Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Day 18 of 31 books in 31 days- Dale Basye book giveaway & a chance to win a kindle

Welcome to the 18th day of 31 books in 31 days, where you win prizes for reading.

Recap of Rules

Everyday that you participate in the giveaway of the day, you are eligible to win a brand new kindle.
How to participate
  a) Subscribe via email, so you can get the author & prize of the day sent directly to your email.
  b) Like the author of the day on facebook
  c) Follow the author on Twitter
  d) Read any of the author's books
  e) Answer the occasional quiz on author's interview
  f) Scroll to the bottom of each interview and enter the raffle (you'll have to unlock the raffle with your email first)

That's it- then enter the kindle giveaway!

All giveaways will be sent out by the 7th day in April. Good Luck.

Today's author of the day is Dale Basye. He is the author of the widely popular Circle of Heck Series, a series about where bad kids go after death. People of all ages will love this comedy-filled series. If you haven't read this book as yet, you are truly missing out.

Featured Book
When Milton and Marlo Fauster die in a marshmallow-bear explosion, they get sent straight to Heck, an otherworldly reform school. Milton can understand why his kleptomaniac sister is here, but Milton is—or was—a model citizen. Has a mistake been made? Not according to Bea “Elsa” Bubb, the Principal of Darkness. She doesn’t make mistakes. She personally sees to it that Heck—whether it be home ec class with Lizzie Borden, ethics with Richard Nixon, or gym with Blackbeard the pirate—is especially, well, heckish for the Fausters. Will Milton and Marlo find a way to escape? Or are they stuck here for all eternity, or until they turn eighteen, whichever comes first?

                                             Interview with Dale Basye

1) What is your favorite part of the reading experience? 

Hmm…I suppose my favorite part of the reading experience is when light hits the page and those light waves bounce toward my eyes, where my optic nerve harvests the waves and translates them into electrical signals. Then those electrical signals are sent to the Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas of the brain, where the brain interprets written words. Certain words—such as “chocolate,” “cinnamon” and “rose”— may elicit a response not only from the language-processing areas of my brain, but also those devoted to dealing with smells. Metaphors regarding texture may stimulate my sensory cortex, where as those evoking motion may stimulate my motor cortex. There is substantial overlap in the brain networks I use to understand stories and the networks I use to navigate interactions with other individuals, which is why my connection to reality is so tenuous. So yeah, I guess that’s my favorite part of the reading experience.

2) What Young Adult or Middle Grade book have you read recently? What did you enjoy about it?  

To be honest, I haven’t read any great YA or MG in a while. I’ve mostly been into Non-Fiction. I just got Rainbow Rowell’s Landline from the library and, though I’m only a few chapters into it, liking it. But this isn’t one of her YA novels. I have Eleanor & Park but I haven’t cracked it open yet. I’m not sure what my resistance is lately. Perhaps it’s because I either think a book is lame or so good it makes me jealous.

 I’ve read a few YA books recently that I won’t name because the authors are good people, but even though these books are lauded I just don’t get it. But I freely admit that this probably has more to do with me than with the books themselves. I did really like David Levithan’s Every Day though it did make me jealous. And John Green I think is fabulous though I made the mistake of reading four of his books in a row and OD’d a bit on his style.

 Lately I’ve been reading comedian biographies, like Martin Short’s and Amy Poehler’s. One book I’m really looking forward to is the new one by Kelly Link. I love her style. Even if one of her stories doesn’t exactly “work” it at least takes me someplace I’ve never been before, and 99% of the books I see, especially in YA/MG are the exact same freakin’ story.

3) What is the last book that you read that impacted you? How did it affect you and has any of that carried into your writing?

Cooking books often affect me quite profoundly, especially if I’m making chili and use cheap meat. A book that I just finished that still has me basking in its glow is Creativity Inc. by Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull. It’s a great examination of the practicalities of managing creativity. There are a lot of lessons of how they manage the creative process that can be absorbed on the personal level. Where I am right now (not in my paper mache dungeon, but mentally/emotionally), I can really use that.

