Hey readers,

Here's some stuff that's in the works for the next little bit here at benjaminesch.com

Stuff that's in the works

1.  Interview with Alexa Young.   Yes, THE Alexa Young.  I'm very excited about this. 

2.  The author's commentary for Sophomore Undercover.  Just think of a DVD commentary, now get rid of the DVD and add me.  That's basically the idea.  More details to come as I figure out how the hell to do this. 

3.  Some stuff with cartoons (author's note:  I still need to flesh this idea out a bit more). 

4.  Uhh...do you guys have any ideas? 

I tell you what: I want you guys to name somebody that you want me to interview on benjaminesch.com, and I will lie, cheat, and lie until I get them to agree to stop by for an interview.  Sound good? 

Some possible interview subjects/people I'm pretty sure will say yes:  

1.  Adam Rex
2.  Dave Yoo
3.  Sonya Sones
4.  One of the guys who created Saved By the Bell (author's note:  who also happens to be married to Sonya Sones.  This is what is known as a "power couple."

And as a special treat for my readers from the Great White North:

5.  Canadian actor/heart throb Daniel Wilson.

Please submit your suggestions for interview subjects in the comments.  Feel free to think big on this one guys.  I mean, not like Obama big or whatever, that's just crazy, but maybe something more along the lines of The Fonz.  You know, difficult but doable.

Moving on: 

Interview with Katie's Bookshelf

Katie from Katie's Bookshelf ran an interview with me a couple days ago, and if you guys are interested in my thoughts on Taylor Hicks, YA novels, and some writing advice read on.  Check out the interview, and some really cool book reviews on Katie's site here

What sets Sophomore Undercover apart from other YA novels?

There's a lot of great books in YA, but I think Sophomore Undercover is different because it is exactly the kind of book that I wanted to read when I was a teenager but could never find. I think Sophomore Undercover hits a lot of different notes than a lot of the books that are out there right now, and I really wish I could send this book back to the fifteen year old me. Hopefully some kids out there who are like the fifteen year old me will find Sophomore Undercover and enjoy it. That's my goal as a writer.

I would also like to sell enough books so I can buy a jet ski. That's my second goal as a writer.

If you had to create a soundtrack Sophomore Undercover, what would be on it?

I guess I'll just have to go with the music that I listened to when I wrote it, which was basically Ratatat's "The Classics" on loop. Also, and this is kind of embarrassing to admit, but when I was feeling blue, I used to blast that Taylor Hicks song "Do I Make You Proud." Yeah...like I said, pretty embarrassing, but that dude can sing.

Are you working on any new YA novels? If so, can you tell us a little about them?

Yes, I'm under contract with Disney-Hyperion for another novel. We're still hashing out some of the details, but I'll be posting updates about this on my website (www.benjaminesch.com) very soon.

What are your favorite YA books/authors?

There are a ton, but I'm just gonna stick to the highlights:

King Dork by Frank Portman. The first YA book that I ever read, and how I found my agent. I don't think I ever would have gotten published without this book.

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex. Adam is the most talented guy in the entire YA world and possibly the nicest person I have ever met. Smekday is particularly cool, because Adam breaks up the text with really great illustrations and comic book panels.

Girls for Breakfast and Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before by Dave Yoo. Full disclosure: Dave is my favorite writer in the entirety of young adult literature. His books have a mix of humor and heart that's really unique and awesome. You really need to read these books.

I could go on with this all day, but some other writers that are rad: Emily Ecton, Paula Yoo, Jonathan Stroud, Sonya Sones, MT Anderson.

If SU were made into a movie, who would play the characters?

Dixie: I'm not sure. Somebody from Nickelodeon I guess? I kinda stopped watching that channel ever since they canceled "Clarissa Explains It All."

Huggy Bear (the hippy school counselor): John C. Reilly or Philip Seymour Hoffman. Wait...no, it has to be Zach Galifianakis. This role was made for him.

Rick (jock/bully): Brian Urlacher from the Chicago Bears with a blond wig.

Mrs. Trasker (Dixie's journalism teacher): Sharon Stone or Glenn Close.

Sergeant Presto (Dixie's dad): The guy who played the dad in Twilight or Tom Selleck.

Brandon (Dixie's older brother): That hunky guy from Twilight. I understand he's popular

What's the biggest obstacle you've had to overcome to get to where you are today as a published author?

The biggest obstacle was deciding that I wanted to be a writer and that I might be good enough to make a living writing books. I know that sounds pretty simple, but it took quite a while to drum up the confidence to believe a career as a writer was possible and even longer before I would admit it to anyone outside of my immediate family.

Up until the book sold, when people would ask me what I did for a living I used to stare down at my feet and mumble something like "oh, I just kinda do this and that" which is pretty embarrassing when you run into your old teachers at the supermarket.

Did any of your inspiration for this novel come from real life experiences?

Well, Sophomore Undercover is set in my home town, and pretty much all the characters are based on people I grew up with, so yeah, my real life experiences were a huge inspiration.

