Ok, I've been gone a while (birthday vacation!). And that means I am behind on this months contest. So I'm letting the October contest run through November. I'm announcing the winner on Thanksgiving so someone out there has a little something special on the day of the Turkey.

These books are not new, but they have a special place on my bookshelf. God-Shaped Hole has a special place in my heart and is in my Top 5 all time favorite mainstream fiction novels. Enter this contest, you will not regret it.

When I was twelve, a fortune teller told me that my one true love would die young and leave me all alone. Everyone said she was a fraud, that she was just making it up. I’d really like to know why the hell a person would make up a thing like that.”

Written with snap, glitter and wit, God-Shaped Hole is a memorable, poignant love story that will leave you weeping with laughter. It is told in the wry, vulnerable voice of Beatrice “Trixie” Jordan who replies to a personal ad,
If your intentions are pure I am seeking a friend for the end of the world.”

In doing so, she meets Jacob Grace, a charming, effervescent writer, a free spirit who is a passionate seeker of life. He possesses his own turn of phrase and ways of thinking and feeling that dissonantly harmonize with Trixie’s off-center vision as they roller coaster through the joys and furies of their wrenching romance. Along the way they try to come to terms with the hurt brought about by their distant fathers who, in different ways, forsook them.

"I'd known for a long time that love had a sound, but I wasn't sure it had a face and a body too. Especially one that would show itself to me for the first time on a subway platform, fidgeting nervously, with pale, luminescent eyes, dark, limp hair, and a cock-bastard smile that could boil water.

But I knew.

I could tell.
And I would've done anything for him."

Funny and irreverent, and at the same time it has depth of emotion that should resonate with readers of all ages. A cool love story with unexpected twists and turns. -Eileen Goudge, bestselling author of Otherwise Engaged.

1. “If you could choose one fictional character to bring into real life, who would you choose?”
Oh, does it have to be one of my characters? If so, I think I would have to go with Jacob Grace, because he is most unlike any person I’ve ever met. Many of my characters are based, even marginally, on people I know, but Jacob was more or less created from imagination. And I really grew to like him a lot. I learned a lot from him, and from the way in which he lived, the way he approached life. He’d be a cool guy to have around. A good influence.

2. “How did you survive being a teen?”
Ha. That’s easy. Music and books. I was not your average teen. I grew up in a small town, and I had a lot of big dreams. I didn’t like to go out, I didn’t drink, I didn’t do drugs. I just didn’t believe in those kinds of escapisms, so I pretty much stayed in my room, listened to music and read. I lived in my head a lot, in my imagination. But I was really determined to have a specific life once I got out of Ohio, and I stayed really focused on that, in order to make it happen.

3. “Have you ever written something that you feel uncomfortable writing, knowing that your family and friends will probably end up reading it?”
Well, yes. You know, my characters tend to swear a lot, and, quite frankly, they tend to have a lot of sex. It would have been very easy to pause in the middle of writing a somewhat graphic sex scene and say, “Hold it, my dad is going to read this.” So, my trick is that, when I’m writing, I pretend that no one is ever going to read my work. I have to. It’s the only way I can be completely unselfconscious, and feel free enough to tell the characters’ truth, and, on some level, my own truth, as I tend to include a lot of personal issues in my work. Usually, if I’m obsessively writing a story, I have questions that I’m pondering in my own life, and trying to work them out in a fictional setting. That’s pretty revealing as well. It could make me feel a bit vulnerable if I thought about it too much, so I don’t. The flip side is that the fiction genre allows me to add, subtract, and multiply all my issues to where they are unrecognizable. I think. =)

4. “What do you think are the biggest issues that teens need to be thinking about today? Do you think teens today are looking for quality in the books they read, or just to live vicariously through superficial characters?”
That’s a great question. I assume the issues are the same now as they were when I was that age. Especially in high school, it’s time to start asking a lot of questions, for instance: Who am I? Who do I want to be? How can I live my life with integrity and not give in to peer pressure? How do I maintain boundaries when everyone else I know isn’t? How do I channel my angst or sorrow into a positive place? It’s not easy. Surviving the teenage years is really about being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel—that light being the future that one wants to carve out for oneself.

