Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Let's Go Back...WAY Back! (But Don't Worry...There Are Giveaways Where We're Going!)

I confess... When I was approached by Bonnie Lenz at Earthshaker Books, I was not very enthusiastic about reading and reviewing the Zan-Gah series by today's Authorpalooza author. Prehistoric adventure? No thanks. That's just not my thing! I DID, however, agree, because as a home-school mom, I thought this series might be good to read with my middle school aged son. Little did I know that by the time I reached the third or fourth chapter of the first book, I --along with my son -- would be completely entranced!

I could go on, and on, AND ON, but I think I'll let this talented author tell you more! Just make sure to leave lots of comments, because there is a GREAT giveaway that goes along with this post! Oh, and check back here next Tuesday, Sept. 6, when I'll post my reviews of the first two Zan-Gah books!

Now, I am both humbled and honored to welcome Mr. Allan Richard Shickman to the Authorpalooza!

LC: Hi Allan, and thank you for being with us today!

AS: Many thanks for inviting me to your blogspot!

LC: First of all, congratulations! I understand that the third book in the Zan-Gah series has just been released. I'm sure that everyone's anxious to hear more about it, and your other books as well! Can you give us brief descriptions? (Maybe with the genre(s) listed, too).

AS: DAEL AND THE PAINTED PEOPLE is the third book of the ZAN-GAH series. The first of the three. ZAN-GAH: A PREHISTORIC ADVENTURE, traces the development of the hero, Zan, from his early teens to his achievement of maturity and manhood. The second book, ZAN-GAH AND THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY, focuses on Zan's disturbed and bitter twin brother, and on Zan's efforts to protect him from his own worst impulses. Even in the near paradise of the Beautiful Country, Dael is unable to find peace and happiness. He finally leaves with the mute girl, Sparrow, in search of peace and some kind of resolution of his life.

DAEL AND THE PAINTED PEOPLE begins at that point. Tormented by grief and guilt, and fighting to restrain his violence, Dael goes to live with the painted people. There, he finds another kind of paradise—one of generosity and kindness into which he fits but uneasily. While Dael slowly heals, Sparrow blooms in an unexpected way. Meanwhile, without knowing it, Dael makes a powerful enemy. Fortunately Dael has friends too, including a troop of crows.

YA/teen fiction, prehistoric fiction, adventure, survival fiction, book series

LC: I just received DAEL AND THE PAINTED PEOPLE, and can't wait to crack the cover! I've read many glowing reviews of these books, which, for you, has got to feel pretty good! What, would you say, has been your greatest triumph as an author?

AS: In walking through the lush growth—nay, the stately forest—of my triumphs (heh heh), none stands taller in my mind than the enthusiasm of a twelve year-old guest reviewer for the BISMARCK TRIBUNE. Here’s what Madelyn from North Dakota had to say: "ZAN -GAH is a very interesting, exciting and suspenseful book. During the book, I always felt a burst of emotions....A wonderful book for all ages. I picked up this book and couldn't put it down until the end. If I had to read this book 1,000 more times, I would. I love this book...."

And I love Madelyn H.

LC: I can see why! So, how long have you been writing? Have you always known that you wanted to write?

AS: My ambition to be a writer developed gradually. As a student I liked to write, and tried my hand at it from time to time. As a professor I wrote scholarly articles, and most of those journals have very high standards. It was an honor to be published in any one of them. Only upon retirement did I attempt a fictional book. Once I wrote the first chapter I was hooked.

LC: Yeah, there's just something about allowing creativity to flow that's wildly invigorating! Speaking of wildly invigorating... where is the most exotic or strange place you've ever traveled to?

AS: The Grand Canyon is one of the great, exotic places in the world. Going there is like visiting a different planet. But for civilization, I recommend Venice. It’s like a city of dreams, or would be if you could get rid of the tourists.

LC: I sensed, (or at least visualized on my own), a Grand Canyon-esque influence in THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY. Maybe that wasn't too far off, eh? Your descriptions in the books are quite vivid and lovely, but I think that if I had to choose one aspect of your books as my favorite, it would be the characters. Let me, therefore, ask you... If you were stuck on a desert island with one of your characters, who would you want it to be, and why?

AS: Well, there is the gorgeous and high-spirited Lissa-Na, of course. She has found her way into any number of my desert islands. But aside from that, I believe I would be best off in the company of my hero, Zan-Gah. He is intelligent, resourceful, brave, and fair-minded. In survival circumstances, I believe he would be a good person to have around. I’m not so sure he would choose me, however.

LC: As a redhead with green eyes myself, I must admit that I instantly liked Lissa-Na, but I think your choice probably IS the best one! So, let's say that a big-shot Hollywood producer offered to turn your series into a motion picture, who would you want to play the lead roles?

AS: I would want it animated. I can’t tell you how many readers have told me that ZAN-GAH reads like a movie, so I have thought about it.

LC: An animation? Of course! While we're on the subject of movies, what is your favorite movie of all time, and why?

