Friday Author SPOTLIGHT! We will feature a Young Adult, New Adult or Adult Author. These post will contain interviews, author posts, book blasts, fill in the blanks, etc... This is just our way to get authors noticed and out there as much as possible. So we hope you enjoy and stay tuned Fridays to see who we have on and what they shared. To see previous posts click here.
Today OUaT is in awe to feature Author Bryan Bliss. He is the author of No Parking at the End Times, soon to release February 24th 2015 by Greenwillow Books.
Author Bryan Bliss
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Abigail’s parents have made mistake after mistake, and now they've lost everything. She’s left to decide: Does she still believe in them? Or is it time to believe in herself? Fans of Sara Zarr, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell will connect with this moving debut.
Abigail doesn't know how her dad found Brother John. Maybe it was the billboards. Or the radio. What she does know is that he never should have made that first donation. Or the next, or the next. Her parents shouldn't have sold their house. Or packed Abigail and her twin brother, Aaron, into their old van to drive across the country to San Francisco, to be there with Brother John for the "end of the world." Because of course the end didn't come. And now they're living in their van. And Aaron’s disappearing to who-knows-where every night. Their family is falling apart. All Abigail wants is to hold them together, to get them back to the place where things were right. But maybe it’s too big a task for one teenage girl. Bryan Bliss’s thoughtful, literary debut novel is about losing everything—and about what you will do for the people you love.
It's very surreal. I've been working towards this for nearly 10 years. I finished my first book in January 2004, so there's something really cool about having No Parking at the End Times come out at this time of year. Granted, I would've loved for it to happen, say, eight years ago... but that's my story. And honestly, I've become such a better writer in the past ten years that I can't imagine what those books would've looked like in print. At the end of the day, I consider myself very lucky. There are a lot of people who desperately want to be published and I get that opportunity. It's really exciting.
2. How did it feel to get the phone call from your agent?
Well, I'm lucky to work with an awesome agent, Michael Bourret. The first call I ever got from him was to offer representation. That was October 2009, I think, and it was a exciting and strange as you might expect. It's always awesome to have a good reader, and that's the first thing that struck me about Michael. He immediately saw things about my book that I didn't. From there, every call has been pretty much the same way. He's smart and I've come to trust him without exception.
3. Where did you get the idea to write a "religious" book?
I come from a church background, having studied theology in graduate school and worked as a pastor. But I was pretty adamant that I didn't want to write "religious" books - ever. Mostly I didn't want people to think I had an agenda with my fiction. The idea came to me after I started seeing stories of people who sold everything and gave the money to Harold Camping, who had predicted the end of the world. I couldn't get past the idea that an adult can make a decision like that and, more than likely, bounce back. But what happens if your parents make the decision for you? How do you come back from it? I like to say the book is about religion the same way Friday Night Lights is about football. It's important to the characters, but it isn't what the book is "about". Instead, I think it's a story of a girl who loses faith in her parents for the first time, and is desperate to figure out what that means.
4. What message do you want your readers to get from your book?
Like I said, I definitely tried to stay away from planting any overt religious message. But I also tried to write all the characters as empathecially as possible, and that means really being honest with their intentions. A lot of people who've read the novel have really taken issue with the parents. And for good reason! However, when I was writing the book, I never thought of them as "bad" people. Confused, yes. Theologically tenuous, sure. But bad? I don't know if I can go there. As parents, we're trying so hard to do right by our kids. But we make mistakes and hope that we haven't messed them up too much. So if there's a message, maybe that's it. That we are all capable of remarkable failings and - hopefully - even grander moments of reconciliation.
5. What research did you have to do?
We were not very much like Shelby and her friends at all—aside from sequestering ourselves at parties (but that a because we were shy), and we would sometimes meet up during the week to each junk food and watch our favorite shows (and we were always invested enough in the story to yell at the screen).
6. Is there a part of you that wanted Aubrey to just cut herself out of Shelby's group and theories?
My sister and brother-in-law live in San Francisco, which is where the novel is set. I was very concerned with my portrayal of that city. I wanted those who have never been there before to feel like they have. And - maybe more importantly - for those who do know San Francisco, I wanted it to ring true. I have no idea if I succeeded, but I hope so.
That said, I spent a lot of time watching youtube videos of snake handlers and various End of the World type preachers. This is so far outside of my experience, but I felt like it was my responsibility to write them just as empathetically. Listen, I have a serious problem with that sort of predatory and misinformed theology, but I didn't want to make anybody a simple antagonist. So I tried to get into that place of fervent belief. What makes a person pick up a snake? How can a person believe the world was ending - that they speak the word of God - so certainly?
7. Any ideas for another book? What's next?
There wasn’t! But I definitely see what you mean. And I think Nathan was sort of able to piece together that there were “theories,” or at least he figured out (too late) that there were things the girls were doing only because they thought they were supposed to be acting and feeling a certain way.
8. If Aubrey told Nathan about the theories would he still have become the boy the theories were made for?
My next book is tentatively titled Meet Me Here, and it's due out in 2016. It's the story of two former life-long friends who have reconnected on the night of their graduation. The book is told in that night, with both of them having to make some pretty big decisions about their future before the sun comes up. It's about war, heroism, the obligations we have to our family, and what it means to be a friend. From there, I'm writing a third novel... but I'm still holding that one pretty close to my chest.