THE BLOG TOURS
in february and march of 2015 i did a number of blog tour stops for the tragic age – these are three of the interviews
Author Interview – JeanBookNerd
What was your first introduction to YA literature, the one that made you choose that genre to write?
Actually, Jean, it never occurred to me I was writing a YA book. I wanted to write a coming of age story along the lines of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, John Knowles’ A Separate Peace and James Kirkwood’s Good Times, Bad Times. It was St. Martin’s Press that suggested to me Tragic Age might find a greater audience as a young adult release. What’s interesting is that all three of the books I mentioned might very well be released as YA fiction today.
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
How about this. I wrote and directed a feature film, Beautiful Joe, staring Sharon Stone and the Scottish actor/comedian, Billy Connelly. (It did not win an academy award.)
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
The Tragic Age is my first book. My writing career began in the theatre. My first full length play, Vikings, was produced at The Manhattan Theatre Club in New York when I was 27.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
Not to let my schooling interfere with my education.
Did you learn anything from writing The Tragic Age: A Novel and what was it?
Writing The Tragic Age reaffirmed my love of fiction. As a playwright I was constantly reading and seeing plays. As a screenwriter, I spent a lot of my free time watching movies. Writing a novel has brought me back to books, which is where it all started.
For those who are unfamiliar with Billy, how would you introduce him?
Eighteen year old Billy Kinsey is part genius, part philosopher and social critic, full time insomniac and a closeted rock drummer.
Billy has decided the best way to deal with what he sees as an absurd world is to keep it at arm’s length. Much to his dismay, the world keeps closing the gap.
What part of Gretchen did you enjoy writing the most?
A moment with Gretchen that I found both enjoyable and surprising was when she told Billy about her time living in Africa. She is there with her parents who are working with a Doctor’s Without Borders organization. Gretchen is a committed, caring individual and all of a sudden what she blurts out to Billy is this. “I hated it. I hated them for bringing us there and making us stay so long. I couldn’t wait to get home.” I didn’t see it coming.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I think Billy, Holden Caulfield, Yossarian from Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 and Randle McMurphy from Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest all might have a pretty interesting conversation.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I’ve never had a mentor though when I was a younger writer I think I woul have liked one. I have always had writers whose work I read and admired. It’s a very long list. It would include Styron, Heller, Jim Harrison, Mamet and Sam Shepard.
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming… swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming….
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie.
“Does this outfit make me look fat?”
What’s the most memorable summer job you’ve ever had?
I worked as a bus boy at The Black Dog Restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard
What scares you the most and why?
Snakes. I don’t know why (genetic brain disorder?) but even a small garden snake in the garage can turn me into a trembling, hysterical pile of goo. I wrote the production draft for the film, Arachnophobia, in my mind substituting snakes for spiders in every scene.
Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or to have never loved at all?
It’s never occurred to me that was a choice you could actually make. When it comes to true love, I agree with Billy. “I would take that dream every night and be sad the next day anytime.”
If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
The question brings Emily’s monologue in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town to mind.
“…now we’re all together. Just for a moment we’re happy. Let’s look at one another. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. All that was going on in life and we never noticed.
I would go back in time to an extended family get together – perhaps I’m sixteen – and I would make sure that I looked. Really looked. And listened. And noticed. I would not take those I loved, many of them now gone, for granted.
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
There is never an easy time to be a teenager. Having said that, I perceive the post WWII fifties as having been a time of confidence and optimism in America. (Billy would tell you to go to Hulu and check out The Donna Reed show, Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best.) To have been a teenager in the fifties also means you would have been a young adult in the sixties which to my mind was a game changing decade. And on the flip side, I don’t think there has ever been a more difficult time to be a teenager than today.
When was the last time you cried?
I’m not much of a crier. And when I do experience tears, it’s usually because something moves me as opposed to makes me sad. I’m pretty sure I teared up this last Christmas, watching my 17 year old son come out of 60 degree heavy surf having just completed a three mile ocean swim.
Where can readers stalk you?
IN THE LATEST BLOG TOUR, MY PROTAGONIST FROM THE TRAGIC AGE, BILLY, WAS ASKED SOME QUESTIONS.
Five questions for Billy:
You’ve brought up the absurd and that you’ve read some works by Albert Camus. Have you read The Stranger as well? If so, what do you think of Meursault’s attitude and way of life?
