Author Gordon Korman returns to the Slacker universe with a new companion novel, Level 13! We sat down with Gordon to discuss returning to Cam's world of video games and avoiding homework, and his own childhood obessions.
Cameron Boxer, king of the slackers, has found something worth his time. By playing video games online in front of an audience he can find both fame AND fortune — especially with Elvis (a beaver who seems to love video games as much as Cam) at his side. The only problem? Things keep getting in Cam's way. Like school. And the club he accidentally started. And the misguided people in his life who don't think beavers should be playing video games. It's going to take some trickery, some close calls, and a fierce devotion to slacking in order for Cam to get to his goal — conquering the game's infamous Level 13. But if any slacker can do it, Cam can.
Q&A with author Gordon Korman
SCHOLASTIC: What inspired you to return to the world of Slacker with Level 13?
GK: It was the fans, really, who bombarded me with letters and emails, demanding to know what was next for Cameron Boxer and the Positive Action Group. Who knew that the video game-addicted couch potato was such an underrepresented character in kids’ books? It also didn’t hurt that our cover model—Elvis—is pretty photogenic, as beavers go. I was thrilled to see his triumphant return on the cover of Level 13!
SCHOLASTIC: Which character do you most relate to and why?
GK: I have to go with Cam, but the connection isn’t to me personally. Both my sons are avid gamers, so it’s not unusual for our house to echo with the shouts of two headphone-wearing kids waging intense battles royale against faraway opponents. (And when the Wi-Fi lags, watch out!)
SCHOLASTIC: What’s the best part of writing a story from multiple perspectives?
GK: I can’t resist the chance to get inside so many characters’ heads. When I switch from narrator to narrator throughout a book, I can show how different people see the same events in a totally different light. That’s my favorite part—when the entire story transforms simply because of who’s telling it.
SCHOLASTIC: What’s the hardest part of writing a story from multiple perspectives?
GK: The biggest challenge is making sure the voices are distinct and recognizable. The last thing I want is for readers to lose track of who’s narrating. If you have to stop and ask yourself, “Wait, who’s talking right now?” that interrupts the whole momentum and flow of the novel.
SCHOLASTIC: Cam dreams of becoming a live-streamer so he can make a living someday playing video games. What was your dream job as a kid?
GK: I grew up in Canada, so my dream job was always professional hockey player. Either that or rock star. If there was such a job as a guitar-playing right winger who performed on skates, that would have been perfection.
SCHOLASTIC: Cam gets completely obsessed with getting to level 13 of the video game he’s playing. Did you have any similar obsessions as a kid?
GK: A better question might be what wasn’t I obsessed with as a kid. I had a bunch—sharks, dinosaurs, the Empire State Building, Star Trek, being a rock star or pro athlete. The difference is that Cam’s obsession with being a live game streamer and reaching level 13 in front of an online audience is something that can actually happen. There are kids out there no older than Cam earning money as professional gamers and streamers. Only a handful get rich at it, but it’s a real thing.