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Create Your Own Familiar

We've been traveling around the country visiting schools and at each one the students have created their own Familiar Story.

Friday, September 24, 2010

"The Familiars" movie gets a director

Exciting news everyone! "The Familiars," which is being adapted into a 3D animated movie, has found a director. Academy Award nominated Pixar director Doug Sweetland, who created the short film PRESTO, which appeared before WALL-E, has been hired by Sony Animation to helm "The Familiars."

We are absolutely thrilled to have such an incredibly talented filmmaker come aboard the project.

We've included the link so you can watch PRESTO here!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Halloween Blog Tour Announcement

With Halloween fast approaching, we thought it was only appropriate for "The Familiars" to celebrate their favorite holiday with a blog tour! We will be trick or treating through the blogosphere, so be sure to let us know if you'd like us to stop by your neighborhood.

Halloween Monsters Are Among Us
from "Squidboo"

Black Halloween Cat is the Witches Best Friend
Black cat is the most famous Halloween familiar

A familiar is a spirit of some kind often thought to be embodied in an animal and is used by witches or wizards to attend, serve, and guard said witch or wizard.

A familiar, was, and still is supposed to be a subordinate demon in the form of an animal. Such creatures, drew nourishment by suckling from the devil's mark, a witch's breasts, or other less sensitive parts on a witch.

The black cat is one of the most commonly recognized types of familiars, although they could be any color. A black dog was also said to be a favorite for witches.

At one time toads were one of the most popular of all familiars to be had by a witch or wizard. Of course, the Church said the toad was the preferred animal shape of Satan and his demons.

They were used to help prepare magic potions and it was made sure that the toad was present in nearly all of the spells and rituals, including the Sabbats.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Familiars Might Help

We were so touched by this that we decided to post it here. From one of our school visits in Northern California last week:

"The Familiars Might Help"

Posted on September 13, 2010 by catinahaugen
Two authors visited school this week: Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson. Together they’ve written The Familiars, a story of three wizards’ familiars who must join together, find their strengths and rescue their wizards.

My eight year old, Joshua, was in attendance with his third grade class. I asked him the night before if he wanted a copy of the book. He responded with something vague about it being too much for him this year, maybe he could read it in fourth grade, or sure mom, if you want to.

So of course, as the mother who reads constantly, I bought this book for my son who doesn’t find reading to be a pleasure. Joshua is a non-fiction, get to the facts ma’am kind of guy. He reads about fishing, sunken boats, kid encyclopedias of various subjects, snake books, dinosaur books and the like.

So with The Familiars in hand, Joshua got it signed by the authors and promptly used the book as his share (it happened to be his share day in class). Then when I arrived home that night, I found he had used the book jacket as a bookmark (as he’s seen me do again and again) and was on page 20. I welled up a bit to see his bookmark choice. Every time he sees one of my books like this, we have the same conversation about book jackets, bookmarks and the uses/types/purposes of both. He never tires of discussing it.

The next day, when I called to check in with the family before leaving work, Jeff reported that Joshua fell asleep reading The Familiars and the book was on his stomach as he quietly snoozed on the couch. I almost cried. Falling asleep to a good book is delicious.

When I got home, I asked him how the book was. Good. Would you read a bit to me? Maybe later. Then (without thinking?) he held his book, stroked the cover and chatted with me about his day. Lovely. I know these exact mannerisms in myself.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Blog Tour - Complete Wrap Up

In celebration of our Book Birthday, here's the run down of our month long Blog Tour! 34 stops in 34 days. Whew. And now the real work begins. THE FAMILIARS hits bookstores today.