Lately, I feel like I should make flyers and poster them to telephone poles, reading: “Missing Mojo. Reward Offered If Found” and, if someone does indeed return my mojo, then I will have them arrested because they obviously were the criminals responsible. But that’s just me: I have a tendency to blame other people for my shortcomings. I get that from my mom. It’s her fault.

Anyway, I need to find my creative spark again. I am currently developing a couple of TV show ideas, so that’s fun, but otherwise it has been doing my work writing which, while satisfying on a “buying food/maintaining shelter” level, doesn’t get my creative juices flowing necessarily. So this is a long-winded way of saying that I look forward to adopting some of the learnings I gleaned from Creativity Inc.!

4) If you could be any fictional main character from a Young Adult or Middle Grade book, who would it be 

and why?

That’s a stumper. Ooh…maybe Stumper from the Maimed Bambi series! Hmm…I suppose I should pick Nancy Drew

or somebody who has been in a zillion books, thus being somewhat immortal. Or Laura Ingalls from Little House on

the Prairie, only without all of the hardship, toil and blind-sisterness. Or Pippi Longstocking…I mean, great hair!

But, for today at least, I think it would be great fun to be Willy Wonka. I mean, think about it: unlimited access to

chocolate. A skilled and cheap workforce. Cool inventions. Snappy wardrobe. Free reign to torment children and

their parents. What more could anyone want? I’d also like to be a character in a Kurt Vonnegut book because then

I could reverse-engineer how Vonnegut was such a wonderful writer.

5) I have read your interviews, you’re always so humorous. Have you always had such a contagious sense of 

humor? Do you have an author who inspired you with his or her humor?  

I try to wash my hands in hot water after telling a joke, but I still can’t guarantee that the humor won’t be

contagious, so for that I apologize. Maybe someday there will be a cure, though laughter is often considered the

best medicine, so that’s a bit of a Catch-22 (speaking of HILARIOUS books). As far as humor writers, they all seem

to try too hard. I love the authors like Tom Robbins or Kurt Vonnegut that are funny, but also weird and sad in the

same mix. The force that really shaped me humorously was Monty Python. I remember watching the show for the

first time in fourth grade. It was on at 11 at night and I had a tiny black-and-white TV in my room, and I just sort of

stumbled upon it and was hooked. I understood very little of it at first, but it was like a gateway into some surreal,

forbidden alternate universe (England, basically). That show has always made me laugh the loudest of any show

ever. Other Brit-coms like The Mighty Boosh, The Young Ones, Fawlty Towers, Black Adder, and Absolutely

Fabulous are other shows that tickle the ‘ol funny bone. I also recall reading Steve Martin’s Cruel Shoes as a kid

and being smitten. It had that same absurdist, dark-spirited humor that gets me every time.

6) Why do you write MG books? What interests you about the genre?

Kids are like adults only they don't have to shave quite as much. But they want a book to facilitate escape—just like us— a portal to another world where they can lose themselves. Kids want something much more plot-driven, though. The story has to move. They love the humor of Heck, but I was surprised at how some kids, especially the spooky kids, really connected with the characters and the adventure-aspects of the story. They take the ridiculousness almost as seriously as I do. My readers also appreciate that I don't talk/write down to them: that I use words they have to occasionally look up (heck, so do I sometimes) and that I can introduce them to dead historical figures that they more than likely would never have encountered, at least not at this age, such as Richard

Nixon and Lizzie Borden.

So I basically write MG books because I write MG books. I guess it’s simply because those are the stories I’ve come

up with. It’s interesting when people ask me why I choose to write for children, and I have to say, I really don’t. I

happen to be an arrested individual (no convictions, other than to be the best I can be), so I simply write for

myself. I may tone down the off-color nature or innuendo-rich witticisms that often spring up naturally, but other

than that, I write to amuse or engage me and don’t think too much about the reader. That may sound terrible, but

I mean it in a good way: I don’t pander or assume I know what’s in the head of that wonderful young person on the

other side of the page. I just naively hope that they enjoy the ride as much as I (and no, we’re not there yet…don’t

make me pull this interview over!).

