Alexa Young--YA author, power blogger, and friend (author's note: couldn't find a link to prove this one, so you're just gonna have to believe that we're friends) just posted an interview with me on her website that made my Mom LOL.  And I think that's awesome. 

I'm gonna post the interview here, but I recommend you check out the version on Alexa's website to see some neat pictures of me, and read Alexa's extra funny commentary. 

Also, I'm giving away three copies of Sophomore Undercover on there, so if you want an extra copy to make sure that the one you just bought doesn't get lonely, be sure to leave a comment on her website to be entered in the drawing. 


Before we get into all the personal questions, please tell us about your book(s), what you're working on now, and anything else you'd like to say about the professional you.

Well, I only have one book and it just came out on Tuesday, so to be perfectly honest, I kinda feel like a bit of a tool getting interviewed here. But I'm just gonna work through those negative emotions and try to be charming. Let's start this again. Professional stuff: My debut YA novel Sophomore Undercover (Disney-Hyperion) came out on 2/24. Please buy it. My mom really likes it, and Adam Rex (yes, THE Adam "Frankenstein makes a freakin' Sandwich" Rex) said that my book is like "getting kicked in the nuts by Mark Twain." And I'm almost positive that's supposed to be a good thing.

Can you tell us a bit more about your background—where you’re from, how you got started as a writer, that kind of thing (this wasn’t one of the questions in the original FAKETASTIC week interview, but I feel like prying because having a male on my…never happens)?

I grew up in a small town in Northern California that is famous for A) being where they shot the old west scenes in Back to the Future 3 and B) meth. True story: Back when I was a kid, me and my family used to drive around to try and find where Michael J. Fox was staying. Now that I'm older, I understand that this wasn't technically "family bonding" so much as "stalking," but I really think it brought everybody together. I started writing after I got out of college because it seemed like a much better option than getting a real job, and by some miracle, eventually somebody started paying me to do it (I still don't exactly understand how this last part happened). But if this writing thing should ever fall through, I'm pretty sure that I'm qualified for the following career paths: 1. Security guard. 2. Telemarketer. 3. Guy who wrangles shopping carts at the Costco. And in case you're wondering, yes, I was an English major.

How many best friends have you had in your life—and how did you meet them?

I've had two BFFs in my life. The first is my older brother, because he was around when I showed up, and the other...well, to be perfectly honest, I don't really remember how I met Nick. He just started hanging around at my house all the time in high school and eating all of our frozen pizzas. But I guess that's just as good a basis for BFFness as anything.

Are they still in your life—and if so, how are the relationships today?

Well, my brother is my roommate here in LA, so here's more than just my BWIABFF (brother who is also best friend forever). He's my BWIABFF who I go shopping at the Costco with. And that's a really special bond. And I still talk to my other BFF, but seeing as we don't regularly go halvesies on any of those 100 packs of Kirkland toilet paper, our relationship has kinda been dimming a bit lately. So, that's kinda sad, but I guess it's just part of growing up.

Have you ever lied to protect your best friend? Details, please…

Well, I never told my brother that I accidentally knocked his toothbrush into the toilet, so that's kind of a lie. But I guess that was really more to protect me from having to buy him another toothbrush, so I don't know if that technically counts.

What would you do if you had a crush on your friend's crush or—yikes!—her boyfriend? (I was going to change this to "his girlfriend"—but, you know, I thought it might be more interesting to leave it as-is.)

Whoa...tough question. When I was in high school, me and my buddy Nick used to handle any simultaneous crush type situations with a "dibsies" system. So, basically the first person to shout "dibs!" had all rights to future romance. Considering that between us we had approximately zero girlfriends during the four years of high school, I think our system might have needed a bit of refinement. But what if I had a crush on my BFF's boyfriend? Wow. That would be an interesting day. I mean, to the best of my knowledge, neither me nor my BFF's embrace that particular lifestyle, so unless this hypothetical "boyfriend" is Colin Farrell or somebody equally handsome with brooding eyes (brooding eyes are essential) then I think we would all be in the clear. If, hypothetically speaking, one of my BFF's was actually dating Colin Farrell, I would lie, cheat and neck punch until I stole him. I mean, have you seen "In Bruges?" You could get lost in those eyes.

