Hello all! Once again, I wanted to go back to my roots and interview one of our potential future readers. Last week, I interviewed Taryn Albright, and this week I get to interview one of her Novelteen(n) co-bloggers, Andre Geleynse. This was such a fun interview, so let's dive right in, shall we:
1. Are you still in high school? Can you tell us a little about the demographics? If there were any cliques, where did YOU fit in?
I’m not technically in high school anymore, because I’m going to college a year early. I’ve actually been home-schooled since grade 2, so I really know nothing about high school demographics. I took several online courses, and probably would have fit in with the clique of “nerdy home-schoolers who argue about which ancient cultures are the best”, except that that encompassed pretty much everyone in those classes, so it wasn’t really a clique.
2. We have to ask this question early on: why do so many people think that teen boys don't read? Do your male peers love reading as much as you?
I think for most guys, it’s become socially uncool to read. That’s probably one of the advantages I had from being home-schooled, is that I never really cared about being cool. My mom read Lord of the Rings to me when I was 7, and I reread it eleven times after that…I didn’t really have any sort of concept that reading could be anything other than awesome. XD But no, none of the guys my age that I know like reading very much at all, let alone love it as much as I do.
3. What usually makes you pick up a book in a bookstore?
I find out about all the books I read through the Internet. Usually via the writing/publishing podcasts I listen to, or suggestions from writers on Twitter. When I go to the bookstore, I’ll pick up a book if I recognize the title, or more often the author. Otherwise I might glance at it if the cover looks like it might be interesting, but I won’t trust it enough to spend money on it unless I recognize the author’s name.
4. What would you like to see more of in YA novels? What are you sick of seeing?
Oh, wow, this is a loaded question for me. For one thing, I read more “adult” than YA, just because I never really realized there was a distinction until a couple years ago. I also tend to write adult, because I find it easier to write characters who are in their 20-somethings rather than in their teens, even though I’m still a teenager. So one thing that I’d like to see more of is older main characters…which is really impossible since the only real definition of the genre is that the main character is between 14 and 19. But I think that’s also a result of what I’m sick of seeing, which is immature characters. I can stomach immature characters if by the end of the book they’ve learned to grow up already, but even then I still get frustrated sometimes. That’s probably why I don’t read much YA. (Side note: Hear that YA writers? Let's give this boy some mature characters please!)
5. What is the best book you've read in the last 6 months?
Curses. I have read WAY too many books in the last 6 months. I want to say Dune, but I’m only just reading that one now, so I think I’d have to go with Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Or maybe Paper Towns or Looking For Alaska by John Green…okay, I’ll stop sneaking more books in here. *cough* Neil Gaiman is an amazing writer, and Neverwhere was just so incredibly British that I couldn’t help but love it. XD Not to mention: awesomest villains ever.
6. Is there any one author that's greatly influenced your own writing?
J.R.R. Tolkien, probably more than anyone else. Like I said earlier, I read LotR eleven times, so he’s really been the most major writer in my life. But if I can cheat and add one more, I’d also say Joss Whedon. He’s not an author, but he’s a writer, director, and producer of TV shows like Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He’s been a huge influence on my writing.
7. You describe yourself as a "Christian author who writes books." Do your beliefs play a large part in what you choose to read and write?
Hah. I described myself that way because I want to avoid being seen as someone who writes Christian books, because books in that genre tend to come across so preachy as to be really self-defeating in their purpose. So in my writing, no, my beliefs don’t play a *large* part. I don’t try to convey any sort of message or sermon in my books, because I honestly hate that. But my beliefs do most definitely influence my writing, and I like to try and bring up questions about life or people or religion that can at least get people thinking about something, even if I don’t give an answer. A lot of the time, an answer really defeats the purpose.
8. How do you feel about "romance" in novels? Do guys really care much about that?
I enjoy romance in novels if it’s done well. If it’s done poorly, I just roll my eyes and move on. It certainly doesn’t interest me enough to read books where it’s the sole focus of the plot, but I think it’s an awesome subplot for books to have. What I don’t like are pointless love triangles, or characters who break up for no reason other than that the author thought it would be sad. As for other guys, I really have no idea.
9. What's a popular saying right now that you love? One that you can't stand?
“Don’t Forget to be Awesome” (or DFTBA), is totally my favourite, because Nerdfighters are the best. :-P As for negative…this isn’t really a saying, technically, but I can’t stand it when people add “…for a teenager” to the end of their sentences. Or “for a kid”, “for a girl”, “for a guy”, etc. It not only insults that entire demographic, but it insults whichever specific person they’re talking about, because it suggest they’re being judged on a different scale than the rest of the world, for whatever reason. It suggests that they’re part of some inferior group of people, but managed to do well anyway — which may sound like a compliment to some, but when we rather *like* that “inferior group” we belong to, it really isn’t.
10. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
The ability to turn into a Flying Fire-Breathing Teleporting Ninja Pirate Vampire Jedi Zombie-Slayer with Laser Eyes. That counts, right? (Side note: If it doesn't, it SHOULD! I see a story idea...)
11. As we've mentioned before, you're also a writer. Can you share anything about one of your current projects?
Right now I’m working on a fantasy/sci-fi novel with gladiator dragons that’s a lot of fun (I like writing violence *shifty look*), but what I’m most excited about is a project I’ve been planning for a while called Sterling Ross. It’s not actually a novel, but instead a sort of thing that ends up somewhere between a TV show, a webcomic, and one of those crazily long fantasy series like Wheel of Time. I won’t try to describe it more, but if it works I think it could be really awesome.
12. Finally, what advice would you give to other aspiring teen writers?
Well, the most important and obvious advice is to just write. You can worry about agents and editors and querying and editing later, once you have a finished manuscript, because if you don’t write, all that knowledge will be useless. I’ve written four complete novels, and three mostly-completed novels, and only one of them is worth sending to an agent. And even that one needs a lot of editing (still working on that). But if I’d started worrying about agents and everything else back when I was writing my first and second novels, it still would’ve done me absolutely no good until I reached the point where I had a novel good enough to send them. (Side note: I think a lot of adult writers need this advice, too--including myself about 2 years ago)
So Andre's pretty amazing..."for a teenager." Lol, just kidding. Seriously, he's wise beyond his years and I can't wait to see his name on book spines (have you read his responses? He's going places).
What do you all think of his theory on why some boys don't read? What can we do as YA writers to change this belief?