Whenever I write the Heck books, I always tend to write them as if they were for teens, then-in the editing

process-they get softened somewhat so that they are appropriate for especially precocious 9-12 year-olds. Though

this age group still seems a bit young to me, considering the language and the themes I use. But the publishing

world is very regimented in this way, as it is all about shelf space. My very, very first draft of Heck had Marlo, um,

becoming a woman in Heck. That was probably the very first thing I changed.

I definitely think both children and adults can enjoy my books, as long as those children and adults have a good

sense of humor (which is something that everyone thinks they have but not everyone really does). I'm not talented

enough to go "Oh, today I'll write for a nine year-old Canadian boy"…unless, of course, a nine year-old Canadian

boy were to commission me for a school report. I write for me. And, to keep things interesting, I throw in a lot of

stuff that not only many kids won't get, but that a lot of adults won't get either. Not because they aren't clever

enough, but because sometimes I'm just obstinately obscure. It helps me when creating a story, grabbing a lot of

arcane bits here and there so it seems real to me. Ideally, kids will be able to read my books and get one

experience, while adults will be able to read them and get another. Though there are a lot of references in my

books, I try hard to prevent them from becoming obstacles to the story. My editor is really good at pointing that

stuff out to me!

7) What is the main premise of your series Heck Where the Bad Kids Go?  What makes the series different from other middle grade books and what inspired you to write it?

The main premise is about how arbitrary our species’ sense of right and wrong can be, and how that in many feeds our vision of an afterlife. It’s also, basically, about how much I hated middle school. It’s an awful time of in-betweenness that feels like an eternity.

After working in journalism and advertising for so long, I desperately wanted to just make something up (though I did that a lot with my advertising campaigns!). I just really wanted to write something fantastical and ridiculous. So I initially came up with Heck after ruminating on Satan and the underworld: just wondering, as so many of us do, where exactly do bad kids go? H-e-doublehockeysticks just seemed way too harsh. But a place that was really indistinguishable from my middle school experience? Yeah: that's it! So with that concept in mind, I got writing.

Luckily, the Dante-esue architecture of my all-ages underworld helps me in terms of coming up with stuff. I basically take whatever belief system I can get my hands on and smash it up (ooh-ooh-woo-ooh), then assemble a collage of sorts to create this fantasy world: like a ransom note cut of every possible notion of the afterlife. That way no one can get offended (well, I've found that most anyone can be offended if they really want to be) because I'm making fun of everything, which is kind of like making fun of nothing, parody-wise. And, in terms of G.O.D., if there truly is a master plan, it would have to be vaguely Swiss in its precision, in the sense of a clockwork bureaucracy. Plus my idea of Hell would have to be some dismal, ironically soulless institution: like Dante's Department of Motor Vehicles.

 Each book deals with a certain kid-specific "sin," which helps me in terms of picking which dead historical characters to use, as well as any sin-specific sub-plots or just anything that is ripe with irony. Through it all,however, are the two protagonists: Milton and Marlo Fauster. Each book has Milton stepping up to the terrible circumstances fate has dealt him and gaining more confidence. He stops reacting to the situations and starts acting. Marlo learns, first hand, how power can corrupt, and how getting what you think you want is often the worst thing one can get. Heck acted as an introduction to the world I'm creating, whereas Rapacia is really the first book that puts the overall series arc in motion. Fibble concluded, kind of, certain story threads, while Snivel began
new ones. It's like a lush tapestry that the cat just barfed on. Excuse me…

…okay, I’m back. Damn cat. Which is weird, because I don’t have a cat. Anyway, I’m not sure how different Heck is from what’s going on in Middle Grade, though it seems to go a bit farther without going too far. It’s really more of a YA series, I think, though the characters are younger. I’m hoping one aspect that makes the series different is how many layers it has. I really am quite mentally ill (in a good way), and hopefully it shows in my writing!

Other books by Dale Basye


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