The Dungeoneers, by John David Anderson, with Interview and Giveaway!

It's  my pleasure today to be a stop on the blog tour for The Dungeoneers, by John David Anderson (Walden Pond Press, MG, June 23, 2015).  This fun and exciting story is one to add to the summer reading pile of any kid who dreams of treasure seeking and goblin bashing!

Colm's family is struggling; his father can't make and sell enough shoes to keep him and his eight sisters comfortably feed.  So Colm decides to take things into his own hands; literally--it turns out that he has a natural gift for pickpocketing.  When things go wrong, he's in danger of having one hand cut off by the law, but he's saved by a mysterious stranger, Finn, a smooth talking master rouge who takes Colm on as his protégée.  Finn is a member of the most famous league of Dungeoneers in the land--adventurers who routinely go into danger below ground in search of treasure. 

Colm becomes a student at the league's headquarters, partnered with three other kids who have their own roles to play in their future dungeon diving adventures.  There's Serene, a druid in training, who can commune with nature (as long as it's not nature in the form of giant spiders), Quinn, whose magical abilities are hampered by a nervous stutter when he's trying to use them, and Lena, determined to be the best barbarian warrior ever.

So basically it's the story of a school that trains Dungeon and Dragons-esque parties of adventurers....but as Colm's abilities as a rogue and a thief grow, he has to learn the hard way who he can really trust.  And when he and his cohort find themselves in an a real dungeon adventure far above their pay-grade, they have to learn the hard way how to stay alive.....

Give this one to any kid who enjoys stories about kids at magical schools, and definitely give it to any young fantasy game players you might happen to have on hand!  I myself enjoyed it lots--the adventure part is combined with pleasing character interaction parts, and the action is gracefully introduced into the story, without overwhelming the less frenetic school and friendship side of things.

And now it's my pleasure to welcome John David Anderson here today!  My questions for him are in blue.

  1. I'm going to pitch The Dungeoneers to my own boys as a perfect read for Dungeons and Dragons characters, and I'm wondering if you yourself were/are a D. and D. person?  If so, were you by any chance a rogue or a thief yourself?  If not, have you played similar games?

I’ve never actually played hard-core, full-on, roll-for-crit D&D, but I’ve played plenty of less-involved versions (dungeon-diving board games, Pathfinders Adventure Card Game and the like). I’ve also played plenty of computer role-playing games, so I’ve had the chance to vicariously goblin bash using a variety of personas. Usually I go for the kick-butt Amazon warrior princess or the dark sorcerer type who summons undead things to do his bidding. I’m usually not a rogue or thief because, frankly, I can’t imagine myself ever being that crafty (though I can imagine myself as an Amazon princess—go figure).

2.  There's a certain moral ambiguity (not that ambiguous) about several of the character in this book, and in your earlier books as well....is this something that just happens, or that is part of your grand plan from the get go?   Have you gotten any pushback from gatekeepers about this?

Moral ambiguity is at the heart of what makes fiction interesting. If I knew from the very start how my characters were going to behave at every possible moral crossroads I’m afraid I would get bored with them myself. I enjoy writing characters who struggle with right and wrong, who are questioning the ideologies around them and trying to find one that they can work with and stand behind, because that’s what adolescents are just starting to do (and what some adults continue to struggle with). I think both readers and gatekeepers appreciate a little moral complexity. Yes—we want our protagonists to do the right thing in the end, but if we can play with the definition of “right” along the way, it not only provides a more intriguing journey, but also gives us more to talk about when it’s over.

3.  lt interesting to me also that your books place kids in the difficult position of having grown-ups trying to make their moral decisions for them, and then having to trust, or not, their own feelings.  It this something that draws you to writing for middle grade kids, as opposed to YA, where the protagonists strike out on their own more blatantly from the get go?

Dang, that’s astute. Yes, that’s both a boon and a bane of middle grade fiction, that your characters are granted limited agency due to their age (it would be so much easier if they could just drive places!), but are often thrown into a world where their decisions suddenly matter. They still need guidance, but they are just starting to recognize the power they have to change their environment, impact other people, even rebel against their parents’ teachings. Maybe that’s why I like to write about twelve-year-olds who cast spells, pick locks, or have super senses, because it empowers them to trust in their own autonomy. That moment when you realize that your actions matter—and just as importantly—that your parents/guardians/Obi Wan Kenobis won’t be able to swoop in and clean up the mess you’ve made—it’s frightening, but it also makes for a compelling story and some much-needed evolution.

