Returning Monday, Feb. 10
In his day job, Christopher John Farley is editorial director, digital features and senior editor of Speakeasy, a Wall Street Journal blog covering media, entertainment, celebrity and the arts.
Farley, also a novelist, was to launch his latest, geared to middle-school students, Wednesday at a party in New York. "Game World," which has a black protagonist and a multiracial cast, is described as "a fantasy adventure in a video game turned reality."
Farley responded by email to a question about why journalists should be interested in the project and why it is written under the name "C.J. Farley."
"I’ve written a number of biographical works as a journalist, including the bestseller 'Aaliyah: More Than a Woman' and 'Before the Legend: The Rise of Bob Marley,' Farley began. "I also co-wrote 'The Blues,' a book about some of the pioneers of American roots music that served as the companion volume to the Martin Scorsese documentary series. Scorsese called me a 'great biographer and critic.'
"For this book, I decided to do something new and write a novel for younger readers. Taking a left turn like this in the middle of one's career is something a lot of journalists dream of doing, and I’m happy I was able to pull it off. Kirkus Reviews called my new book 'Game World'"Exhilarating, thought-provoking and one of a kind' and Ziggy Marley and his kids read the book and he said it was 'a great read for all, we love it!'
"Some of the books that had the deepest impact on me, I read when I was just growing up — works like 'The Iliad,''The Lord of the Rings,''The Catcher in the Rye' and the non-fiction book 'Roots.' I wrote 'Game World' for kids ages 10-14 because I wanted to write a book that could be formative in the experiences of younger readers. The book is a super-fun adventure but it grapples with some serious topics, including wealth inequality, global warming and the importance of friendship.
"A lot of racial difficulties have early roots. Kids turns into adults who don't understand one another in part because they haven't been raised to understand other perspectives and cultures. Fiction is a great way to allow people to see the world though different eyes. 'Game World' is a book with a black protagonist and a multiracial cast of characters that will appeal to a wide range of kids — and show them things they may have never imagined.
"Most kids books don’t look like America. According to The Cooperative Children's Book Center, only about 3 percent of the heroes in kids books are African-American. I wrote 'Game World' in part to broaden out the universe of fantasy fiction. I think kids should have the opportunity to dream in color.
"Scholastic Inc.’s 2013 Kids & Family Reading Report found that about half of parents (49%) feel their children do not spend enough time reading books for fun, and that number is up from 36% in 2010. According to the report, 33% of parents say their children spend too much time playing video or computer games. 'Game World' has a video game theme to it that should hook younger readers into the book.
"I loved 'The Hobbit' and 'The Chronicles of Narnia' when I was growing up, but most of the most publicized fantasy sagas draw from the myths of Old Europe. My book 'Game World' taps in the legends of the New World, specifically the island of Jamaica, where I was born.
"I wrote the book under the name 'C.J. Farley' in part as a tribute to some of my favorite fantasy and sci-fi writers — J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis., J.K. Rowling and H.G. Wells— as well as my late father, Rawle E.G. Farley, who published a number of seminal texts about economics, including 'The Economics of Latin America: Development Problems in Perspective.'
"In the end, I wrote 'Game World' because I had a great story to tell. A thought occurred to me — what if a video game was real? That idea opened up a world of fantasy in my head that became my novel. It took me seven years to write but it was seven years well spent."