Antony John is the author of a many young adult books including the recently released, Five Flavors Of Dumb. Five Flavors Of Dumb was released on November 11, 2010 from Dial Books.
KBB: What inspired you to write Five Flavors Of Dumb?
AJ: Hi Katie! Well, I used to be a professional musician, so I wanted to write a book about music: specifically, rock music. I also knew I wanted to set the book in Seattle, because it has a crazy rock history with people like Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain. Trouble was, I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of book it should be. Then my wife suggested I write about rock music from the point-of-view of a deaf person. Straight away I knew it was the book I had to write.
Of course, that’s when the research began. And believe me, there was a LOT of it. But the more research I did, the more I truly understood the main character, Piper. From there, it almost felt like the story wrote itself.
KBB: What do you consider the hardest part of writing?
AJ: Finding time! Starting last month, I have two hours each morning to write, which is fantastic, but it’s not enough. I have several projects on the go, and I need time to immerse myself in them, and get situated in that story’s world. Still, I’m not complaining. I get to write AND spend time with my kids every day. It’s a dream.
The other thing that’s hard for all writers, I think, is finding the heart of the story. Plot is important. Drama is important. Conflict is crucial. But they’re not enough if the story lacks heart. We have to believe in the main character and we have to care. It takes time to discover how best to convey that in a novel. But it’s vital.
KBB: Do you have a favorite character from your book? If so, why that one?
AJ: Piper is my favorite character, without a doubt. She has some of my high-school hang-ups, and she’s far from perfect, but she never stops fighting. And when the time comes to take control, she swallows her fear and dives in headfirst. Every time I read a passage from DUMB I find myself rooting for her all over again. Which is a good sign, I think.
KBB: I love the cover for Five Flavors Of Dumb. Did you have any say about it? What do you think of it?
AJ: That’s great. You know, it seems that EVERYONE loves the cover, including me. And no, I didn’t have any say in it, partly because I didn’t want to have any say. I’m not an artist or designer, and I think that sometimes it’s best to leave these things to people who actually know what they’re doing. But I have to say, it was the nicest surprise when I finally saw what Kristin Smith (the cover designer) had come up with. She perfectly captured the feel of the book: the grunge atmosphere, the madness of it all.
By the way, if anyone is interested in reading a REALLY detailed account of the cover, and how it came about, there’s a series of posts on it at That Cover Girl blog. Here are the links:
KBB: Can you tell us anything about what you are currently working on? Any more YA novels in the plans?
AJ: Oh, yeah. Definitely. After DUMB, the next YA will be coming out around spring 2012. It’s called THE HALLELUJAH BOOK TOUR, and is the story of a boy who writes a spiritual self-help book that becomes a bestseller. He’s then sent on a promotional tour, but things don’t exactly go as planned, particularly when a former crush joins him on the road trip.
After that, around fall 2012, the first book in my ELEMENTAL trilogy will be released. It’s set in a dystopian colony of the United States where everyone is born with powers of the elements—earth, water, wind, and fire—except for one boy who is powerless . . . or is he? I’m so psyched about it I can barely see straight.
KBB: Just for fun: Is there a YA book that you would recommend reading. It can be an older release, new release, or even a book that isn’t out yet that you have had the chance to read.
AJ: I wish everyone would read HOW I LIVE NOW by Meg Rosoff. That book just blew me away when I read it. There were literally moments when I was holding my breath. It’s incredibly intense. Also, the voice is electrifying. Oh yeah, and did I mention that the author manages to tell the epic story in less than 50,000 words (i.e. it’s quite short for YA). I won’t even try to give a synopsis, because I’ll never do the book justice, but everyone should read it. In my opinion, it’s a classic.
KBB: I actually have been meaning to read How I Live Now so I will have to check it out soon.
Thanks so much for the interview, Antony!
Readers if you want to know more about Antony and his books you can find him on the web.