Author: Fred Holmes
Genre: Fantasy, Adeventure, Middle Grade/Young Adult
Publication date: March 30th 2016
Pages: 205 (kindle)
Buy links: Amazon
Fourteen-year-old Hannah Bradbury loved her father so much that she worried about him constantly. After all, he was a photographer who traveled to the most dangerous places in the world.
To allay her fears, each time he came home he brought her silly gifts, each one with supposed magical powers: the Seal of Solomon, the Ring of Gyges, even Alladin's Lamp. It was that lamp Hannah found the most unbelievable, for it looked like an ugly teapot. Nevertheless, her father assured her it was real, and made her promise to save her three wishes for something special.
Then.... six months later.... the unthinkable happened. Her father was killed while on assignment to Baghdad. And so on the day of his funeral Hannah did something she never thought she would ever do.
She took out that teapot and gave it a rub...
The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes is a timeless tale, filled with magic and adventure. More importantly, it will make you believe in the overwhelming power of love.
About the author
The Ugly Teapot is Fred Holmes's first fiction novel, having previously ghost written nonfiction book, Letters From Dad, published by Thomas Nelson. He is known primarily as a writer and director of films and television, working primarily in family films an children's television. His work can be seen on Mary Lou Retton's Flip Flop Shop, Barney & Friends, Wishbone, Horseland, In Search of The Heroes, and many other shows, for which he has won two Emmys and three CINE Golden Eagles, among numerous other shows. He has also directed three feature films including Dakota, starring Lou Diamond Phillips, distributed by Miramax, and Heart Land, a Bollywood film shot on location in India. He lives with his wife and son in the southwest United States, and can be found online at www.fholmes.com.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for your book?
A: THE UGLY TEAPOT began as a screenplay called FIREFLIES that I wrote in response to the death of my brother. He died very young from cancer, and it took seven years to kill him because he tried so hard to live. I was with him through it all and it was awful. After he died, I was struggling with a lot of emotions that I was finally able to vent in FIREFLIES; and eventually FIREFLIES became THE UGLY TEAPOT.
Q: Whose work inspires you?
A: I have so many favorite authors it would be impossible to name them all. I will say that I’m a huge fan of Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, George R. R. Martin, J K Rowling, Stephen King, Ken Follet, Orson Scott Card, Stephanie Meyer, Terry Pratchett, and a little known, very obscure writer named Fred Holmes. Yes, it is perfectly fine, in my opinion, to like your own writing. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. But perhaps my favorite author of all is Ray Bradbury. He wrote my favorite novel of all time, DANDELION WINE. Why I connect with that book so viscerally, I have no idea, because it is about a time in which I did not live, and a place I’ve never been, and yet I absolutely adore it. A big reason why is Ray’s use of language. His writing is about as close to poetry as one can get. As a side note: Years ago, before Ray died, he was working with my friend, Jerry Molen, on the movie version of THE MARTIAN CHRONOCLES for Universal. Jerry was telling me about working with Ray, and I told Jerry what a huge fan I was of DANDELION WINE. Sure enough, the next day when I showed up in Jerry’s office at DreamWorks, he handed me an autographed copy of DANDELION WINE. And on the inside of the cover, Ray had drawn a picture of a dandelion and written, “Fred, this dandelion is for you!” It remains one of my most prized possessions.
Q: You have a day job as a screenwriter, how different is it from writing a book?
A: Very different in a lot of ways. In screenplays you only write down what the audience will see and hear. Actors do not like you giving a lot of screen direction in terms of how they should be feeling or behaving, and directors don’t want you telling them how to block the action. Consequently, a well-written screenplay is simply a blueprint for how the movie should be constructed; and at its best simply conveys emotion. In a novel you are given more leeway. You can get inside the characters’ minds and portray their thoughts and emotions; so it’s much easier to build well-rounded characters. Also, screenplays have their own unique structure, use as few words as possible, and are meant to be shot, not read. Novels, on the other hand, have a stronger emphasis on good grammar, etc. But what is true in both mediums is that the screenwriter and the novelist both must be able to write dialog.
Q: The Ugly Teapot was originally a screenplay, how did it turn into a novel?
A: As I meantioned earlier, THE UGLY TEAPOT began life as a screenplay called FIREFLIES. My agent shopped FIREFLIES all over Hollywood and it was optioned numerous times by several high profile producers. One of those producers was Jerry Molen, who had won the Academy Award for producing SCHINDLER’S LIST (with Spielberg and Branko Lustig). Jerry loved FIREFLIES, but for a lot of frustrating reasons he was never able to get it made. Then one day a friend of mine at Disney read it, loved it, and suggested I turn it into a novel. I’d always wanted to try my hand at writing a novel, so I turned FIREFLIES into THE UGLY TEAPOT and sent it out into the cold, cruel world. Hopefully it will bring solace to those like myself who have gone through something traumatic in their lives.
Q: Which scene in the book was the most fun to write?
A: The opening scene was the most fun to write because it set everything up. It also took the longest time to write. I have no idea how many times I rewrote it, including just before the book was published—which drove my editor crazy!
Q: How would you describe The Ugly Teapot in three words?
A: Love conquers all.
Q: Could you tell us one silly fact about yourself?
A: I’ve always wanted to be an astronaut. I even applied to the program, but they told me they didn’t take short, fat, ugly people. Just kidding! They were very nice. I just didn’t have the requisite flying experience or a background in science. However, I made up for it by directing a lot of films for NASA and got to know a bunch of astronauts like Sally Ride, Charlie Duke, Gordo Cooper, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Ken Reightler, and John Glenn. I got to shoot inside one of the Space Shuttles and got to attend two launches.
Q: If you had to choose between being a fulltime novelist or a screenwriter what would it be?
A: I would be a novelist. For two reasons: one, I’ve been writing screenplays for a long time and I relish trying something new; and two, I love the freedom that comes with writing a novel. You can delve more deeply into character, etc.
Q: Why should everybody read The Ugly Teapot?
A: Why should anyone read any story? First, a good story teaches you empathy. You get to walk in someone else’s shoes for awhile. Second, a good story broadens your horizons. You learn that it’s a great big world out there with diverse ways of living and thinking, and learning about this diversity makes you a better, more well-rounded human being. And third, a good story teaches you to dream. It makes you realize you can accomplish so much more than you ever thought you could. Does THE UGLY TEAPOT embody all of these objectives? I sure hope so. I tried my best to portray them. And I would be honored if folks would give it a chance.
Q: Is there anything you would like to tell your readers?
A: I’m currently working on the sequel to THE UGLY TEAPOT, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride. Aladdin’s Lamp has taken up residence in a small village nestled in the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, and the townspeople there will never be the same. Some of them will live, some will die, and some will...well...you’ll just have to read it to find out!
Thank you so much Fred!