Thursday, March 08, 2012

Doodling & Flidderbugs Virtual Book Tour - Comment for Prizes

Thanks so much for having me here.

I spent a bit of time thinking about a good topic for this post today. Actually, I usually spend a bit of time when I’m trying to think of topics for any post. It’s always a bit of a challenge to come up with something a bit different, that you haven’t said before, but which you hope people will like to read. In some ways, it’s a bit like a puzzle that needs to be solved. And that’s when I figured out what the topic of this post would be – solving puzzles.

I love solving puzzles. It’s one of my all-time favourite things to do. A couple of years ago, at a previous job, I did one of those personality assessment questionnaires, and guess what the result was? My preferred mode of work is as a problem solver. Talk about telling me something I didn’t already know.

I love all sorts of puzzles – both maths puzzles and word puzzles. I particularly like Sudokus – except for the diabolical ones that they have in Thursday’s paper which are always way too hard. But my favourite sort of puzzle by far is the cryptic crossword – the sort of crossword where each clue is a little riddle that you have to solve. I’m not sure how popular they are in the US but in Australia they’re in every newspaper – there’s even one setter who’s become a bit of a celebrity for the complexity of the puzzles he creates (far too complex for me). I love the way they allow you to play with words and letters: double meanings and sound-alike words, anagrams and little words hidden within big words. It’s a lot of fun, slowly making sense of clues that initially look like gibberish. And you get a great feeling of satisfaction when you can finally hold up the completed grid.

My love of puzzles definitely extends over into my writing. I think first and foremost, I’ve always seen writing a story as a bit of a puzzle I need to solve. I’ll set up a bunch of characters, put them into a difficult situation, and then see what sort of clever solution I can find. In some ways, it’s like there’s two levels of puzzling going on:

For my characters – I’ll always give them a problem they’ll need to solve. And no cheating – no deus ex machine. It’s up to them to solve it using whatever resources are available to them.

For me as a writer – Ultimately it’s up to me to figure out how the characters will solve the puzzle – it’s the biggest challenge as a writer, and definitely the most fun.

Both of my ebooks follow this kind of model. In Doodling, Neville and his friends have to figure out how to save the asteroid field from…well I don’t want to give too much of the plot away. And in Flidderbugs, Kriffle and his fellow ‘bugs have to figure how to end their silly arguments about leaves and work together to save the Krephiloff Tree before…well again, that would be telling. You’ll need to read the books to find out.

I guess the biggest worry with following an approach like this is that ultimately all my stories might end up following a formula. I need to make sure I find ways to keep my story ideas fresh.

But hey, that’s just another puzzle I’ll look forward to solving.
Doodling .99 Cents on Amazon by Jonathan Gould

Blurb:  Neville Lansdowne fell off the world.

Actually, he did not so much fall off as let go. The world had been moving so quickly lately and Neville was finding it almost impossible to keep up.

Doodling is an engaging comic fantasy which relates the events that befall Neville after he finds himself abandoned by the world and adrift in the middle of an asteroid field. Douglas Adams meets Lewis Carroll (with just a touch of Gulliver's Travels) as Neville wanders through his new home, meeting a variety of eccentric characters and experiencing some most unexpected adventures.

The 411 by Maria:
OK, now this is the kind of book that makes you go, "where do they come up with this stuff." I love how very different it is. Author Jonathan Gould has some imagination.

Stop the world I want to get off is one of my long time sayings. My whole family says it. In Doodling, the world won't stop for you, you simply let go and drift off into the stratosphere I assume. Neville just couldn't hold on any longer so he let go. Now the earth is on a collision course with the asteroid field and Neville must do what he can to save his new found friends who have also let go. 

I was completely fascinated by the story. There is so much intellect behind it. It is silly, surreal and seriously smart.

While reading the whimsical words, my senses were begging for the bigger picture. I found myself thinking of deep issues like government, depression, loneliness, hunger, economics, sociology, human dignity, ethics, philosophy, theosophy and more while reading.

The saying "it takes all kinds to make the world go round", "take time to smell the roses" and others are all summed up in this fascinating book about the fast paced world we all live in.

I highly recommend you read it two times and pass it on.

As Kriffle the Flidderbug investigates why his fellow 'bugs find it impossible to agree on the pressing issue of how many points there are on the leaves of the tree on which they live, he finds that the truth is more complicated, and ultimately more terrifying, than he ever could have imagined.

Flidderbugs is a political satire, a modern fable, or maybe just a funny little story about a bunch of insects with some very peculiar obsessions.