What do you consider to be the ultimate friendship betrayal?

A: Eating all of my good peanut butter. B: Renting any movie with Jodie Foster. C: Unequal distribution of frozen pizza.

Under what circumstances would you actually break up with a best friend (and have those circumstances ever occurred?)?

See the above list. And no, there haven't been any breakups as of yet. My BFFs know better than to mess with my stash of Adam's extra chunky.

What does the word FAKETASTIC mean to you?

Uhh...fantastically fake? Like, this imitation bacon has a "faketastic" smoky flavor. Also, a very cool book by Alexa Young. Though I really think I'm onto something with that bacon answer.

Anything you'd like to add?

Yes, please visit my website. There's neat stuff there. Oh, and would it be too desperate if I asked people to buy my book again? Because I'd really appreciate it if some of you guys would do that.


As many of you know, my book "Sophomore Undercover," was released yesterday. 

And for some of you, this may have lead to the following quandary--

The following quandary:  "“I wish there was some way I could help Ben with his book launch but I just don’t know what to do.”  

Well, dear friend, let me tell you how you can do just that. 

WAYS TO HELP BEN WITH HIS BOOK LAUNCH (author's note: these are ranked from least to most effort required)

1.    Buy the book. 

Granted, that’s a pretty simple step, but it’s really how this whole book selling thing works. 

2.    Tell people that you like the book. 

How many people is up to you.  I mean, I’d prefer you tell everyone you know, but I don’t want you to feel like you have to become a door-to-door salesman for my book or whatever.  Unless you want to…I really don’t want to put constraints on anyone’s ambition here.   

3.    Write a review for Sophomore Undercover on Amazon/Goodreads/etc.

Interesting fact:  the current rating for Sophomore Undercover on is 2.5 stars. 

To put this in perspective: the current rating for Hitler’s Mein Kampf is 2.8 stars.

Granted, my ratings comprise a slightly smaller representative sample, but if you belong to Goodreads and think that I'm not as bad as Hitler, a little "Sophomore Undercover" love would be appreciated. 

4.    Raise some ruckus at the bookstores around your area if they don’t carry "Sophomore Undercover."

Don't do anything crazy, though.  We’re talking a manageable amount of ruckus here.  You know, “ruckus” was probably a bad choice of words.  Let’s start this again. 

4A.  Encourage local bookstores to carry "Sophomore Undercover." 

And if that doesn't work, you have my full blessing to cause ruckus. 

5.    Airbrush “Dixie Nguyen is my homeboy” on the hood of your car. 

Because that would be pretty cool. 

More book launch news:

A lot of people have been very cool to me with the book launch, but I wanted to give a special thanks to Twitter celebrity Jim Richmond and Paul from the "I like this blog so much I go there everyday" Murphblog for all their support the last few days. 

You guys are awesome.  If I was Stephanie Meyers rich, I would send you both a pony. 

But I'm not Stephanie Meyers rich, so I'm just gonna name a couple of characters in my next book after you two. 

Personally, I would rather have the pony, but such is life.


Number of miles driven:  Many. 

People who made fun of my sweater from passing cars: 

People who complimented my sweater on the street:  1

Number of polka dots on my sweater:  Somewhere around 10

Books signed:  20ish.

Number of embarrassing phone calls to book stores to ask if they were carrying my book with a disguised voice so they wouldn't recognize me when I came in later to sign books:  More than I'd like to remember.

Feet of turkey sandwich eaten:  1. 

Amount of dollars spent on sandwich:  5

My appreciation for Subway:  limitless. 

Number of celebrities seen at breakfast:  2 (author's note:  Flea and Natalie Portman...I'm pretty sure they didn't come together). 

