Friday, November 4, 2011

Interview with Justin Dennis and 'Through the Portal' Giveaway!

Today I am interviewing Justin Dennis, author of 'Through the Portal'

Justin, welcome to Hardcover Feedback! Would you tell us a little about yourself?
Thanks for having me! Well currently I'm a freshman at Whittier College--it's just outside of Los Angeles, California--but I'm originally from a smaller city outside of Seattle called Sammamish. Really I'm just a huge nerd; I love technology! But I also love soccer and reading. I played soccer all throughout high school, but am not playing anymore, and I've been a barista at Starbucks for about two and a half years now. So I've got a lot going on!  But writing as always been something that I've enjoyed and try to dedicate as much time to as I can.

What are you currently working on?
Book number two in the trilogy! I haven't decided on a title yet, but it'll be the second Through the Portal book and I'm super super excited for it! I love this trilogy and I really think each book improves upon the last. It's difficult to find time for writing right now, with school and work and everything, but I'm also spending a lot of time writing and revising this book. It really is going to be spectacular.

What or who made the biggest influence on you wanting to become a writer?
You know, I'm sure it sounds cliched, but it has to be J.K. Rowling. The Harry Potter series just was so incredibly planned out and was an incredibly story full of strong morals that an entire generation grew up on. She really is a literary genius and I hope to develop stories and characters as deep and enriching as hers.

What was the first book you ever wrote about and was it ever published?
Through the Portal (Through the Portal Trilogy, #1)This book, Through the Portal, is really the first book I've written and finished. I've written other short stories, or weak attempts at a novel, but nothing really substantiated until this point. The closest I came was I wrote 10 chapters of a book just before Through the Portal, but I didn't have a clear idea where I was going with it and my ideas were all over the place so I just scratched it.

Do you have any writing habits that people might find unusual?
I tend to only be able to write late at night. I think I get too easily distracted in the mornings or afternoon. I'm not sure. For one reason or another, I'm only really able to crank out hours of writing starting past 9pm. It's like I get hooked into it and feel like I have to finish before I go to sleep, and my mind just seems to be clearer then.

I have heard that many authors listen to music while they write. Do you? If so, what do you usually listen to?
I've definitely tried, because I used to listen to music while doing homework and I figured it would be similar, but it just doesn't work for me. I get too distracted by the lyrics and can't focus. Probably because I used to listen to music for the melody and less for the lyrics, but nowadays I strive to listen to music with meaningful lyrics, and of course then I get caught up in them. So I try just to write in silence so that the story is the only thing I'm focusing on.

Do you have a favorite character or one that is especially close to your heart?
I try to make each of my characters have something about them that is close to my heart and will make the reader feel for them. In that sense, I could say that every character has at least some part of me that I feel is important. If I had to pick a favorite though, I would probably go with Sierra because she is a quiet girl, but really sticks up for what she believes in. Not only that, but she is a very strong, confident person, and I hope that she can be a role model for my readers as much as she is for me.

What is the best gift you have ever received and who gave it to you?
I don't know if this qualifies as a gift.... but a few years ago my parents paid for me to go to the Netherlands with a program called People to People so I could play soccer and experience the culture for 10 days. It was honestly the best experience of my life and I would go back in an instant. They never really called it a gift--they just said that whatever I couldn't fundraise, they would pay for--but it really was a gift looking back on it. They didn't have to pay for it, and it was probably very tough on them financially, but I am incredibly thankful for that opportunity.

What are three things (not people) that you wouldn't want to live without?
One, my phone. And not in the stereotypical " I have to text everyone right now or I'm going to die lol" fashion; I mean that my phone is my portal to everything. I read books on it (yes, on the Kindle app. E-reading: best invention ever), I get my news on it, I keep up with my school email, I have my work schedule, everything basically! I could live without it, honestly, but I'm much more informed and connected with it. Two, books. Specifically, ebooks. I'm a huge proponent of ereading (sorry die-hard paper fans!) because of the convenience and ease, so I'd be devastated if I could no longer read on my phone or Kindle. Three, Propel. You know, that water-ish thing that Gatorade makes. It used to be better (now it's this sugar-free something or other) but I still live off it like water.

