Monday, April 18, 2011

Interview Marathon Day 6 - Eric Luper

Hey Readers!

This is the final day of the Carly Reads Interview Marathon. :( A sad fact, I know, but it’s not the last of the interviews.  I’m hoping to hear back from some more authors so I can share their answers with you.  In the meantime, I’ll be posting book reviews and the results of the Would You Rather survey that I distributed to the authors.  But for now, my interview with Eric Luper!

Carly Reads: What kind of research did you do in order to write “Bug Boy,” which takes place in 1934 during the Great Depression?  Was there any particular reason that you decided to set “Bug Boy” during this time period?
Eric Luper: 1934 was an interesting time. It was the heart of the Great Depression and Prohibition had just been lifted. The rich were incredibly rich and the poor were destitute. Many rules at the track were changing too. Betting had just been re-legalized and there was a lot of corruption. Also, they had just invented the starting gate, so the horses were skittish and lots of injuries happened. For me, it seemed the perfect year to set a gritty book filled with corruption that showed the seedy underbelly of the track.
I did the bulk of my research at the National Museum of Racing in Saratoga Springs, NY. They were incredibly helpful there, finding me any information I might need in the archives. I also did research at different area historical societies and at the New York State Archives in Albany. I also had the opportunity to interview different track personalities who actually remembered the 1934 season and I got to ride the racehorse simulator at the museum! The trouble was the more answers I got, the more questions I had!
The hardest part about writing that book was deciding what information to put in and what to leave out. I wanted that book to burst from the starting gate and keep moving fast until the end. And ultimately, the book is less about racing and more about love, friendship and loyalty.

CR: I was lucky enough to win an ARC of “Jeremy Bender vs. the Cupcake Cadets” in a contest that you ran a few months ago.  (It was a great book. I think I must be a 7th grade boy at heart because I love a good book about the adventures that middle school boys get themselves into.)  “Jeremy Bender” is a middle-grade book – did the writing process for “Jeremy Bender” differ from the writing process of your YA books? Do you prefer writing for one age group?
EL: First off, I’m hoping “Jeremy Bender vs. the Cupcake Cadets” appeals to both boys and girls. After all, it’s the fact that it’s so hard to be a girl that makes Jeremy and Slater’s antics so funny. Plus, the strong female characters were so fun to write!
The writing process was definitely different. My technique was the same (sitting at my laptop and writing/editing for hours on end while I drink coffee and eat junk food), but I found myself redirecting my humor from the bawdy naughtiness of Dimitri in “Seth Baumgartner’s Love Manifesto” to the slapstick grossness of the younger boys. So… much… fun…!

CR: Did you always know that you wanted to be an author? What was your journey to published writer like?
EL: I only discovered I loved writing when I was in college. I was a biology major at Rutgers University and I took an introductory creative writing class as an elective. It felt so good to have work to do that did not involve textbooks and Scantron sheets. And I took to it like a rat to a dumpster.
For years, I struggled to write adult fiction, but whenever anyone read it, whether it was a professor or a friend, they always told me I had a more youthful feel to my writing and that I should try doing something for a younger audience.
I hated hearing that. Serious authors are supposed to write for grown-ups, right?
As soon as I started writing for teens, I never looked back.

CR: What was the last book that you read for pleasure?
EL: That is a really tough question to answer because I’m in the middle of three or four right now. The last book I finished was a re-reading of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. Even if you are not a sci-fi fan, you should read this book, or better yet the whole series. Adams’s use of words to create his humor is absolutely brilliant. Like the stuff legends are made from.

CR: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Sixth Annual TBF?
EL: It’s weird because I’ve already met most of the authors coming to TBF at one event or another. Many of the others I feel like I know from Facebook or other online hiding places we authors like to go. Mostly, I’m excited to meet the teens. Just the thought of so many kids pumped about reading is awesome! See you there!

Yes, Eric, we will indeed see you there! And thanks so much for sharing your answers.

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