We going to have an impromptu interview with the author of Sprout, Dale Peck.
1. How long did it take to write SPROUT?
If you ask my editor, she’d say “Too long!” I think I only actually worked on it for about nine months or so, but it was spread out over a long time. I started it almost four years ago but I got sidetracked and wrote another book first, then came back to it. I’m glad I did though, because I love the way it came out.
2. Which part of SPROUT was the hardest for you to write?
Hmm, good question. I suppose it was the middle part. The first fifty pages or so just rolled out of me, and I knew exactly where I wanted it to end up. I just wasn’t sure how to get there at first. For me, the book was all about the relationship between Sprout and Ty, but I knew I couldn’t start with that. I had to create a past for Sprout so you could see how much Ty meant to him. It took a while to invent Ian and Ruthie, and Mrs. Miller ended up being a much more interesting character than I thought she would be. But I love the way they turned out in the end—which is how I ended my last answer. It’s starting to sound like I enjoy tooting my own horn, isn’t it?
3. Do you have any future books to be released soon?
Nothing soon-soon. But sometime next year I should release the first of a sci-fi trilogy I’m writing with Tim Kring, the creator of the TV show Heroes. I hope it’ll be out in the fall of 2010.
4. What inspired you to write SPROUT?
Honestly, I was asked to write it by my editor, who thought there needed to be a different kind of gay YA novel—one that wasn’t about coming out, but about being a gay teenager, which is very different story. As soon as she suggested it, a plot more or less popped into my head. I embellished it with certain details from my own life, and voilà—a novel!
5. What authors have inspired you?
Well, for Sprout the biggest inspiration was probably S.E. Hinton. Specifically, The Outsiders, which was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. I just love how honest she was, and how she wasn’t afraid to write about characters that some people would say weren’t interesting to a mainstream audience. There are also a lot of books like The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird that weren’t originally written as YA books but that have been picked up by young readers that also made me feel I could write a book that was as “grown up” as my adults novels without worrying that YA readers wouldn’t understand it.
6. Have you considered dying your hair in any flamboyant shade like Sprout?
I was asked this before. I used to dye my hair red and orange and pink, sometimes with a blue streak or two. But now I don’t have much hair left. If I put any dye on, I’d end up painting my scalp. LOL.
7. Do you prefer snarky humor or dry humor?
I love all kinds of humor—snarky, dry, off-color, or just plain stupid. I love The Office and South Park and the Scary Movie franchise (or at least before it started to suck) and a good bon riposte from P.G. Wodehouse or Oscar Wilde.
8. What are you currently reading now? Do you have any recommendations?
Honestly? I’m reading this big fat history of Central Eurasia (you know, Kazakhstan, where Borat is from (love Borat!), and Uzbekistan and Afghanistan and all the other –stans) because it’s kind of an obsession of mine, and I’m also reading a book about Crazy Joe Gallo, a mobster who was a kind countercultural antihero in the 1950s and ’60s (Bob Dylan even wrote a song about him). Not sure I’d recommend either of those unless you were really interested in the subject. A few months ago I read a first novel by a former student of mine—The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd. Not only is it good, but it’s also YA and has a gay protagonist, so if you liked Sprout you’ll probably like it too.
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