Number of people who recognized me on the street as "YA sensation Ben Esch": 1

Number of above people who weren't related to me:  0. 

Number of times my brother referred to me as "YA sensation Ben Esch": 1 (Author's note:  my brother is awesome.)

Amount of bookstores that sold out of Sophomore Undercover: 1 (Author's note: my relatives were repping me pretty hard in the greater Madison area). 

Thanks again for all your support, guys.  More book release news to come tomorrow.  Also, I promise I'll show you a picture of my "lucky book signing sweater" but just don't make fun of me about it.  I'm kind of in a delicate place right now. 


Hey readers,

So...that whole free book thing I promised hasn't quite turned out like I thought it would.  Like, don't get me wrong, if you asked for a free book WAY back when I first posted about this, you are still totally going to get a book.  It's just, I kinda assumed that they were going to be delivered about a month ago. 

Yeah...that didn't happen. 

As it turns out, the printing factory in China is quite far away, and it takes a goodly while to ship things over from there.  Trust me, I was just as surprised about this as you guys when I first heard about this.

But in the meantime, there's another chance to win a signed copy of "Sophomore Undercover" over at Free Book Friday

They also ran a pretty fun interview, so if you were ever curious about my best and worst high school memories and the validity of the word "incast" I'd recommend that you click on over.  The interview is here.   


As a writer, I am a man of great intellectual depth and uncommon emotional complexity. 

Thus, when I need to settle the artistic tempest that rages within my heart (author's note: my heart is also artistic) I turn to one man, and one man only for my entertainment needs. 

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Nicholas a cowboy...who dances with robots...and this is supposed to sell a Japanese soda for some reason. 

I saw this over at, initially.  Heck of a website, by the way.  I stop over about once a day. 

Wow.  I didn't think it was possible for me to love Japan or Nicholas Cage any more than I already do, but then I just watched that video and my world has been shook to its foundation. 

Also, how much more famous do you guys think I need to get before I get cast in a Japanese commercial?  They don't even have to pay me.  As long as I get keep my shiny cowboy shirt, I would be totally happy. 

I was thinking about posting the highlight reel from "The Wicker Man" but that might have been too much Nic Cage crazy-power for one posting.  Once things settle down a bit, I'll be sure to get that to you. 

Here's a teaser: he dresses up in a bear costume and karate kicks an old Amish looking lady in the head.  Yes.  I know that sounds like something out of a fever dream, but I swear that this is a real thing.


So, I've caught a bit of flack lately about being scared of raccoons.  And for those of you who can't imagine why I would be scared of an animal that looks pretty much like an adorably fuzzy bandit, I'm gonna post the video below (author's note to the squeamish:  nobody gets their nose bitten off by a raccoon or anything like that.  I just reread the first part of this post and it came off a little more ominous than I wanted.  Sorry about that). 

Some thoughts: 

1.  That raccoon is adorable. 

2.  I mean, just look at him washing his food with those little human hands.  That's adorable plus 2. 

3.  Anybody who gets their camera that close to a raccoon deserves to get hit in the face.  So that was actually pretty satisfying to watch. 

4.  Both my fear and respect of raccoons has gone up a bit since I watched this video. 


I mean, not that you need a blog to tell you that.  From all available evidence, Tracy is a fine human being with neat stuff going on in his life and a very cool blog

But let's just go ahead and throw another log of confidence on the fire. 


And here was his caption: 

Cat:  That's the biggest doggone booger I have ever seen. 

Reasons why this won: 

1.  He kept it classy. 

Don't get me wrong, I loved the non-classy entries (especially Katie's and Mario's), but Tracy read the rules and delivered a caption that fit snugly in the parameters.  Bravo to you, sir. 

2.  I think booger jokes are funny. 

Maybe it's because I'm working on a middle grade book right now, but I've suddenly developed a newfound appreciation for booger and fart jokes.  Which is a pretty big shift from my usual "penis and meth" humor.  This is what is known as artistic evolution. 

