GROTON -- A switch in publishers has not slowed local children's author Greg Fishbone as he takes his successful "Galaxy Games" books for middle-grade readers -- from outer space to inner space -- with upcoming volumes set to explore characters' lives.
"As the series continues we'll get to know more about the players and their families," said Fishbone. "Just as the kids are all so different from each other, their families will come in a variety of forms as well, but all equally loving and supportive. The Galaxy Games are absolutely pro-family."
Fishbone, an attorney who also operates his own web design business, recently moved his series from Tu Books to Spellbound River Press, which is set to pick up the Galaxy Games books from volume 2.
"Tu Books is publishing some of the best multicultural genre books for children and teens," said Fishbone of his former publisher. "Their entire list is worth checking out, and I'd have kept Galaxy Games with them forever if I could have but things happen in the publishing world that are often beyond an author's control. It was an amicable break.
Scheduled for fall release by Spellbound is "Galaxy Games #2: The Amorphous Assassin" and in the spring of 2017, "Galaxy Games #3: The Mad Messenger."
"Galaxy Games is my sports and science-fiction novel series for kids about the biggest sporting event in the universe, to which Earth has been invited to compete for the first time ever," explained Fishbone, a resident of Main Street.
"The series follows 13-year-old Japanese American Tyler Sato and his international team of child athletes through the Galaxy Games Tournament," said Fishbone. "Tyler stumbled his way onto the team so first he really has to prove to himself most of all, that he truly deserves to be there. And it doesn't help that there's a galactic conspiracy arrayed against him from the start."
Interested in science fiction from an early age, Fishbone spent years honing his talent.
"I started as a reader," recalled Fishbone. "I used to make a game of guessing where the story would go next. Sometimes I was right, but when I was wrong, I often liked my version of the story better than the one in the book. So I wrote them down.
"Someone told me that you had to write a million words of crap before you got it all out of your system and got to the good stuff," noted Fishbone.
"My first published book was a contemporary fantasy called 'The Penguins of Doom,' but I've always been writing something," said Fishbone. "That book was actually based on a shared-world thing I started between classes during law school."
Although a fan of science fiction, Fishbone became dissatisfied with the lack of diversity among the casts of such classic novels as "Dune," "Foundation," and "Childhood's End."
"Science fiction has always been a mirror on the society it's written for, and our society has become more and more diverse," said Fishbone. "Many books being published today could not have been published in the '80s, and many books that did well back then would not be published today.
"The books I liked most were the exceptions to that rule: like Madeleine L'Engle's 'A Wrinkle in Time,' which featured a girl protagonist; Octavia Butler's 'Wild Seed,' that took place in Africa; or Ursula K. LeGuin's 'The Left Hand of Darkness,' that took place on a world with only one gender. For me, these were opportunities to explore and speculate, which is what science fiction should be all about.
"I like that Galaxy Games is a story that can't be told with anything but a diverse cast," Fishbone said. "When you have a team that represents Earth, it has to represent all of Earth: boys and girls of many cultures, ethnicities, nationalities, religions, and backgrounds. The story simply would not work any other way."
Fishbone fell into writing for children by accident.
"I had an editor ask me to pitch her a sports series, so I really thought about what my sports series would look like, the one that could only be written by me, reflecting my personality and my strengths as an author," said Fishbone. "Sometimes it's serious, sometimes it's silly, and sometimes there are aliens."
The results have met with a positive response.
"Publishers Weekly called it 'every alien-obsessed kid's dream come true,'" said Fishbone. "Barnes & Noble's BNKids blog recommended it 'for kids who like lots of humor with their aliens,' and just a few weeks ago a GoodReads reviewer wrote about how much she loved the message of peace and tolerance, the presence of different cultures and ethnic groups, and the strong girl characters."
Interested readers can check out the Galaxy Games series from online sources such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble in both hardcopy and ebook formats. Book #1 is now available with #2 due out this fall.
"These are fun books," said Fishbone of his efforts. "Or at least I'm having fun writing them, and I hope that comes through when you read them."