Back Porch Writer Interview

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by Kori Miller of Back Porch Writer, which is  a site dedicated to podcasts about all things writing. We spent a half hour talking about Young Adult literature, my books, and writing in general. If you have a half hour in which you’d like to listen to my insight about what I write and why I write it, please do so. Kori conducts a great interview and if you’re an author looking for some exposure, contact her. I had a blast.

Enjoy!

Listen: here

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From the UncommonYA blog, “F. This.”

UncommonYA – Blog.

F. This.

11/08/2013

 

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by Eric DevineWriting should be more of a mirror to society than a portrait. I believe if we are writing well, then we are telling truths about what exists, not only how we want to see the world behave. These truths are often labeled dark or edgy or gritty, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with these adjectives. However, the problem arises when they become synonymous with controversial.The term controversial is a universal call for someone to get up in arms. And today, some people savor the whiff of controversy, so that they can use it as a platform to discuss their opinions, shoot others down in an online flame war, or even worse, twist the premise of the original controversy for personal gain.

And yet we wonder why authors tell stories about the darkness of humanity?

I am fortunate that I teach teenagers every day. Focusing on stories and structure and the power of words with adolescents reveals what every Young Adult author should know: they are real people with flaws.

Shocking, I know.

But considering how much adults talk about and write about and spend energy on keeping books with dark material away from teens, maybe it is. The premise of these well-intentioned adults is two-fold: 1. Teens don’t need to read about “this” (whatever inappropriate topic has been deemed such). 2. If they do, like those “gateway drugs”, they’ll learn things that will open doors down terrible paths.

And this is when I get irate.

Teens swear, make bad choices, get in fights, have sex, do drugs, and experience such inhumanity from one another, it makes my soul cringe. However, this has been the case since I was in high school, close to twenty years ago, and I doubt it’s a new development. The speed and intensity of ithas changed, via social media and technology. Yet, do you know where this, and the aforementioned issues are dealt with, where lessons are learned by characters, so that others may vicariously learn? You guessed it?

And if that source material, the handbooks for how-things-might-go-down, is shot through a rosy lens, what has been taught? That these events are fine. That doing these things is okay. That treating one another like dirt leaves you feeling awesome.

I understand the premise of the adults. I sincerely do. But they are wrong. I have never seen a child “break bad” because of a book he or she read. I have never heard a teen interviewed by an administrator for something heinous he or she has done and claim a book as the source of the idiocy.

It doesn’t happen.

Teens learn from one another, from the internet, from their parents, from their teachers––probably in this order. If a teen is reading books, hoping to find something to help navigate these rough waters, we should applaud them, give them a medal and then beg them to pass the stories on. Because many teens do not read. They spend extensive time watching Vines and YouTube videos and on Twitter and on Facebook. And they cut one another down from the safety of the keyboard, and unless no one or no story jars them from this, they grow into adults, who make decisions about content, hear the word controversial and fall into the loop society––not books––has created.

Want to see if I walk the walk? Check out either Tap Out or Dare Me.

Find fearless author Eric Devine online:


Website
Eric Devine Facebook
Eric Devine Author Page, Facebook 
Twitter
Buy Eric’s books:
Dare Me, Tap Out, This Side of NormalAmazon US, Amazon Canada: Dare MeTap OutThis Side of Normal; Barnes & Noble: Dare MeTap Out;  IndieBound

“A boy who knows only grinding despair finds hope within the walls of a gym. . . . This is bound to have huge appeal.” School Library Journal Teen
“Devine instantly captures your attention and holds it until the very end. . . . The storyline, the drama and the characters were all thoroughly put together.” Publishers Weekly

“Devine doesn’t pull any punches.” http://foreveryoungadult.com/2013/10/09/whats-the-matter-mcfly-chicken/

Tap Out: a 2013 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers AND a 

2013 Top 10 Sports Book for Youth: Booklist

Good Morning Columbia HS…

This week, instead of the same ol’ same ol’ morning announcements, like the image above, the Blue Devils at Columbia High School have this coming at them:

Exactly. Deborah Lyman, the head librarian,  convinced the AV crew to plug my signing this Friday at Good Buy Books by waking up the school this week with my trailer. Somewhere Patrick Willems is smiling.

