I read Antony's Five Flavors of Dumb earlier this year and was blown away. It is seriously amazing and I loved it. So of course I wanted to get Antony on board for Just Contemporary and he has been totally awesome to work with! He is an author that will be on my stalk watch list for the rest of forever! You can read my review of Five Flavors of Dumb here, and later today I will be posting my review of his upcoming novel, Thou Shalt Not Road Trip.
Five Flavors of Dumb is an awesome novel and the basic idea — a deaf band manager — is something unexpected. How did you get the idea for Dumb and what made you decide to make Piper deaf. (Or did you decide...)
First off, thanks for the HUGE compliment, and a big hi to all your readers. Since I often read your blog, that includes me. *waves at self*
Okay, moving on...
Before I started writing, I was heavily into music. As in, I have a Ph.D. in it. I always knew I wanted to write a YA novel about rock music, but as my agent ever-so-gently reminded me, there are quite a few of those already. So I sat down with my wife (who is much smarter than me) and asked if she had any ideas. Straight away, she suggested that if I wanted a true challenge, I should consider writing about music from a deaf teen's perspective.
I knew straight away that she was right. Still, it took another four months of research before I dared to write it!
Dumb has gotten a lot of attention and love (and least in the blogging world). How does it feel, knowing that a book you wrote has resonated so strongly with such a large and varied group of people?
It feels wonderful! And you’re right... it really is a varied group. I’ve had messages from deaf and hearing readers, young and old.
But it’s also a relief. When the book came out, I was nervous. I mean, really nervous. What if deaf teens felt misrepresented? What if just one said, “That’s not how it really is”? I knew I’d feel like I’d let them down. Realistically, no more than a handful of books featuring deaf narrators will be released each year. If mine had failed to give deaf teens a narrator they could root for, and failed to shed light on deafness for hearing teens, then it would have been worse than a flawed novel. It would have been a wasted opportunity. The first is inadvisable; the second, inexcusable.
The fact that the book resonated with readers has enabled me to sleep again at night. (So thanks, bloggers!)
I actually just realized that you had a novel come out before Dumb (saw the title in the signature of your email, actually) called Busted: Confessions of an Accidental Player. Have anything you'd like to share with us about your debut?
It’s definitely funny. And fast-paced. But Five Flavors of Dumb is better. Can we leave it at that?
Your third book, Thou Shalt Not Road Trip is coming out next year. What has been the difference in your experience waiting for each book release?
Ooh, what an interesting question...
I think with my debut novel, I wasn’t sure what to expect. There’s so much that goes on around the book (i.e. publicity, distribution, trade reviews, etc) that I felt swamped.
With #2 (Five Flavors of Dumb) I was better prepared, and I knew that the book was much stronger, so I was just excited, rather than freaked out. I was also impatient, I suppose (a common trait among writers, I've heard).
For book #3 (Thou Shalt Not Road Trip) it’s different again. Dumb is still going strong, and so I’m going to be busy answering questions about that, and doing school visits connected with it. Plus, the paperback has only just come out, so it’s certainly not an “old” book yet. At the same time, the ARC of book #4 (see below) will be coming out at the same time as Road Trip, so I’ll be dealing with that too. In other words, it’ll be a really interesting (and possibly chaotic) period. But I still can’t wait!
What inspired Road Trip?
Growing up, I spent a lot of time at church as a member of the choir. Because of that, I was privy to a lot of really interesting theological discussions, not all of which made a whole lot of sense to me.
Oh, and I adore road trips. Route 66 is a national treasure. So...
I had an idea of a smart, religious sixteen-year-old boy named Luke who writes a bestseller called Hallelujah. To capitalize on the success, his publisher sends him on a road trip along Route 66. Trouble is, his older brother is driving, and the guy has some serious baggage (no, I’m not talking about suitcases). Then Luke’s ex-crush, Fran, hitches a ride. Suddenly the road trip is veering off-course as fast as the curveball questions at his turbulent book signings.
It’s funny, slightly crazy, but also (I hope) thought-provoking.
Contemporary YA is my first love (in terms of books, I mean). There’s such extraordinary variety, and room for everything from laugh-out-loud comedy to highly literary explorations of personal tragedy.
To be honest, it’s far too broad to be a single genre, and it benefits from that, I think.
Whereas readers of adult genres often confine themselves to their favorite sections of the bookstore, fans of contemporary YA might be surprised by a book that’s a romance, another that’s a thriller, another that’s a comedy, and so on. I reckon that exposure to multiple kinds of book has to be a healthy thing for teen readers especially.
Aside from the writing itself, what would you say has been the most challenging part of being a writer?
That would have to be staying on top of publicity. I do regular tour events, school visits, even Skype appearances with book clubs. I love it too, but almost every one requires a lot of organization, and there’s never a day when I can focus exclusively on writing. I think this is maybe the one aspect of being a published author that most writers underestimate. Again, though... I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Are you working on book 4 now? Any details you can share with us?
Yes, indeed! Book 4, titled Elemental, is almost finished, and will be released in fall 2012. It’s the first in a fantasy trilogy set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It tells the story of a colony in which everyone is born with powers of the elements—earth, water, wind, and fire—except for one boy who is powerless... or is he? I’m so psyched about it I can barely see straight.
Thanks so much for having me along today, Ashley!
You are so welcome Antony! Thank you so much for participating! This was such a great interview! I loved it! Also, I'm really intrigued by book 4! I'm always a little apprehensive when a favorite writer switches genres (because I'm a huge baby: P) but it sounds awesomeand I've always loved stuff that ties into the elements like that! It sounds amazing!! And now — YOU have a chance to win a copy of one of Antony's novels! He's offering a signed copy of both Dumb and Road Trip to two different winners! It's only open to US/CN and just enter below!