Friday, June 22, 2012

Guest Post by Don Aker, author of Running On Empty

Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you a great guest post by Don Aker, the author of YA contemporary novel, Running On Empty. I have reviewed Running On Empty on the blog not long ago, for my review click here . It was thrilling, thought-provoking and extremely captivating - I highly recommend it! 

Make sure to stop by Bookish at the end of month, you can win a wonderful prize pack (sponsored by Harper Collins Canada), consisting of a copy of each of the following: 40 Things I Want To Tell You, Never Fall Down and Running on Empty!

Enjoy the guest post and make sure to leave your feedback about it! :) 

Guest Post re: Running on Empty 

by Don Aker 

     Edward P. Morgan wrote, “A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face.” The very first novel I read that made me realize literature has the power to change lives was To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Since then, I’ve read many books that have resonated just as strongly, among them Markus Zusak’sThe Book Thief and KhaledHosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. Writers like Lee, Zusak, Hosseini, and others have shown me again and again that fiction should do more than simply entertain. It should raise our consciousness about ourselves and the world we live in, which is one of the reasons why I choose to write contemporary fiction. 

     More than anything else, I’m drawn to the challenges that face young people in today’s society. I travel a lot as a writer and I’ve been fortunate to speak with people from many different places and walks of life, and I have yet to meet an adult who hasn’t been shaped in very real ways by experiences he or she had as a teenager. Author Willa Cather once said, “Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of 15,” and I could not agree more. Although it’s been a long time since I was 15, I still recall vividly many moments during my teen years that had tremendous impact on me—some that inspired and some that scarred—and a few of those moments have found their way into my novels. But as difficult as those formative years were for me, today’s young people face even greater challenges. Watch any newscast or read any newspaper and you’ll see that contemporary teens face problems that didn’t even exist when their parents were their age, and these problems place tremendous pressures on them during an incredibly vulnerable period of their lives. That’s why I choose to read realistic young adult fiction more than any other genre. Writers like Kevin Major, Tim Wynne-Jones,Vicki Grant, John Green, and othersnever fail to engage and move me with their stories of fictional characters struggling with very real problems. 

     All of my novels have grown out of issues that have bothered me, that have kept me awake at night wondering about questions like who and how and why. The idea for Running on Empty came to me when, during a trip to New York City, I saw a news item describing a sharp increase in gambling among teenagers in the United States. One source suggested that as many as one in three American high school students gambles money on a regular basis, and I was floored by that figure. I couldn’t imagine such a staggering statistic being true, but even if the actual number were closer to one in ten, that’s still far too many young people taking part in an activity that has the potential to destroy lives. When I returned home, I began conducting research into gambling among young people in Canada, and this eventually became a thematic focus of Running on Empty

     The strongest stories, of course, are never about issues and events but, rather, how characters are affected by those issues and events. Before I can begin writing any story—whether short fiction or a novel—I first have to understand my main character well enough to determine what it is he or she wants more than anything. Then it’s my job as a writer to keep that character from getting it, at least for a little while. Ethan, my main character in Running on Empty, let me know very early in my writing process what he wanted most. Interestingly, however, what people think they want is often very different from what they truly need, and this turned out to be true in Ethan’s case. Because I’m a father, I’m always interested in how family relationships influence a person’s choices, and I was intrigued by a line spoken in Alexander Sokurov’s film Father and Son:“A father’s love crucifies.” At first, I didn’t see how this could be possible—after all, a father who truly loves his children would only want what’s best for them. But the more I thought about this, the more I remembered mistakes I’ve made as a parent, which led me to understand that Running on Empty wouldn’t just be about a teenager who gets swept up in gambling—it’s a story about the uneasy dynamic between a father and son that results in choices both of them come to regret.


About the author:

Born in 1955 in Windsor, Nova Scotia, Don Aker grew up in rural Hants County. He later attended Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where he received his Bachelor of Arts (1976), Bachelor of Education (1977), and Master of Education (1991) degrees. He has been a classroom teacher since 1977, and he currently works as Literacy Mentor for the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board. The father of two daughters, he lives in Middleton, Nova Scotia, with his wife, who is his "first editor."

Don began writing in 1988 after taking a course for language arts teachers at the Martha's Vineyard Summer Writing Workshops in Massachusetts, where educators were encouraged to write along with their students. Since then, he has published 13 books and numerous shorter pieces, consulted on several projects for publishers of educational materials, conducted a variety of workshops on teaching and writing, and given readings across Canada. He is a member of the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS), the Writers' Union of Canada (TWUC), the Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC), The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), the Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers (CANSCAIP), and PEN Canada.

(taken from Goodreads)



Come back on June 30th to win this fabulous prize pack!

This guest post is posted as part of the Contemporary Fiction Month feature!

Click on the picture for full schedule.

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About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


Amy said...

What a fabulous guest post. I totally agree with the characters thing. I never really enjoy a story much if I'm not feeling the characters or at least the main character. I like to know how they are feeling, what makes them tick, etc. I think it's awesome how he came up with the idea for Running on Empty. I mean it's an unfortunate situation, but really neat that that was what prompted this book.

roro said...

wat gr8 post
this book sounds it must be read

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