August 5 "Work Husbands" GUEST POST on Katie Talks About Blog

August 9 "Archimedes did it in a Bathtub, We do it in the Shower" GUEST POST on The Children's Book Review

August 10 "Hermione or Bella? Brains vs. Brood" GUEST POST on The Page Turners Blog

August 10 "Working With a Book Editor" GUEST POST on Mindful Musings

August 10 "Adam's Top 5 Fantasy Books" GUEST POST on Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

August 12 Interview with YA Fresh

August 13 "Why We Wish We Had a Thousand Rejection Letters" GUEST POST on Once Upon a Book

August 14 "The Fine Line Between Sharing and Shoving" GUEST POST on Confessions of a Bookaholic

August 14 "Where Hollywood Should Take a Page from the Book Industry" GUEST POST on Sarah's Random Musings

August 16 "Our Top 5 Animal Books" GUEST POST on Reading Vacation

August 16 "If We Weren't Writers, We'd Be..." GUEST POST on Brimful Curiosities

August 18 "Not Another Middle Grade Book" GUEST POST on YA Book Shelf

August 19 "The Overnight Illusion" GUEST POST on Tif Talks Books

August 20 "My Childhood Pet Breathed Fire" GUEST POST on Manga Maniac Cafe

August 24 "Why I read Twilight, watch Gossip Girl, and Listen to Justin Bieber" GUEST POST on Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf

August 24 "Describing the Chandelier" GUEST POST on YA Highway

August 24 "My First Crush: The School Librarian" GUEST POST on Readspace

August 26 "Why We Write MG: 30 Going on 13" GUEST POST on Forever YA

August 27 "A Bunch of Random Things We've Learned Since Getting Published" GUEST POST on The Fiction Enthusiast

August 30 Interview on A Fanatic's Book Blog

August 30 "Why We Know Who Egged Rick Riordan's Car in High School" GUEST POST on Kidlit Frenzy

August 31 "The Big Book Hook" GUEST POST on Project Middle Grade Mayhem

August 31 "Butt Plus Chair" GUEST POST on Literaturely Speaking

August 31 "Telephone" GUEST POST on Market My Words

August 31 "The Books That Got Us Started" GUEST POST on There's A Book

September 4 "Are You Familiar With What A Familiar Is" GUEST POST on Alison's Book Marks

September 4 "When I Grow Up, I Want To Be..." GUEST POST on A Few More Pages

September 4 "Two Guys In A Coffee Shop" GUEST POST on Good Books and Good Wine

September 7 "Working With A Literary Agent: An Appreciation" GUEST POST on The Hiding Spot

September 7 "The Church of YA" on Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

September 7 "The Books on our Nightstand" on The Brainlair

September 7 "Familiars Throughout History" GUEST POST on Liyanaland

September 7 "5 Music Albums That Inspire Us When We Write" GUEST POST on The Book Scout

September 7 Interview with Georgia McBride on YA Litchat

Big, BIG thanks to all of the wonderful book bloggers we've met in the last few months. Your passion, generosity, and enthusiasm for YA, middle grade, and kidlit books is contagious and inspiring. We can't express how much we appreciate your support and help in spreading the word about The Familiars in the twitterverse and blogosphere. Now we hope to translate that to the real world!

The Church of YA

GUEST POST on Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Little did we know that writing a YA/Middle Grade series of books would send us headfirst into the Blogo-twitta-facebook-frienda-sphere! That every one of our literary escapes would be chronicled on goodreads and Shelfari. That we'd be YAlitchatting and kidlitchatting and catlitchatting. It turns out readers of young fiction not only like to read young fiction but talk about it, write about it, and commiserate about it 24/7. And it couldn't make us happier! We've found kindred spirits to debate whether they are Team Peeta or Team Gale, like-minded book lovers who find every series of unfortunate events a good thing, and fellow word devourers who are already waiting in line outside their local movie theater for the first installment of Deathly Hollows. We're all a devout group indeed, praying at the altar of Riordin, Meyer, and Paolini. Our rituals are the same: read, write, tweet, blog, and back to reading once more. Our temple -- the independent bookstore -- the one wedged between the local hardware store and shoe shop. And how exciting that soon we'll be traveling the country on a book tour putting faces to these screen names. So if you see us at your school or library or book store come say hi, and be sure to introduce yourself by your twitter handle.

