Behind the Creation of The Doom Machine

Author Mark Teague reveals space adventure secrets and possible sequel

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

In upstate New York, author Mark Teague writes stories and illustrates books from his home studio in the woods. Teague has created more than 20 picture books as both a writer and illustrator. His newest release, The Doom Machine, is his first novel and it’s a great read.

The Doom Machine is a science fiction novel that captures your attention and makes you want to turn the pages. As a kid, Teague always loved space-themed books. He decided it would be fun to create that same kind of book for today’s kids.

"I remember when on camping trips as a kid looking up at the stars at night and imagining that there are other worlds out there," Teague told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps in a recent interview. "When I wrote this book, I was thinking of the kind of book that I always liked as a kid. Those books to me were books with imagination and adventure."

Teague’s aliens, the Skreeps, came directly from the space movies he saw as a child. He started with the basic plot of those movies—aliens land and humans have to deal—and turned it into an exciting adventure in space.

To describe the space ship to his readers, Teague relied totally on his imagination.

"The Skreeps were sort of the same thing,” he said. “I didn't want them so different that it would take a long time to describe them, and I wanted them to be imaginable."

The Doom Machine took Teague almost six years to complete. He spent most of last year revising and editing it.

The characters are loosely based on people he knows. In this adventure/sci-fi book, Jack was the first character he created. He saw a lot of potential in Jack and his struggles.

"I knew a lot of kids kind of like Jack when I was growing up," he explained. "Kids who were not from very good families or from families that people didn't think were very good. But when you got to know those kinds of kids, they were smart and they had things going on that no one ever suspected."

The character of Isadora was created because she was the perfect opposite of Jack. Teague said he thought it would be interesting to have an odd couple that had to rely on and trust each other.

A sequel is in the planning, Teague revealed to this reporter. It could even become a series.

The author and illustrator encouraged kids to read and to write their own books, too.

"I think the most important thing for becoming an author or an illustrator is to get good at it by practicing,” he said. “The more you read, the better you will be at writing."

And if his theory holds true, the next novel he writes will be even more exciting and fun to read than The Doom Machine, although that’s hard to imagine.

Check out Kid Reporter Jacob Schroeder's review of The Doom Machine.

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The Scholastic Kids Press Corps was a team of about 50 Kid Reporters around the nation that brought news to life with reporting for kids, by kids.