As am I. This is a pretty phenomenal way to promote reading, as well as support of local authors and businesses.

Therefore, I want to extend my thanks to Deborah, the AV crew, and Lynne from Good Buy Books. Jolting kids awake is fun, but doing so for a good cause is fantastic.

Lynne is hosting a signing/hangout on Friday from 6:30-8:30, snacks included. So please, tell your family and friends in East Greenbush. If you know a teen at Columbia, ask them if they’ve been paying attention to the announcements. Tell them you know me and that hanging out on Friday will be fun.

And then come on out. I’ll sign, crack corny jokes, and help teens feel comfortable with the act of reading. There’s no stigma, just good times.

See you Friday!

Good Buy Books: 330 Columbia Turnpike, Rensselaer, NY 12144, (518) 479-2665

My “Other” Audience

I have come to the realization that I don’t write for teens. I mean, I do, but let’s consider this: the majority of you reading this post are adults, and you are here primarily because you’ve read my work. Therefore, it stands to reason that as much as I envision my audience as under eighteen, I could be completely wrong.

And I’m okay with that.

Recently, the topic of adults reading YA books has received heavy consideration. If you’d like to read more deeply about this, go here, here or here. I find the issue intriguing for a number of reasons, but mostly because from my perspective, at signings and promotional events, I don’t see a lot of teens. I see adults of various ages, buying for a friend, a cousin, a niece, a nephew, a son, a daughter. However, they ALL say they same thing, “I’ll read this first to see how it is.”

It’s difficult to hold back a smirk. I sincerely appreciate that my novels will eventually make their way into the hands of teens––if those teens exist­­––but I have to wonder if this purchase, ostensibly for someone else, is a ploy, and if these adults are purchasing what they deem guilty pleasures.

Now, I hate the term “guilty pleasures.” Like what you like, especially when it comes to reading. Don’t let someone knock what you read because it isn’t in line with what they want you to be reading. The mere fact that you as an adult are reading is wonderful, because it’s not the standard.

I’ve talked to enough adults who haven’t read a novel since high school. I’ve talked to plenty of adults who stopped reading for pleasure in college because the classics bored them to death, and the suggested contemporary, adult lit, was more of the same. These same adults will say to me about my work, “I haven’t read a book that I was unable to put down in so long, I’ve forgotten that feeling.”

And that, right there, is everything.

The nature of this issue boils down to one point: storytelling. I don’t care if it’s a classic from the canon, a children’s picture book, some chic new adult genre, or YA, if the story grabs you and won’t let go, that’s awesome. And as I’ve said before, the goal for my work is for it to be awesome. Sure it can be other things, too: deep, intriguing, dark, gritty­­––but it has to be awesome. Because that is the hallmark of good storytelling. You want it to go on. You’re angry when it’s over, but also elated because it was such a thrill. And you know you’ll recommend the story to others, and you’ll think about it for days and weeks to come. It will become a piece of you.

Young Adult lit does that. It has that power. So does adult lit, and children’s lit. But YA is unique in that it has the power to wake up something inside of you that has lain dormant. All those intense teen emotions. They haven’t gone away. You haven’t really grown up. You’ve only gotten older.

And once you’re comfortable with that notion, once you abandon the idea of guilty pleasures, because of age, the reading landscape will open to you. And it is full of capital A, awesome.

Go, read it all. And if you need suggestions, I’m here for you. 

Launch Party Thanks

My launch party for Dare Me was this past Friday, and it was awesome. Not only because it was at a bar, during happy hour, and not only because the turnout was wonderful. It was an excellent event because of the vibe created.

I’ve done a fair amount of signings/events, and it’s near-to-impossible to feel anything more than a bookish flair when you’re in a library or bookstore. But at McGreivery’s, surrounded by Halloween decorations, people burning off steam on a Friday afternoon, and a genuine interest in my work, I felt more than happy to be perched in my corner, taking it all in.

