Today I welcome Steve Brezenoff
), author of THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF |-1|, which hit the shelves this month.
The absolute value of any number, positive or negative, is its distance from zero: |-1| = 1
Noah, Lily, and Simon have been a trio forever. But as they enter high school, their relationships shift and their world starts to fall apart. Privately, each is dealing with a family crisis—divorce, abuse, and a parent's illness. Yet as they try to escape the pain and reach out for the connections they once counted on, they slip—like soap in a shower. Noah’s got it bad for Lily, but he knows too well Lily sees only Simon. Simon is indifferent, suddenly inscrutable to his friends. All stand alone in their heartache and grief.
So Steve...1. As writers, we all go through times when we doubt our abilities and lose confidence in our work. What did/do you do to get through those moments?
I have a special folder in my email with a collection of notes I've gotten over the last few years, from some people I respect quite a lot. It would be nice if I didn't need those crutches, but until I reach a higher plane of consciousness, it'll have to do.
2. What kind of kid were you when you were the same age as your main character?
Have you seen that Albert Brooks movie "Defending Your Life"? Maybe like a lot of people, including especially teens maybe, I was defined predominantly by my fears, and I had a lot of 'em. My consequent shyness meant that most of my peers--besides some of my very close friends--only had my T-shirts to judge me by. (Very little has changed, by the way. I still tend to dress in T-shirts that define who I am!) That meant to most of my school, I was a quiet kid who liked the Grateful Dead and Batman. If they knew what I was thinking all the time . . . well, who knows what they would have thought. Like I said, I was afraid to find out.
3. How did being that kind of kid influence the characters you created in ABSOLUTE VALUE OF |-1|?
|-1| has three distinct narrators, and therefore three main characters. Even though one of them--Lily--is a girl, I'd say me at fifteen had a bit in common with all three of them. It's probably not very insightful to say that if you took me at 15 and found the extreme version of a few aspects of my personality, you'd end up with Lily, Noah, and Simon. So I was a quiet kid, like Simon, and a reader and writer like Simon. But I was also strongest, grades-wise, in math, and as likely as not to pine over someone who didn't much care about me, like Lily. I also had her tendency to put my feet into square tiles and quickly try to figure the length of the sides based on the length of my foot. (Remember? a^2 + b^2 = c^2) I know; thrilling pursuits in math, right? As for Noah . . . maybe he's some kind of pure id. Let's not go there.
4. Fright and Delight: What was the most frightening moment of getting published? What was the most delightful?
My most frightening so far is definitely signing at BEA this summer. I had this dreadful idea that the only people in line would be my wife and a handful of former coworkers. It actually went pretty well. But, of course, part two of the scary is happening on September 23 here in the Twin Cities: my release party and reading at Magers & Quinn. Very scary. Also I might have to curse in front of my wife's grandparents. (Yes, |-1| has a plethora of vulgarities.)
The most delightful has been reading the reviews from bloggers who enjoyed and connected with the book, which is a great thing, because every so often another review appears in my Google reader feed, and I get another delight!
Thanks so much Steve!
More about Steve Brezenoff here
Order THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF |-1| here