The Books on our Nightstand

GUEST POST on The Brain Lair

Adam is Reading

“Westmark” by Lloyd Alexander
It’s a book I started when I was younger, but because of one assignment or another, I got sidetracked and never finished it. Set in vaguely colonial times, it tells the story of a young printer’s apprentice who goes on the run after his master is murdered. Alexander influenced writers like JK Rowling, Piers Anthony, and Holly Black.

“The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick
It’s big, thick, and filled with pictures. I like comic books. I like YA. I like a combination of the two. And it’s going to be a Martin Scorsese movie.

“Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse” by Rick Riordan
The third installment in the Olympians series. I’m half way through this book, and so far it’s on par with the others. Which means incredibly enjoyable.

Andrew is Reading

“Little Brother” by Cory Doctorow
A cautionary YA tale about a kid who gets mixed up with a terrorist attack on San Francisco. This book came up multiple times during our pre-pub tour while meeting with independent booksellers. Their word of mouth truly drives the buzz on what books to read. Neil Gaiman’s blurb is also so glowing that it made me buy it.

“One Day” by David Nichols
Episodic story that takes place on a single day over two decades between Dex and Em. I’m trying to get this in before the movie comes out. Sounds charming and like a fast read.

“What to Expect when you’re Expecting” by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel
One of the dozen baby books piled high on my nightstand. Yes, I am expecting. And no, I have not started reading any of the baby books.

Familiars Throughout History

GUEST POST on Liyanaland

Familiars are the animal companions to a wizard or witch. They are mentioned several times in the Bible, from Deuteranomy to Leviticus. Shakespeare's Macbeth had them, too. Familiars were common in Europe during the Middle Ages, and could be seen in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. They existed in popular culture since the 1800s. The earliest and most recognizable of these magical assistants were the black cats of a witch. You’ve seen them on Halloween posters rubbing up against the leg of a woman dressed in black. Surely you are aware of some of the more famous familiars, like Harry Potter’s owl, Hedwig, or Gandalf’s horse, Shadowfax, or Merlin’s owl, Archimedes. Disney’s animated films added many more familiars to the lore, including Jafar’s parrot, Iago, Ursula’s eels, Floatsam and Jetsam, or Maleficant’s crows.

One thing in common with all of these depictions was that familiars always seemed to be sidekicks, relegated to the background, never having their own story. We decided to take a traditional fantasy world, one whose conventions were at once familiar and recognizable, and shift the perspective to that of the animals. For the first time, the adventure would rest on the shoulders of the familiars. The mythology of familiars is one that in many ways had yet to be explored. Where did they come from? How did they get their magical powers? Do they even have magical powers? How are they linked to their witch or wizard? All of these were questions that we were curious about, and questions that we strove to answer. We hope that readers will never look at their family pet the same way after reading this book, perhaps wondering if they too possess some kind of magic.

Who’s your favorite familiar? And what kind of magical power do you imagine your family pet has?

Working With a Literary Agent: An Appreciation

GUEST POST on the Hiding Spot

We wanted to introduce you to our third writing partner. His name doesn’t appear on the cover of “The Familiars” or anywhere inside for that matter. But his imprint can be felt in the words on every page. He is Markus Hoffmann, our book agent at Regal Literary. Every step along the way of our journey to getting published, Markus has done more than simply sell our material. He has helped make sure it is propulsive, engaging, and richly detailed. Before our manuscript ever landed on the desk of a publisher, it was thoroughly developed and vetted by Markus. No “i” was dotted or “t” crossed without first passing Markus’s sharp eye or keen literary intuitiveness. We’re not sure if every agent goes through this process with their author client, but from what we’ve heard, most do not. He is our secret weapon (not so secret any more). He pushed us just the right amount, always challenged us to do our best, and we are confident that with him at our side, each book we write will get better and better. In a lot of ways he is the mentor who taught us how to be authors. His patience, knowledge of the market, and creative insight are all invaluable. His German accent mysterious and alluring. To Andrew, who still has not been to New York to meet him, he is but an enigmatic voice on the phone, wise and all-knowing. Adam, who has met him in person, has had some of the wizard-behind-the-curtain mystique revealed. But he is no less impressed by his impeccable taste and talent. We thank you, Markus, for embodying all that an agent should. Now if you’ll please review and add your magic touch to this guest blog post, it would be much appreciated.

