2 June 2008

I don't even have any copies yet...

...but the book is up at Amazon already. I'm not even sure why I looked, because I certainly didn't expect it to pop up for a couple more weeks.

I did have a proof copy, but I sent that to my mother.

See what a good kid I am?

I also did an email interview with Devon Crowe for his summer school journalism class project. With his permission, it follows. Maybe it'll pique your curiosity, and make you want to read the book ;)

What is the book about? And what do you want people to take from it?

The book is about emotional baggage and how long we tend to lug it around. I think what I want most for people to get from it is that most of the baggage we carry was packed by a ten year old, and kids don’t always make the best choices about what’s important enough to pack away, and what you need to leave behind.

Is the book based on fact?

More than anything else I’ve written, there are touches of my own life in it. My oldest sister did get pregnant at 17, and I have a sister who lives with our parents, but the similarities end there. Unlike Sam, I have 3 sisters; like Sam, they’re all terrific people, but I may not have always appreciated that fact.

Actually, I need to amend that. My oldest sister, like the character Kel, was (and is) a wonderful mother. If she struggled with parenting, I didn't see it. The sister who lives with our parents—nothing like the character Ev. While Ev never really grew up, my sister certainly did; she moved out on her own, had her own life, and eventually moved back in. Hell, so did I, with a husband and baby in tow for 6 months while we got our collective crap together.

Are there any incidences in the book that you pulled from your own childhood?

Sure. I did write a massive Star Trek book when I was 11 or 12 years old, and my mother did indeed laugh that someone had been daydreaming—but she also painted that with praise for my ability to write anything that long and have it make sense, and she had nothing but good things to say about my writing skills. If she’d been like Sam’s mom, I may have quit writing then and there. Instead, she encouraged me.

Oh, and I did get in tons of trouble for calling a kid down the street a fucker, and I blamed it on the youngest kid in the neighborhood. There are tons of little things in the book that I actually did, but for literary purposes, they may be a bit more warped on paper.

What about the cookies?

That sort of happened, but without the drama. I took some cookies, my mom told me to not eat any more of them because they were for the basketball team, and that was that. Truly, it’s not about the cookies…

What gave you the idea for this story?

About three years ago I had lunch with my son, and we were talking about his aunts and grandmother, and how we used to sit around the table and talk for hours. The story evolved from that conversation…but there’s no interest in people just sitting there laughing and talking. Something had to be wrong with it for it to be worth writing.

I’m guessing you don’t really talk to dead people, so where did the dead brother come from?

I’m thinking a lot of people will presume he’s the part of me I keep bottled up…Steven was based on someone I knew who died far too young from testicular cancer. I still miss him, but no, I don’t talk to him.

If there are parallels I’d think Scott and Simon are based on your husband and son. What about Linc? Is he based on anyone you know?

He’s loosely based on another very close friend, someone I’m still in frequent contact with. I really did lock him the girls’ bathroom, and I really did arrange it so he would wind up at the bottom of a pile of sweaty teenagers inside a VW Bug. I was not nice to him in junior high, at least not the first year or so. He honestly thinks I was just goofing around, trying to include him; truthfully, I was trying to torture him.

What do you have in common with Sam?

I think we’re both stubborn, both have very good lives, and both don’t always see things for how good they really are.

Your previous three books were first person from multiple perspectives; this book is first person singular perspective. Was that easier or more difficult to write?

This will sound like a cop-out, but it was both. It was easier in that once I found Sam’s voice, I only needed to stick with that. It was more difficult in that I couldn’t use other character’s voices to get their art of the story out. I enjoy the multiple-person perspective, but it wouldn’t have fit this story.

This book took you more than two years to write yet it’s your shortest. Why?

Guilt, I think. I hadn’t seen my family in almost as long as Sam. Our reasons were different, but that doesn’t make it any better.

How many hours a day do you write?

Between my own work and Max’s, I write roughly 4 hours a day, though I’ve been known to hammer out 8-10 when I’m in the home stretch.

How many drafts do you produce?

Actual drafts, usually four or five. But in those four or five I tweak enough that it could be as many as 14. By the time I’m done, I usually despise what I’ve written, and have no faith that it’s good enough for anyone to read. Obviously, I have a few issues there…

Who are your favorite authors?

Joshilyn Jackson, Christopher Moore, Stephen King…way too many to actually list.

What are you working on now?

Max’s next book, an illustrated guide for people owned by cats. And if you ask, I will swear he did the illustrations himself.

Do you think it’s true that everyone has a book inside them?

I do. It might not be a well written book, but I think everyone has a story to tell. And they should—being a writer isn’t about getting paid for the endeavor, it’s about the writing and the telling of the story. If you write, you’re a writer. And if what you enjoy writing most is a daily blog entry, so be it. You’re still a writer.

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