Interview with Rob Summers

After writing so many books for teens and adults, why is your latest series intended for pre-teens?
The "Jill Titan" science fiction novels came about because I wanted to write something for a grandniece, books that would entertain her, that would be somewhat like the science fiction novels of my boyhood, and would occasionally be just a little spiritual. She was 9 years old when I started the series; she will turn 11 soon, the same age as my character Jill. I expect that kids love it when a girl that age not only pilots a spaceship but steers it into battle with another spaceship, while rattling off orders to her crew.
Why are you writing the Wizards' Inn series?
I wanted to explore a magic world, to present stories in which any sort of wizard or creature might happen along at any time, so I started writing about an Indiana inn specializing in such guests. The innkeepers are two adventure-loving young people named Bob and Julie, who can't wait for the next Mirror Mage or shape changer to show up and ask for bed and breakfast. In the sequels, young wizards travel to other locales, including Merlin's Tower, a moon temple of the goblins, and the palace of the Faerie Queen.
What's the story behind your fantasy adventure 'The Door in Crow Wood'?
I have a backlog of books written before e-publishing became a viable alternative to traditional publishing, and 'The Door in Crow Wood' is one of them.. I was creating the geography, culture,and history of the Fold fantasy world for years before I started writing the novel. In fact the background could itself be a small book. For a plot, I wanted some way to not only introduce a couple of modern American teens, a brother and sister, into the Fold but to make them instantly important there. So I made them, unknown to themselves, the descendants of the highest Fold royalty. I deliberately made Simone, the sister, very much the opposite of me; she is loud, confronting, short tempered--everything that makes for fun scenes when she encounters a talking wolf-creature or dragon.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite novelist is Jane Austen, and yet my favorite novel, seriously, is The Wind in the
Willows, a wonderful classic that only an adult can fully appreciate. I also love to read anything by C.S. Lewis.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Nothing does, I hate it. But I do have a day job I have to go to.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When not writing, I'm probably reading or spending time with my wife (or doing both by reading to her), but I might otherwise be playing speed chess on the internet, washing dishes, or taking a country walk.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Not the first short story, but my first novel was about sci-fi technology that enabled people to make their daydreams seem real to them. It was an atrocious mess.
What is your writing process?
First, I spend weeks or months on a detailed and complete plot outline. I can't imagine just starting to write and 'seeing how it goes.' Then I find time, mostly on weekends and holidays, to write it all out in rough draft, followed by months of rewriting and editing. Finally, I read it aloud to my wife, who tries to be as kind as possible while pointing out my silly mistakes and plot impossibilities. She once pointed out that I had written that two invisible characters had turned to look at each other.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read 19th century novels by Austen or Trollope, anything by sci-fi and fantasy writer Andre Norton, epic poems such as The Faerie Queene, histories of the American Civil War and of World War II, Christian Classics such as C.S. Lewis' works, and much more.
How do you approach cover design?
As anyone with artistic taste will have noticed, I don't hire a professional designer. Since I'm able to use Photoshop, I have a great time creating the covers myself. To provide backgrounds for the covers of the Wizard's Inn Series, I fetched an old redwood board from my garage and took several pictures of it. The snow crowned statue on the third cover of that series is from a picture I took many years ago in a local cemetery. Anything drawn by hand I did myself--uh, some would say unfortunately.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Lately it's been a Nook, which I have stocked full of my favorite classics, mostly gleaned from Project Gutenberg.
Describe your desk
What desk? I write on my laptop, with roller-ball mouse, while sitting in a reclining chair, which is what I'm doing now.
What is the Hila Grant series about?
They are non-fantasy, in fact very realistic, telling the story of a young woman, a Midwesterner, who encounters various stresses and difficulties while attending one church after another. Actually, she herself creates some of the stresses and difficulties. Along the way, the reader gets a tour of Bible belt evangelicalism and a feel for what it's like to be a born again Christian in modern times. Anyone familiar with the "Christian novel" will not recognize these books as part of the genre. There is little romance and the heroine is not completely stable.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
It might be when I'm immersed in a story and something is said or done that follows naturally but that I myself had not planned. A character sometimes breaks loose into a separate reality, such as when, in The Door in Crow Wood, Simone suddenly slams a non-threatening dragon in the nose. Didn't see that coming!
