A Journey of Music and Magic – The Joel Suzuki Series
and a launch of the Wavemaker Order
By Karen Krejcha
Since the time we last interviewed Brian Tashima in our Winter 2016 issue, a lot has been going on for the Vancouver, WA-based author and musician. Not only has he done his usual rounds of school visits and trade shows, he’s also managed to prepare an extensive launch campaign for Legend of the Loudstone, the brand-new third volume of his Joel Suzuki series (formerly known as the Spectraland Saga). Fortunately, Spectrums was able to convince him to sit down for a few minutes to talk about that campaign, which includes a special initiative to help the autism and disability communities.
Okay, first of all – why the name change? Didn’t you like “The Spectraland Saga”?
I did, but as I was working on Legend of the Loudstone, my editor pointed out that this series is, at its core, really all about Joel Suzuki, the protagonist. It’s his journey that forms the backbone of the whole story. So when you couple that with the fact that most of Loudstone takes place in a setting other than Spectraland, it just sort of made sense.
I suppose “The Joel Suzuki Series” is also easier to remember than “The Spectraland Saga.”
I would agree. Last time we talked, I remember saying that I wanted this series to become a movie franchise. Afterward, I thought, “You know, I can just imagine what’s going to happen: a family will go up to the box office. The dad will say, “Can we get two adults and two children for Specter…uh, I mean, Septra, um, I mean…forget it, kids. Let’s just watch “Cars 5” at 7:30, okay?”
“Four tickets for Joel Suzuki” does sound a lot simpler.
Since we’re on the subject of big plans, why don’t you tell us about what else you have going on?
Well, to help celebrate the launch of Legend of the Loudstone, my son Torin and I are starting up something called the Wavemaker Order, which is named after the group of music-magicians in the Joel Suzuki series. Basically, the Wavemaker Order is the official fan club for the books. It’s free to join, and you get access to the Wavemaker Archives, a members-only page on the Joel Suzuki website that contains all kinds of cool exclusive content, like deleted scenes, custom artwork, and more. It also provides an opportunity for fans of the books to bond over a common interest.
Beyond that, though, our goal is to turn this group into a force for positive cultural change on a global scale. You see, for every Joel Suzuki book that is sold, one dollar is donated to Autism Empowerment, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people and families in the autism community. Thus, the efforts of Joel’s fans to spread the word about the series – through writing reviews, recommending the books to friends, and encouraging them to join the Wavemaker Order – will translate directly into support for all of Autism Empowerment’s various programs, services, and activities. Also, the more Joel’s name gets out there, the more it will help improve the image and representation of people with disabilities in the mainstream media.
Basically, we want the Wavemaker Order to be like a street team, except that it would be about more than just promoting a product, it would be about striving to make the world a better place for people of all abilities. A real-life hero’s journey, if you will, for everyone involved.
That sounds very cool. And quite ambitious, as well.
Oh, believe me, I’m full of big plans. Not only do I want to fully fund all of Autism Empowerment’s activities – and build them a campus along the way – I also want to create a separate charitable foundation that supports other worthy causes as well, especially those with an emphasis on diversity, disability, and the arts.
To be clear: I’m not saying “buy these books so I can do all this cool stuff.” I’m saying that if enough people enjoy the Joel Suzuki series and find it worthy of their time and money as a source of entertainment, I’ll make sure I give back to the communities that supported it on a commensurate scale. In other words, I’ll do what I’m already doing, just more of it. I won’t blow it all on new guitars (laughs).
Maybe just a little of it.
Let’s talk a bit more about Legend of the Loudstone. You mentioned that it takes place somewhere other than Spectraland, which was the primary setting of the first two books?
Mostly, yeah. In this story, Joel, his co-star Felicity, and their Wavemaker friends from Spectraland have to travel to a faraway place called the Mono Realm to track down some escaped fugitives. The Mono Realm used to be six separate states with individual leaders, but then one of the leaders decided to conquer all the other states and turn them into a single unified country. This leader then forces everyone to conform to one particular standard of appearance, which of course makes things a little tricky for Joel and company when they get there. There’s also a brewing rebellion, some complications involving the fugitives, and a sort-of double love triangle involving Joel, Felicity, and two of the other Wavemakers. Basically, everything you need for a fun little adventure.
For those who haven’t already gotten their hands on a copy, where can they go to buy one?
They can go to my website at www.joelsuzuki.com, which contains links to my Amazon pages as well as sample chapters. My website is also the place to sign up for the Wavemaker Order – just go to www.joelsuzuki.com/join. If you want to pick up the books locally, they’re available at Kazoodles toy store in Vancouver and Another Read Through bookstore in Portland.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with Spectrums readers?
The most gratifying part of this whole journey has been hearing from kids who say that this series has changed their lives in a good way, whether it’s by encouraging them to read or by helping to improve their self-esteem. I’m really happy that what started out as a simple request from my son to write him a book has turned into something that has had such a positive effect on others. So to everyone who has supported Joel and company over the past few years, I just want to say: mahalo (Hawaiian for “thank you”).
This article initially appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of Spectrums Magazine.