Steve Brezenoff, as well as a giveaway for some fab bookmarks and the book itself. So, without a further ado, here it is...
1) In your opinion what are the top three reasons why teens (or even adults!) should consider picking up The Absolute Value of -1 the next time they see it in stores or online?
This is a tough question to answer, since I think no two readers get the same thing from any given book. My hope is that a teen reader will see something in one or all of the narrators that reminds them of something in themselves, or in someone they love. In other words, I guess the primary reason I’d like a reader to pick up -1 is empathy, or a chance for empathy. The three narrators (or four, if you include Suzanne’s little sections) are really in need of some empathy; maybe their readers are too.
Beyond that sort of heavy thing, I think the book has a few laughs, and a few good cries, too. Those count as two separate reasons!
2) The Absolute Value of -1’s main characters are Noah, Lily, and Simon, so can you tell us a little about each one? Also, which out of three do you relate to the most?
All three are fifteen, just starting their sophomore year of high school when the book opens. Lily is a math genius, and pretty obsessive. Probably compulsive, too: she counts her steps as she travels around the school, she estimates the sizes of tiles based on the length of her feet, and she can’t listen to music without thinking of it mathematical terms. She’s also obsessed with her friend Simon.
Simon is a bit of a downer, probably. He’s dark, and listens to metal constantly. He writes—weird stuff, too. He also used to run track. Then he started smoking—with Lily, in point of fact—and wasn’t much good at running anymore after that. His older sister, Suzanne, is up in Boston for college, and he misses her—a lot.
Noah is their third wheel, I guess . . . but also their pot dealer. (Did I mention this book has a dark theme or two?) He’s not good at much, except lusting over Lily, resenting most other males in his school, and getting into fistfights with his dad.
Which do I relate to the most? Of course, I relate to all three—I relate to some to degree to all my characters, because otherwise they’d never feel true. That said, some of Simon’s story and background is based on my own (I never had a sister, though, and most of Simon’s story is full-on fiction), so I think he’d be the one I relate to the most. Lily, however, is the one I empathize with the most. I think anyone who’s ever had a crush on a friend will probably agree.
It was not always the title. For years, this project—which started as a short story about Simon, back in 1995, and eventually grew into a short novel just about Simon—was called “Looking Down on Havoc,” and then “Splinters.” When the book was sold, and edits and revisions were ongoing, my editor and I compiled a list of possible titles. My wife contributed more than either of us, though, and better options. The Absolute Value of -1 was her idea, and it won the vote pretty easily. It’s math-related, which makes it mostly Lily’s title, in a way. But more importantly, the stories in -1 are about loss—of friendship, love, family . . . So the question is, what value does that have? What is the absolute value of negative one—one friend, one sister, etc. I think it works really well for the book.
4) What inspired you to have The Absolute of -1’s setting be Long Island?
Boring answer: I grew up there. I knew these kids, these streets, the Gap . . . so it made sense to use a setting I was intimately in touch with. I think using a very familiar setting makes a book feel right. If I’m stumbling along with maps or google images or even a visit for a few days, I think that would come across as manufactured or false.
5) If you could live in any book for one day, what book would you choose? Why?
Gotta be The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I mean, I’m not a Christian, but who can resist that kind of magic. I know . . . doesn’t have a thing to do with my book or even with YA. I don’t care. It would be fun as heck.
Thanks so much Steve! Also, I love your answer for Number #5!
Now for the giveaway... I'm giving away my review copy of The Absolute Value of Negative 1 (It's hardcover, by the way!) as well as some fabulous bookmarks with the cover's artwork on them. And best of all this contest is open INTERNATIONALLY! Because I'm awesome like that. :) Anyhow, here are the official rules:
~ EDIT: This will end October 14, 2010!
~ Must be 13 or older to enter.
~ Must fill out the form to be officially entered.
~ Contest is open internationally!