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Friday, January 17, 2014

Interview and Giveaway: Matt Blackstone, author of Sorry You're Lost

I'm thrilled to have Matt Blackstone, author of the middle-grade Sorry You're Lost, stopping by today for an interview and Giveaway! Be sure to check out my review of this awesome book...

Sorry You’re Lost
by Matt Blackstone

When Denny “Donuts” Murphy’s mother dies, he becomes the world’s biggest class clown. But deep down, Donuts just wants a normal life—one where his mom is still alive and where his dad doesn’t sit in front of the TV all day. And so Donuts tries to get back into the groove by helping his best friend with their plan to get dates for the end-of-the-year school dance. When their scheme backfires, he learns that laughter is not the best medicine for all of his problems. Sometimes it’s just as important to be true to yourself.

What three words best describe Sorry You’re Lost?

Honest, funny, important

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, why they should give Sorry You’re Lost a try? 

 Who else do you know that hustles candy for a real (live, human, and female) date to soften life’s knockout blows?

Grab a copy of Sorry You’re Lost and answer the following:
Favorite chapter? Life
Favorite page? 24
Favorite “Life is good” sentiment modified by Donuts? “Life is a vending machine that only accepts other people’s quarters.”
Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentence teaser:
“Propelled by a double dose of chocolaty nougat, I run from classroom to classroom, any garbage, ma’am, any trash?  Haven’t you heard of global warming?  Just trying to do my part . . . A last sweep of the lunchroom: look down, Denny, look down, I mutter, but it’s a faster version of the Les Miserables song, the techno version, look down look down look down look down look look look look look down down down down, look down look down.”

There are quite a few unforgettable characters in Sorry You’re Lost, both young and you have a favorite? What do you love about him or her? 

Manny was my favorite to write, but I’m more attached to Denny.  I like his creativity and honesty, the way he hides his grief from his peers only to let it pour out in goofy snippets in the class or the halls.  I think we all have a piece of Denny – we all “fake it till we make it” at some point.

Sorry You’re Lost is full of both humor and heavy subject matter (grief, bullying, depression, abuse, etc), depicted realistically but still being age appropriate, so how did you go about creating the right mix and balance of the two?

It’s hard to do, but it’s this combination that brought me to write in the first place.  EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED did such a great job with this, and taught me to pace the sad and funny moments.  For instance, in SORRY YOU’RE LOST, right after the uproarious Chinese restaurant scene, there’s a flashback that stops you short.  Because that’s what life is like sometimes. It’s that rollercoaster aspect that I tried to mirror (as Denny says, “Life is good a roller coaster with a few ups and a lot of downs and a long boring line with annoying people in it that say annoying things like “essentially” and “it is what it is” and talk about things you don’t have.  Life is good a roller coaster that has a really long line but you wait anyway and stuff your face with clouds of blue cotton candy and when you get to the front they close the ride because it’s broken.  Life is good a loop-de-loop roller coaster that makes you smile even if you don’t want to because it’s fast and thrilling, but then you get off and go home and turn on the news to see it’s been swept into the ocean by a hurricane, washed out to sea.”)  I tried to make Denny’s thoughts, dialogue, and actions real to his depression and overwhelming feelings of loss while at the same time real to his age: goofy, clunky, charming, funny.  

What do you hope readers, especially younger readers, will walk away with from Denny’s story? 

Everything’s not lost, though it certainly feels that way at times.  If readers walk away stronger—or lighter—than they were before they read it, then it’s all worth it.

As a MG author, why do you think MG books are so important? What do you love most about writing and reading in Middle-Grade?  

My first novel, A SCARY SCENE IN A SCARY MOVIE, was YA, so this was my first foray into Middle-Grade.  SORRY YOU’RE LOST actually started as a YA novel, then I reformatted, redid . . . rewrote pretty much everything.  I’m glad I did.  What I love most about MG is that you’re able to capture what’s so beautifully and painfully unique about that age—the awkwardness, the wit, the charm, and the sense that everything and yet nothing is within one’s control.  MG books are so critically important because it’s in the elementary and middle schools that kids fall head over heels in love with reading  

Who are your all time favorite male and female MG characters (not created by yourself)? 

Doug Swieteck (OKAY FOR NOW).  Scout Finch (TKAM isn’t really MG, but she’s so awesome I had to drop her in here).

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at flipping coins in the air.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I care way too much about Philadelphia sports.
If I had a food related nickname, it would be salsa.
The last great book I read was OKAY FOR NOW.

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by Sorry You’re Lost, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it? 
“Fo show” – the outside of the cupcake is decked out in icing and sprinkles and chocolate candies and marshmallows, but nothing of that tastes any good.  Inside there’s warm vanilla cake that’s delicious, recognizable and satisfying.   

Thank you so much, Matt, for stopping by and giving us a chance to get to know you and your book!

Win a signed copy of Sorry You're Lost!
Matt has generously offered one signed copy of his book to give away to one winner.
-US/CAN only
-ends 1/31
-must be 13+, one free entry per person
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours


Batch of Books said...

I agree that MG lit is very important! It is a defining time a person's life, and I always feel like good MG books never get the credit or attention they deserve.

Carl Scott said...

This sounds like a very important book. I'd like to take a look at it myself. It's also nice to know that not everything being published right now is a new adult paranormal romance. Thanks for the dose of reality and humor.

Geo Librarian said...

I agree that it's important to cover important issues in middle grade books, but it can be challenging to do it in an appropriate way. Sounds like you accomplished that Matt! Congrats.

Unknown said...

Hi Matt it seems as if you take a touch issue and make it a good read for young tweens and for children to learn to lesson of being true to themselves and not rely on being a clown all their life. I think it will be fun to follow this story of Denny and his buddies plan to get dates..