Royce Buckingham was born in Richland and has a degree in English from Whitman College and a law degree from the University of Oregon. He moved to Bellingham after attending law school and is a Whatcom County prosecuting attorney.
But he has always enjoyed writing creative fiction. Since he was young he has loved science fiction, fantasy and role-playing novels. He's had his share of rejection notices, but he's now a multi-award-winning author.
His middle-school novel, "Demonkeeper," has been adapted as a play, "Monster Keeper," and will be staged this weekend, Aug. 8-10, at Western Washington University's Performing Arts Center Mainstage Theatre, directed by Deb Currier.
Here's the story behind his story.
Question: How did "Demonkeeper" and "Monster Keeper" come to be?
Answer: "Demonkeeper" began as a story about a boy I used to see when I worked in juvenile court. He lived on the streets in downtown Bellingham and his life was total chaos. So I thought, "What if the chaos in a boy's life was represented by monsters only he could see?"
From that serious situation I created an allegorical tale about children needing a home and good mentors. This was my first novel. I've always loved monsters, and with two boys of my own (and having been a boy myself), I was truly "writing what I knew."
The female lead in this tale is confident and adventurous, whereas our boy is a bit timid and desperate. They complement one another well, just like an older married couple might.
Q: What was the process of bringing "Monster Keeper" to the stage?
A: Deb Currier was the instructor at the WWU Summer Youth Theatre Institute my boys attended for years, so she knew I was an award-winning children's author and she asked if she could adapt one of my stories. I said "Sure!"
And when I reviewed her adaptation of "Demonkeeper," I could immediately see that she "got it."
We met at La Fiamma over pizza to work on it.
Q: Any warnings for younger readers or audience members?
A: The book is spooky, but the demons are not "evil" or "devils." They are manifestations of chaos.
The play "Monster Keeper" will be appropriate for children who can handle Harry Potter; spooky for sure, but not too horrific. (Although kids can get eaten, just like in "Hansel and Gretel.")
The core idea of the story is the role of chaos in children's lives. Come see the show, and watch for that theme!
Q: What are some of the awards you've won?
A: I've been fortunate to recently have a lot of success. Or perhaps years of hard work are paying off. We've had two bestsellers in Germany ("Demonkeeper" and "Die Karte Der Wel"- "Map of the World").
My book "The Dead Boys" was just given the Sasquatch Award by Washington librarians for best middle-grade book.
I used to get a lot of amateur awards. Now I'm getting state level recognition and having commercial success overseas.
Next up - national awards and big commercial success at home! At least one can hope.
Q: As a father, husband, writer and a prosecuting attorney, what are your secrets to time management?
A: I write every day. That's my super-duper, top-secret method of time management.
It's like exercise or brushing your teeth; if you do it regularly, you see results over time. It takes discipline. I write in the morning, at lunch and in the evening, in between my day job, raising kids, volunteer coaching baseball for the Boys and Girls Club, and staying in shape.
Q: What's next?
A: My next big thing is a young adult thriller called "The Terminals." It's about a Western Washington University student who finds out he has a year to live and joins a secret organization for kids who spend their last year of life running dangerous spy missions. It's coming out Oct. 14. I believe Village Books will be doing an event with me (my incredible wife, Cara, is on that).
After "The Terminals," I have an adult legal thriller called "Impasse" coming out in the spring of 2015. That's new and different for me ... and kind of scary. We'll see how that goes!
When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 8-9, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 10.
Where: Western Washington University Performing Arts Center, Mainstage Theatre.
Tickets: $8 in advance, $10 at the door, at 360-650-6146 and tickets.wwu.edu.