How's it feel to be my first Author Interview. Pretty Fabulous, right?
Moving on to the burning questions. Zombies. Why? Did you wake up one night from some dream about a Zombie driving a powder blue car and decide it was fate? Was it part of a silent protest?
Well, 10 years ago I wrote a song called "I Thought She Was a Goth" about a guy who thinks his girlfriend is a goth, but finds out she's actually been dead the whole time. In 2009 my publisher asked if I could do a book with that plot - and if I could write it, revise it, and turn it in in under a month. I thought trying to do a plausible paranormal romance, one that really deals with all the issues you'd get from dating the undead (or even dating at all - these are issues that get left out of most books), would be a fun challenge.
Of course, I had to do it with as much sarcasm as possible. That's part of why Alley is so awful at the beginning - she's funny, but she's pretty awful. I wanted it to be a redemption story, and you can't redeem someone who doesn't need it!
Really, it comes down to a quest for having a purposeful work life (I stole that phrase from Springsteen). It seemed like all of the jobs out there were either working for some useless company or making websites for other useless companies. I wanted to do something that mattered more to me. Writing geek empowerment books seemed like a good way to do it.
I think it is law I ask you this next question, Adam. So please excuse the possible redundancy. Is there a tale to tell about becoming a writer? Was it some life-long quest or something that just sort of happened?
So, is there anything you can tell me about a Zombie follow-up? I know I am totally game for another one. Really, I think I need some sort of Team Doug or Team Zombie shirt.
The follow-up is coming out in about a year - it has unicorns and fairies and vampires, but no zombies this time. The "real" title is FAIRY GODMOFO, but there's no WAY we'd get a book with a title like that into Barnes and Noble, so they're calling it "EXTRAORDINARY: THE TRUE STORY OF MY FAIRY GODPARENT, WHO ALMOST KILLED ME, SMELLED AWFUL, AND CERTAINLY NEVER MADE ME A PRINCESS." It's sort of a take-off of all those books where girls think they'll just die if they don't get to go to the dance. And it's a musical, too - there are several points in the book where, if the book were being acted out onstage, they could break into a song from THE MUSIC MAN without changing more than a couple of lines. There's even a Wells Fargo Wagon in it - it's filled with unicorn poop.
Shortly after that I'll have a non-paranormal one that I think is going to be called TANGLED UP IN BLUE. It's about a girl who gets over a crush by embarking on a "holy quest" with a couple of misfits who've started their own religion. That one's not a musical, but there are a lot of jokes about FULL HOUSE in it.
I heartily approve of Team Doug shirts.
Back to the writing thing. Is there a certain something you have to have in order to write? You know, like a mucho-vente-frapa-coffee. (I don't drink coffee, can you tell?) Maybe a playlist on your I-Pod, or maybe you still use a Walkman? Maybe you take comfort in combing your hair into a certain hairstyle? And yes, I did read up on you a little and know you totally sported a mullet. *Gasp!* Care to comment on that too?
Every single morning I take a picture of my fold-out chalkboard (http://twitpic.com/2r0tx2 - also at your left) so I don't forget anything, and walk to the coffee shop down the block - I'm usually there the minute they open. I take a cup of coffee back to my usual spot and get to work. if they have a good radio station is on, I listen to that - but I also make two playlists per project: one for the rough draft (composed of songs that the narrator would like, songs I'm into at the time, songs that have the right sort of emotional content, etc), and one for revising called the Ragged Glory playlist. I want all of my books to have a sense of ragged glory (I stole THAT one from Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi, who I think stole it from Neil Young). I modify that playlist a little to suit each book, but it's all songs with a very specific, rough-but-heroic quality. It's usually heavy on The Hold Steady, Pearl Jam, The Who, and Green Day.
And, yeah, I had a mullet for about a year in high school. I was trying to grow my hair into a Jim Morrison cut, but my hair doesn't work like that - if I don't cut it, I end up with a combination afro/mullet. And I COULDN'T cut it, really - after the curls grew out, I started getting harassed by redneck kids who thought that having curly hair meant that I was gay (and/or a satanist, which isn't much less of a logical conclusion). And I don't mean that they just teased me - I got chased with knives. I had to keep the hair out of spite - at least until I started dating a girl who insisted on cutting the mullet part off.
I've been challenged a few times, mainly for my first book, HOW TO GET SUSPENDED AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE. The back cover of the hardback had the tagline "You don't have to be smart to be a smart ass, but it helps." That set off a few alarms, but the big one was in Boise last year. Some woman tried to get it thrown out of the library, and I guess it was a slow news week in Idaho, because it really blew up out there for a few days. I grew up in a town where book banning was a pretty popular sport and did battle with groups of would-be censors often (they parents of kids who think curly hair means you're a satanist are probably the ones who made headlines trying to ban harry potter in that town a few years back). So I know what motivates these people, and i know (somewhat) how they think. As such, I'm happy to annoy them. The more time they spend going after me for the word "ass," the less time they'll have to go to, say, birther rallies.
I see where you participated in a Banned Books Week Event: We've Been Banned. Have you been banned or challenged? Would you like to comment on what you feel about Book Banning?
But I am very careful with content - if the chain stores think your book is "ages 14+," rather than "10+," they'll order about half as many. The first draft of "Zombie" was a bit more explicit. My editor and I decided it would probably help get it off the ground if I toned it down. But I'm not sure that it DID help, so I sort of regret it now.
If there was one thing a reader can take from your book, I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked it, what would it be?
Same message as all my books really: it's okay if your life sucks in high school. Some people get really disappointed when they turn 16 and life isn't the way it looked on Saved by the Bell (showing my age here) or Archie Comics. It's okay. People who say high school is the best years of your life are miserable people. Don't be one of those. That's sort of the moral of all of my books, except for history books I write (for which the moral is probably "don't listen to hucksters....and drink your juice, or you'll get scurvy.")
So, on your web page I came across a certain PSA (Public Service Announcement.) Care to comment on this? How did you get Claudia Gray to participate with you in this? If that were me, I'd be totally stoked she held my book.
Claudia was at my new year's party, so I cajoled her into it. She lives nearby, so my wife and I meet up with her to eat cupcakes and talk about Dr. Who pretty regularly. She's awesome.
And one last one. I have to ask. Team Edward or Team Jacob?
I honestly haven't thought about this at ALL, but Jacob seems like less of a douchebag to me. Now, if I were Bella's guidance counselor, I'd tell her to get out of Forks, move to a better town, and don't worry about settling down with a guy just yet. You shouldn't base your life around a guy you meet in high school. I guess I'm team Bella. But we know how that ends.
Wow, there you have it. Thanks Adam for stopping by! It was totally fab!
Interested in more from Author Adam Selzer? Check him out....