5 Music Albums That Inspire Us When We Write

GUEST POST on The Book Scout

Music is a creative aphrodisiac. Especially music that is inspiring to you or activates your imagination. If Andrew is going to work-out, he’ll be more motivated listening to the Rocky4soundtrack. If he is going to brainstorm ideas or write, his imagination will flow more readily with some Postal Service or Peter Gabriel. Music sets a mood for your state of mind, and can be a powerful ally in the idea generating process. This is not a list of our favorite music – we’ll post that some other day – rather, it’s a few of the albums that we enjoy writing to (hence the lack of lyrically based music).


5. “Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too” by the New Radicals

“You Gotta Get What You Give” is an early anthem of our writing together. It is conceivable that we listened to this song over a hundred times in a row while cranking out one of our first scripts together. It was not just creatively rewarding, but had a rhythmic base beat that kept us energized through long stretches of typing and talking.

Listen Here

4. “Bachbusters” by Bach

The music of Johann Sebastian Bach realized by Don Dorsey on digital and authentic period synthesizers. One of the very first CDs that Adam owned and amazingly transcendent. The Italian Concerto in F Major still makes Adam think of reading “The Hobbit” for the first time, and instantly brings him to the Shire. That transportive music is interconnected with those words for him and if ever I need to go to a fantasy place, just hitting the play button on that compact disc takes him there.

Listen Here

3. “The Passion” by Peter Gabriel

This instrumental score doesn’t remind us at all of the Martin Scorsese film “The Last Temptation of Christ” in which it was used but rather hours behind the computer, writing together. There’s something hopeful and inspirational in its haunting, almost classical sound.

Listen Here

2. “The Orbs Adventures Beyond the Ultra-World” by the Orb

When Adam writes his science fiction opus, this will be the album he has on constant repeat. It’s both at times otherworldly and almost ambient. It samples movie vocals and even a clip from Flash Gordon and the constant repetitive nature to its melodies launches his imagination into overdrive.

Listen Here

1. The music of John Williams

Whether it’s Star Wars, Harry Potter, or ET, it’s hard not to be creatively inspired by the scores of Williams. When the film adaptation of “The Familiars” is complete, we could only dream of having the master of motion picture music compose its score.

Listen Here

What music inspires you when you write? Tell us here!

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Familiars Book Tour - Schedule (9/9 - 9/15)

Thursday, September 9th - San Francisco

Grant Elementary
Liberty School
Penngrove Elementary
4:00 pm After-School Signing at Copperfield's

Friday, September 10th - San Jose

Graystone Elementary
Don Callejon School
3:30 pm Hicklebee's Reading/Presentation/Signing Event

Monday, September 13th - Chicago

Hermes Elementary
Eagle Pointe Elementary

Tuesday, September 14th - Chicago

May Watts Elementary
Beebe Elementary
7:00 pm Anderson's Bookshop Reading/Presentation/Signing Event

Wednesday, September 15th - Dayton

Indian Riffle School
7:00 pm In Store Event at Books & Co. at The Greene

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Right Under JK Rowling


As we are getting closer to the official launch day of our book, we thought we would share some photos.

In San Jose, there is a wonderful bookstore named Hicklebee's where the authors sign the walls. When Andrew and I visited, we got the opportunity to add our mark. We signed the door right below JK Rowling. It may be the closest we ever come to meeting the legendary creator of Harry Potter. Maybe, a little of her success will trickle down.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Two Guys in a Coffee Shop