Anyway, Tracy, please email me your address ( and we will get Tina Ferraro's "The ABC's of Kissing Boys" delivered to you at double speed. 

Okay, time for some other announcements: 

1.  The free copies of Sophomore Undercover are on their way, I assure you. 

So, they're either in a factory somewhere in China, on a boat somewhere, in a warehouse in New Jersey, or on a bus somewhere or something.  Okay, to be perfectly honest, I have no goddamn idea where the books are. 

But, I've been assured that they will be arriving soon.  So, yeah...the books are still coming.  For reals. 

2.  I got interviewed. 

By the very cool Gabrielle over at  The link is here if you want to check out the interview.  So, you know, if you don't feel like you get enough of my thoughts about stuff on this blog, this might be a good place for you to go. 

Also, Gabrielle did a really good job with the questions and she has a very cool website, so maybe you should just go ahead and click over because of that. 


As of yet, there are no plans to adapt Sophomore Undercover into an audio book...

But if that ever changes, I want this girl to be the one who reads it. 

I've been going around the last few days and shouting "I'm a magician!" at my friends.  So far the response hasn't been what I was hoping for.

Anyway, this video is awesome. 


I really like Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' graphic novel "Watchmen." 

In fact, let's let the great Tracy Morgan explain my feelings vis a vis "Watchmen."

Now, just replace "cornbread" with "Watchmen," and "take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant" with "take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant" and you have a pretty good idea of how I feel about this book. 

And it's pretty well established how much I love promotional video games

So, today was pretty awesome when I found out that they just released a promotional watchmen game that plays pretty much exactly like Double Dragon on the old NES. 

Here is the link for the game.  Have some fun, guys.

You know, as much as I love the first Sophomore Undercover video game, this has raised the bar pretty high for a follow up effort.  These guys already took the Double Dragon homage, but do you have any other ideas? 

Leave any thoughts in the comments.  I think I'm leaning toward a Super Mario Brothers or Willow (author's note: playing Willow for the old school NES was possibly the highlight of my childhood.  And yes, I realize how sad that sounds) but I'm pretty much open to anything 8 bit. 


Okay, I've watched this video like eight times, and I still have no idea how many times the team in white passes that basketball around.  Quite frankly, I don't think it's humanly possible to follow anything with that much grace and old timey globetrotter flavor. 

But, I'm gonna post the video anyway, and if one of you guys can see how many times they pass it, well...I'm not gonna give you anything (author's note: we're not made of money here at  We're made of love) but I will be fully impressed with your observational skills.

Here's the video: 

Author's note:  I originally found this video over at the very cool Club Trillion. 

Have you watched the video yet? 

Well, go back and click on the youtube link then.  This next part of the blog is going to suck for you if you haven't watched the video. 

So...we've all seen the video, right? 


Ha!  I knew it was thirteen passes from the beginning!  I just wanted you guys to get your mind blown by that bear!  I just totally tricked you guys.  I feel like Ashton Kutcher.  You know, just without the smug sense of entitlement or handsomeness or whatever. 

And as a side note, I completely lost my mind when I saw that bear moonwalk across the screen.  And it got me to thinking: are there any other awesome awareness videos out there? 

Well, there aren't.  Unfortunately, these things kinda lose a lot of their neat factor when you're expecting some crazy crap to wander into frame. 

But I found something during my search.  Something unbelievably creepy. 

Here it is.  Watch if you dare.

Okay, I'm just gonna say that the kid in the ninja turtle outfit was quite possibly the creepiest thing I have ever seen in my life.  WAY creepier than that chick who crawls out of the TV in "The Ring" or Kathy Bates nude scene in "About Schmidt" or anything else I can think of. 

As a matter of fact, I'm almost a hundred percent certain that I'm going to wake up screaming tonight from a ninja turtle kid themed nightmare. 

So, I guess my roommate has that to look forward to around 4AM.  Sorry, dude.