You really took the time to write four allegorical novels?
Yes, now and then I continue the City Allegories series. I love to read allegories such as John Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress' and 'The Holy War,' stories that can communicate inner realities with a power beyond any other method. So what if the genre was already cold and dead a century ago? I decided to attempt to revive it by combining modern novel techniques with a group of characters with names such as Humility and Confusion. Today's reader is likely to be puzzled, but you might want to try 'Pride House: The Quest for Vainglory' (which is available on the Smashwords site) to see if you can acquire a taste for this sort of thing.
Published 2019-02-15.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Jill Titan and the Secret Weapon
Series: Jill Titan. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 36,720. Language: English. Published: August 11, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Pirates
In a spaceship equipped with a powerful secret weapon, eleven-year-old Jill and her father must try to change the course of a space war. After piloting the ship in a wildly risky raid on the enemy’s largest space station, Jill will attempt to rescue a young alien sister and brother. Wherever she goes she is under the threat of capture by the enemy, for she knows the plans of the secret weapon.
Jill Titan and the City of Robots
Series: Jill Titan. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 36,890. Language: English. Published: July 21, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Pirates
The remote planet Narlash 4 is the site of a secret, underground City of Robots. Pre-teen Jill Titan is thrilled to be going there with her father, a famed physicist. Before long she will find that there are mysterious goings-on in the city. Furthermore, she will have to deal with a spy called the Hawk and with an enemy spaceship ready for battle!
Jill Titan and the Ghost Fleet
Series: Jill Titan. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 34,920. Language: English. Published: July 18, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Pirates
Jill Titan has lived all her eleven years in outer space of a far future century. When a ‘life shell’ she occupies is damaged and hurtles out beyond the edge of the galaxy, she must try to survive all alone. It’s a good thing she’s smart and courageous, because she’s about to meet dangers such as an out-of-control robot and space pirates.
The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment: Abridged and in Modern English
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 40,860. Language: English. Published: June 16, 2018. Categories: Nonfiction » Religion & Spirituality » Christian Life / Personal Growth
Worries, fears, and stress--the people of minister Jeremiah Burroughs' congregations had them in 1645 during the English Civil War. His call to faithful contentment was a comfort to them then and has been to many readers in the centuries since. Now his classic text has been reworded in modern English and abridged to focus his points for today's reader.
Merlin's Crooked Cane
Series: Wizards' Inn. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 124,210. Language: English. Published: September 5, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
Why doesn’t the world give a washed up sorceress a break? It isn’t bad enough that Deirdre the Damned blinded Lile, but now the wicked fairy Blackroot is planning to murder her. She needs a Mage to heal her eyes, but perhaps even more, needs to rely on a twisted cane that once belonged to Merlin. Then she may become the pivotal person in an Eonic battle that is rocking 1860 Philadelphia.
Merlin's Best Dungeon
Series: Wizards' Inn, Book 4. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 93,820. Language: English. Published: January 3, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
If young church deacon Stan Morrison is to save his friends Bob and Julie from a dangerous fantasy of being innkeepers for wizards, he must first find out what is really happening at Wizards’ Inn. He must also overcome his infatuation with Deirdre the Damned, and above all, not fall through a magic portal into a far off time and place and have wild adventures with goblins, fairies, and a chimera.
A Narrower Mind
Series: Hila Grant, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 91,640. Language: English. Published: November 23, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Christian » General
‘Safe’ in a wanna-be Mega Church, Hila has to choose sides in a dispute about the authority of the Bible. Meanwhile, a lot of people would much rather she didn’t date Jeff Fontaine, including his parents—and hers.
A Religious Spirit
Series: Hila Grant, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 74,560. Language: English. Published: November 23, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Christian » General
Hila Grant attends a charismatic house church that is being taken over by a highly questionable teacher. Because she tends to overdo it when challenging false teachers, she does not want to oppose Mrs. Vortgern. How can she take a stand for her faith without becoming self-righteous and vindictive?