3.  Will there be more books continuing Colm and co.'s adventures?  Will the quality of the food improve?  Will we get to meet any of his sisters in any great depth?

I have yet to write a book where the food is good. I realize that. It’s a running theme. One day, I hope to, though it might require me learning how to cook first.

As for sequels to The Dungeoneers, I certainly hope so. I am quite fond of all of the characters and would love to discover what they do next. I never write a book with a sequel in mind, but as soon as I finished this one I began dreaming up further adventures. Hopefully The Dungeoneers will find its audience and leave them hungry for more. If not, I suppose I can at least write a little pamphlet called “The Candolry Sisters’ Guide to Tormenting Your Brother.”   

4.  My kids' school offers a lock picking class (although they call it "introduction to lock mechanics" to avoid Legal Issues).  Did you learn any lock picking yourself in preparation for this story?  Or practice in any other way (I, for instance, could practice walking through the lego minefield of my kids' playroom as "trap-avoidance.")

Your kids’ school is awesome! Do they offer classes in safe cracking and computer hacking? What about trap making? Fireball flinging? I have jimmied a few locks before (all my own, due to an inability to remember where I’ve put keys). I did book-research, but I refrained from buying an actual lock-pick set and breaking into my neighbor’s house (“I’m researching for my next novel, officer, really!”). I think my entire childhood was spent practicing to be a dungeoneer though. My favorite activity was covering the floor with throw pillows and pretending the carpet was lava, jumping from safe spot to safe spot to get at the treasure buried under the couch cushions (usually about thirteen cents, a gum wrapper, and a stale potato chip). Ah, those were the days.

Thanks for interviewing me, Charlotte. Hope you enjoyed the book!
John David Anderson is the author of Sidekicked and Minion (both very good!  The links go to my reviews). A dedicated root beer connoisseur in his spare time, he lives with his wife, two kids, and perpetually whiny cat in Indianapolis. You can visit him online at www.johndavidanderson.org,
or you can find him on twitter-- @anderson_author and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JohnDavidAndersonAuthor?ref=hl

Thanks very much, Dave! 

And now the giveaway--thanks to Walden Pond Press, I can offer a signed finished hardcover of The Dungeoneers!  Just leave a comment between now and midnight next Wednesday June 17, making sure there's some way to contact you!  (US and Canada only).

Here are the other stops on the Dungeoneers Blog Tour:
6/2/2015 Maria's Melange                                    ​                             
6/5/2015 Unleashing Readers                                              
6/6/2015 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia            
6/7/2015 Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers         
6/8/2015 This Kid Reviews Books                                   
6/8/2015 Ms Yingling Reads                             ​         
6/9/2015 Read Now Sleep Later                         
6/11/2015   Nerdy Book Club                     
6/12/2015 The Hiding Spot                         


  1. This book just moved up my daughter's to-read pile--she's hoping to start a D and D group this summer, so it's perfect timing, and sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for the insightful interview, Charlotte and John! Fingers crossed.

  2. This book sounds fantastic! I'm adding it to my tbr list. I love how you can't wait to read the sequels.

  3. My kids loved Sidekicked and Minion; would love for a chance to win this newest book!

  4. John David Anderson was my FAVORITE interviewee years ago when he wrote his very first book (when the twins were wee tiny). I am so glad to see him back and just knocking it out of the park - all of his books are so good and weird!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Sounds like my son would like this.

  7. please enter me! Katy of alibrarymama

  8. sounds interesting

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  9. I have some grandkids that would love this. TFS.

  10. Sidekicked has been a huge hit at our school, and Mr. Anderson has received rave reviews for his author visits in Indiana. I will be contacting him to visit our school as well. I look forward to my students reading this one too!

  11. This sound like the perfect book for my Dungeon and Dragon's loving heart. Although I too never played the traditional dice game, I do play the online version which is lots of fun. Highly recommend it John David Anderson. Lovely interview, so neat to hear someone else played the "lava game" with pillows. Congratulations on the books release.


Free Blog Counter

Button styles