Wednesday, November 30, 2011

MEN in YA: Interview and Giveaway with Michael Northrop, author of Trapped

I'm extremely happy to be joined today by the wonderful Michael Northrop, author of two fantastic YA novels: Trapped (2011) (which I reviewed yesterday on my blog and will be giving away today!) and Gentleman (2009). I loved Trapped and I'm absolutely honored to have Michael stop by for the interview today! 

Guys, please give a warm welcome to our brilliant YA Galaxy Defender, Michael Northrop!

E: Evie
MN: Michael Northrop
E: Welcome to Bookish Michael! Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your bone-chilling YA novel, Trapped! Could you tell us where the inspiration for this book came from?
MN: Hellooooo! Well, first of all, I’m from a very snowy area in New England. When I was a little kid, a blizzard dumped four feet of snow on us. I wasn’t much more than 4’ tall at the time, so the idea of snow up to my eyeballs has always been with me.

I put the rest together while watching a documentary about the whaling ship Essex, which was sunk by a whale in the middle of the ocean (that’s some karma right there). The sailors drifted for months in their whaleboats, resorted to cannibalism, and mostly died at sea anyway.

So I was thinking about those men, drifting on a vast, indifferent ocean, and I started to think about other ways that people could be stranded in or by nature. I thought of snow right away. Then I started thinking about where they could be stranded. As soon as I thought of a school, I knew I was onto something.
E: How long did it take for you to write Trapped?
MN: I worked at it for about six months, making very little progress, because I was still working full-time-plus at a magazine. The job had started to eat up my weekends, which was when I used to write. Then I rolled the dice and left my job. After that I finished the book in just a few months, in one big adrenalized, caffeinated, relieved rush.
E: How would you describe your book in 5 words?
MN: Teens snowbound at school: Aaaah!
E: What was the most difficult part of the book for you to write? Did you find it challenging to write a story from a teenage boy’s perspective?
MN:  The middle was the toughest part. I really had to immerse myself mentally in the situation, and I had to work hard to be honest about what real teens would and wouldn’t do. I had months to think about the right and wrong moves, but the characters had to make those decisions in the moment.

I actually find it fairly easy to write from a teen boy’s perspective because I remember that age very clearly. One of the things that helps me is that I moved to New York City for college and basically just stayed. So remembering what it was like to be in my hometown is pretty much the same as remembering what it was like to be that age. And I remember it very viscerally: the sights, sounds, smells, and even the feel. What it was like to drive around late at night in my mom’s two-door Buick Skylark out of sheer restlessness, for example.
E: Are any of your characters based on people in your own life?
MN: Not on a one-to-one basis, but most of the characters contain elements borrowed from real people. My brother actually owned the, um, distinctive sniper rifle t-shirt that Jason wears. But Jason isn’t my brother. Matt would never have taken shop class, for one thing.
E: You’re an author of two fantastic YA novels (Trapped and Gentlemen), have you considered making the switch to Adult genre?
MN: Thank you! I’ve definitely considered it. I actually started out by writing short stories for adults, but right now I’m headed in the opposite direction. My next book is middle grade. It’s called Plunked, and it’s about a Little Leaguer who gets hit in the head by a pitch and loses his nerve at the plate. I have a ton of experience writing about sports for young readers, because I worked at Sports Illustrated Kids for 12 years. I’ve also been hit in the head many times!
E: How do you approach writing a new book? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
MNI’m a pantser. I might have a vague idea where the book is going when I start it, but that’s about it. I feel like I need to spend time with the characters and really develop and get to know them before I know how they’ll react to different situations. When I started Trapped, for example, I expected it to be much darker, but as the characters began to take shape they started to cooperate more than I expected. As a result, the book became more social. My initial idea was a frosty Lord of the Flies, but it became much more of a frozen Breakfast Club.
E:  What’s next in line for you? Are you working on a new book now?
MN: Well, Plunked comes out in March so, you know: Promotion, dead ahead! [Warning horn! Warning horn!] After that, I’m doing another YA. I shouldn’t say much more than that right now, but I’m very excited about it. It’s realistic/contemporary YA— because that’s my thang—and I think it’s fair to say it has a lot of bite.
E: What advice would you give to aspiring authors interested in writing YA novels?
MN: A few things:

1) Write about what really interests you. Don’t try to chase trends: That’s lame, and they’re elusive anyway.

2) Read a lot, and not just the sort of books you plan on writing. (I have this fear of becoming a Play-Doh Fun Factory, just taking YA in and pushing YA out in a different form.) Reading a variety of books exposes you to a wider range of voices, techniques, tools, and information. I always try to mix in some nonfiction, because I learn interesting things and it really reinforces the value of communicating clearly. 3) Finish the book and don’t get too bogged down in editing as you go. I really think you can learn more by finishing a bad book than you can by tinkering with an unfinished good one. Most first drafts are a hot mess anyway. That’s what editing is for, but again, it’s not really editing a book if the book isn’t finished. It’s just revising some pages.
E: What genre do you like to read in your free time? Which of your favorite books would you recommend everybody to read?
MN: I mentioned nonfiction above, but I really like to mix it up—and I definitely wish I had more free time to read! I recommend Grendel by John Gardner, which takes one of the most famous monsters in literature and makes him a fascinating, compelling main character. There’s a saying that everyone is the hero of his or her own story, and this book pretty much proves it. It also proves that great writing doesn’t have to be all that complicated and the power of a simple change of perspective.

Michael, thank you so much for joining us today!  
I'm looking forward to reading your other books!
Thank you for participating in the MEN in YA event! :)

I hope you guys enjoyed the interview, for more information about Michael Northrop and his books, please visit his website: Michael Northrop or/and read my review of Trapped.

