David D. Hammons is the author of books which include The Code of Magic, Alice Takes Back Wonderland, and Don’t Eat the Glowing Bananas. The Code of Magic is currently available for pre-order on Kindle.
How would you describe The Code of Magic to someone who has not yet read it?
It’s an American Harry Potter. That may not be the perfect explanation, but that’s sort of what I set out to do. I wanted to write something that would make my ten year old self stand up and cheer but also have a multicultural perspective on the history and use of magic.
What is something that both child and adult readers will enjoy about this story?
It has a young boy flying in a magic air-ship and hunting down monsters. What’s not to like!
What is one of the challenges of writing a fantasy book?
I suppose the biggest challenge nowadays is doing something unique. It’s actually easy, in my opinion, to create a world that feels different, but to tell a unique story that doesn’t fit into now universally well-known tropes, that’s hard. Fantasy is inherently grandiose and perhaps archetypal, so the old elements are easy to fall into. You sort of look at the fantasy story-telling process as navigating a minefield while trying to build something awesome.
What are some lessons that young readers can learn from Alex’s adventures?
Never stop trying. The biggest thing I wanted to stress is that Alex is not welcome in this world of magic and monsters. It’s an amazing, wondrous place, but he has to work at every step. Perhaps it’s a problem with fantasy that so many main characters are born special or magical, and are encouraged from the start of their adventures. Sure they face astronomical challenges, but they have a core group of supporters and gifts from the beginning. I wanted Alex to start out completely alone, unwanted, and yet he never gives up. He has to prove he deserves to learn magic. He is not entitled to it just because he’s the hero of the story, he has to fight for what he wants. It’s a truly American experience too. I love that, and think it’s a lesson that’s served me well. Each time I encountered adversity, or challenges, or especially people telling me I wasn’t good enough or didn’t belong, I just kept focused and never quit. I suppose writing is a perfect metaphor for that. The Code of Magic wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t powered through the challenges and years of rejection and never given up, and Alex wouldn’t have learned the Code of Magic if he didn’t refuse to quit.