What is something that you have always wanted to do, but just haven't gotten around to it yet?
I really want to travel to France! And England. And the Nordic countries like Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland. It's not so much that I haven't gotten around to it, but that I can't afford it. Trust me, the day I can afford to travel around Europe, I'm going!

All the music in the world is being destroyed and you can only save one album, which would you save and why?
Oh jeez, I know I'm gonna be hounded for this one... but it has to be Eminem's album Recovery. I know, I know, Eminem isn't exactly considered among the ranks of The Beetles or Led Zeppelin, but he really is a very good poet (yes, rappers are poets) and that album specifically is very motivational. If it makes you feel any better, I almost chose Will Smith's album Lost and Found. I don't know why but I've always liked rap. It really is very poetic and can be meaningful. Will Smith is an incredible tribute to that.

What is your all-time favorite book and what is your favorite book you have read this year?
All time: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Just a fantastic, amazing, incredible, wonderful, spectacular, (yes, all those adjectives were necessary) finish to the Harry Potter Series. Tied up all the loose ends, explored some profoundly deep morals, and was just a heart-wrenching good story. As for this year, I recently read Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and that's not the usual genre that I read, but honestly the book is hilarious. 
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide, #1-5)

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Write. I really hardly have any free time, between work and school, so when I do, I write. Other than that, I don't have time! If I had more time I'd either read more or play video games. I haven't played a lot of video games in years! I miss those days.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Definitely a night owl. I swear I feel tired all morning and afternoon, but then as soon as the evening comes around I'm wide awake! This is a very poor biological clock for trying to operate within the basic societal time frame, but it seems to be ingrained into my very being. Going to bed early never works for me, and getting up early (especially at 3:45am to open at Starbucks!) does not work out well.

If you were throwing a dinner party and you could invite five people (fictional or real, dead or alive) who would you invite?
Seth Macfarlane, Barack Obama, Jackie Chan, Sarah Palin, and Albert Einstein. Can you imagine the hilarity that would ensue?

You are given a ticket that will bring you anywhere that you want to go, at anytime in history. Where would you want to go and why?
I would go to the 1920's during prohibition and be a moonshine runner. I know this sounds like an odd choice--and I definitely would not run from the cops in real life!--but that would just be fun. Have souped-up cars and drive around recklessly for a living!

Where can people connect with you online?
Or my Twitter:!/JustinDennis4

Thank you so much Justin for being on Hardcover Feedback!
Thanks Megan!

Now for the giveaway. Justin has graciously offered to giveaway ten e-copies of his book 'Through the Portal'! Yes, I said TEN! To enter, all you have to do is follow this blog in at least one way and leave a comment on this post. There will be ten winners and the giveaway is open internationally.

Blogaholic Designs”=


  1. Looks like a good read! Thanks for the great interview and I hope that Justin's book does well.

  2. I would like to see the day when Seth Macfarlane, Barack Obama, Jackie Chan, Sarah Palin, and Albert Einstein are all in one room and uh, maybe talking? I've also check the plot at Amazon and decided it is a story worth reading. I am more interested in character development and see how the three kids progressed. And I would love to read how that dragon is portrayed. Great interview!

  3. It just seems like a really interesting read. I would love to win it!

  4. Iinteresting sounding read and interview. Thanks for the giveaway! New GFC follower - AnyaMillar

    Áine ~ House Millar series

  5. Nice interview, just started following. Though, I think the Seth Macfarlane choice should be replaced with a hungry anaconda. That might make it a bit more interesting.

  6. @Christopher Bunn the hungry anaconda would be a great addition ;)

  7. I loved Justin's interview and if he ever has that dinner party, I want to be a fly on that wall. Can you imagine?!!

    Thank you for the chance at winning this book. It looks like a fantastic read!

  8. Nice interview and this book looks great! Thanks for hosting this giveaway.

  9. I too am a Harry Potter Fan. If books like Harry influenced you, then this book is on my must read list. I would love to win the book!