Featuring freeze rays, alien invasions, boy geniuses, snarky robots and a mad scientist villain “too sincere” to be truly evil, author Scott Perkins, 42, wrote his new young adult novel “Howard Carter Saves the World” as a homage to the sci-fi tales that shaped his childhood.
“I’ve always said, if there’s a book you want to read and it doesn’t exist, write it,” Perkins said. “Howard Carter was written as a kind of push-back against the cynicism I have been seeing in young adult dystopian literature. I wanted a story with more optimism and silliness.”
Though he’s not anti-dystopian, Perkins is opposed to a hopeless vision of the future.
“I like the idea that young people can make a better decision,” the Fox Island resident said. “It’s not enough to just point out what’s wrong, you have to have hope for tomorrow.”
“Howard Carter” began as a list of Perkins favorite sci-fi cliches and was intended as nothing more than a writing exercise, published on Perkins’ blog after each chapter was finished.
“I didn’t write Howard Carter as a children’s book,” Perkins explained. His original online audience was mostly adults who follow his blog, Pages to Type Before I Sleep, some of whom read the chapters aloud to their families. “Howard Carter” ended up in the young adult section by publishing default, because of the young age of the protagonist.
Perkins faced some difficulty getting “Howard Carter” into the attention of publishers. His novel required a publisher willing to take a risk, and he found that with a British publishing company, Crooked Cat Publishing, which offered Perkins the chance his novel needed.
“It’s a kids book for adults,” Perkins said. “Everyone’s writing young adult because it’s the only dynamic part of the bookstore.”
“Howard Carter” is currently available in e-book format, though Perkins is currently talking with his publisher about releasing a traditional “ink and paper” book.
Perkins grew up on a farm in Missouri before attending college in Colorado, where he met his wife. The couple moved to Washington state and settled in their Fox Island home about ten years ago. When he’s not writing or researching a new project, Perkins works as a program assistant for the Student Learning Centers at Tacoma Community College.
While promoting “Howard Carter,” Perkins is also currently working on three more writing projects to be pitched to publishers. One, a long-reaching non-fiction project titled “The Renaissance Artisan,” has Perkins teaching himself the skills of 16th century artisans. He has been working on and documenting this project online for more than two years. The second project is a mystery novel about the Great Library of Alexandria, which is almost finished. And the third project is a sequel to “Howard Carter.” Perkins is still trying to find the central plot for the sequel.
“How do I write another story about a boy who can raise an army of robots and kick aliens off the planet?” he said.