Okay, so we first fell in love with Dan when we were cyber-stalking him while out on submission. This is what did us over. His list of non-blurbs is genius. Genius! So it's no surprise that we absolutely loved his newest novel FRIEND IS NOT A VERB.
A bit about the book:
When your older sister disappears inexplicably, and your girlfriend dumps you, the logical answer to the craziness in your life is to become a rock star. This is the solution that Henry (Hen) comes up with. With the help of his best friend, Emma, Hen sets out to solve the mystery behind why his sister ran away—and why she has just as suddenly returned. In addition, Hen decides to take bass lessons so that he can win a spot in his ex-girlfriend’s band, and her heart. Along the way, Hen learns more than just how to play the bass, and discovers that maybe the right girl for him has been there all along. This quirky, well-crafted novel offers an appealing cast of characters and several interwoven story lines. The mystery surrounding Hen’s sister moves the story along, as does Hen’s tendency to narrate his life like a “Behind the Music” episode.
FRIEND IS NOT A VERB is one of those books where you read the last line, sigh, close the book and smile. Actually smile. I can't exactly explain why, but this book reminded me of the movie Juno. No there were no sixteen-year-old girls getting knocked up, but it had a cool retro-vibe on account of the musical references/themes and highlighted solid friendships and unexpected love. Plus, the wit and dialogue were spot on. It was really refreshing to read an actual feel-good book for YAs--it came at the perfect time and was a really nice pick-me-up. So...PICK IT UP!
Dan was generous enough to stop by and answer a few of our random questions...enjoy!
1. Tell us about your book in 140 characters or less.
Writers, turn off your laptops. This is the greatest novel of all time and as such marks the much-hyped Death of the Novel. You’re welcome.
2. Where did you get the idea for FRIEND IS NOT A VERB (as the official idea whores, we have a vested interest here.)
Okay, silliness aside... Part of the idea was born in 1995, when I was on vacation with my wife (then girlfriend) in the Dominican Republic. Half-hidden in the hills above the beach were all these strange, gorgeous, modern mansions, and we wondered who lived in them. For some reason, I thought they had to be crooks or fugitives. So the sister-and-her-friends part of the story came first. As I wrote bits and pieces of that, the story of the life the sister abandoned ended up becoming more compelling to me, because I identified with her little brother. That's when I really began to write the novel in earnest--about 3 years ago.
3. Someone has a pair of scissors to your head (oooh, SCARY!) and you have to choose: Awesome title or gorgeous book cover?
Hmm...that IS a tough one. I'd have to say an awesome title, because a cover can always be redesigned in the next printing. And a title grabs your ears, not just your eyes. In spite of all the digital revolution, books are still about words. (At least, I hope...)
4. When did you know you had to be a writer?
After I read THE WESTING GAME by Ellen Raskin. I was 10, and it blows my mind today as much as it did then. [Editorial Note: Lisa gave me this book in 6th grade and I swear it transformed me into an actual reader (I think I qualified as more of a skimmer before this life-changing event.) LOVE.]
5. Twizzlers or M&Ms?
Neither, which I realize is a major character flaw. I can't stand sweets. I have no idea why. Can I choose mini-burgers instead?
If you'd like the chance to win this book (and four others), don't forget to leave a comment!