Title: Xor: The Shape of Darkness
Author: Moshe Sipper
Publication: March 24, 2012
Genre: Middle Grade
Audience: 10 and up
Summary: On his twelfth birthday Lewis Nash comes home from school to find that his house has blown up to smithereens, killing his father. Having lost his mother in an accident four years earlier, Lewis realizes he is now an orphan — but he has no time to dwell on it. The moment he gets off the school bus a fearsome wolf-man tries to grab him. The boy is saved in the nick of time by Master Long, who reveals to him that he’s a Shaper from a place called Xor, which is being devoured by the Realm Pirates. Lewis learns that he must do his utmost to become the powerful Shaper he was destined to be. Because, it would seem, he’s the one and only chance Xor has.
My Thoughts: This is a fast paced adventure where Lewis is faced with saving his home planet. Lewis is confronted with tragedy early in his life. A few days shortly after finding out he is adopted the only mother he has ever know is dies in a tragic car accident. On his twelfth birthday his body is doing crazy things, his home with his father in it blows up, and some crazed wolf-man tries to snatch him up. Then Lewis finds out he's not even from earth. Lewis takes all of this in stride and proceeds to Xor to begin his quest to save his world. Lewis ends up making life long friends and life changing revelations about himself. I could not put this story down. Sipper pulled me into the story from the beginning. I'm excited that there will be more Xor books in the future.
Ashna: Who is your favorite author and what about their work draws you in?
Moshe Sipper: Gosh, there are so many... Let me name here just two. I love Jorge Luis Borges for his erudite writing and amazing, thought-provoking plots. He wrote about such diverse themes as dreams, labyrinths, libraries, mirrors, animals, fictional writers, religion and God. I also love Fredric Brown who was a master of the short-short genre (stories of just a few hundred words). In fact, Brown prompted me to write short-shorts myself, which I’ve begun doing in a blog called "To Make a Long Story Short".
A: Tell us something fun about you?
MS: I can stick out my tongue and touch my nose!
MS: Lewis Nash, the protagonist of "Xor: The Shape of Darkness" probably came hardest, given how complex a background he has. Growing up with adoptive parents, mother killed when he was eight (he’s now twelve) — and that’s just for starters... Nope, not an easy life, nor an easy character to write.
A: Who designed the cover for Xor?
MS: At first, I tried to design the cover myself, but, alas, I’m not much of a graphic designer. Eventually, I found the perfect cover picture online (happily, in the public domain) — and had a professional designer pick it up from there.
A: What about Xor makes it stand out?
MS: Xor merges sci-fi and fantasy in a seamless way, having both highly advanced technology as well as plain ‘ole magic... I love the fact that I get to balance these two usually opposing elements. But perhaps more importantly, Lewis Nash, the protagonist, as well as the other characters, are, as one reviewer wrote, “very unique and not like any other characters in any other book”. I’m also very fond of not being serious all the time — a bit of humor goes a long way...
A: Are there any similarities between you and your characters?
MS: I imagine that’s very often the case with characters in a book. I’d say some of me probably went into Lewis’s personality.
A: What is your favorite Quote?
MS: Just one?? :-) How about four:
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost more than 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot — and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan
“To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.” William Blake
“You see things; and you say, `Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, `Why not?’ “ George Bernard Shaw
“No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” Yoda
A: What is the best part about being published?
MS: Knowing that you’ve dreamed up a world — and people can enter it. And, hey, sometimes they’re even willing to pay an entrance fee! :-)
A: Five favorite books? Authors?
MS: An awful hard pick for someone who reads so much... Oh well, how about:
1. Ficciones (1944) and The Aleph (1949), by Jorge Luis Borges
2. The Hyperion series, by Dan Simmons
3. Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas R. Hofstadter
4. The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell
5. The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
A: Are there any new projects in the works?
MS: I’ve just started a blog devoted to sci-fi / fantasy short-shorts, "To Make a Long Story Short". I’m also working on the second installment in the Xor series.
A: Is there a particular message that you hope to convey to readers of your novel?
MS: As one reviewer wrote about Xor, “The moral of the story is one worth reading”. Yes, there is a message enmeshed within the words of Xor: Lewis Nash may be the most powerful Shaper ever to live, but each of us can be the shaper of his or her own life. Sounds simple in theory — not so simple in practice...
A: What is the question that you wish interviewers would ask, and the answer to that question?
MS: What prompted you to become a writer?
Well, I’m not one of those who’s been writing ever since I was eight years old… I’m actually an academic, a Professor of Computer Science, and so — as part of my job description — I write academic papers. As people kept complimenting me on my writing quality it simply dawned on me one day that perhaps I should try my hand at fiction. And so it began…
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