Here's a couple more fantabulous pictures from the exclusive MEN in YA photoshoot!

Huge thank you to Michael Northrop for the exclusive (and absolutely gorgeous) photoshoot!

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Thanks to the fabulous:
I have one hardcover copy of Trapped up for grabs!
To be eligible to win all you need to do is be a follower of my blog and enter through Rafflecopter below.
This giveaway is open to CANADA only (sorry guys, Publisher's request!)
Ends: December 20th

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This interview and giveaway are posted as a part of the MEN in YA event (Nov 20th - Dec 20th)
For more awesomeness (reviews, interviews, giveaways, guest posts) please click the banner below!

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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


mfay2 said...

I love those photos and he's hilarious! (laughs)

- Mary | Anxirium

Asheley T. said...

this is a really fun interview!

1. Sports Illustrated for Kids x12 years = hello! how awesome is that?? that's incredible.

2. i'm loving the middle grade book! middle grade forever!!

3. Gentleman is very high on my TBR and the more i think about Trapped, the more i want to read it too. the cover is so scary-awesome.

4. LOVE LOVE LOVE these pictures. how fun!

excellent, fun interview evie! thank you michael northrop! nice to meet you!

Karis Jacobstein said...

I read/reviewed Trapped several months ago, and it was very good! I grew up in Buffalo, and I have to admit that if I were still a teen living there, this book would have scared the crap out of me! It was very real! Great interview.

Karis @YA Litwit

Anonymous said...

Hahah! I LOVE that photoshoot!
Excellent interview, Evie!

A Cupcake and a Latte: Young Adult Reviews!

Evie said...

@Mary Thanks hun! I love them too! I think they turned pretty badass :D

@Asheley I want to read Gentleman, too! I think it sounds fantastic and after reading Trapped I know I have to get my hands on it soon! Thanks for stopping by love!

@Karis! I'm glad you enjoyed Trapped, too! :) Thank you for stopping by and commenting :)

@Wendy Thanks, hun! :D Glad you like it!!! <3

Unknown said...

Great interview! I really liked his comment "My initial idea was a frosty Lord of the Flies, but it became much more of a frozen Breakfast Club." and now I am really interested in reading his novel.

Thanks and great photo set!


Evie said...

@Diayll Thanks for stopping by :) Glad you enjoyed the interview and the photos! :D :) I'm sure you'll love this book!

Bookluvr Mindy said...

Those are some awesome pics! LoL

Magical Urban Fantasy Reads

M.R. Merrick said...

This is awesome, and pics are in true MIYA fashion. This book sounds great, and I love the Ashfall cover.

Evie said...

@Mindy So happy to hear that you like the pics!!! :D Yay~!

@Matty :D I think the cover rocks, it's creeptastic and I love the snow (even when it kills LOL) Thanks for commenting!

Anonymous said...

GREAT interview and what you're doing with these photos is so awesome!!!! I really want to read this book; that cover is great...

Emelie_C said...

Pick me! This book creeps me out and for that I want to read it even more!

Evie said...

@Rusty Hahah :D SO HAPPY you like it! :) It's definitely a book worth picking up, especially during Winter time!

@Emelie Hahah yep, it's pretty creepy, but in a good way! :)

druidgirl said...

This sounds and looks like a great book, would like to read it. Photos are awesome!!


Louisa @ Words I Write Crazy said...

Those pictures look like fun :)

And I love the ideas that make up Trapped! Cool book! Yeah for Canada!!!!

Jessica said...

I've been wanting to read this forever!!!!

FireStarBooks said...

Haha, love the photoshoot, he seems like such a silly person (I mean it in a good way). :)

Literary Chanteuse said...

I must say I love the only Canada. Nice change way to go publisher!

Some good questions. I always wonder about writing from the ya perspective as well. I'm going to keep in mind the author's book suggestion also. Great interview!

Paul Greci said...

Great interview, and photos!! (I really enjoyed reading Trapped!!) Frozen Breakfast Club--that's a good description of the story. :-)

Ammy Belle said...

As a short (5'2"!) Canadian ... I understand perfectly that feeling when the sow starts reaching calf height, and the little voice inside your head screams - "OMG I AM GOING TO BE BURIED IN FROZEN WATER AND DISCOVERED BY WEIRD LOOKING SCIENTISTS OF THE FUTURE!" ... so this book has interested me ever since I saw the cover on a blog a few months back. Sadly, it is still on my To-Buy list.

Thanks for the post - and the interview! You seem like a great guy and that makes me want to read this even more!

Ammy Belle

LoriStrongin said...

omg, I remember what that was like, being a kid living up north and sinking into a huge drift of snow. The first time it happened to me, I totally panicked and couldn't even scream for help. I was only trapped for a few minutes, but when you're a kid and the surface is at least a full 12 inches above your head, it can feel like a really long time.

Thanks for the giveaway op!


Kara D. said...

This sounds great. Awesome interview.

I used to read Sports Illustrated for Keys when I was like 13 or 14 and my little brothers do now that I'm an adult so that made me smile!

I loved the comment that he was a pantser where he vaguely knows where the book is going kind of like I am when I write short stories or whatever. XD

This is a really interesting interview! Must have been fun.


Sarah M said...

The idea of the book is totally creepy. I prefer my horror to be a little less realistic. Trapped for days in a high school *shudder*.

I do love the idea of every character getting to be a main character in their own book. I will have to look for Grendel now.

Andra Lyn said...

*ughhhh* I had this recurring nightmare as a kid that me and my family would get snowed into our house...It always ended with us eating the cat, and then an hour later we got rescued...*shudders* This book sounds positively traumatic for me...which means, of course, that I must read it! lol Loved the interview Evie dear :)

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