It’s been awhile. In retrospect, I’m not so thrilled about old Meursault. He’s kind of a dick. I mean, trying to go through life feeling indifferent to the universe because you think it’s indifferent to you is pretty stupid and boring actually. Also it’s pretty much impossible (I failed at it miserably). I mean, all you do is compartmentalize. Feelings and emotions don’t just go away. They’re still there, boiling and brewing underneath, waiting to burst out. And for Meursault they finally did. And let’s face it, he goes to the guilotine feeling pretty meaningless. Which frankly, would suck. I’d like to be a little more proactive with my life than settling for getting my head chopped off.
There are moments in the story when you think one thing and say or do another, or don’t act at all. What’s holding you back?
I actually think I’m doing the best I can in the given moment. My problem is I’ve seen all these stupid movies and lame TV shows and so my brain keeps flashing on all these idiotic things that I could be doing or should be saying in certain situations – “cool” or “dramatic”or “witty” things – but don’t. Maybe I just have an over active imagination.
Do you have any advice for other teens who are dealing with loss?
Maybe embrace it so as to understand it? It’s sort of part of life, isn’t it. To paraphrase, Frank Herbert in his semi-interesting novel, Dune – I will face my loss. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the loss has gone there will be healing” This comes under “the do as I say, not what I do” heading of teenage advice.
You’ve mentioned that you spend quite a bit of time in the library. What’s your favorite book?
Usually the one I’m currently involved with. At the moment I’m totally smitten with Michael Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White.
Interesting facts are prevalent in your story. How have you accumulated so much knowledge about such intriguing trivia?
I wish I knew. I’m just curious about things. Something interests me and I want to know about it. And so I look it up and I read about it. (That’s one thing the internet is good for.) And reading about it usually suggest other things that sound interesting and so I read about them. But when it comes to really knowing something, I’m a jack of all trades, master of none. I should probably go into politics but I still have this crazy idea I might do something meaningful with my life. Also I’m not so good at lying with a straight face.
THE TRAGIC AGE BLOG TOUR
Character Interview: Twom for Fiktshun
Interview questions for Willard “Twom” Twomey
- You definitely make a lasting first impression, and not just because of your name. But for those who haven’t yet had the pleasure, how would you describe yourself in 15 words or less?
Fearless. Not to say I’m never afraid. I just never let fear stop me.
- Some might say you are an enigma. You certainly don’t seem to fit into any one specific mould. Do you have an aversion to labels or is there some other reason you are the way you are? Do you enjoy standing out, being different/unique/original?
Dude, I’m just doing my own thing. I don’t like to overthink stuff. I go with the moment. What can I tell ya? – I’m a little bit of country, a little bit of rock and roll. (By way of Seattle).
- What did you think about Bill Kinsey when you first met him? And how has your opinon of him changed as you’ve gotten to know him?
I noticed him in class before I met him. This quiet kid with the birthmark on his face who never seemed to look at anybody. I was pretty surprised when he walked into the school principal’s office and all of a sudden introduced himself. Kinda ballsy. Definitly low key. I liked that. Course, once you get to know Billy you realize he’s about as low key as an air raid siren. It’s all just an act. Albert Einstein meets Robin Williams meets Mr. Hyde is inside, just waiting to bust out. Actually Billy’s lucky he met me. I just might redeem his ass.
- What has life been like for you while living with your grandmother? You have an interesting dynamic, to say the least. How would you describe your relationship?
Gramps (I call her that cause it really annoys her) is actually sort of okay for an alchoholic, chainsmoking, geriatric-wanna-be-Vegas showgirl. I mean, it can get sorta tiresome with her being one of those people who just cause they’re, like, ancient they think they’re entitled to an opinion. But you know what? She took me in when no one else was going to. She provides me with three squares a day. Sometimes evenings we sit around and watch TV together and she comes out with some pretty funny one liners that she doesn’t even know are funny. And one night when she was blasted, she actually told me she loved me. I think she meant it, so I told her I loved her too and she started to bawl and I had to hug her and everything and then she told me I was like my grandfather “who was a good man”. I can live with that.
- If you could have changed one thing that happened, or change one thing you did, or changed one thing about yourself, what would it be? Do you have any regrets? (And, no, I’m not asking you to reveal any spoilers.)
Big sigh, Dude. I honestly wish I’d never talked Billy into breaking into Montebello’s house. Maybe a lot of things would have been different if that hadn’t happened. Or maybe not. Maybe at the end of the day we all would have ended up in the same place anyway. Like Billy says – fate.