Zak Corbin: Master of Machines by Tony Russo – Interview & Giveaway

Welcome to Author Tony Russo.

TONY RUSSO was born in Queens, New York. First published in Aboriginal Science Fiction magazine, Mr. Russo was a contributing author for West End Games, LLC, license holder of the official STAR WARS roleplaying game system. He appears in TALES FROM THE EMPIRE, published by Bantam Books. He took 2nd prize in the 2003 New Century Writer Awards for Novels judged by Ray Bradbury. ZAK CORBIN: MASTER OF MACHINES was a semi-finalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards for Young Adult fiction. In September 2012, his science-fiction detective adventure, THE PRINCE OF TROUBLE, will be available on, a website dedicated to revitalizing serial fiction.


If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
Sherman, please set the Wayback Machine to the past. I had one instructor in college who actually made the Greeks and Romans interesting. When my literature professor handed me The Iliad and The Odyssey, I was hooked. It really wasn’t until one of my English instructors gave me that standard line, “write about what you know” when I realized that I came from Long Island, NY and I didn’t think anything interesting happened there. I was flat-out wrong. Queens, New York was home to two New York World’s Fairs, Nikola Tesla built a wacky tower that could have been the forerunner to cellphones, Grumman built the Lunar Lander on Long Island, and comedian Rodney Dangerfield grew up in my neighborhood. Lots of cool things happened around me. You just have to research it and figure out how you can make it apply to the story you’re telling.
If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you? 

A hut with running water, a fishing pole and a coconut and papaya juice-powered radio transmitter (go watch Gilligan’s Island).

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
Robert Moses. Okay, unless you’re a New Yorker you probably have no idea who he was. Robert Moses made New York pretty much what it looks like today. He’s responsible for Jones Beach, most of the New York State Park System, all the major highways that run around New York City and many bridges and tunnels, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge (was world’s longest suspension bridge for many many years and featured in the moview Saturday Night Fever), two New York World’s Fairs, the United Nations Building and a lot of other things you don’t know or don’t care about until you actually use them. People admired him and hated him. He was mean, but he got things done. 
Night owl, or early bird?
I’m an early bird. My spouse hates this. She would rather I sleep. I would rather be writing.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
‘Cause its unexpected good fun, has great characters, has a sweet attitude but a good moral point (turning robots into weapons is a very bad idea), and its set in the 1950s with cool giant robot action!
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? 
I have another YA book and potential series out that I’m sending to agents and getting some interest. It’s set in the past, but it has a female protagonist and fighter planes!  I would love to finally land an agent but I understand that the writing world has tons of authors and just so many things publishers are interested in. I am currently writing the second book for ZAK CORBIN. This one takes place right after the events of the first book. Zak and Lisabeth put their new-found friendship under a lot of strain. It’s also has mystery and a lot of emotion behind it.
What inspired you to want to become a writer?
I had been writing through junior and high school, but I got bit by the acting bug and tried it in college. Acting just didn’t work for me (although I’m quite a goofball.) I took a scriptwriting course and came up with a full-sized murder mystery/comedy. They did a reading of it and the audience just fell over themselves, loving the dialogue and the characters. I realized I was a much better writer than an actor. Of course, writing is one thing. Getting published is a whole other kettle of fish.
If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world.. which would it be?
Oh, if I could ever be in one setting … it would be Star Wars. (Gawd, I’m such a geek) I love the world, the characters, the non-stop let’s do something about the evil Empire!, the Force and the hocus-pocus, droids, X-wings, beat-up rusted spacecraft, scoundrels, princesses, speeder bikes, Wookies, bounty hunters, Rebel scum, Imperial officers with British accents, blasters. So much fun! Just no Jar-Jar Binks. I’ll take a pass on that. 
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen? 
When I was younger, I had a book that was a collection of fables and tales that was not the usual Snow White or some old Lady Who Lived In a Shoe. I’ve forgotten the title. Its about a king who loses his throne and his kingdom. He goes on the road and encounters folks with unusual skills or they look odd or not normal. He befriends them and they offer to help him in his quest. In some way, each of these persons is able to kelp the king regain his throne and kingdom. It was an illustrated book too. I loved how the book showed that even those of us who looked and acted different had something to offer, without coming right out and telling me. That’s important when you’re nine or ten. You have enough people telling you what you should think or believe in.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Don’t follow others or try to copy what they have done. Don’t follow the trends in popular books. What’s popular now will be replaced with something else. Readers are fickle. Let them discover you and your unique voice. Then you will be prized and remembered as a favorite author, and not someone who “writes stuff just like Brand X”.
Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
Plenty. I like to put a little something about myself in all of them. Even the bad guys. Zak Corbin is a fifteen-year-old who wears glasses, loves robots, and has a hard time staying out of trouble. He’s also a little narrow-minded, so when he finally gets to talk to the girl he’s only seen in his class, he discovers her interests in dance are as important to her as robots are to him. Many of my heroes in this story are “unexpected”. Zak and his friends are not the popular kids at school. They work very hard at being the best at what they do, which sounds an awful lot like me.
What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had?
Garbage monsters and heavily-armed sanitation trucks. That’s all I’m saying.
What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you’d be embarrassed to admit?
The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, anything by Genndy Tartakovsky. He’s really really good.
Favorite quote from a movie?
“I have a bad feeling about this.” 
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
One 4th of July, I blew up a police car’s tire with a model rocket. Don’t ask for specifics. I have since moved out of the country and changed my name. 

Zak Corbin: Master of Machines

All young Zak Corbin wants is a robot — in a time when nearly everyone has one. But there is great fear of the Corbin name. Doctor Elias Corbin was regarded as a famous builder of robots until he unleashed an attack on a military factory. Branded a madman and a traitor, Zak’s uncle was sentenced to spend the rest of his days on Penitentiary Island.

When fifteen-year-old Zak tries to build a robot of his own, mostly to get the attention of pretty sophomore Lisabeth Ryan, it leads to an adventure of gigantic proportions. Zak builds one of his uncle’s banned robots, which he dubs Pogo, and he quickly discovers the machine goes far beyond what ordinary robots can do. But when Zak wishes he could set his uncle free, Pogo breaks Doctor Corbin out of prison, leading to a confrontation with a secret weapon: a terrifying giant war machine.

Set in a retro-futuristic era, Zak Corbin: Master of Machines is a tale of family loyalty, pursuing the things you love, and being careful about what you wish for around a robot! 

Giveaway Details
1 copy of Zak Corbin
Paperback open to US only, Ebook open Internationally
Ends 11/7/12

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