Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Day with Carl Deuker

Happy Thanksgiving, Readers!

There is a method to my madness with this post.  Okay, so what do you do after dinner on Thanksgiving? The correct answer is watch football.  I have never watched football after Thanksgiving dinner, but I’ve heard that it’s what other people do.  (People who actually like sports, that is.)  I do not like sports.  But I like Carl Deuker and I liked his book “Payback Time” (check out my review here), which was about football, so I’m posting his interview tonight, on a traditional football night. (Or so I’m told.)

So without further ado … my interview with Carl!

Carly Reads:  Most of your books are sports-centered or sports-themed.  Have you loved sports your entire life? What is your favorite sport?
Carl Deuker:  I've been a sports-lover for as long as I can remember. As a child, I lived and died with the San Francisco Giants.  Every morning during baseball season, I would get up early and go out to retrieve the SF Chronicle from the front lawn.  Instead of bringing the newspaper in, I would instead check to see if the Giants had won or lost.  If they'd won, I brought the paper in, read the articles and poured over the box score.  If they'd lost, I wrapped the newspaper back up and left it on the lawn.  As far as favorites sports go . . . to watch in person - basketball and volleyball; to read about or listen to on the radio -baseball; to watch on TV - football; to play - golf.

CR:  What I liked most about “Payback Time” is that, even though it centers on football, you do not need to understand football, or even like football, to enjoy the book.  Is this something that you strive for when you write your novels?
CD:  Thank you for the nice compliment.  My goal is to write a sports book with a little bit more.  As a child, I hated sports books that seemed to promise sports on the cover, would begin with a game and end with a game, but had no sports in between.  So I make sure that I deliver a decent amount of sports between the covers, but my main interest lies with the story behind the sports story.

CR:  What is your writing process like? Do you have a favorite place to write? Or favorite time of the day to write?
CD:  I write in loops.  I'll write out thirty pages, go back to page one and rewrite, then write to fifty or sixty pages, go back and rewrite, etc.  Getting the voice right is the hardest part, so the early parts are worked to death.  Most of the time by the end I'm hearing the voice better, so the final pages go quicker.  I keep telling myself that, anyway, as a I struggle with the beginning.  I write using a laptop.  Sofa is nice . . . any place comfortable.

CR:  What was the last book that you read for pleasure?
CD:  I'm on a long book kick. Right now I'm reading War and Peace(!).  Before that I read Bleak House, Vanity Fair, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Les Miserables.  War and Peace will definitely end the long book run as I'm finding it a tough go.  Bleak House, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise.

CR:  What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Sixth Annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival?
CD:  I'm looking forward to meeting whoever the fates through me together with.  It's always a pleasure to listen to other people describe what they do and how they do it.  The methods vary so widely it's sometimes hard to believe we are all practicing the same craft.

Carl, thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions for us! We’ve enjoyed reading your answers and we can’t wait to meet you in May!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Girl Who Will Break Your Heart

Ummm … Hi Readers!

I think I’ll just pretend that it hasn’t been 22 days since I last posted.  I basically have no excuse beyond extreme busyness and exhaustion due to an amount of homework that should be declared illegal.  And I’m only taking 12 credits this semester!

Hopefully the fact that I have three author interviews in my email inbox just waiting to be posted will make up for my absence.  (Please?)  But, the author interviews will have to wait because today I have a book review for you. 

Selene Castrovilla’s “The Girl Next Door” is a heartbreaker.  I’ll tell you that outright.  Selene tells you that outright, with the first few lines of the book, spoken by the protagonist, Sam: “Jesse’s dying.  The doctors are 96% sure of it. They even have a time-line. 
Seven months. They give him seven months, tops. I try to hold on to hope, but 4% is a weak reed to cling to while you’re thrashing to keep your head above water.”

Sam and Jesse have been best friends since their stroller days.  They grew up in the same apartment building in New York City, played in the sandbox together, went to school together.  Jesse is popular, an all-achieving athlete.  Sam is his quieter, more awkward sidekick. During their senior year of high school, though, their lives change drastically when Jesse is diagnosed with terminal cancer. 

Do not read “The Girl Next Door” in public, because you WILL cry.  There’s no escaping it.  I went into “The Girl Next Door” with the resolution that I would NOT allow myself to care about Jesse and Sam – I knew that reading the book would hurt too much if I allowed myself to connect with them.  But Selene foiled my plans.  Her characters jump off the page and drag you (kicking and screaming, in my case) into their world.  You hurt when they hurt, you cry when they cry.  Selene Castrovilla is a master of characterization.

“The Girl Next Door” is “A Walk to Remember” and everything that Lurlene McDaniel ever wrote, but it’s also more.  It’s a devastating story of illness and loss, but it’s also a journey.  Your heart will break, and your eyes will be red, and your tissue supply will be greatly reduced, but “The Girl Next Door” is worth it. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

And The Winner Is ...

Hey Readers,

Well, the day that you’ve all been waiting for has arrived! Today is the big announcement! I know you’ve all been wondering, “Who won that copy of ‘Eighth Grade Bites’?”  Readers, the wait is over.  Congratulations to …


Hayley, I’ll be emailing you to find out where I should mail the book. 

Thanks for entering, everyone! Be on the lookout for more contests throughout the year.