AS: More than one film comes to mind. Certainly one of my favorites is John Huston’s production of MOBY DICK, with Gregory Peck. I was a freshman in high school when that came out. I loved it then and still love it now. In fact I watched it the other night. It is a remarkably realistic and authentically detailed movie, full of excitement, harrowing in emotion, and deep and meaningful in its themes—just like my ZAN-GAH series! Whaddya know.

LC: *Chuckles* Well put! Way to promote! I'm you have any strange habits or rituals when you write?

AS: No, not at all. My method of preparation propels me into writing without the problem of writer’s block. For months I make little notes and big ones on 3 x 5 inch cards. Anything that occurs to me gets written down on the spot. Sometimes it is a sentence or just a single word, sometimes a couple or three paragraphs. Ideas come to us all the time, and at random—that is, in no order at all. Written down on a stack of cards, it is possible to sort it into chapters, putting the ideas for each chapter into a usefully ordered sequence. Then the book practically writes itself (heh heh).

LC: What a great method! What do you like to do when you're not writing?

AS: I like to view and study art and literature. I like to cook. I like to sit at a sidewalk café and read. Also, I spend a lot of time following world and national events, and every once in a while I fire off a letter to a newspaper or call National Public Radio. I have been on NPR three or four times, and have had a dozen letters in THE NEW YORK TIMES .

LC: It's a funny thing how many authors like to write when they're not writing. ;) I guess when something's in your soul, it's hard to abandon it! Once again, I'd like to thank you for joining us! We're almost done, but there's one last thing I like to have authors do, and that is to SELL IT! Tell us why we would like to read the "Zan-Gah" books. (No pressure...or, at least, not much!)

AS: I conceived the ZAN-GAH/DAEL book series as a needed countercurrent to books that rely on the fantastic and unreal. I introduce no vampires, no magic wands, no dinosaurs even. These books deal with harsh realities like cold, thirst, walking long distances barefoot, and avoiding being killed and eaten. In addition to the exciting, page-turning narratives, I try to include meaningful and enriching themes, so that the reader’s mind expands in reading them. I try to show how friendship and love can survive and grow, even in the harshest of worlds.

One after another, readers like Madelyn, as well as reviewers like yourself, have pretty much raved about the series. My latest reviewer, SUKO’S NOTEBOOK, is an example: “Wow! It will be difficult to convey even one tenth of my enthusiasm for this book—or this series.” I have received lots of enthusiastic comments like that, which are listed on the ZAN-GAH website. A tsunami of excitement over the ZAN-GAH/DAEL series is growing daily, and I welcome it. I really do.

It's Giveaway time!!! You have the opportunity to win THE ENTIRE ZAN-GAH SERIES!! That's right, all three books, signed by the author, just for leaving your comments on this post! Here's more about it:
The hero, Zan-Gah seeks his lost twin in a savage prehistoric world, encountering suffering, captivity, conflict, love, and triumph. In three years, Zan-Gah passes from an uncertain boyhood to a tried and proven manhood and a position of leadership among his people. Themes: survival, cultures, gender roles, psychological trauma, nature's wonders and terrors.
The prehistoric saga continues as Zan-Gah and his disturbed twin brother, Dael, come into conflict. When their clan migrates to a new Beautiful Country, Dael's furious violence, joined with the magnetic power of his personality, precipitates division and an unwanted, preventable war. Zan's task is to restrain his brother's destructive and self-destructive tendencies, leading him to peace and recovery in the bountiful new land. But it is not to be, despite Zan's efforts and those of two strong female characters. This book features themes of war and peace, tribal conflict, traumatic stress, gender roles, and sibling rivalry, bereavement, redemption.

 A prehistoric adventure, this is the third of the Zan-Gah young adult books. When Dael, guilty and tormented, came to live with the tribe of the painted people, he longed for peace and restoration; but without knowing it, he made a powerful enemy. Luckily, Dael had friends-including a troop of crows-and his own mystical powers. The disturbed and violent hero learns from the Children of the Earth, and from his submissive wife, a new way of life that is peaceful and generous. Dael and the Painted People is a story of conflict, healing, hate, and love by the winner of the Eric Hoffer Award, a finalist for the ForeWord magazine Book of the Year Award, and the Mom's Choice Gold Seal for Excellence in a family-friendly book series.

So get those comments flowing in, because on or around September 16, Mr. Shickman will be choosing one lucky commenter as the winner! Entries must be posted no later than 11:59 p.m. on September 15. (Don't forget to leave an email address so we can notify you if you win!) While a plethora of comments is welcome, only one per person will be entered in the giveaway. Good Luck Everybody!!

   Artist, teacher, author, and historian Allan Richard Shickman was an art history professor at the University of Northern Iowa for three decades. His first novel, Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure, won an Eric Hoffer Notable Book Award, and was a finalist for the ForeWord magazine Book of the Year Award. The series, including Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country, received the Mom's Choice Gold Seal for Excellence in family-friendly literature. Dael and the Painted People is the third of the Zan-Gah book series. He has also published articles in English Literary Renaissance, Studies in English Literature, Notes and Queries, Colby Quarterly, Art Bulletin, and Art History.


  1. oh these books look wonderful. i would love to get my hands on all of them. please count me in! c",)


  2. I don't usually read books like these, but this series sounds very interesting.