I am super excited for this meeting of the DMS Files Character Book Club! In attendance today are Pete Riley of The Great Timelock Disaster, sequel to Alligators Overhead by C. Lee McKenzie, interviewed by Joshua Cooper from Joshua and the Lightning Road.
In The Great Timelock Disaster, becoming a wizard is hard work. For Pete Riley it’s almost impossible. He tries to follow the rules, but he’s impatient and being impatient only leads to trouble.
He messes with a time spell when he shouldn’t and he and his bookish friend, Weasel, are swept into Victorian England, where they will be trapped forever if that wizard-in-training can’t find a way to reverse his bad spell by the next full moon.
I’m so happy for the chance to find out what Pete thinks about his recent adventure! Read my review about it! So, without further ado, let the meeting commence…
Joshua: It must have been amazing (and scary) to time travel back to England in 1837! Were there any cool things about that place you would trade for in from your own time?
Pete: Meeting Margaret was cool. She was a big help getting Fanon out of trouble and helping Weasel and me find Dr. Wraith. The rest was icky. Those Spikes—places for the poor kids—I don’t ever want to be in one of those again. And you should see the size of the rats. Nope. Not much more I’d want to trade for in that year.
Joshua: Weasel is your best friend and yet seems the total opposite of you! I see you help each other out but also annoy each other. How did you two ever become – and stay – friends?
Pete: Oh, he really likes me, you know. He puts on that I’m a big pain, but without me he’d be bored and lonely and hungry. His mom and dad are big time researchers who are always gone, and his brother’s at college, so he’s on his own a lot. Aunt Lizzie and me are all he’s got most of the time. And he kind of owes me. I got him out of trouble with some seventh graders last year.
Joshua: You said that being a wizard did not come naturally to you – and then you got yourself in a mess by practicing a spell ☺. Did you ever think you weren’t meant to be a wizard and if so, what else would you want to be?
Pete: I think that a lot, I mean about not being cut out for this wizard stuff. I used to be just a normal kid with a normal family, and then kaboom! I’ve got witches for relatives and stuff starts happening that I cause, but don’t know I cause. Well, you can see it’s complicated.
I think I’d like to be park ranger—just a guy who takes care of nature and animals. I like parks and animals. It’s the witches and the spells that give me trouble.
Joshua: Is it hard being a friend to someone like Weasel who doesn’t understand or practice magic like you do?
Pete: Not really. I like that he can’t do magic. For one thing, he’s so smart that he’d do it real good. Then I’d have to start studying and practicing and stuff because Harriet or Aunt Lizzie would be on me like gnats in summer. I can hear them now. “If Weasel can do it so well, then you can, too.”
Joshua: I’ve traveled to another place but never another time. Time travel must be so cool! If you could time travel again, what would be your favorite destination and time? And who would you take along with you?
Pete: I’d like to go into the future and visit some planets. That would be so cool. But it looks like I’m not getting that wish. McKenzie’s started writing me into a story about medieval knights. I think she’s got her mind set on sending me back there. I know she’ll send Weasel, too, and maybe Fanon. She has to send at least one of those two, or I won’t go.
Joshua: I can’t imagine having an alligator for a friend! What happens if you get in a fight – does he win? Ha ha. And how do you explain to your other friends about having an alligator for a friend?
Pete: It’s sort of hush hush about Fanon, except for Weasel and the witches. Nobody would understand a talking alligator. I still don’t really understand it, but it’s a huge help to have Fanon as my friend. And now he’s got that mind-to-mind talking down, so he sends me all kinds of news from the swamp. And we never fight. Have you ever seen an alligator’s teeth? I’d be nuts to even think about fighting him.
Joshua: You met a lot of creepy people in your adventure. Who was the scariest and why?
Pete: Dr. Dread Wraith was the scariest, hands down. Take a look at the name. Dread? Wraith? Like dreaded ghost. Just saying his name gives me the shakes. Weasel and me didn’t want any part of a ghost, but then we had to find him because he was the only one who could help us get home.
Joshua: If you knew ahead of time you’d be going back in time to England almost two hundred years ago, is there anything special you would have taken to help you along the way?
Pete: A map. We couldn’t figure out where we were or which way to go. And we’d landed in that cemetery at night. Talk about not winding up where you want to be. Then I would have packed some granola bars. The food was the most terrible stuff I’ve ever tasted. Oh, and some Slurpees.
Joshua: I thought you were really smart in trying to fit in right away in this other place and time. What advice would you give kids for time traveling?
Pete: Fit in and fast! Pick up the way people talk as soon as you can. Get some clothes that keep you from being noticed. Play dumb if you get in a tight spot, and make up a good story about where you’re from, so you can tell people who ask. Weasel’s real good at making up stories. That’s another reason I like him.
Joshua: You got to do so many new things in your adventure (and I so want to read your other adventure, Alligators Overhead, after watching the movie preview below!). Were you scared to try stuff you never did before, like being a stable hand and driving a carriage?
Pete: Getting the horse to do what I wanted it to was tough, but I liked trying. I didn’t like forking hay or sleeping in it very much, but the food at the stables was way better than it was at the Spike, so being a little scared of the horses and tired by all the work was okay.
Joshua: Some of the people you met in your travels had awesome powers, like seeing into the future. If you could have any special power or ability what would it be?
Pete: I need to work on teleporting. I can do it to other people—in Alligators Overhead I teleported Weasel, and that was a real high for me, not so much for Weasel. But I can’t do it for myself, and there were a lot of times when we were back in those Queen Victoria days I wanted out.
Joshua: So what kind of adventure do you want next? Or would you be just happy staying at home? ☺
Pete: I think I’d like to stick around Hadleyville for a while and make it through my next year at school without too much trouble. But if I got a chance to shoot up to another galaxy I’d take it in a snap. I’ve got to talk to McKenzie and get her to rethink this medieval thing she’s got in her mind.
Hey, great to meet you Joshua. Let me know how you do after that Lightning Road adventure. And you got to fly a lot in that book. Tell McKenzie about the flying. I’d like to do some of that.
Hey, Pete, thanks for coming on Character Book Club with me!
Meet Pete’s author C. Lee McKenzie!