TBR [to be read] is a semi-regular, invitation-only interview series with authors of newly released/forthcoming, interesting books who will tell us about their new work as well as offer tips on writing, stories about the publishing biz, and from time to time, a recipe.
Give us your elevator pitch: what’s your book about in 2-3 sentences?
Which story did you most enjoy writing? Why? And, which story gave you the most trouble, and why?
The story I most enjoyed writing was the title story, “The Rest of the World.” In this story, the teen narrator is called upon to protect a child. By doing so, he takes on a moral task larger than himself, and achieves, perhaps, a kind of nobility. [See link below.]
Tell us a bit about the highs and lows of your book’s road to publication.
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice?
My favorite writing advice is “write until something surprises you.” What surprised you in the writing of this book?
One thing that surprised me is that I discovered the scope of my concerns. I’m drawn to writing stories about teens and young adults coming of age. Our initial encounters with the hard realities of adult life transform us. How do we negotiate these experiences? Who do we become in their aftermath? And in what ways do we hold on to, or reach back for, the parts of ourselves that got left behind?
That may sound like a narrow range for a book of stories, but I don’t think of it that way—in part because our teen years are such a crucial, formative period. It’s during this window that we’re trying to sort out our values, trying to figure out the kind of people we want to be in the world and trying to forge identities that are in harmony with who we hope to become.
I spent much of my own adolescence adrift. Decades later, I still wonder who I was back then and what I was looking for. If the reckless, dreamy, short-fused, high school drop-out I was at seventeen could meet the schoolteacher I am today, would they recognize each other? I don’t know.
Anyway, this border between childhood and adulthood interests me. It can be a fraught and volatile period. Throw into this mix the kinds of challenges many vulnerable kids in Baltimore have to deal with and, sometimes, the stakes become unimaginably high. Teens in Baltimore don’t get much of a margin for error. There aren’t a lot safety nets to catch them if they make a poor decision, as kids sometimes do.
How do you approach revision?
Inquiring foodies and hungry book clubs want to know: Any food/s associated with your book?
Eight years ago, Hostess Brands, the company that makes Twinkies, briefly went under. After several months, a buy-out company stepped in and saved the iconic snack cake. Twinkies—and the fear that they were about to disappear—became the device that propels the events in the story “Wizzur.”
READ MORE ABOUT THIS AUTHOR: https://adamschwartzwriter.org
READ A STORY FROM THIS BOOK, “The Rest of the World”: https://philadelphiastories.org/article/rest-world-0/#respond