Monday, March 02, 2015

BIggie By Derek E. Sullivan

Book & Author details:

Biggie by Derek E. Sullivan
Published by: Albert Whitman & Company
Publication date: March 1st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Henry “Biggie” Abbott is the son of one of Finch, Iowa ‘s most famous athletes. His father was a baseball legend and his step-dad is a close second. At an obese 300+ pounds though, Biggie himself prefers classroom success to sports. As a perfectionist, he doesn’t understand why someone would be happy getting two hits in five trips to the plate. “Forty percent, that’s an F in any class,” he would say. As Biggie’s junior year begins, the girl of his dreams, Annabelle Rivers, starts to flirt with him. Hundreds of people have told him to follow in his dad’s footsteps and play ball, but Annabelle might be the one to actually convince him to try. What happens when a boy who has spent his life since fourth grade trying to remain invisible is suddenly thrust into the harsh glare of the high school spotlight?



Derek E. Sullivan is an award-winning reporter and columnist at the Rochester Post-Bulletin in Minnesota. As a reporter, he has written more than 1,000 stories about the lives of teenagers, which he attributes to helping him find his YA voice. He has an MFA from Hamline University and lives in Minnesota with his wife and three sons.

Author links:

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are obviously some bigger messages in the book: believe in yourself, stay healthy, leave your bedroom and join the read world. But one message I hope readers take away is that teens aren’t bad people. We oftentimes hop onto the internet and read a story about a teen bullying another teen or groups of teens attacking a classmate. What I have found in covering teens for 10 years was that those bullies are few and far between and most teens support one another. I wanted Biggie to find that out on his journey.  
Was there an author who inspired you to write?
Twin Cities YA writer Pete Hautman was very influential. I read “Godless” in my 30s and really loved its brutal honesty. So many teen books are fantasy, and while that’s fine, I’ve always been attracted to contemporary YA. Hautman also started his writing career in his 30s, which gave me the inspiration to start mine at age 38. 
How did you come up with the characters in your books?
Like most literary characters, Henry “Biggie” Abbott is a composite of so many teens I had met while I was working as an education reporter. As I wrote the book, I tried to make every character original and three-dimensional.
What are your current projects?
I’m currently finishing a manuscript about a group of teens who chase death by jumping off rural bridges.
Do you see writing as a career?
I’m lucky enough to say “It is my career!” I’ve been a newspaper reporter/editor/columnist for the past 12 years. I can’t believe newspapers pay me to interview people and then tell their story.
Do you ever picture yourself and one of your heroines?  If so, which one?
I really don’t. When I write, I always see myself in the background watching someone else’s story unfold.
Do you have a favorite heroine/hero from one of your books? If so, who?
I’ve always loved Kyle from BIGGIE. I have barely touched on his story as an outsider in a small town in my book. I would love to come back to him at a later date and look at the challenges of being the new kid in a school.
What kind of research do you do for your books?
Tons. The toughest part was figuring out what social media sites teens use frequently. I did a lot of interviews and the answer I found was all of them. It was tough to decide how Biggie would talk to his online girlfriends because there were so many options.
What is the hardest part of writing your book?
Trusting that what I just finished was any good. I always fight the urge to tweak and tweak chapters. I’m so jealous of writers, who can sit down and pound out a story in a few weeks.
If you could say anything to your readers what would it be?
Thank you for reading my book. The best compliment anyone can give my writing is reading it from the first page to the last.
What is your favorite genre and why?
I love contemporary YA. I’m not sure why, I just do. I believe there are so many wonderful stories that happen in any town at any time, there is no need to create another world or go back in time. That being said, I’m very excited for the next “Star Wars” movie.
Do you prefer to write alone or do you like to collaborate with other authors?
I haven’t really worked with my authors, so it’s hard to say. I do enjoy sitting in a coffee shop and listening to music on my headphones while I write.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
I really don’t. I always know what I’m going to write next. I do get anxious when I know an important scene is coming up. I get nervous and find it hard to sit down and write. I know if I screw up a critical chapter, I will lose the reader.
When you are reading a book, who is your favorite author?
I’m really into Rainbow Rowell. I just finished “Attachments” and thought it was perfect.
Do you come up with the cover or does someone else do it?
I didn’t come up with the cover of BIGGIE, but I love it. And I’m not alone. As I’m typing this, on Netgalley, 34 people have said the liked the cover and zero has said they haven’t. That’s cool.
If you could change anything in your writing what would that be?
I would change everything. I want to get better in every aspect, and hopefully my next book will be better than my previous one.
What book if any would you want to be made into a movie?
I would have to say “Godless” because that book is such a turning point for me.
Who would you want to play the hero/heroine?
I think it would be cool if someone nobody has heard of got the lead and blew it out of the park.
Everyone uses computers, tablets, phones and no one uses handwritten form or typewriters, what do
you prefer to use?
I love my laptop. 
Is there a ritual you do everything before you begin your book?
Every night before I go to bed, I imagine the scenes of my book as it was a movie. After a few weeks, I have the story pretty much plotted out. Then, I just have to decide if it’s interesting enough.
What do you do when you finish your book and turn it in to the editor?

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