Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I've actually known I've wanted to be a writer since I was twelve. The brief excerpt of that mini epiphany is on my website’s FAQ's. As for YA, I didn’t know I actually wanted to write for young adults until about eight years ago. This book made it through the publication portal, but there are other predecessors on my hard drive, many young adults megabyte format wondering why they never got to graduate from being mere Word docs to full blown, bound, edited and printed books.
If you were a dish on a food truck, what would you be called?
I would be a patty of thick, ground, kobe beef, topped with cheese, caramelized onion, tomato, guacamole and a special sauce, all between buttered and toasted, thick sourdough. I’m simple, like a burger, but I am also not just your regular driver through or diner burger either (does this sound like some dating site profile? Ha!). In any case, it would be called the Soul Melt because more than deeply satisfying the palate, it would penetrate the soul of anyone who ate it. P.S. I really am into the word “soul” and all it connotates.
Novelists who inspired you?
The list is long. In YA we have Sarah Dessen, Gary Schmidt, Caroline Cooney, Ned Vizzini, I will add that not many people mention Vizzini—God rest his talented soul, and it’s shocking. He’s been considered a pioneer of the modern YA lit genre, and I agree. Hopefully, I see him on the other side and we can collaborate.
Talk about YA Lit.
It is summarily different than it used to be even twelve years ago. And pre 2000’s—forget it. That was like reading Homer. Seriously, I mean you have to practice writing effective scenes during commercials (do don’t delete them, you aspiring YA writers, from your DVR. They may prove to be useful yet) in order to match the pace of the current ideal YA. Secondly, don’t forget the lingo the characters used in your favorite sitcom right before the commercial. It should be transposed to your novel. Remember they used to teach, “Don’t write how you speak”? Not so anymore. Those teachers, apparently, were wrong. And no, I haven’t perfectly mastered the art of copy-matching-and-pacing at commercial speed in my writing style. you remember reading with a dictionary handy? Hey, with apps now, it should be easier, except that rarely do YA books require readers to have to use one anymore. Remember when you read something and went WTF? Even after three reads! And it wasn’t because you checked out. Sometimes it was like the writer just wrote and invited you to his house but said, “There’s the fridge and stove. If you’re hungry, do your best.” I’m not saying I don’t appreciate what is happening now and don’t get it, I do and am not against it. But something in my writing approach still doesn’t mind if readers are expected to sort of work through certain language tones and aspects.
Love and romance aren’t depicted the way the YA genre seems to be going in your novel. Why?
Have you been around a high school aged lately? Till death do us part, mad love isn’t en vogue. Most young adults aren’t really sure where love fits into their lives, and to begin to truly to answer that is scary enough for many people, let alone young people. I wanted Sole to reflect a kid who didn’t just zero in on one girl and know she was the one. That’s usually not how it works anyway, at least not when your age still has “teen” as a suffix. As for Ava, many young girls with allure have older guys after them, and that’s why I wanted to show that in the first chapters. That’s reality for many young adult girls of her capacity. Sometimes, too, they chose those guys. I don’t think this makes my book not YA. Upper YA? Sure. But still YA definitely.
I sense an intentional avenue in your book carved out, specifically referring to your focus of a father and son conflict. Explain that.
Well, it’s got nothing to do with my own relationship with my father. We have an outstanding and close one. But you’re correct about the father and son aspect. Many fathers take a backseat in literature or are two dimensional caricatures who are hands off and don’t really permeate the minds of the young adult protagonist. Really? That is most dads? Huh... Anyway, I wanted to write not for guys, but so that guys could related to the literature as easily as girls could and do. Let’s face it: girl readers vastly outnumber young males, and I sort of wanted both to equally relate here. I can say I’ll probably continue to develop that in other novels.
You have a lot of comedy in your book. What’s the best joke (keep it clean) that you’ve ever heard?
I heard Dennis Miller onstage and, though I’m not saying this is my favorite, I’ll mention it because it just came to mind: he was speaking of the past and with subtlety, in his verbal memoir, he said, “It was hot back then...” and he paused. It was all about the way he said it. The audience slowly got it. Then he said, “The sun was still hot then, right?” He was comparing it to the way people think the past happened in black and white. The genius was, he didn’t even have to say that part to get audience in on it. Brilliant.
Are any of the characters in the book based off of someone you know?
Most characters are concoctions of many people in various forms—those we know, those we’ve heard about, those we’d like to know and those we knew. Once you put all that together, my answer, like a writer, would technically be kind of but not really. Not very technical, is it...