Writing is a solitary act. It’s 5:15 AM as I write this. My house is quiet and the sun isn’t up, but I’ve been awake for close to an hour, clacking at my keyboard. And this is my job morning after morning, including summers.

So when I am afforded the opportunity to go out and meet with people who enjoy what I’ve created, especially in an environment that it less stuffy and more “shot-friendly”, it’s difficult not to be appreciative. All those hours alone so that I can get together with people and say, “Damn, we did this,” are worth it.

Because, yes, I did. But so did you. Because I’m not here without your support. So I offer my sincerest THANKS! I fully intend to keep up my end of this relationship, and I know you’ll do the same.

Read Dare Me, love it, and then share with people how you feel. Offer some of that vibe. Do it in the real world or virtually, but let them know about this party they can get in on.

Because as the saying goes, the more the merrier.

MCG

Times Like These

riptide_volume6

If it weren’t for copyrights I think I’d use songs in every one of my stories. Seriously. It’s difficult not to get inspired by certain lyrics or the emotional resonance of a song.

Driving home this afternoon I heard the acoustic version of “Times Like These” by the Foo Fighters. As usual, I cranked it up and just drove. It was fantastic. And then I remembered, that back in 2010, I did write story with a song in it, the exact same one on the radio.

I know I plug my gritty, violent, dark and sometimes foul novels, but in 2010, I wrote something much more quiet, and slightly haunting.

Riptide Journal, a UK publication, had a contest for YA stories with crossover appeal. The entries were judged by Philip Hensher, whose acclaim I didn’t know at the time, and the top ten entries were published. Yes, mine was one of them.

“Times Like These” is a story of a mother and son trying to find their way again, as a new family, with a stepfather and infant brother added to the mix. That family dynamic is one I’ve watched for years as a teacher, and one day decided to write about. And that Foo Fighters song stuck in my head and pulled it all together.

So if you love the song or are interested in the premise, pick up a copy. The volume is great and I was so glad to be a part of it.

If not, no worries. In the big push and aplomb of Dare Me, I was reminded of this bit of something more gentle, and thought you might enjoy.

The Weekend of Awesome

This past weekend I met my number one fan, signed copies of Dare Me and Tap Out, spoke on a panel about the creative writing process, and received a congratulatory note from my former high school English teacher. Overall, it was awesome, but, of course there’s more to it than these cursory details.

Saturday was Troy Author Day, an event created to celebrate the local talent in our area. Over twenty authors were in attendance, including some heavy hitters like the Man Booker International Prize winner Lydia Davis. The atmosphere was ideal. We were situated in the upstairs of the Troy Public Library, surrounded by readers who came to buy books, meet us, and listen to discussions about the process and the industry.

However, for me, the highlight of the day was meeting Natalie.

She is my number one fan, and came with copies of all my novels. Natalie and her friend Melinda help run Pendragon, SienaCollege’s literary magazine, and I will be at Siena at some point in the near future to speak to the group because Natalie reached out to me on Twitter and Melinda following up via email. Take note readers: if you want to have contact with your favorite author, hop on social media. Chances are we’re more than willing to be there for you.

If you are interested in more about the event, here’s a local article that covers the day, and even quotes me a few times.

On Sunday I had a signing at Barnes and Noble in Saratoga Springs. What was unique about the signings this weekend, and in particular at B&N, was having customers interested in copies of both Dare Me and Tap Out. It’s not that Tap Out has died in any way, but my energy has been focused on Dare Me. So when people came up and asked about both books and then bought both, it was kind of astounding.

It was fantastic to meet local readers, who either came out specifically to meet me, or those who stumbled across my table and got very excited about my work.

That’s what I’m in this for, not the sales figures, nor the awards––even though I need the former to continue, and the latter are really nice. I’m there for the stories. To tell people about mine, to talk with them and learn theirs, to help connect readers with work that will resonate with them. And to be with other authors doing the same, to meet people so excited about my work that they vibrate, yeah, that’s the definition of awesome to me.

So if you missed me this weekend, have no fear, my launch party is Friday at McGrievey’s restaurant from 4-7. There will be free appetizers, excellent beverages, and even more excellent company. Come on out. You won’t be disappointed.