We first met at Anderson's YA conference in Naperville, IL in September - meeting awesome authors, like yourself, is one of my favorite 'perks' of being a writer. What have been some of your favorite things about being an author?
* Oh boy, I could write a dissertation on this one!
First off, you’re spot on when you say that the biggest perk is meeting other authors (and also editors and agents). People who dedicate their lives to an aspect of children’s literature are invariably doing it because they’re passionate about it, and it’s so energizing to be around them. Meeting you in Naperville was a case in point. I could’ve just sat and listened to you talk about Nightshade all day, although that might have defeated the purpose of our panel, right?
Second, I love the rush of writing: those times when you get in a zone and the words just pour out like you’re in your own personal IMAX movie. It’s thrilling, and exhilarating, and I’m in the incredibly luxurious position of knowing that those words will most likely make it into print one day. I get the feeling both of us know how lucky we are to be able to say that.
As a random third, I have to admit that being a YA author definitely wins me the Coolest Job prize at social gatherings. Every time I attend a party I’m reminded that (a) people find authors fascinating, and (b) a lot of adults are reading YA these days (and they’re very opinionated)!
Tell us about Five Flavors of Dumb:
* Five Flavors of Dumb is the story of Piper Vaughan, a deaf high school senior. When her parents raid her college fund to pay for her baby sister’s cochlear implant, Piper resorts to managing her school rock band as a way of making some money. It’s crazy, funny, heartfelt, and uplifting—at least, that’s what the reviews are saying.
Since this book is, in part, about a band - did you listen to music while you were writing it? If so, can you tell us a song from the playlist as an example?
* Oh yeah, I listened to LOADS of music. In fact, I have a playlist of over a hundred songs that I listened to over and over while I was writing. (I’ve played most of these songs at least 20 times according to iTunes, which tells you how long it takes to write a book.)
But as the example, I’m going to name a couple songs that actually appear in the book. (I’m not going to say HOW they appear, though, because that would spoil the surprise.):
Nirvana – Seasons in the Sun
Jimi Hendrix – Star-Spangled Banner (live at Woodstock, 1969)
What surprised you the most about writing Five Flavors of Dumb?
* Ooh, good question. I think I’d have to say the most surprising thing was how fully I got inside the head of my main character, Piper. I spent several months researching deafness before I wrote a word, by which time I had a truly deep understanding of who Piper was, and what made her tick. She’s smart, sardonic, determined, and someone I would have loved to know when I was a teen. Writing from her perspective felt effortless, and I think that’s a good sign!
What are you working on next?
* My next YA will be coming out around spring 2012 from Dial. It’s called The Hallelujah Book Tour, and is the story of a boy who writes a spiritual self-help book that becomes a bestseller. He’s sent on a promotional tour along Route 66, but things don’t exactly go as planned, particularly when a former crush hitches a ride.
After that, around fall 2012, the first book in my Elemental trilogy will be released (also with Dial; can you tell I like my editor!). It’s set in a dystopian colony of the United States where 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.
Please visit me at www.antonyjohn.net (and friend me on the Facebook link)!
Thanks for having me along today, Andrea. And Happy Holidays to all your readers!
Thanks so much for being here, Antony & readers be sure to leave a comment below so you're entered in the contest!