Monday, April 19, 2010

Interview with Eric Luper

Happy Monday everyone! Hope everyone had an awesome weekend. :) We're back this week with a surprise: interview!

And everyone give our guest, Eric Luper, a big round of applause. *claps*

Can you tell us something about you and your books?

Wow, that’s a really broad question but I’ll give it a shot. I grew up a reluctant reader in Springfield, NJ. Only at Rutgers did I discover my love for writing where I got my degree in Creative Writing. Of course, I had a lot of reading to catch up on at that point so I spent the next few years devouring every book I could get my hands on (and I still do). I wrote in earnest for five years before I got my first book contract and somehow something clicked. Since then, I’ve had two books published (BIG SLICK and BUG BOY), have another coming out in June (SETH BAUMGARTNER’S LOVE MANIFESTO) and have a contract on my fourth (untitled), which is slated for release in 2011.

Why write young adult over other genres?

Since I was an undergraduate, my writing has always taken on a youthful sound. I used to struggle against the idea of writing for teens, but once I embraced it I found much more success. I like the genre because it’s such a tumultuous time for a person, so much is in flux, and that creates good tension which is essential for a story.

Why horse racing as a major part of Bug Boy?

If you had asked me five years ago if I would ever write an historical novel about horse racing, I would have laughed. But something called to me to write that book. I learned about the plight of exercise riders when I read the great non-fiction book, Seabiscuit. Living near Saratoga gave me access to the archives of the National Museum of Racing. And I just happen to have a lot of friends who are involved in the racing industry. It seemed like all the stars were aligned properly. It’s a book I’m quite proud of, but it’s the sort of project I’ll likely not take on again. Whoa, was it labor intensive!

How much research did you have to do and how did you go about doing it?

I didn’t just have to learn about the sport of horse racing, but I had to learn about horse racing in America in the 1930s. This is a very specific time frame and really narrowed down my resources. I also had to learn about Saratoga in the 1930s. I had to learn about the Depression. I had to research lingo and vocabulary for various social classes. I spent time at the New York State Archives, the National Museum of Racing, the Saratoga Historical Society and many other places to get my information. I even spoke to a few people who were alive at the time and remembered the 1934 track season! It was a monster project for a book that turned out less than 300 pages.

Congratulations on selling your fourth book! Can you tell us a little about it?

My fourth book is for younger readers than my usual fare, more like 4th through 6th grade. The book is still untitled, but is about two boys who masquerade as Girl Scouts in order to enter a contest with a $1000 cash prize. It’s my first attempt at writing for younger readers and I’m having a ton of fun writing (and revising) it! It’s coming out sometime in 2011.

How is middle grade different from young adult? Was it easier or harder to write?

For me, middle grade is harder to write. Maybe it’s because my brain is stuck in high school. But I am enjoying this challenge. It requires me to tap into a different part of myself and I’m pleased at how things are coming along.

Do you work from an outline or no?

No outline for me. I’m more of a seat-of-my-pants writer. If I know too much too far in advance, I will inevitably change it. However, part of me envies writers who can outline.

Does the waiting ever get easier or is each book just as nerve-wracking as the last?

Each book is exciting for different reasons, but I wouldn’t call it nerve-wracking. It’s more exhilarating, like riding a roller coaster with your eyes closed. You know exciting things are coming you just don’t know when and what direction you’ll be going.

What was your journey toward publication like?

I started writing for young people in earnest in 1999 or so. I didn’t get my first book contract until 2005 and my first novel came out in 2007. Needless to say, it was a long haul and there were times when I considered giving up. For long stretches it felt like I was tossing my manuscripts over a ten-foot fence and just waiting for them to get tossed back over by some nameless, faceless editor. Fortunately, I stuck it out. Things are going much better now.

What do you wish someone had told you when you first set out to write a book?

Write the book that you would have loved to read over and over when you were a young reader.

If you have an opinion, who would win if Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta went head to head?

They are both stunning horses, but I’m going to have to go with Zenyatta on this one. But heck, what do I know about horses??

Thanks Eric for agreeing to do the interview! *claps*

If you want to find out more about Eric and his books, here is his website and blog.