However, I'm not a Vietnamese orphan and I never worked for the school newspaper, so a lot of this was just make believe, too. Make believe is an underrated but essential part of fiction.

How long did it take you to write Sophomore Undercover?


The first draft took about six months or so. Granted, this was a pretty rough draft.

It took me another three months of revisions before I got the draft to a place where I felt I could show it to an agent.

After I hooked up with the agent, it was another seven months of revisions before he felt like we could sell it.

And then after the book sold to Disney-Hyperion, I probably went through another four or five rounds of revisions with my editors over the past year and a half.

So...I guess that makes the grand total of time to get the final book about two and a half years or so. Wow. That is staggeringly long. You kinda lose track of how much time these things actually take.

Do you have any advice or comments for aspiring novelists and the book blogging community?

My key advice to both writers and bloggers is the same thing: Write what you like.

If you're interested and passionate about a subject, that's really going to show through in your writing. Plus, if you're writing a book, you're going to be stuck with this thing for the next few years, anyway. You might as well make sure it's about something that you really like.

not wilson
3/10/2009 02:03:46 am

wilson is dreamy.

i know a guy named "danny" who lives in "santa monica" who has a house plant named "phil" who would be more than willing to do an interview. unless this is one of those types of blogs that discriminates against non-human interviews.

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not tom
3/10/2009 02:14:07 am

i think i could hook u up with tom selleck. i work for him. he's dreamy.

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not ben
3/10/2009 02:16:25 am

writing what i like is what got me kicked out of a couple classes in college. they draw the line a fan fiction erotica in history class. i'm pretty sure ben franklin was a F R E A K.

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monica
3/10/2009 05:35:40 am

Piers Anthony always puts a piece at the end of his books, stuff that was going on in his life at the time he was writing, fan mail he had gotten, particular fans who made an impact on his writing, or, those who said they were impacted by his writing.
so yeah...

as for someone you can interview. hmmm.... i dont know. i did write on Jian Gomeshi's blog that he should call you for an interview. (he's on the CBC up here.. what you guys would call NPR. he's amazing. Has he called you yet?)

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3/10/2009 06:16:32 am

Good interview, Ben. I especially appreciated the part about how long the book took from page one to published. My hope is that many wannabe authors read this interview, become demoralized by the amount of effort involved, and quit, thereby diminishing my competition. Well done, you.

As for an interviewee, I think you should go for a series. Call it the "People You Thought Were Dead Series." This has two things going for it:

1. We will realize these people are not dead.

2. Old people are usually dying to talk about the good old days, so they'll probably agree to the interview.

Might I suggest Phyllis Diller?

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3/11/2009 09:59:42 pm

check out the link in my name. if you liked that 'things to do' trailer... you'll love this movie...

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3/11/2009 11:39:27 pm

Not Wilson: Yeah, Wilson is pretty dreamy, isn't he? I think of all my friends, he's probably the dreamiest.

I would be very interested in interviewing this Phil character. Can you make arrangements?

Not Tom: Are you serious about Tom Selleck? Because interviewing him would pretty much be a dream. I wonder if there's any Magnum P.I fan fiction...I'm gonna have to investigate this.

Monica: Piers Anthony sounds cool. If people buy my books, I think I might do something like that in the future.

No call yet from the CBC, but thanks for the plug. That would be awesome to get on the Canadian airwaves. I think that's just the boost my website needs.

Paul: Great idea for the "people you thought were dead" interview series. So, we're sure that Phyllis Diller is still alive, right? Because that could turn out to be pretty embarrassing for me if she isn't when I start making calls.

Monica: Checked out the trailer. That looks like a really neat movie. I especially liked the line at the end.

Have you seen "Things to Do"? I think it was released in Canada a few years ago.

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Monica
3/11/2009 11:51:50 pm

I have not seen it. Canadian movies are difficult to get to see. I'll look for it at my local video store, simply because you reccomended it.

"nothing' is one of my kids favourite movies.

ohohoh.. if forgot.. another movie in the category of "unappreciated candian movies' is "Phil the Alien". It's most memorable scene (for us, anyway) is the part where they're travelling from Bracebridge to Niagara Falls, and they pass right by a french fry trailer that we pass all the time. "Dam Good Fries" is the sign. You should check that one out, too. I'd send you a link to that trailer, but i'm at work now, and have no access to "entertainment" (internet ninjas, remember?)

i dont know why they havent blocked this site yet. Perhaps they don't have a sense of humour, and view this as 'literature' not 'entertainment'

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3/12/2009 01:38:29 am

That was a great interview! I actually pictured Huggy Bear a bit like John C. Reilly!!
My suggestion for an interview is an old 80's hair band rockstar (actually a current one would be cool, but the washed up kind would be easier to find)...but that's just me :)

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7/31/2011 04:37:37 pm

Failure by that committee would trigger automatic cuts in programs beloved by Democrats and Republicans, respectively, unless Congress later this year passed a Constitutional amendment requiring balanced budgets.

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