27 September 2012

Peter Adam Salomon will scare you, simply by answering questions about scaring you...

Welcome to YA Q&A, today featuring author Peter Adam Salomon. His YA debut, HENRY FRANKS (Flux, Sept. 8, 2012) has been described by Booklist as "the thinking teen's horror choice of the year." You can learn more about the book here, read the opening scene here, and visit Peter's blog here! (I highly recommend all three.)

Peter has been kind enough to answer a few questions, and if you ask more in the comments, he will try to answer those as well. Here goes:

Q: Hi Peter! I was interested to read that you've studied film and theater, as well as credit and finance. Can you tell us a little bit about your career and how it led you to write Young Adult fiction?

A: Well, it would be simple just to say that the whole 'credit and finance' aspect of my resume had nothing to do with the whole 'writing' part but, to be fair, that's not 100% accurate. Back in the mid-00's I was working on my first YA manuscript (which, while interesting, is in need of some serious work) and had very little time between the job and the 3 kids at home (one of whom was a newborn). So, I didn't really have much time to write. What I did have, however, was an hour long lunchbreak and it really only took me a few minutes to eat. So, every day I'd sit out in the parking lot, in my car, with the A/C and my iPod on and the laptop plugged in and I wrote. For about 40 minutes a day. Which ended up being about a chapter a day...given only 40 minutes, I wrote REALLY short chapters because I didn't want to stop writing mid-thought. Now, while that manuscript didn't sell, it was a great learning experience and led to my being able to sell the next manuscript I wrote.
Peter Adam Salomon

As for the degree in film and theater, it's given me a tremendous background in the structure and plotting of film and theater, which does lend itself to writing, I think. Plus I'm very good at Jeopardy now.

Q: You also write poetry and have shared some lovely pieces on your blog (even if you say they "kinda rather sorta suck," which they don't). Some of my favorite authors of YA fiction are also poets. How do you compare the writing of prose vs. poetry... are there more differences or similarities in how you approach a novel vs. a poem?

A: Thank you for the very kind words! I've always thought of myself as a poet and I've always liked to play with words, trying to create an emotion in the reader in as few words as possible. Writing a YA novel is a little similar, in that the emotional core needs to be there in order for the reader to relate to the story. A novel allows the writer to really explore the complexities of a character, and I love the freedom that that gives me. Still, I think I'll always read those old poems and (some of them at least) be quite proud of them.

Q: I'm always curious to hear about the journey a novel takes from the first glimmer of an idea to its appearance on bookshelves (and clutched tightly in readers hands, of course!) Can you give us a glimpse into your journey with HENRY FRANKS? 

A: I started writing HENRY in 2007 (back when it was called THE MEMORY OF HENRY FRANKS) and it actually began as an adult novel exploring the concept of a father raising a child completely 'off-the-grid' so that everything the child believes would be wrong somehow. But I quickly discovered that I was far more interested in the son's reaction to discovering the truth that his father has been hiding from him. So I ended up starting all over again, trying to come up with a plausible scenario where a teenager would have no memory of his life other than the lies his father has been feeding him. From there, the book went through dozens of revisions, including a seventy page flashback that I ended up weaving into the book itself (who wants to read a 70 page flashback??). In the end, the revision process made the book.

Q:  What about the horror novel appeals to you most as a writer? As a reader?

A: This is a difficult question to answer. I've been asked what my favorite Stephen King novel is (as he's pretty much the undisputed contemporary horror master) and gotten funny looks when I mention GERALD'S GAME, which is probably more 'suspense' than 'horror.' I love the suspense aspect and really wanted to incorporate that into HENRY. What I love about the genre is the absolute freedom to explore the shadows, to shine a light into the corners and have it flicker and die, leaving the reader in the dark. Alone. While every sound is amplified, every heartbeat speeds up, until you hit the flashlight against your thigh, hoping for just a tiny bit of light to appear. And then, just as the darkness grows even deeper, the light shines out...

And sometimes, just sometimes...in those brilliant horror novels that take your breath away as you read them late at night, hiding under the covers...what that light reveals just might be the very last thing you ever see.

See what I mean? You're scaring me already, Peter. (Note to self: Put batteries in the flashlights.)

Q: Can you tell us about EMU's Debuts, a blog created by your literary agency to promote its debut authors?

A: I actually think that EMU's Debuts was created by the authors themselves, with the incredible support and encouragement of the agency. That is NOT to take anything away from the wonderful camaraderie that Erin Murphy has created in her agency, which makes being represented by EMLA such a distinct honor! I'm incredibly proud to know and be a part of my fellow EMLA authors. The EMU's Debuts page is a tremendous resource that is far more than just the blog itself. Behind the scenes, the current crop of debut authors became, for me, very close friends, always there to answer silly debut author type questions as well as there to discuss what was going on in our lives as the release of our books approached. It's difficult to explain fully but I treasure the mailing list that I've been a part of now for so long with my fellow EMU's Debuts authors and as I now move on to the new blog being created for already published EMLA authors I'll miss them. I wish the next cohort of EMU'S Debut authors the greatest success and will definitely volunteer to help out if ever needed. 

And I will always treasure the time, creativity and love that my fellow EMU's Debut authors put in to my launch week there. TWO different videos about HENRY FRANKS. Interviews with my agent and my editor and even the brilliant Lisa Novak who designed the cover of my book. It was absolutely wonderful.

Q: What's on your plate now? Promotion for HENRY FRANKS? Working on a new novel? (That, and more, I suspect.)

A: Promotion for HENRY has been going on for a while now, culminating in my first book signing last week as well as my very first school visit. Both of which were surreal, wonderful experiences that I will always treasure. There will be at least one more signing (Oct. 27 at the Durham Barnes & Noble) and I'm trying to find lots of Halloween things to do during October (I did, after all, write a Horror novel).

I actually wrote 2 new manuscripts while HENRY was out on submission, both of which are now out on submission themselves (along with proposals for 2 sequels to each of them, for a grand total of SIX books that are sort of out on submission now). Plus 2 picture books that I've been working on and hope to have out on submission soon. It has been a dream come true to have people reading HENRY and I'm trying, really trying, to appreciate and treasure every single moment of it.

Thank you, Peter! And special thanks to Ammi-Joan Paquette (Peter's agent) for suggesting him for this interview. If you have additional questions for Peter, please ask them in the comments below. I will do my best to lure him back to provide answers. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I really admire your discipline and persistence, writing a whole chapter every day during your lunch break. Looks like it worked, too, even if that book didn't sell!

    And what a cool idea to have a blog for your agency's debut authors!