•Give us five words that sum up End Games:
Two brothers versus the apocalypse.
•Michael and Patrick both have very distinct voices. Was there anything you did when you sat down to write to get into these characters’ heads?
Thank you! Michael and Patrick were originally inspired by me and my own real-life little brother (also named Patrick), and although they wound up becoming VERY different people from us, I did use some of our own “secrets phrases” throughout the book. (The most prominent one is “ya-ya.”)
Michael's voice—and by extension, the book's narrative voice—was heavily influenced by William Goldman's early novels, especially Marathon Man and Magic. (Goldman is most famous as an Academy Award-winning screenwriter, but he also wrote some novels that read like lightning storms, including The Princess Bride.) As for Patrick, I really wanted to create a character that felt like an authentic five-year-old, and one of the most helpful things was actually going back and watching old home movies of myself and my own siblings at that age.
•I loved the bond between the two brothers. Do you have siblings of your own?
I'm so glad you liked it! I have three younger siblings, the youngest of whom is Patrick, who is ten years younger than me.
•Which of the characters in End Games was your favorite to write?
Wow, what a wonderful question. I'd have to say Jopek, I think. His voice was a fun challenge: I've always been fascinated by the ability some men have to be both dizzyingly charismatic and silently intimidating, so he was a blast to write.
•Can you tell a little about how you got interested in writing?
I've been a book lover since before I could read: Some of my favorite childhood memories are of my mom reading Berenstein Bears to me. But the writer who made me want to become a writer was R.L. Stine. For my generation, Goosebumps was the introduction to the grand archetypes of the supernatural, and Mr. Stine sent me head-over-heels in love with horror. (That's partly why it was so thrilling to receive a blurb from him for The End Games!)
•Where do you hide away from the world to write? Where’s your ideal writing space?
I love writing in libraries, particularly university libraries when the students are on break. (The silence and emptiness are both peaceful and I-Am-Legend spooky!) But probably my favorite place is in my home office, with the smartphone, router, and laptop turned off and my old electric Brother typewriter waiting by the window. (Most of The End Games was written by hand or on a typewriter, and “revised” for the first time when I typed it into Scrivener.)
•What kind of books did you love to read as a teenager?
Stephen King was my hero, and still is. Even now, I reread his The Stand once a year: It was the central influence for The End Games, and I think it's one of the great pop masterpieces of the 20th century.
As corny as it might sound, I also found Letters to a Young Poet an enormous comfort to my (in-retrospect-kinda-sweet) teenage anxieties. And I remember reading Nick Hornby's books and wondering how that 30-something Brit found a door into my brain.
A few fun questions:
•Favorite snack while writing?
This will make me sound geeky, but: Low-Sugar Chocolate Caramel Detour Protein Bars. (I'm a P90X nerd... :] )
•Favorite band and song right now?
I'm embarrassed to say that I don't know much about modern music! I do like Katy Perry a lot, though, and also Lady Gaga, particularly her first album.
But my all-time favorite musician is Billy Joel: He recorded everything from strange experimental records (The Nylon Curtain) to soaring pop masterpieces (An Innocent Man). I've never quite understood why some critics don't like his work, but I've been listening to it for fifteen years and admire it more all the time.
•Favorite teacher from your school years?
My 12th grade AP English teacher, Amy Lohmann.
And everyone who visits Stories & Sweeties answers this one:
•Do you like cupcakes? :) Frosting or cake better?
Hahaha, oh dear, I am actually a man tragically scarred by an unfortunate cupcake incident! When my wife and I were trying to decide on a wedding cake, the baker sent us home with a box of “cupcake”-sized samples. We were on a time crunch, so we had to eat about a dozen cupcakes apiece in one night. I was never a huge sweets person before that, and I haven't been able to look a cupcake “in the eye” since. Don't hold it against me, Interwebs!
OH No! Cupcake trauma! How horrid! - Becky ;)
Check out the trailer for The End Games! You all know how I love trailers that looks like mini-movies! Plus, the boy who plays the older brother is Michael's real-life little brother, Patrick!
Remember to check back tomorrow for my thoughts on The End Games!