Denton Little's Deathdate is a great YA book I recently read and its author, Lance Rubin, sounds as funny as his book. Catherine from Denton's UK publisher, Simon and Schuster, hosted a Twitter Q+A with Lance and I'm very happy to be posting the transcript here.
I hope you enjoy reading it, and thanks to Catherine for sharing!
Denton Little’s Deathdate - #Deathdate Twitter live Q+A edited into interview format.
What inspired the story for Denton Little’s Deathdate?
I think about time a lot. Specifically dates when things happened, both important milestones and random times when I went to the movies with my wife. Basically, I think of my life this way. So I thought what if I knew about an important date in my future? My death? Would that alter the way I was living my life? So, the rest spun from there. I felt like dying right before you were supposed to graduate high school was particularly loaded and bittersweet.
Would you want to know your own Deathdate?
After thinking about this A LOT, I have to say...absolutely not.
But if you did, and it was tomorrow... what would you be doing right now?
I'd definitely be with my wife and 1-year-old son. Probably on a beach in New Jersey.
Was it hard to write a funny book about death? Did you ever hit moments where it got too heavy?
You know, it was weirdly liberating to think about death this way. And the premise, where most people know their deathdate, so death is approached in a more matter-of-fact way, really helped set up all the funny. The fact that Denton is about to die and yet is still worrying about mundane things like if his girlfriend will be mad at him is inherently funny. And Denton's stepmom still checking to make sure he's wearing bugspray. The context did a lot of the heavy funny-lifting for me. I think we should be able to think about things like this without feeling weird.
Denton certainly retains a sense of humour. Is he based on someone you knew/know (we love him, by the way)?
Ha, that's really nice of you to say because I'd say the foundation for Denton is me at age 17. (I feel like writers are supposed to have fancier explanations for characters than that. But I don't.)
What about Paulo..? He's pretty kooky.
Kooky is a fantastic word for Paolo, who I love so much. He's a mish-mosh of people, but primarily he's inspired by one of my best friends Ray. Who, incidentally, I make a podcast with called The Lance and Ray Show (SHAMELESS PLUG). http://www.thelanceandrayshow.com/
I was going to ask you about that. What kind of stuff can we expect from your podcasts… two guys goofing around? Hard hitting news?
Ha, more of the former for sure. Eps are always 20 min or less. We make jokes but also talk about careers in the arts and creativity. They're generally pretty fast-paced episodes.
The dialogue in the book is really sparky – do you find it easy to write conversations between characters?
Sparky! Thanks. I wouldn't say easy, but I would say my sketch comedy background absolutely comes into play there. That said, for every section of dialogue you read, there were probably ten lines cut in the rewrite. My characters generally talk way too much in the early drafts.
Did you always know there would be a sequel?
I did! I originally conceived of it as a trilogy, but once I started working with my agent, she encouraged me to make it just two books. And I'm really glad about that. Feels right.
We can't wait for book 2 next spring. Thanks so much for telling us about Denton and your writing process. Now for some fun trivia... Three fantasy dinner party guests, dead or alive.
Ooh, tough one. I'm gonna go Michael J. Fox, JK Rowling, and Oscar Wilde.
Nice choices. Three things on your bucket list…
1. Go on the Harry Potter ride at Universal. 2. Be involved somehow in making a Pixar movie. 3. Meet Michael J. Fox. (I guess my bucket list kind of ties in with my fantasy dinner party.)
What are you reading at the moment?
I just finished EL DEAFO by Cece Bell yesterday. I loved it. Fantastic, heartwarming graphic novel memoir.
Finally, what are you doing for the rest of the day? (no pressure to end on a high)
I actually have a cool answer! I'm going to rehearsal for a reading of a musical I'm co-writing called ANNIE GOLDEN: BOUNTY HUNTER, YO! It's an action musical.