Thursday, October 13, 2011

Book Review and Author Interview: AS King discusses Everybody Sees the Ants

DUST OF 100 DOGS and PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ are two of my all time favorite YA reads, so obviously I was super excited about EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS.  Not surprisingly, AS King blew me away yet again - with a teenage male protagonist who is so achingly real, I can't believe he's fictional.

You ache for Lucky.  He's bullied, yet still has a positive outlook on life. His parents are at a loss about what to do to help him - which disappoints him but doesn't make him sullen. The situations he finds himself in are often painful, but he finds the humor in them. And his dream connection with his missing POW grandfather somehow helps him come to terms with the powerlessness he feels in his waking life.

Yes, you need to read this book!

Lucky me (and you), I have an interview with Amy today - yay! Let's do it!

I love making playlists for books. What do you see as Lucky's theme song at the beginning of the book vs the middle vs the end?

This book’s soundtrack is Gnarls Barkley’s St. Elsewhere. I listened to it almost exclusively during the writing of the first draft. Anyone familiar with that album will see some serious connections. (Can you spot the flower that grows out of the sand?) So, “Crazy” would be the beginning. “St. Elsewhere” would be the middle. Not sure about the end. Since that first draft, I’ve made a soundtrack, though, so I can add some stuff. After that comes to Radiohead songs: “Paranoid Android” and “Karma Police.” After that is Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise.” And some random others: “Ma and Pa” from Fishbone, “Dog Eat Dog” by Adam and the Ants, “Running Away,” “War,” and “Guiltiness” by Bob Marley and the Wailers. I guess of all of these, “Karma Police” fits as the ending song, but only if you see things in a weird way like I do. There is positive in that song that some people might not see.

Also what would all the ants dance to?
I think the ants would dance to just about anything, depending on their mood. Moshing to punk rock and Waltzing to Mozart are all possible. The ants are limitless in most regards.

You always have a magical element in your books - reincarnation, a talking pagoda, dreams which are something more - does your next book continue this motif?
I guess it does. As does the next book—though in almost all of these situations, those magical elements could be in the main character’s head, and not real at all. I don’t mean to do this—it’s just the way my brain works. I’m not a very boxed-in or literal person. I believe that anything is possible because no one has proved to me beyond a reasonable doubt that this is untrue. The next book’s slant on this is a little less surreal, though. I think it’s more of a linear book, which was a real challenge in itself. I decided to go linear to challenge myself. I won’t be doing that again any time soon. (Find out more about ASK THE PASSENGERS here).

I remember from our chat at BEA that you spend a lot of time at the community pool. Do you have anything else in common with EVERYBODY's characters?
I am the vice president of my community pool and Mr. King and I donate a few hundred hours per year to it. I do swim laps like Lori Linderman…but not 200 a day. I do try to swim in lane three if I can. To prove my dedication to lane three, I can show you a picture.

Outside of that, I think being the same age as Lucky’s parents, and having several friends who never had fathers because they were lost in the Vietnam War has made me feel closer to those characters than I normally would feel to them. Also, I love Arizona. I’m writing this interview while I’m in Arizona and I just fall more in love every time I’m here. If the kids weren’t in school up in PA, I’d move here.

You know I have to ask you for an embarrassing picture from your youth ...

Oh man. Okay. Look. This is me at 14 or 15. I am rocking a white angora beret. And that bangs-over-the-eye look. It was a toss up between this picture or the one of me with the plaid pants and the Barry Manilow album from my 8th birthday, but this won. I was SO SERIOUS here. Because I was SO COOL, Lenore. Can’t you just feel the cool?

I can! Thanks Amy!

Check out the previous stops on the tour at Amy's website.


Zibilee said...

I really loved Please Ignore Vera Dietz, and thought that King did an incredible job of making her characters and situations both realistic and affecting. That's one of the reason that I am curious about this book as well, and the fact that King has put so much of herself into the book also really excites me. This was a great interview, Lenore, and I am thankful that you shared it with us!

J. H. Bográn said...

Yes, very cool indeed! Great interview.

GinaRosati said...

Just started ANTS and I'm loving it. Thanks for a great interview! And that button collection is rocking too!!

Lori said...

Amy's books are some of my most favorite. She is a incredibly awesome person and your interview proves it!

K. M. Walton said...

LOVED this book so much! Amy King is one of the funniest and most genuinely nice human beings I've ever met.

Michelle said...

I just finished Everybody Loves the Ants last week. Great book!