Title: More Precious Than Rubies
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.
The book is based upon the revisitation of happenings in Norse mythology: namely, the story of lduna’s apples. lduna had an orchard of apples that brought strength and vitality to the Gods when eaten by the Gods.
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 is your writingenvironment like?
I usually write with no one else around; however, people coming and going from the room do not disturb the flow of my writing. Ialways have a dictionary within reach.
If the weather is hot and sunny, I try to write outdoors. Interestingly, my greatest writing production comes when I am outside in a foreign country. Any change in creativity provides creativity in my writing.
Computers have certainly assisted in the editing process. When Ifirst started to send away my short stories to contests 30 years ago, Ifelt privileged to own a typewriter on which Ityped. The carriage that had to be shifted at the end of each line of typing did not seem like an inconvenience at the time. Nor did the white-out used for corrections.
Computers make the whole process faster and cleaner. Plus, one can save his writing and make multiple copies of it.
The internet provides an endless amount of resources. If a writer needs to do some research on a particular subject, he does not even need to leave his home. He can Google the topic quite handily.
What inspires you to write?
I get my ideas simply being around other people: not necessarily interacting with them but watching them and listening to them is sufficient.
As a teacher, I am influenced by how my students talk, what they say is going on in their lives (I have to be extremely careful with that), and how they communicate with me and each other.
More Precious Than Rubies shows the relationship that certain students have with certain adults, some of whom are teachers. It is not difficult to connect my own experiences as a teacher to events in the book.
Did you learn anything while writing this book?
I learned that, at the age of 50, I still have a long way to go before I am a good writer.
Even though I rewrote this book three times, using my friends’ advice and the suggestions of an editorial evaluation,I still received some poor reviews of the material.
What this tells me is that having an agent to guide me would be very beneficial. Ineed someone to tell me what would not work in the market and what Idesperately need to rewrite.
Three drafts of a book are probably considered too few.
I also learned that perhaps some books should not be written at all. They might have sections that are well-written. Yet, an agent would be upfront in sayingthat the book would not sell.
In the world of writing, I am extremely patient. Poor reviews of my work do not bother me the way that poor marks on university papers used to devastate me.
I have hardened myself to accept criticism,wait a few days,then resume the business of trying to make my writing better. This is where my patience surfaces.