Winter Blog Blast Tour: Blake Nelson
Blake Nelson is an established young adult author with the following titles under his belt: The New Rules of High School, Rock Star Superstar, Gender Blender, Paranoid Park, Prom Anonymous, and They Came From Below. His titles have been featured on several of YALSA’s booklists including Teens Top Ten (Prom Anonymous), and nominated for Best Books for Young Adults 2008 (They Came From Below) and 2005 (Rock Star, Superstar). If you’re a young adult/teen librarian like me trying to find realistic fiction to recommend to a teenage male that’s a fun read, recommend one of Blake Nelson’s books. He’s also written a couple of adult novels: Exile and User. His first novel Girl is being republished with a great new cover. We’re looking forward to the reissue.
Some of you may be familiar with Blake’s blog, if you’re not you should definitely check it out. This interview probably doesn’t do him justice, but you can glean more of what he’s like by reading his blog entries. I first came across his blog when he was blogging about his experience at the Cannes Film Festival. His book Paranoid Park was picked up and adapted into a screenplay by Gus Van Sant and turned into a movie. It had a warm reception at Cannes and has been featured at several film festivals since.
Paranoid Park the movie, what was the process of adapting the novel to a screenplay?
There wasn’t much adapting on my end. I sent the book to Gus because he had almost optioned my book ROCK STAR SUPERSTAR, and I thought he would like it. He did and I think he started working on the screenplay right then, because by the time all he paperwork was done, he pretty much had it.
I saw an early draft and it stuck pretty much exactly to the book so I was pleased, though I am all for Directors doing their own thing. If that’s what they want to do.
Who would you chose to play yourself in the Blake Nelson movie?
Billy Crudup. I feel kind of lost a lot of the time. He looks kind of lost.
What’s the biggest secret that you remember from high school?
That I was a big reader and was into cultural stuff beside music. I was on the football team and played in bands, so I probably appeared not too bookish.
Do you research your characters before you create them? Are you a skater?
I did some research about skating, which is unusual. Usually I just go for it and if good characters appear I keep going. If the characters don’t work, or the story isn’t right, I stop and start over.
Rock Star, Superstar is about a serious musician who suddenly finds himself in an up-and-coming rock band. Were you ever in a band? Who is in heavy rotation on your stereo (or iPod) now?
Yes I was in a band, and it has served me well as a writer. I have written a lot about it. My favorite group of the new bands around now (3 CDs or under, is INTERPOL.)
Did David Lee Roth really drink iced tea from a whiskey bottle?
That’s what I heard, though you hear a lot of things in dressing rooms.
Your male protagonists seem to get the girls relatively easily, any dating advice for high school guys?
My characters are sort of clueless or obsessed in some way about something. So I guess my advice is don’t think about girls that much. Do what you love and the girls will find you.
They Came from Below is your first foray into a science fiction/fantasy book, was writing in a different genre difficult or a nice change of pace?
It was a blast. Really enjoyed getting into some heavy ideas and some “BIG ISSUES.” I loved that feeling of following an interesting idea out as far as it would go.
What inspired you to write They Came from Below? Do you consider yourself an environmentalist? Impressions of Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth?
No, I am from Oregon and we think about that stuff more than other people. Also, I think generally, people are flawed and they make mistakes, and do stupid things. But messing up the planet is not the same. We can’t really afford to do that.
As a young adult librarian I go to schools and talk about books to middle and high school age students, if I could convey a message from you to them, what would that be?
Be interesting. Pursue your interests no matter how weird or off the beaten path.
What are your future plans? I read on your blog that you’re moving from New York to Los Angeles. Are you planning a screen writing career?
No, my wife got a cool job here, at a high school called Viewpoint. It’s awesome. Also, I like to surf. And after ten years in NY, I was ready to try something new.
One last note: be sure to check out GIRL, my first novel, which is being re-issued by Simon Pulse for YA readers. I’m very honored that they have done a whole new edition.
Thanks Blake! And thanks to all the readers and posters who made the Winter Blog Blast Tour possible.