The Readers’ Writers: Young adult author Marcus MacGregor’s book ‘Wade Boss’
By DA KENTNER - GateHouse News Service
Marcus MacGregor is a former middle grade and high school English teacher with experience in film, screenwriting, theater and music. Melding all of his interests with a sincere concern for the direction modern science might be taking us, MacGregor has released the first offering in a four-part series of young adult novels surrounding the exploits of fictional Hollywood stuntman and animal trainer Wade Boss.
“Wade Boss Hybrid Hunter” presents hours of entertainment to both young and old readers, though the story and lighthearted writing style is designed for young adult fans.
MacGregor capably intertwined the traditional spaghetti western with contemporary settings and topics, injected the author’s own brand of sometimes not so subtle humor (in a good way), to create a not so common hero. A cowboy more at home on horseback than four wheels, Boss is called upon to defend the nation against trangenic (the pairing of different species’ genes in the egg or embryo) hybrid monsters.
“Wade Boss Hybrid Hunter” takes transgenics to the ultimate level of crossbreeding animals to produce new species, which then run amuck. ‘Wade Boss’ is fun.
For those seeking a blend of science and westerns in today’s world, you should give this book a try.
DA Kentner: What got you interested in transgenics?
Marcus MacGregor: Well, I’m always curious about emerging technologies, whatever they be. But my specific interest in hybrid animals is mostly driven by my desire to write stories with monsters in them. I’ve been crazy about monsters since I was a kid. They’re unbelievably cool, and in terms of storytelling they can be powerful metaphors for things that need to be fought and overcome.
I also like my science fiction to revolve around science that’s on the verge of becoming non-fiction. When you know that a certain technology is imminent, I think the potential dangers hit closer to home, making the story that much more engaging.
DK: The sub topic of transgenics could have easily been transformed to an adult series of stories preaching the dangers. Instead, you chose to make it a secondary issue in order to manufacture the evil doers for a YA series. Why?
MM: On many levels I’m concerned about the potential abuses of genetic power, but with “Wade Boss: Hybrid Hunter,” my primary interest was to tell a whopping-good yarn. I wanted to offer young adults a rousing, optimistic adventure – the kind I thrilled to as a young man, but which is seldom written anymore. As the series progresses, the ethical questions related to genetic engineering are explored to a degree, but never in such a way that the narrative becomes oppressive.
DK: You were an English teacher passionate about C.S. Lewis, who besides being a novelist was a theologian and Christian apologist; yet, you chose to write Wade Boss’s stories. How did that decision come about?
MM: Yes, I love Lewis! As a teacher, I especially enjoyed introducing my students to his space trilogy. But whereas Lewis’s fiction leans heavily towards allegory, “Wade Boss” is more of a “what you see is what you get” kind of tale.
DK: “Wade Boss Hybrid Hunter” is devoid of the macabre and darkness found in a lot of YA work these days. You could have easily gone that route to take advantage of the trend, but didn’t. Why not?
MM: Well, first off I want to say that there is nothing inherently wrong with a story just because it’s dark. But with regards to contemporary YA literature, there does seem to be an over-emphasis on darker story lines, to the exclusion of others.
In “Wade Boss,” the stakes are plenty serious – life and death, in fact. But the tone of the story never becomes pessimistic or cynical. The tag-line on the back cover of the book is: “Dangerous new world. Old-fashioned hero.” And I’ve worked very hard to write the kind of hopeful story that used to be more prevalent, but is often scoffed at these days.
There’s a lot of depth as the saga unfolds, but always a lot of subtle humor too, which will appeal to older teens and even adults. There’s really something in it for just about everybody. There are strong male and female characters. It’s an action-adventure first, but there’s also some romance in there as well – nothing inappropriate, either, which hopefully a lot of people will find refreshing as well.
DK: Any parting thoughts for readers about to be introduced to your work?
MM: I guess I’d say that for anyone looking for an adventure that is more light-hearted than the majority of YA books out there, “Wade Boss: Hybrid Hunter” may be what you’ve been waiting for. It’s extremely fast-paced, but the characters are very emotionally “real.”
It’s a story with a lot of compassion – in fact, Wade’s compassion is what determines almost every major decision he makes. Wade truly wants to be a good man.
For me, that’s the single most compelling thing about the story, and I think a lot of young adults out there are hungering for that kind of role model.