The 411 by Maria:

After loving Doodling so much, I was hoping to not be disappointed by The Flidderbugs.  I was not disappointed. Once again Jonathan takes on real human issues with the help of a whimsical story. In Flidderbugs it is politics.

Young Kriffle must head to council for a debate on his ill father's behalf. He will eventually take leadership of the Triplifer tribe and this is as good a time as any to get his feet wet.  The problem? Leaves on the Krephiloff tree are overgrown and everyone has to deal with too many leaves. Leaves in their food, leaves raining down on you in your sleep and leaves in your path making walking difficult.  The Quadrigon tribe have control of the tree and Kriffle must convince them to do what is right by all.  Unfortunately they can't even agree with how many points the leaves have. Although Kriffle counts them many times and they all have three, he is told that you can't tell how many points are on a leave strictly by counting them. Because things have changed: "Your father and his tribe have been thrown from power. The Quadrigons have the Shears. That in itself is enough to make it obvious that there are now four points on every leaf.” Kriffle feels that it shouldn't matter who is in power, that the leaves have three, you can count them and see.

I love the debate which reminded me of the caucuses I watch on TV nightly. They all argue over the same things and nothing is ever of real relevance. They argue about things they agree on, only to argue again on the next debate. Exhausting as a viewer, even more so if you are a Flidderbug on a mission for your tribe.

What I like most about this book is the moral of the story. It is a moral I live by; just because we see things differently doesn't mean we are wrong and the other side right or vice versa. It is all in how we perceive things. There are definitely two sides to every story and if you take the time to hear the other side with an open mind, you may just realize that others can be right too.

Jonathan Gould has lived in Melbourne, Australia all his life, except when he hasn't. He has written comedy sketches for both the theatre and radio, as well as several published children's books for the educational market.

He likes to refer to his stories as dag-lit because they don't easily fit into recognizable genres (dag is Australian slang for a person who is unfashionable and doesn't follow the crowd - but in an amusing and fun way). You might think of them as comic fantasies, or modern fairytales for the young and the young-at-heart.

Over the years, his writing has been compared to Douglas Adams, Monty Python, A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, the Goons, Dr Seuss, and even Enid Blyton (in a good way).

Jonathan will be giving away a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter from the tour. So, comment below and comment at my co-hosters for your chance to win.

 3/5/2011 Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
3/6/2011 Every Day is an Adventure REVIEW ONLY
3/7/2011 Sandra's Blog
3/8/2011 Maria's Space
3/9/2011 You Gotta Read Guest
3/12/2011 It's Raining Books
3/13/2011 Rogue's Angels
3/14/2011 Marianne Arkins
3/15/2011 The Muse
3/16/2011 The Cerebral Writer


  1. Thanks so much, Maria, for having me and for your kind words about the books.

    Love to hear from readers. Is solving puzzles something you do a lot of? What sort of puzzles do you enjoy the most? Or if you just have any questions about the books, I'd be happy to answer them.

  2. Thank you for hosting Jonathan today.

  3. I'm in Australia & I love my daily puzzles. One of the best crossword puzzles is actually in the weekly freebie newspaper. Got to keep the grey matter working.


    1. My favourite is the cryptic in The Age on Thursdays.

      Except I couldn't get a seat on the tram yesterday so I haven't done it yet.

  4. How fun. To start by putting your characters into a situation then writing and getting them out.

    1. That's the plan.

      Hopefully I don't end up leaving them in the drink...

  5. Jonathan...Thanks for responding to my post yesterday. It made me giggle to think that there are others out there writing Dag-Lit who just don't realize it yet!

    I, too, enjoy puzzles, including Suduko and Every Word on my Kindle.

    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

    1. Hi Catherine,

      You can do Sudoku on a kindle? Don't tell me that. I'll never read another book again.

  6. The books sound great. And as for puzzles, well, I am a big fan of Professor Layton :)

    1. Hi Renee,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You'll have to fill me in on who Professor Layton is

    2. He's the star of a video game puzzle series that is highly addictive...

  7. Both books sound great! They also both sound like they could belong to that rare family of know, the kind that become dear to all members of the family? The kind that truly inspire deeper, broader thought? Yeah...I love those! :)

  8. WOW, can't believe how hard it was to find your post here. Sorry I missed you on party day. Looks like you all had fun.

  9. If you are into cryptic crosswords you might be interested in a series of posts I have done explaining how to solve them. This has now evolved into a daily series. This was the first one:


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