Hi, Chris. Thank you so much for agreeing to interview with me. AND thank you for such an awesome YA read! The only other book that has ever evoked that kind of emotion from me was Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (another must-read).
Back before Deadline was banned from my classroom, I used it to strengthen non-college-bound seniors’ understanding of the evolution of heroism, and character motivations, in Beowulf (this method, might I add, helped me achieve National Board Certification). You should know that in that class were four teenage parents, two army recruits, and several students considered at-risk. None of them liked reading. But this group would have left AP students in the dust with their in-depth discussion of themes, symbolism, and vocabulary (thanks for italicizing those words for us, by the way!). They didn’t miss a nuanced idea or skip a page.
I think it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: YOU CAN WRITE!
I hope you’re ready to write some superfantastic answers for this blog. 😉
1.) What is your response to Deadline being read alongside “Beowulf”?
FREAKY! Makes me wish I’d read Beowulf. In fact I’ve said many times that most of the themes embedded in the “Classics” are available in contemporary literature and that those classics can be better understood when coupled with situations readers can read about and understand in current terms.
2.) I loved how you used the character of Rudy-the-wayward-priest-turned-town-drunk to complicate Ben’s internal conflict; but, have you gotten any slack over the “Catholic priest” stereotype?
3.) Speaking of complicating the plot, throwing Sooner’s sudden death into the mix adds so much depth to story, as well as fortifies a central theme: Knowledge of the future brings immense responsibility to the present. For which one of these—plot or theme —did you include Sooner’s car accident?
Probably both, but more for theme. Sooner’s death gives Ben new perspective. He marvels at his fortune of being allowed to prepare. And he gets a new perspective on everything when he sees Sooner’s parents.
4.) Two-part question: 1.) Why are so many of your stories set in Nowhere, Out West? 2.) Why do so many of your characters pop up in non-related works?
5.) Which of your books has been the most fun to write?
Probably King of the Mild Frontier. It’s a memoir and I had so much fun mining my childhood and young adulthood for material I almost didn’t want to stop writing. Fiction-wise it would be a toss-up between Whale Talk and Deadline. Sarah Byrnes is also up there. Ironman next.
6.) How has your career as a therapist played into your storytelling?
7.) When/why did you become so involved with fighting censorship?
8.) Have you ever been asked by an agent or publisher to bring down the reality a notch?
9.) How do you find your muse?
10.) What does your day as a writer look like?
What book are you currently reading? Non fiction, How It Ends, by Chris Impey, and Every Last One, by Anna Quindlen.
Favorite music? A mix (I love iTunes) of current alternative rock (Hoobastank, Green Day, The Killers, Nickleback, etc.) and some old Fleetwood Mac, Moody Blues and The Traveling Wilburys.
If you could eat anything right this very second…? It might be one of those deep fried Oreos I had in Arkansas. Heart attack waiting to happen.
Favorite school subject? The easy answer is lunch, but I did enjoy writing as much as anything academic.
Favorite sport? Basketball. I’m better at running and swimming, but God, I love basketball.
Favorite vacation spot? You know, I don’t have one. I’m not much of a vacater. I always have to be doing something.
Favorite quote? Probably the Twain quote I used in Deadline: Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
Thanks again, Chris, for all you’ve done to support me and for all you do to in the fight for intellectual freedom. It’s been great talking with you.