Arizona: Day 1

I realize that it’s redundant to say that it’s hot in Arizona in August and, further, that it’s pathetic to complain about it.

Still.

It’s friggin’ hot here, people.

Yesterday, I drove to my first stop here — Sun Valley Charter High School. It wasn’t yet ten in the morning and yet the temperature was already 100º.

That’s just ridiculous.

So, at Sun Valley I spoke to a group of about sixty tenth and eleventh graders. The assistant principal was generous enough to buyt forty-five copies of The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, which I signed for the school. Brandi from Changing Hands (a truly phenomenal bookstore here in the Phoenix area) was on hand to handle the books. English teacher Michelle Mushkin put on a great spread, with cookies, fruit, crackers, etc. It was a festive event for the kids…and for me!

Then I hied myself to Excalibur Charter School. This was the first time in my life I’d ever seen a school in a shopping center! Check it out:

I spent an hour there, talking to the kids, answering questions. Brandi was once again on hand and I signed plenty of books. Here are some more pics…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Excalibur, I headed back to the hotel to cool off. Then I got to see my best writing bud in the world: Robin Brande! Robin’s book —Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature — launches on Tuesday and I was in town for the launch party (at Changing Hands). Robin and I met up with Faith from Changing Hands for dinner:

 

After dinner (long day, right?), we all went to Changing Hands, where Robin and I sat on a panel about writing and publishing children’s literature. Joining us were Chris Gall and Janette Rollison, with Faith moderating. It was a terrific panel — lots of good questions and lots of fun answers. Here’s Robin and me with Michelle and Daanon…

And here’s me with Shannon Bailey, an eighth grade teacher at a local school:

OK, it was a long day. We left Changing Hands at close to ten at night…and it was still hot as hell outside! “Come on!” I screamed to the sky. “I get it! It’s hot here! You’ve made your point.”

Then off to bed and on Tuesday… Robin’s party!

 

Arizona: Day 2

The day started with a walk-and-talk with Robin. Robin and I have been friends for years, ever since the penultimate Authors’ Venue writers’ conference in Mesa, Arizona back in 2002. (We joke that we killed the conference…and it might be true.)

Since Robin lives in the desert (have I mentioned how friggin’ HOT it is out here?), we rarely see each other, though we keep in constant contact via a truly dizzying array of emails and phone calls and the occasional spontaneous bout of telepathy. So these chances to see each other are treasured, and we spent a good part of the morning catching up over a long walk (even that early in the morning, it’s STILL HOT!), then breakfast and — of course — Robin’s necessary Starbucks run. (I went to Jamba Juice, right next door.)

Then we decided to ego-scan some bookstores, so went out into the wild. The local Borders had Robin’s book prominently displayed at the very front of the store:

Robin's book on the Noteworthy table at Borders!

In case you can’t make it out, that sign says “Noteworthy Hardcovers.” It’s basically the first thing you see when you walk into the store — bang! There’s Robin’s book. Awesome.

Then we went to Barnes & Noble, where I signed stock of Boy Toy and The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy & Goth Girl. Then we went off in search of a Staples or OfficeMax or similar store so that Robin could by some signing pens, but even though we drove around Mesa/Tempe/Phoenix for an hour, we couldn’t find one!

Meanwhile, my trusty iBook had suddenly stopped charging from the power adapter. I was afraid that the power manager was blitzed, which would be a pain to get fixed. But no — a trip to the Chandler Apple Store revealed that the problem was a busted prong on the adapter itself. The guys at the Apple Store gave me a new one, gratis, and I was up and running again.

Then came the Big Deal, the reason I was out in the heat to begin with: Robin’s launch party at Changing Hands. It was a blast — I got to meet some of Robin’s friends and family, including her step-daughter, who had just finished reading Boy Toy. (I feel bad for warping someone just out of college…) Robin gave a funny speech, revealed some embarrassing moments from her past (egged on by her mother in the crowd), and signed roughly ten billion copies of her book for the excited gathering.

Here; pictures:

And now I’m heading back east, where it will be humid and gross…but at least it won’t be 115º. I mean, come on — that’s just unnecessary.

Two More Books

It looks like the news has hit Publishers Lunch and Publishers Weekly, so I guess it’s cool to talk about it: Yes, I’ve got a second book deal.

Like the first one, this deal is with Houghton Mifflin (yay!) and it’s for two books. The first of these is Hero-Type. You can find a quick description of it here. The description in PW is…true. But not complete. That’s not all the book is about, though it’s the catalyst for everything that happens.

Hero-Type is a nerve-wracking book for me. It’s a different sort of writing. I mean, don’t get me wrong — it’s still got the hallmarks of the first two books: The small town setting (yes, it’s in Brookdale…and yes, there are references to the first two books), the first-person narration, the present tense.

But the main character — a kid named Kross — is very different from Fanboy and Josh, both of whom were extraordinarily brilliant in their own distinct ways. Kross is a lot less polished than those guys. His diction is different. He lacks the practical and emotional vocabularies that Fanboy and Josh could rely on.

So the book felt very different in the writing. And while it’s clearly written by the same guy, it’s a very different beast that the first two. I didn’t want to just look at Boy Toy and say, “Hmm. Well, that worked, so I’ll do another one just like it.” I wanted to try something a little bit different.

You can look forward to Hero-Type in Fall 2008. Just in time for the election. Ah, delicious… 🙂

As to the second book? Not ready to talk about it yet. But when I am, y’all will be the first to know.

Some More Boy Toy Reactions…

Thanks to Gretchen at Sellers Library, I’ve got some more teen reactions to Boy ToyCheck ’em out.

Boy Toy and BookSense

BookSense has listed Boy Toy on its roster of Fall 2007 Children’s Picks!

The great Jennifer Laughran of Books, Inc. in San Francisco is quoted as saying, “‘Teacher Has Scandalous Affair with Schoolboy!’ Sound familiar? If you think you know what’s behind those headlines, you’re wrong. This novel is shocking, devastating, and brilliant. Barry Lyga is a major new talent.”

Special thanks to Not Your Mother’s Book Club for the heads-up!