As far as what teens are looking for in books, I certainly hope that quality is paramount. But I also think that a book can be high quality and not highbrow. The work just needs to engage their minds, hopefully make them think, and certainly entertain them in the meantime. Reading a book is a great way to stand in someone else’s shoes and have vicarious experiences that inform and inspire. But something else I think they’re looking for—and one of the reasons I think my books tend to be popular with teens—isn’t the swearing and the sometimes graphic depiction of love and relationships—it’s that my characters are honest and real. They are fallible yet hopeful people who are trying as hard as they can to make it in this world, and to be the best people they can be. Young people, especially, can wholly relate to that. And in the end I think that’s what we all want—to be understood, and to have our feelings and quirks and mistakes not endorsed, but validated. We need to be reminded that we’re all on the same journey. We want to feel as though we are not alone, and I think that’s what good art does—it reminds us that we’re not alone.

5. “How have the books you’ve read inspired the books you’ve written, if at all?”
Well, as a child and a young adult, and even now, I was very taken by the power of words. I read every book I could get my hands on, and I spent a lot of my free time filling notebooks with songs and poems that I’m sure would make me cringe now. I just remember thinking what a cool job it would be to get to write all day. But back then, I think it was more about the thoughts and ideas I found in the books, as opposed to the books themselves. Like I said, I was from a small town in Ohio, and I didn’t know a lot of free thinkers. But as a young teenager I discovered writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jean-Paul Sarte, and Ayn Rand. And I read a lot of biographies back then, on everyone from Stephen Biko to Katherine Hepburn—I mean, my tastes ran the gamut—but it informed me. It opened my eyes to lives and experiences that changed my view of the world. It put ideas in my head, if you will. For better or for worse, an ordinary life wasn’t going to cut it for me.

If I had to cite one book, however, that has influenced my writing more than any other, I would point to The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I remember reading one of the last chapters in that book, simultaneously bawling my eyes out and also being so impressed with the writing itself, with the ability of the words, in all their simplicity, to hit me so hard in the heart. It’s quite a gift to be able to write with perfect literary precision and not lose the powerful emotional quotient. And that’s what I wanted to do. That is what I always strive to do.

6. “What is the strangest thing you have ever gotten inspiration from?”
Hmm. Well, I don’t know how strange this is, but the idea for How To Kill a Rock Star came to me during a concert. I had just discovered this most amazing performer, and I couldn’t understand why he was playing in this tiny dive bar, with all his genius and passion, where someone like Britney Spears was selling out arenas all over the country. It just seemed so wrong, and I was saddened and angry about it, and I went home and began writing that book.

7. “Many writers say parting with a character is hard. Do you ever look back on a character and wish you had changed something about him or her?”
No, I have never done that. Although there have been many times during the writing process when I wish they wouldn’t do things that, say, for instance, may lead to their demise. =) But it’s not my job to judge or meddle, it’s my job to tell their stories. And I do miss my characters after I finish a book. After spending hours a day with them in my head, and on my computer, once they go away I have to really decompress and get used to their absence. It’s much like a breakup. A lot of mourning and healing.

8. “What is the one thing such as, sky diving or any other daring thing, that you would love to do but you are too afraid?”
Oh, you hit the nail on the head. I would LOVE to go skydiving some day. To feel the sensation of flying through the air like that would be amazing. However, I honestly don’t think I could get myself to actually jump out of the plane. Someone would have to push me. Seriously. It’s funny, because I surf (not well) and I’m SCUBA certified, and do things like that, which some people think takes guts, but I can’t imagine finding the guts to jump out of a plane.

9. “What was the biggest obstacle you faced in becoming an author and how did you overcome it?”
You know, I think the hardest part of being a professional writer is the more mundane aspects of the business: trying to get an agent, and then trying to get published. That’s the part that made me the most uncomfortable. Overcoming that is a struggle with patience, and tenacity. There’s no other way around it.

10. “What do you do when you are faced with writer’s block? What helps you get over it?”
Ha. Can I get back to you on this? I’ve been struggling with book number three for quite a while now, and I’ve hit so many walls, and I’ve thrown the book into the garbage half a dozen times, and I’ve tried to rewrite it, and I’ve tried to start something new, and I’ve sworn off writing forever a few times, ha ha, and on it goes. It’s been a long, unusual process, and I have not yet figured out how to solve it.

11. "Are you working on anything now and can you share anything about it with us?"
See answer above. I am still trying to decide whether or not this book can be salvaged, or if I have to burn it and start anew. Only time will tell… =)


Shooting Stars Mag said...

It never seems to work out by commenting first, but oh well! LOL

I would love to read these books and what a great interview. I couldn't scuba dive OR jump out of a plane. i'm a wimp.

best of luck with the third novel!!


Breanna said...

I'd love to read these books as well! I'm surprised that no one else besides Lauren and I have entered yet!


Liviania said...

I'm surprised too Breanna! These books look really great.