Today the spotlight shines on………………………Xander King
Xander is the eldest King sibling and is trying to work out his place in the world! Bob has given lots of detail on Xander and we would love to know your thoughts about Xander as you have read the books. Enjoy:~
Brief physical description
Fifteen-year-old Xander—Alexander—has dark, shabby hair, blue eyes, and that mid-teenage body that’s getting a little lanky without filling out yet. He’s not ready to start shaving, but that doesn’t stop him from checking for upper-lip hairs everyday. He’s a good looking guy, who had a girlfriend back in Pasadena. He’s anxious to grow up, to experience the freedom that a driver’s license will give him, to get on with what he thinks he’s going to do in life—be a film maker. Having grown up in the Los Angeles area, he’s a little keener about person style than a lot of kids his age, which for him translates into a kind of shabby chic way of dressing: blue jeans and button-down shirts or hip tee shirts.
It’s interesting, I get more recommendations—mostly from teenage girls—about who should play Xander in a Dreamhouse movie than I do any other character. The two actors who’ve received the most votes, by far, are Josh Hutcherson (Bridge to Terabithia, Journey to the Center of the Earth) and Logan Lerman (Jack and Bobby, Hoot, 3:10 to Yuma), with Logan barely edging out Josh. Personally, I’d lean toward Logan in terms of fitting Xander’s physical characteristics and personality. But I think both actors may be a little too old now to actually play the part. You never know, though; older actors often play younger characters. They’re both good actors, who’ve shown the emotional range it would take to play Xander, who goes through the gamut from incredible sadness to anger, fear, and joy. If a movie eventually does make into production—and it is heading in that direction right now—there may be a whole bunch of new, young actors who’d fill Xander’s shoes perfectly.
Strengths and weaknesses
Like a lot of teenagers, who can’t wait to embrace what life has to offer, Xander wants to get things done—now. In the Dreamhouse story, this comes out in a way that a lot of people can relate to: He wants to find Mom, to go get her, to keep going into world after world until they get her back. But in the same way that David’s heart can lead him into trouble, so can Xander’s gung-ho attitude. In Timescape (Dreamhouse #4), his anxiousness moves him to go with his brother into a very bad world, where they find themselves facing a horde of Viking berserkers. At every turn, Xander wants to press on, even when he’s injured and utterly exhausted. At one point, he tells David, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” It takes Keal, an ex-Army Ranger who’s helping the family, to finally convince Xander that “soldiers need sleep like they need food and water and oxygen.” And it takes Dad’s firm hand to teach him that all his undirected or misdirected energy is like a racecar without a steering wheel. Slowly, Xander begins to appreciate Dad’s more methodical approach to rescuing Mom.
Under all that energy and teenage angst beats a heart that would do anything for his family. When we first meet him, he’s a little standoffish with his siblings, David, 12, and Toria, 9. The family’s crisis exposes his true feelings for them: he starts to see David as a friend and capable compatriot in their struggle against the forces aligned against them, and he becomes almost paternal in his protectiveness for his sister. Despite his yearning to be his own man, he realizes that he is part of a pretty cool family, and they all have to work together to rescue Mom.
He has a special relationship with his mother. When she was around, they would sometimes act like buddies, sharing inner thoughts with each other and laughing at jokes the other family members didn’t get. Mom understands Xander better than even Dad does. She appreciates his unique time of life, what he’s going through to discover who he is. In the first book, she shows him a little stash of cash that she’s been saving for years to eventually get him his own car. In part, it’s this closeness that fuels Xander’s near-manic drive to rescue her. I suspect most teenagers feel this way about their mothers, even if they go out of their way to hide it. The Kings’ situation forces Xander to be more honest about his love for her than he perhaps otherwise would have been.
As far as weaknesses, Xander tends to be combative. If someone disagrees with him—especially Dad—he wants to know why, and doesn’t always listen to reason. Also, his belief that he’s right and everybody else is wrong often leads him to disobey his father. Unfortunately, he usually talks his brother into going along with him, which—in the dreamhouse—puts them both in grave danger. For me, Xander and Dad’s differing approaches to getting mom back presents an interesting dilemma: obey Dad or rescue Mom? I sometimes have a hard disagreeing with Xander’s disobedience. It’s an issue that eventually comes to a head, and I think both Xander and Dad reach a compromise that works for both of them—it’s one of the hurdles the family has to get over to reach a point where they are truly working together for a common goal.
Quirk (if any)
Xander is seriously movie-crazy. He watches all sorts of films, from obscure foreign ones to commercial blockbusters. He relates almost everything that happens to him to a movie. That’s where the first book gets its title. When Xander first sees the creepy ancient house the family eventually moves into, it reminds him of the house in the old TV series, Dark Shadows and one of its off-shoot movies, House of Dark Shadows. He wants make movies for a living, and has had some success making short films, which he’s posted to You Tube. He’s definitely not happy about moving from Pasadena, which is right next to Hollywood, to Pinedale. But for a while (actually, for the remaining books in the series), he’s too busy trying to find Mom and stay alive to notice. He does get to use some of the knowledge he’s gleaned from movies to get himself out of sticky situations. In Frenzy (book #6), he applies a trick from a Clint Eastwood to save David’s life.
Your inspiration for the character
I think Xander embodies every teenager I’ve ever met. Besides having reared two of my own, I remember myself at Xander’s age. Of course. I was a movie buff, so I understand Xander’s obsession. I was also pretty obnoxious, as well. I used to get into arguments with my father over the smallest things. I see now that it had less to do with trying to always be right than it was asserting my right or ability to challenge him. I love talking to high school classes (Xander’s in tenth grade), because I always meet kids who in one way or another remind me of Xander.
Background to the story
The King family moves to a small town in northern California, so Dad could take a job as principal of the local middle and high school. They move into a run-down Victorian home, where they find a hidden hallway of doors. Each door leads to a portal to a different time in history. Trouble is, not only can they go from the house to the past, people from the past can come through into their house. Someone does—and kidnaps Mom, taking her into some unknown place in the past. The Kings—primarily David and Xander—begin a quest for Mom, which takes them to many dangerous and incredible places throughout time. We slowly learn that the family is in the house for a very specific purpose and they must do much more than “simply” find their mother.
Brilliant detail as ever, Bob Thank you for your time and effort in preparing this spotlight for my readers. Looking forward to more fun with Whirlwind and Frenzy to come!
Relz Reviewz Extras
Exclusive interview with Bob
To win a signed and personalised copy of Timescape directly from Bob, here’s what you’ve gotta do!
- Post a comment on or before Sunday 2nd August, 2009 telling me your favourite King kid and why ~ get one entry into the giveaway
- Refer a new friend to my blog who also posts a comment (email me their name so I know they came from you) ~ get an extra entry into the giveaway for each friend you refer
- Post a comment on Bob’s blog, mentioning Relz Reviewz ~ get another entry into the giveaway for Timescape or a Dreamhouse Kings book of your choice!