Friday, November 2, 2012

Review + Author Interview: Ask the Passengers by AS King

I've been an AS fangirl ever since her debut DUST OF 100 DOGS. She's one of the most innovative writers in YA and ASK THE PASSENGERS is another winner.

Astrid is tired of all the labeling that goes on in her small town.  Why can't people just love without having to define it and put it in a box? So she spends her free time lying on the picnic table in her backyard and sending love to the passengers in the planes that fly overhead.

Something that characterizes AS King's work is a very authentic contemporary voice mixed with an element of the unexplained. Here it would appear that what Astrid sends out into the universe has an effect on someone in the planes overhead.  If it's love, that passenger might make a shocking declaration. If it's frustration, the passenger might react in kind.  It's a genius metaphor for reaping what we sow.

As Astrid struggles to find her place within her family (overachieving mother and sister, pothead father) and within her circle of friends she also falls in love with another girl and ponders philosophy deeply.  Her character arc is touching and inspiring.

ASK THE PASSENGERS is available now. Find out more about it at the author's website.

And now, as per our tradition, I interview AS King and she provides us with an embarrassing photo from her past.

What the craziest or most remarkable thing that has ever happened to you on a plane?
Smoking. Smoking is probably the craziest and most remarkable thing that ever happened to me on a plane. Seriously. How did they let us do that? And why did they ever think that there was a smoking "section" and a non-smoking "section?" We all knew that we all smelled like ashtrays when we walked off those flights, smokers or not. Also: it's a can of flying oxygen. I ask you: who thought smoking in a can of oxygen was a good idea?

I'm old enough to remember that - it was pretty insane. So I've heard that Socrates is your favorite philosopher. What are your favorite words of wisdom from a philosopher other than Socrates?
That's a tough one. Or maybe not. I think we can consider Buddha a philosopher, so here are some of my favorites from Buddha, who is so boss, it's not possible to measure his bossness:

Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.
The mind is everything. What you think you become.
What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world, where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What's the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood?

You've read my book LEVEL 2 (thanks!). If ATP's main character Astrid were to land in Level 2, what memory would she play over and over?

Correction: I read and loved LEVEL 2.
If Astrid landed in Level 2, I'd say she'd play Memory #43254 over and over. (Tags: NYC, walks, when mom still cared.)
Mom and I take a walk all the way to Central Park to see the statue of Balto, the sled dog who delivered medicine to people dying of diphtheria back in 1920-something. She tries to tell me about diphtheria and she doesn't care when I don't listen. I'm six. We're taking a break from Ellis. We love Ellis, but she's a lot of work because she's three. Mom holds my hand, and when I make up a song about Balto, she asks me to tell her the words and we sing it together the whole way home. We laugh a lot.
Wow! I think I need a moment to recover from that awesomeness. Don't a get a photo?

In honor of our long-standing tradition, I will also include this awkward photo for you, Lenore.

I don't think I've ever shared this one before. It's me taking a free throw in 1987/8 as a senior on my basketball team. My right leg is like a robot leg. I had really bad knees back then. Plus, I was 5'10" and got pushed around a bit under the basket, so knee pads were a must.
I use this picture in some of my school presentations with this caption: Did I make this shot? Does it really matter?
For the record, I still take a mean free throw. But I am now 5'9" tall.

The placement of your opponent's hand is really ... awkward.

Best part: That hand is my best friend's hand. We've been BFFs since we were 4.

Thanks Amy!

FTC disclosure: Review copy from publisher (Thanks Mitali!)


Christina said...

Lenore, this post is so awesome! I love A.S. King so much, which I sort of owe to you, since it was your fangirling over her book The Dust of 100 Dogs (which I actually still need to read) that put her on my radar. I've been moved by both the books I have read, including this one.

Also, she loved your book. That's so crazy awesome! A favorite writer loving your book must be so incredibly surreal!

Amy said...

lol I remember you begging for one of her ARCs at BEA.

I still need to read her books!

Liviania said...

Loved this book and loved the interview!

But I'll refrain from showing awkward photos of myself in solidarity.

bermudaonion said...

I agree with you - Amy is one of the most innovative authors there is. I'm really looking forward to this book.

Lenore, I can't believe you don't remember smoking on planes. It was horrible. I remember hounding tickets agents to get my seat as far away from the back and the smokers as I could.

Joanna Hennon said...

Hey, thanks! I'm always looking for unique YA authors and have never heard of AS King. Off to decide which book of hers I should get.