Carlton Holder is the author of THE MOONBEAM RIDER, a young adult, coming of age novel described as "The Diary of Anne Frank meets The War of the Worlds." You can find out more about the book and see the trailer here.
He took some time out of his busy schedule to sit down and tell us more about his book and fascinating work over the years.
What was the inspiration behind this book?
Hi, Andrea. My inspiration for this book came from three places: World War II thrillers, UFO documentaries and old science fiction pulp magazine covers. I love old movies like “Casablanca,” where people throughout the world come together to fight the occupation of Europe by the Nazis. I wanted to recreate this war-torn world in contemporary times with humanity fighting occupation by beings from another galaxy. The inspiration for the robotic creation that is resurrected to fight against the aliens in the novel was inspired by the robots on the covers of old pulp magazines.What kind of research did you have to do for it?
Not much. I was well-versed in the world I was trying to create, so the rest came from my imagination. The hardest part of writing this novel was speaking in the first person voice of a sixteen year old girl writing in her journal. What helped me the most with making that voice authentic is that I also train competitive female gymnasts and most of my girls are tweens and teens. I’m around youth a lot, so I understand how they think and see the world. I don’t think it would have been possible to write this novel if that hadn’t been the case. So you might say I’m immature.Which character spoke to you the most?
My main protagonist Noa spoke to me the loudest and clearest. She is a girl who grew up in the inner-city. She was an outcast who would lose herself in her graphic novels. After her parents are killed and she is sent to a very scary beach to live with a strict grandmother she’s never met, Noa finds empowerment through surfing (she finds an old board) and learns to ride the waves in secret. This has a startling affect on her psyche, as well as her body. I can relate to this because I grew up poor in an intercity. I discovered gymnastics, which empowered me and changed the course of my life.What was one of your favorite scenes?
When Noa discovers the underwater cavern Metal-Lunar, which she likes to refer to as the Robot Kingdom or the Kingdom in Cobwebs.Will we ever see these characters again?
Yes. Most of my gymnasts have already read my book and really enjoyed it. They have started asking me about a sequel. I planned this as a trilogy, but wasn’t going to get into the second book until the Summer. Now it looks like I’m going to have to start writing it sooner. I’ll start putting my notes together in a week or so.The name Noa is very unique for a girl. I do have a friend who named her daughter that. Where did you come up with that name?
Originally THE MOONBEAM RIDER was a screenplay. In the original story Noa was a little boy named Noah. My manager and a producer who had worked at Dreamworks wanted to produce it as a 3D animation movie. When that didn’t happen, I wanted to turn it into a novel with my main character like a Harry Potter. When I read The Hunger Games, I decided I wanted to make it a little more grown up and a little more edgy. A sixteen year old girl with a bad attitude seemed a fun way to go.You describe it as Diary of Anne Frank meets War of the Worlds. Would you care to expand upon that?
Anne Frank’s story is so inspiring and heartbreaking. I loved how the book was all about her thoughts and feelings. And then I got to thinking, what if I created a character like that, set in a fictitious world where the earth is being invaded and occupied by alien creatures? The concept grew from there.How do you think your past pursuits helped you prepare to write this book?
I was a gymnast in college. Afterwards, I came to Hollywood and became involved in the stunt industry. I worked on a number of films and TV shows as a stuntman - usually doing stunts that involved acrobatics (I even worked on Power Rangers which is now being rebooted as a big budget young adult movie). Later, I started reading the scripts on the sets of the productions I worked on. I had been a literary major and journalism minor in college and had always loved creative writing, so I decided to take a shot at it. As a stuntman I had worked on a lot of fantastical action movies, so I became more immersed in this world. It also didn’t hurt that I grew up on a steady diet of comic books, graphic novels, as well as horror and sci-fi films.What is it about this genre that appeals so much to readers? To writers?
Young adults like to read stories where they can see themselves in the characters. This is also a coming of age story, which in my opinion appeals to people of all ages. It’s also science fiction and people always wonder what if…?
As far as why it appeals to me, here’s my secret: I write the projects that I would be a fan of. I don’t try to guess what the market is looking for and then write it. I write from the heart. Otherwise it would be boring.You have a very interesting writing past. How did you get involved in those projects?
Thanks. Gymnastics led me to the movie stunt world. Stunts led me to movie-making and writing. Screenplays led me to books. It wasn’t quite a straight line though. There were lots of detours.You're currently working on developing a TV show. What can you tell us about that project?
It’s based on an espionage novel I’ve written called “SPOOK: Confessions of a Psychic Spy.” I’m just realizing now that I have a habit of marrying history with the fantastic. It’s about a CIA remote viewer during the Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement who also happens to be Black. This character will be involved in a lot of infamous historical events of the Sixties.Have you made it to Area 51 yet?
Not yet. But I’ve driven from Los Angeles to Las Vegas many times and every time I pass Highway 375 (the legendary Extraterrestrial Highway that takes you to the infamous Area 51), I want to turn onto it. I’ll keep you posted.Please tell us more about your other published works.
I’ve written a horror novel called “THE BLACK ALBUM: A Hollywood Horror Story.” It’s inspired by true events. I had shot this micro-budget horror movie in the Arrowhead Mountains. We had a lot of bizarre experiences during the filming and the movie was never completed. That adventure left me more open to the possibility of the supernatural.On what are you currently working?
I was planning on writing the first book of three different novella series: “MIDNITE REVIEW OF THE FREAK KING” (new adult), “TEENAGE WASTELAND” (new adult) and “DEATH DEFYER” (adult). But it looks like I’m going to start working on the sequel to The Moonbeam Rider since I’m getting requests for it.Do you have a writing process that you follow?
I have a seed of an idea and I just think about it for a couple of weeks. Sometimes I abandon the idea for reasons like: I don’t see this being a full-length film or book. After that, if I feel like I have something, I’ll write it out in a three page synopsis and start putting names to the characters. If I like it after that, I go from there to either turn it into a TV series, movie or novel.What is one of your dreams that you have finally realized?
I finally wrote a big spec cop drama screenplay that has been getting attention in Hollywood. My manager will be taking it out to the major studios. All my other scripts that have been made into movies up to this point have been small independent films.What is something that is still on your bucket list?
Definitely more traveling. I worked with an indie production company that was hiring me to write films that they were shooting in Europe. I got to go along for the ride because they were always wanting rewrites to accommodate the changes in actors and locations. My dream is to write novels in different parts of the world.What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
I’m actually an alien.Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Just that it’s been a pleasure to be interviewed by you Andrea. Thank you.
The Moonbeam Rider
Occupation began when the first mothership appeared in the sky. Now they are taking over, one continent at a time. Collaborators, human traitors, are plentiful. Welcome to the resistance.
Noa Ash, a lonely teenage girl making entries into her personal journal, takes us on an astounding adventure. After she is orphaned during an alien attack, Noa is sent to live with a stern grandmother she has never known on Shadow - a once sunny beach that was warped into a hellish place of fog and darkness by a meteorite shower. There Noa finds an old surfboard and begins riding the beach’s cruel waves. As she learns to surf, Noa goes through a transformation of body and soul that turns her from a helpless nobody into a true heroine.
But fate has an even stranger destiny in mind for Noa when she discovers an underwater cavern where an archaic robot lay rusting. Only the robot is not a robot. It is a vessel. To resurrect it - the only weapon on Earth Noa believes can stop the alien occupation - she will have to transfer her life force - her soul - into the battered metal hull to pilot it. Aiding Noa in her mission is a strange boy from another time. A boy who Noa finds herself inexplicably drawn to.
The Diary of Anne Frank meets War of the Worlds.