Once upon a time'. You always start them with 'Once upon a time'.11
In your own experience, is it hard to get a fiction book published today? How did you do it?
My book belongs to the category of fiction; however, there is a lot of work in getting any type of book published.
More Precious Than Rubies is self-published but the preparation that went into self-publication is similar to the process of traditional publishing.
Choosing a reputable company to help in the procedure is beneficial. I did have to pay for certain services but these services were highly professional.
For example, even though I had proofread and revised my book numerous times, I received a thorough editorial evaluation that caused me to revise passages in the book yet again. The advice I received from the evaluation was never paltry but always informative and valuable.
Revisions are always necessary. They can be tedious but they make the difference in getting one's book published or not getting it on the market.
Also, I never tried to rush writing this book. There were times when I used to hurry to finish my work, believing that the sooner it was done, the sooner Icould publish it. Rushing only results in sloppy,error-prone work.
Randy Coates graduated from the University of Waterloo with a bachelor of arts degree and went on to acquire his teacher’s certificate at the University of Western Ontario. He is currently an elementary teacher in the Toronto District Board of Education.