Published on April 1st 2016
Genres: Comedy, Fiction, Young Adult
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10:00 tonight at the water tower. Tell no one. -Chaos Club
When Max receives a mysterious invite from the untraceable, epic prank-pulling Chaos Club, he has to ask: why him? After all, he's Mr. 2.5 GPA, Mr. No Social Life. He's Just Max. And his favorite heist movies have taught him this situation calls for Rule #4: Be suspicious. But it's also his one shot to leave Just Max in the dust...
Yeah, not so much. Max and four fellow students-who also received invites-are standing on the newly defaced water tower when campus security "catches" them. Definitely a setup. And this time, Max has had enough. It's time for Rule #7: Always get payback.
Let the prank war begin.
Which do you find the hardest to write, the first or the last line of your novels? Why?
Oh man, I hate, hate, hate writing the first line! I feel like it has to do so many things: set the tone, set a voice, grab the reader’s interest, be entertaining…Even thinking about it right now is giving me a panic attack! The last line has always been easy for me, and it was really easy for me with DON’T GET CAUGHT as soon as I knew how the book was going to end, but writing a book’s first line? Torture! The opening line of DGC is “Rule #1 in any quality heist film is Don’t get caught.” For the other eight drafts, the line is “This is a terrible idea.” I still like that line, but I like the one I ended up with (eventually!) even more.
Which comes first in your writing process, the title, or the content of you story? (Do you always know what your book’s title is going to be?)
I’m definitely a content first, title last writer. Just like with writing first lines, I hate, hate, hate coming up with a title! It’s something I’m terrible at. DON’T GET CAUGHT was originally called THE WATER TOWER 5, but my agent said it would be changed by the publisher. I’m glad it was. I love the title now.
Let’s talk character names. How do you go about selecting names for characters in your book? Do the names you pick have any significance to you, or do you ever feel inspired by a name?
I’ve always liked last names used as first names. Some names just beg for it, right? It takes me awhile to figure out character names, but once I have their names, I can usually hear their voice. I have a file with just names in it, and when I hear one I like, I throw it in there hoping to use it later. This is what happened with Stranko, the vice principal in the book. That name just brings to mind a certain type of person. The same goes for Wheeler, the most irresponsible member of the crew. I mean, that name Wheeler just screams bad behavior, doesn’t it? My history knowledge is pretty thin, but I’m pretty sure there’s never been a President Wheeler, and I’ll bet good money there’s never one either.
How do you plot your books, do you write it down on paper/index cards/etc, or do you write on the fly? Do you ever find that your plot changes as you write, or does it stay pretty close to how you planned it?
I’m big believer in outlines, but I’ve also found that as I’m writing, better ideas come to me and I have to revise the outline. I usually do what I call a “plot riff”, opening a document and just brainstorming like crazy, following threads and seeing what comes up. Eventually I go through that document, choosing ideas I like and developing them, and then coming up with a rough outline of main events I need to write towards. I usually have to go through a lot of revisions to get the novel right though, and the first draft of this novel looks nothing like the final version that I ended up with eight revisions later.
What’s in your “Author Survival Kit”? (Pens, Caffeine, iPods, Prozac?)
Having four kids in the house, I have to travel light and write where I can. Basically, I need my laptop, headphones, and if it’s early in the morning, coffee.
If you could use 3 words to describe your book, what would they be?
Fun, fast, and entertaining.
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Pizza, duh. Anyone who answers differently is no friend of mine. Unless they say “ice cream”, but then I still can’t completely trust them. ;)
What is something you never leave home without?
Podcasts! (Fun fact: I typed Podcats there, and think there may be a middle grade series in that idea). This American Life, RadioLab, Serial, Stuff You Should Know, The Fantasy Footballers, Reply All, The Mystery Show…I love them all.
What are the last 3 books you enjoyed reading?
My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul
You Were Here by Cori McCarthy
Slaughter-House Five by Kurt Vonnegut
This or That?
Sunrise or Sunset?
Sunrise. As I’ve gotten older, I’m much more of a morning person. My head is a lot clearer in the morning, and it’s when I get my best writing done. Around sunset I’m already thinking about bed.
Coffee or Tea?
Coffee, definitely. Tea is water with dirt in it.
Hot or Cold?
Hot, please. This goes for the weather, Italian sub sandwiches, pizza, chocolate, showers, and milkshakes. (One of those items is a lie.)
PC or Mac?
Mac. I was a PC user forever, but I’ll never go back. Sorry Mr. Gates.
By Land, or by sea?
By land. I’ve driven across the country a couple of times and loved it. The time I tried to drive across the sea wasn’t nearly as enjoyable.
Autumn or Spring?
Autumn. A sweatshirt and jeans are pretty much my full-time uniform.
Summer or Winter?
Summer. I’m a teacher, so that means no grading, consistent writing time, and a chance to spend outrageous amounts of time with my kids at the pool.
E-book or Print Book? (Preferred reading)
Print. I’m old fashioned that way, I suppose. I like the feel of the book to be sure, but if I’m being honest I think the big issue is that I never feel like I completely understand how much of the book I have remaining when I read an e-book, and that bugs me for some (sad and pathetic) reason.
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3/28: No BS Book Reviews – Q&A
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