Hi, Future Readers!
A long time ago, I wrote a book for kids. A long time from now (10 months and 28 days, to be exact), it will come out. In between those two times, I have gotten and will get a ton of questions about my book.
However, I have received several other questions about my book, some very worthy questions, and so I thought it would be worth a blog post to address these questions so that in the future, anybody who wants to can just check my website for the answers at any time they want.Now, of course, when people find out I’ve written a kids’ novel, most of their questions go along the lines of, “Is it about sexy vampire teens? Is it about lusty werewolf tweens? Is it about ugly Minotaur babies?” (Answers: no, no, YES.)
I’ve divided the questions into the following categories: Basics, Writing the Book, Publishing the Book, and Release Details. Have fun! Indulge me!
Without further ado…
You wrote a book?
What is it called?
Trash Can Days: A Middle School Saga.
What is it about? Tell me in a sentence.
Over the course of a school year in Southern California, four 12 and 13-year olds experience the hilarity and humiliation of junior high.
Okay, but what is it about? Tell me in a few short paragraphs.
Jake Schwartz is an awkward bar mitzvah boy and the privileged son of a big-time movie producer. All his life, Jake has been best friends with Danny Uribe, whose family works for the Schwartzes as live-in help on their massive property. Now Jake and Danny are starting seventh grade at San Paulo Junior High School, and it’s time for these boyhood friends to grow up.
In addition to Jake and Danny, Trash Can Days features two other narrators. One is Hannah Schwartz, Jake's older sister, a status-obsessed queen bee who strikes fear into the hearts of every eighth grader. The other is Dorothy Wu, a quirky loner, prolific fan fiction-writer, and self-proclaimed "warrior mermaid maiden," who may or may not develop feelings for a certain young lad at school.
Through first-person accounts, blogs, texts, instant message conversations, and Facebook updates, these four kids tell the ridiculous, mortifying, blissful, and occasionally traumatic story of junior high. And yes, one of them does, in fact, get dumped in a trash can.
Great, great, but what is it about? Tell me in a series of random, fragmented exclamations.
First kisses! Secret admirers! Sex ed! Mean messages on the bathroom wall! Locker room cruelty! Disastrous school dances! Bar mitzvahs! Gang initiations! Facial hair! But not very much facial hair!
Who is this book for?
Fifth through ninth graders...OR...anyone brave enough to re-experience junior high...
II. WRITING THE BOOK
How did you get the idea for Trash Can Days?
I've always been fascinated by the cultural and socio-economic makeup of my hometown of Santa Barbara, CA, which, more than a lot of places I've been, really combines and jams together the richest of the rich (Oprah) with a bunch of people who live much, much more modestly (Not Oprahs). A while back, I observed that this intense mix of lifestyles was perhaps most acute at my then-school, Santa Barbara Junior High (because it mixed the culturally weird world of SB with the already-obviously-bananas concept of junior high). One day much later on, in college, I got to thinking about the diverse, diametrically opposed, squished-together cast of characters at SBJHS, and I thought it would be cool to set a story in a fictionalized version of that universe.
Okay, but what made you decide to write a whole book?
After my sophomore year of college, my mom was threatening to make me get a summer job, and I, being both kind of ambitious and mostly lazy, wanted to do something A.) that she would respect so much and be so proud of that she wouldn't make me do anything actually useful for society, and B.) that I'd be able to do in my room, on my bed, in my comfy home clothes. So, um...writing a novel it was!
When did you begin writing Trash Can Days?
In the summer of 2009.
And how long did it take to get the book to its current form, in terms of writing/rewriting/cutting/adding/tinkering/all that stuff?
A long time. Like, two and a half, three years.
Because writing is hard!
III. PUBLISHING THE BOOK
How did you get your book published?
To paraphrase our 20th President, James Garfield, "a pound of pluck and a ton of luck!"
No, but seriously.
No, but seriously! I worked very hard on my book for a long time, sent out a bunch of manuscripts and query letters, received numerous polite rejections, and, way earlier on than I ever could have anticipated or dreamed, got unfathomably lucky when Trash Can Days ended up in the brilliant hands (I'm not mixing metaphors -- these guys have brilliant hands) of Alex Glass and Christian Trimmer.
Who are they?
Alex Glass is my powerhouse agent, with Trident Media Group, and Christian Trimmer is my visionary editor, with Disney-Hyperion Publishing.
You're getting published by Disney?! Are they gonna make your book into a movie or TV show???
Not that I know of.
Are they gonna make your book into a ride???
They already did! Have you ever been on Splash Mountain? It's based on my book.
Really? You're Joel Chandler Harris, the author of the Br'er Rabbit stories?
*bursts into tears*
IV. RELEASE DETAILS
Where can I buy your book right this very second?
I don't know why everyone asks me this! It hasn't come out yet. It won't come out for a while. Fairies don't magically cause a book to suddenly appear in a Barnes & Noble just because a deal gets made.
Don't be butt hurt. I'm just being nice. So when does it come out then?
August 20th, 2013.
That's a long time from now!
Beautiful babies need the longest gestation periods of all.
Beautiful babies? Does the book have a cover?
How is it?
Take the Great Gatsby cover with the creepy disembodied eyes and multiply it by the Catch-22 cover with the little dancing red guy. Cross that with the Goodnight Moon cover, and whatever piece of artistic genius you'd have at this point would still suck hard compared to my life-changingly great cover.
Cool! When do I get to see the cover?
Not yet, but soon!
Are you going to do special stuff like giveaways and book signings and library posters in which you're holding a book and the word "READ" is written above your head in an enormous font?
At least two out of those three. Keep posted!
Is your book coming out in hard cover or paper back?
Both! Hard cover first. If you want to be cheap, you can wait a while.
How many pages is it?
What is your book's International Standard Book Number (ISBN)?
Unless you're, like, a Library of Congress employee, I'm not sure why you care, but 978-1-4231-6632-0!
How often do you fantasize about your book coming out?
Every goddamned day.
To an unhealthy extent?
All right. I'm done with questions...
OH, OH, BUT WAIT! WAIT! WAAAAIT! SEQUEL! Is there gonna be a sequel?!?!
Um, well, maybe...
HAVE YOU SECRETLY ALREADY WRITTEN A SEQUEL?
I don't want to talk about it.
YES YOU DO. TALK ABOUT THE SEQUEL!
Why don't you read the first book?! Then we'll hang out. I'm done with you.
Fine. I'm done with you, too.
Yes. I'll never read your book.
Nooooo! Noooooo! Please come back!
I love you.
...I love you too, Teddy.
*Teddy and imaginary FAQ question-asker make out furiously*