Author Answers with Sean Beaudoin: The fist-bump edition

The Word Nerds are excited to welcome Sean Beaudoin back to the blog. He’s been our guest multiple times over the blog’s history (in 2009 and 2011 and 2012) but first a story in less than 140 characters from Bethany:


The end result of this is an interview and missed prom date (see the next-to-last question).

Word Nerds: What was the inspiration for “Wise Young Fool?”

DoubleHandsPicSean: The fact that I played in a pretty terrible punk band in high school was a big part of it. Wise Young Fool is about a seventeen-year-old named Ritchie Sudden who plays in a punk band. At least for half of the book. The other half is a reproduction of the journal he keeps while in a juvenile detention center. The two timelines work in opposite directions, so while we see the year leading up to his arrest, and his attempt to keep his band together, we also see 90 days of his incarceration. By the last chapter, Ritchie is getting out and going in at the same time. My father worked in the state corrections system, part of which was overseeing a juvenile detention center. I wanted to work the two notions into one novel, and sort of give a voice to those who had experienced both.

Word Nerds: There’s a lot of discussion about YA books for boys, and how to keep boys interested in reading through the teen years — since you write for this audience and were, presumably, a teenage guy at one time — is this a real concern or will guys figure out this reading thing anyway?

Sean: I dunno. I read all the time when I was a teen. Lots of my friends didn’t, and looking back on their personalities, no marketing plan or book cover or initiative was going to make them pick up a book if they didn’t want to. But other friends did read a lot, just like the teen guys I get emails from or read to at bookstores and on school visits. I think the whole thing is a myth, and it’s up to every guy reading this to prove it.

Word Nerds: What was your favorite book as a teenager and why did you love it?

Sean: I’ve said it numerous times, but the answer is Jim Carroll’s The Basketball Diaries, because it may be one of the most honest books I’ve ever read. But I was also crazy about Frank Herbert’s Dune, Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, and Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle.

Word Nerds: Your website says of “Wise Young Fool,” “If you read this book backwards, you will hear evil messages.” Does this worry you at all? Why or why not?

Sean: Do I worry about it? No. Primarily because it’s a joke. Since there’s so much music in the book, I was sort of parodying an idea that seems to come up every ten years or so: that you can play certain bands backwards (the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Slayer) while using a Ouija board or lighting candles or something, causing a minion of darkness to descend into your bedroom and talk you into doing evil things—like not mowing the lawn when your dad asks or drinking milk right out of the carton.

Word Nerds: What’s a question (and its answer) that you wished the Word Nerds would have asked, but didn’t?

Sean: I wished you’d asked me: “Will you be my date to the prom?” My answer, without question, would have been “Yes!”

But only if I can wear a powder-blue tux with knee-high Doc Martins.

Word Nerds: What’s next for you as a writer?

Sean: My next book is called Cornelius Wrathbone and should be out fall 2014. I will tell you nothing about it, because the book itself is a spoiler. But it’s going to be awesome. In the meantime, the paperback of The Infects is coming out. And maybe a book of adult short stories. Until then, I continue to edit, hands down the best site on the internet.

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