GUEST POST on Good Books and Wine


Let me step into my time machine and take you back to the fall of 1998. I was taking a semester off from college, living in Los Angeles to pursue my dream of screenwriting. The Monica Lewinsky scandal was at its height, Felicity and Ally McBeal were on a first name basis with the greater public, and you couldn’t turn on your radio without hearing Alanis Morisette’s haunting theme song to the Nic Cage-Meg Ryan weeper, “City of Angels.” It was a hopeful time, filled with optimism and naivete.
Adam and I had started writing together earlier that summer. He was working as a Hollywood assistant while I was interning for writer-producer Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”). In the evenings, when we were both finished with our 9-7 work days, we would meet at various coffee shops to work on our screenplay, sometimes writing until 2 am, when the owner would mop up around our feet and ask us to leave. Even though we were young and possibly even delusional about getting our scripts sold, the magical thing about that time was we didn’t have any reason to think differently. It wasn’t until after years of being professional screenwriters that the voices grew in our heads, whispering at first, then screaming all of the reasons why an idea wasn’t good enough or why the screenplays we were working on would fail.

Then we decided to write our first novel. We knew very little of the book world. And you know what? We found ourselves transported back to those early days of sitting in the coffee shop, dreaming big with no negativity weighing us down. It allowed us to write freely, straight from the heart. It’s a lesson to all writers. Don’t let the cynical, doubting voices creep in. They can be toxic. No matter how long you’ve been writing, or how many times you’ve been rejected, there was a moment when we all began and thought nothing could stop us from success. Go back to that place.

Are You Familiar With What A Familiar Is?

GUEST POST on Alison's Book Marks

Familiars are the animal companions to a wizard or witch. They have existed in popular culture since the 1800s. The earliest and most recognizable of these magical assistants were the black cats of a witch. You’ve seen them on Halloween posters rubbing up against the leg of a woman dressed in black. Surely you are aware of some of the more famous familiars, like Harry Potter’s owl, Hedwig, or Gandalf’s horse, Shadowfax, or Merlin’s owl, Archimedes. Disney’s animated films added many more familiars to the lore, including Jafar’s parrot, Iago, Ursula’s eels, Floatsam and Jetsam, or Maleficant’s crows. One thing in common with all of these depictions was that familiars always seemed to be sidekicks, relegated to the background, never having their own story. We decided to take a traditional fantasy world, one whose conventions were at once familiar and recognizable, and shift the perspective to that of the animals. For the first time, the adventure would rest on the shoulders of the familiars. The mythology of familiars is one that in many ways had yet to be explored. Where did they come from? How did they get their magical powers? Do they even have magical powers? How are they linked to their witch or wizard? All of these were questions that we were curious about, and questions that we strove to answer. We hope that readers will never look at their family pet the same way after reading this book, perhaps wondering if they too possess some kind of magic.

Who’s your favorite familiar? And what kind of magical power do you imagine your family pet has?

When I Grow Up, I Want To Be...

GUEST POST on A Few More Pages

As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. In elementary school, my friend and I set out to write the great American novel. It was an anthology of stories (some finished, some unfinished). A brief sampling from the Table of Contents: Chapter 6 – “Butch Winthro, Detective,” Chapter 9 – “The Mystery of Blane Dickson,” and my personal favorite, Chapter 17 – “Hawaiian Mudballs.” I recently revisited the stories, some printed out on my Apple 2C old school typewriter paper, others handwritten on the back of my friend’s newspaper route carrier collection records. Looking back at these early efforts, I’m simultaneously mortified and inspired. And in some cases, even kind of impressed.

Here’s an excerpt from one of the stories, “The Laser Files: A Mission.”

“7 people were chosen for a mission. Their mission was to destroy a strange creature in a space ship. The ship was launched 10 years ago to probe Pluto. The 7 people were—Blowtorch: a soldier of fortune; Hacker: a computer hacker; Hilt: a hand to hand combat expert; Papers: a weapons manufacturer; Teddy: a smart alek pilot; Divebomb: a demolitions expert; and Raven: their leader.

Their mission was to find weather the aliens were friends or foe. If they were friends, take them to earth. If foes, destroy them.”

I might have been a grade schooler at the time, but my love of writing stories never waned. I grew up to be what I always dreamed. Now, if only I had a clue what “Hawaiian Mudballs” was supposed to be about.