Saturday, April 16, 2011

Interview Marathon Day 4 - A.S. King

Hey Readers,

I barely got this post in by midnight, but lo and behold, here it is on time for day 3 of the Carly Reads Interview Marathon.  Today’s interview is with TBF returned A.S. King.  This interview makes Amy the second author to have two interview on Carly Reads.  You can read her first interview here.  Amy got an extra question, because I wanted to provide her with a choice of questions regarding “Please Ignore Vera Dietz” and as awesome as she is, she answered both.  Thanks, Amy!

Carly Reads: “Please Ignore Vera Dietz” is, in my mind, a book with a lot of layers.  I related most personally to the theme about responsibility to a friend who hasn’t been such a good friend, but I also identified a theme about the role that parents play in their children’s lives, and you’ve said on your blog that you’ve “always considered ‘Vera’ a book that can show readers what a good man looks like.’ Did this proliferation of themes come about naturally as you wrote “Vera” or did you go into the writing process knowing that you wanted to focus on certain themes?  Is there any one theme that you consider more major or more important than the others?  

A.S. King: I’m a “pantser,” so I write completely by the seat of my pants. This means I don’t go into a book with any expectations of theme or plot. I didn’t even know what was under Vera’s car seat until she reached under and pulled it out. But as a book goes along, the themes polish up as I get to know my characters and see what they’re doing, so I can concentrate in future drafts about themes and thing like that.

As for any theme being most important, I just made up a theory thanks to this question. I think themes and messages and the general feeling of a book are a lot like bands and songs. There are melodies and harmonies and a rhythm section and a percussionist and maybe a horn section and they all work together to make a killer song. So all the themes in a book are of equal value and they all work together to make a great book. None can be more important than the others, and they all help illuminate each other.

And you know how an amazing song can be 300% more amazing just because the drummer hits a cowbell at the right times? Sometimes, little things in books can make a book extra special for a reader. I know a lot of readers have responded really positively to the pagoda in “Vera Dietz” even though the pagoda has the fewest words to say. So, in a way, the pagoda is the book’s cowbell. (Or maybe Ken Dietz’s flow charts are the cowbell. Either way, you get my drift.)

CR: The style of “Vera Dietz” is very unique.  It jumps from Vera’s perspective, to her father’s perspective, to her father’s flow charts, to the pagoda’s perspective, and every once in a while, Charlie throws in a word.  The story is not linear, but the structure is one of the things that makes “Vera Dietz” so incredible. How and why did you decide to write “Vera” in this fashion?  Did you write “Vera” straight through (in the order that it was published), or did you write it in parts and then assemble them into the story later on?   

ASK: The book came out nearly in the order you see it in now. I think a few Ken parts were rearranged—I wasn’t sure about his inclusion at first, but then he started making those flow charts and I realized he was supposed to be there. Once the first draft was written, I made a lot of color-coded tables of contents to keep things straight.

CR: Can you tell us anything about your upcoming books “Everybody Sees the Ants” (fall 2011) and “Ask The Passengers” (fall 2012)?   

ASK: Since this is my first time talking about “Ants” in detail, I am totally going to cheat and use the amazing “Everybody Sees the Ants” copy that’s online:

Lucky Linderman didn't ask for his life. He didn't ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn't ask for a father who never got over it. He didn't ask for a mother who keeps pretending their family is fine. And he certainly didn't ask to be the recipient of Nader McMillan's relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.

Lucky has a secret--one that helps him wade through the daily dysfunction of his life. Granddad Harry, trapped in the jungles of Laos, has been visiting Lucky in his dreams--and the dreams just might be real: an alternate reality where he can be whoever he wants to be and his life might still be worth living. But how long can Lucky remain in hiding there before reality forces its way inside?

And “Ask The Passengers” is a novel about acceptance, small town gossip and airplanes.

CR: You use your blog to speak out on a variety of issues that you are passionate about, including internet piracy and violence against women.  What role do you see the written role as playing when it comes to educating people about these issues?  And do you anticipate that these issues that you are passionate about will ever work their way into any of your books?

ASK: I’m a pacifist kindness ninja, so I usually try to stay pretty mellow on my blog, but it’s true, in the last year, I’ve posted a few blogs about piracy that got a few extra hits. :) I don’t like people who steal stuff from other people. I can’t help it. *shrug* I’ve never thought about the piracy issue working its way into a book, but maybe one day it will. I’d never set out to write a book in order to educate anyone, though. I think it might seem too much like preaching. I do write about violence against women and domestic violence in most of my work. It just seems to show up. I think I just try to make accurate settings and characters, and my knowledge of statistics seeps into those settings and characters.

CR: What five books are on your list of “Books I Couldn’t Live Without”?

ASK: “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., “Breakfast of Champions” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., a thesaurus, “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, and “Jitterbug Perfume” by Tom Robbins

CR: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Sixth Annual TBF?

ASK: This is a completely impossible question to answer. I look forward to meeting all TBF authors every year. But to give you a better answer: after perusing the Official TBF webpage, and reading people’s Fun Facts, I can say I am looking forward to seeing Eric Luper and saying, “Dude—you’re a chiropractor by day? That’s awesome!” Or meeting Rachel Hawkins and asking her to explain MacBeth to me. Or meeting Charles Benoit and saying, “You play tenor sax in a ska band, lived in Trinidad & Tobago, and scuba dive? That’s awesome!” Or meeting Shari Maurer and saying, “I met my husband at summer camp when I was 17 too! How cool is that?!” Or meeting Kathleen Duey and talking about self-sufficiency and saying, “Dude! You totally rock!” and other stuff like that. I love TBF Fun Facts. (Also, did you know Ellen Hopkins once saw Elvis in his underwear? Click the link! I’m telling you!)  Thanks for having me, Carly! See you all in a month! Can’t wait.

Thank you for taking part in TBF again this year, Amy! Looking forward to seeing you again soon.

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