Okay, I have to admit it – I’m primarily a screenwriter dabbling in writing novels. There, I’ve said it, so get out the whips and chains and get it over with – another Hollywood type thinking he can just step into the world of Hemingway, Updike or even J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer. But to tell the truth, I began as a novelist, at the tender age of 12. And I wrote fairly well… for a twelve year old. I even traveled to Ireland after quitting college in Canada, to write my first real novel. It was horrible – the novel, not Ireland, though the cold, wet, half rain/half snow was a bit miserable too.
But here I am, with my second novel in a year, “Jo-Bri and the Two Worlds,” and unlike my first one, “God Wars: Living With Angels,” this one is a true novel, not an adaptation of a screenplay the way “God Wars” was. And I’m actually proud of “Jo-Bri,” as opposed to tentative and nervous as I was for “God Wars.”
I did a little experimentation with “Jo-Bri,” nothing that hadn’t been done before, but things that hadn’t been done by me before. I’m a big Hemingway fan and one of the things he did that always impressed the heck out of me was in his short story “The Short Happy Life of Francis McComber.” The title character, Francis, wounds a lion on safari and then goes into the long grass to finish off the big cat. We begin the scene from Francis’ point of view and then somehow we’re seeing it from the lion’s point of view and until you go back in the story you don’t know when it changed from Francis to the lion. It was brilliant and quite cutting edge at the time.
So when I started planning “Jo-Bri” I decided I would switch points of view not once but three times. So I began from Jo-Bri’s point of view – the teen wizard from a parallel sword-and-sorcery world who’s more interested in hunting and in hanging out with his 7 foot-tall girlfriend than in practicing magical spells. So the first section is very male oriented, a bit immature, consistent with any teen anywhere, though by the end of that section the boy wizard has been forced to become a man, fighting and running for his life.
I then shift time and place, leaping with Jo-Bri into modern day Montana, and stay with his point of view a bit longer, before leaping into the mind of Melinda, a teenage girl – and what a shock it was to wake up beneath pink sheets, LOL. Then, toward the end of the novel, I shift back to Jo-Bri and then finally back to Melinda who, like Jo-Bri before her, has been forced to grow up at light speed and who now faces the responsibility of trying to save two worlds, her own and Jo-Bri’s.
The other author I emulated was the Science Fiction master, Robert Heinlein; not his style but rather the feel of his monumental novel “Stranger in a Strange Land.” What I borrowed from that great work was the technique of bringing an alien to Earth to see us from a third party perspective and comment on who and what we are as a species and as a culture. Jo-Bri of course is the alien whose point of view clashes so dramatically with the rap, rock and roll, sexual mores, and political sensibilities of our world.
The result? Well, you’ll be the judge of that, but I can say with confidence that as much as I liked my previous novel, “God Wars,” “Jo-Bri” is light years better, and truly a novel by a novelist rather than an adaptation by a screenwriter. I hope you agree.
Jo-Bri And the Two Worlds
By Rob Tobin
A teen wizard from a sword-and-sorcery world is chased by an evil sorcerer into modern day Montana. There he learns about sex, love, rock and roll, and the stress of trying to save two worlds from total destruction during summer break.
"Jo-Bri" follows in the tradition of entertaining social statement SFF novels like "Stranger in a Strange Land" and "Left Hand of Darkness," but with the modern, fast-paced feel of urban fantasies like "Twilight" and "Jumper."
Add it to your Kindle
Rob Tobin is an award-winning, produced screenwriter with his latest film shortlisted for a 2012 Best Picture Oscar, a published novelist, and former motion picture development executive. Rob was brought up and worked the gold mines in Timmins, Ontario, Canada, Shania Twain's hometown. He now lives in beautiful Huntington Beach, California with his lovely wife Leslie and goofy brown dog.
Feel free to visit Rob at his website: Robtobinwriting.com