The Godsend of River Grove
Series: Hila Grant, Book 1. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 76,040. Language: English. Published: November 23, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Christian » General
(5.00 from 1 review)
River Grove Community Church voted out elder Ollie Fulborne, who was under suspicion of heresy and of sexually harassing a young teenage girl. But Ollie had been the driving force behind the church. Two years later, with numbers dwindling and church debt piling up, the people are considering allowing him to return to his former authority. Church member Hila Grant is dead set against his return.
Goner House: The Return of Patience
Series: The City Allegories, Book 4. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 87,360. Language: English. Published: November 23, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Classical & allegory, Fiction » Christian » Contemporary
Dignity and Reason have suffered much stress and misery because of their cousin Guiles, his daughter Prevarica, and the rest of the Leasing family. Now Guiles leaves Dignity the responsibility for bankrupt and neglected Founders Grove park, and it will take miracles—and a really good lawyer—to get him out of this.
Sandhill Street: The Loss of Gentleness
Series: The City Allegories, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 68,180. Language: English. Published: November 23, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Classical & allegory, Fiction » Christian » Contemporary
When a house collapses in his Sandhill Street neighborhood, Dignity has to decide whether to offend his parents, Neglect and Folly, by telling them what really happens to the homeless of the City. But in dealing with Neglect, Folly, and some other disagreeable relatives, Dignity and Reason don’t seem to comprehend how much they need the help of their young friend Gentleness.
Grace House: The Trial of Obscurity
Series: The City Allegories, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 53,470. Language: English. Published: November 23, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Classical & allegory, Fiction » Christian » Contemporary
If Dignity (formerly Pride) and Reason could only publish their book 'The Pride Story,' God would be glorified and, incidentally, they would make buckets of money. So why is security expert Miss Obscurity sabotaging their efforts? And does Reason’s old friend Bits Bitterly really just want to help her find a path to publication, or does he have hidden motives for spending so much time with her?
Pride House: The Quest for Vainglory
Series: The City Allegories, Book 1. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 56,630. Language: English. Published: November 23, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Classical & allegory, Fiction » Christian » Contemporary
Young Mr. Pride marries Miss Doubt, grieving his cousin Miss Reason, and soon Doubt persuades Pride to welcome into his house her friends Worry, Tedium, and Confusion. Then, to make matters worse, Pride becomes infatuated with Miss Vainglory and will do anything to win her love. Though Reason could get help from Faith Orchard and her Heavenite family, it might cost the cousins their reputations.
The Door in Crow Wood
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 161,980. Language: English. Published: August 31, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Fantasy » General
So distant ancestors of Simone and Clay Gareth were royal? And the family reigned in a hidden continent not found on any map? Heirs to an empire, this teenage brother and sister are about to leave Indiana and enter the lost realm called the Fold, a land inhabited partly by humans and partly by intelligent but non-human species; a land of mysteries, dangers, and wars.
The Magic Coffins
Series: Wizards' Inn, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 105,430. Language: English. Published: April 20, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
(5.00 from 1 review)
For five hundred years Queen Tanaquill has ruled Faerie splendidly by herself. She does not need any help from young Magi, whether to meet threats from Queen Morgan Le Fay, from a so-called King of Terrors, or from her own bad temper. But Tanaquill owes a humbling debt to Deirdre the Damned and may yet be indebted to another of her guests whom the Faerie Court calls the Queen of Death.
Deirdre the Damned
Series: Wizards' Inn, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 100,260. Language: English. Published: April 20, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
(5.00 from 1 review)
Innkeeper Bob Himmel’s rotten teenage cousin Deirdre appears destined to become a hardened criminal—or just possibly a Mage. She thinks either will do as long as she can get out of dead-end Rayburn County, Indiana. But if a Mage, will she accept electrifying Mrs. Rollins as a mentor? Or a Curse Mage as a best friend? Or leave all that behind and enroll in Morgan Le Fay’s School of Evil?
Merlin Slept Here
Series: Wizards' Inn, Book 1. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 87,120. Language: English. Published: April 20, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
(5.00 from 3 reviews)
Store clerks by day, innkeepers for the Magi by night! Twenty-year-olds Bob Himmel and Julie Beckerhof aren’t getting paid anything, but the thrills are there. If the inn isn’t sold out from under them, and if they can keep their guests alive—number seven on the list of innkeepers’ rules—they just might get married and settle into this.