Please welcome to Alison's Book Marks:
Chris Rylander, author of The Fourth Stall
"If I weren't a writer, I would be..."
Well, I still do have a day job, which is basically me sitting in a cubicle. I do hope to be a full-time writer sometime soon. But I always did want to be a teacher, so if I didn’t write at all, I would have maybe tried harder to find a teaching job. In the end, though, my dream job has always been to be a professional drifter. Just roaming around, town to town hitching rides, and stealing stuff. And getting to say stuff like, “I’ll go as far west as you can take me, I reckon.” Or, “If you ain’t on the road, then you ain’t moving. And you also ain’t living.” Or, “There ain’t a town in this country that’s fit for a man like me.” That’d be the life.
I see a cowboy western novel in your future, maybe a 13 year old Clint Eastwood type..
Why Middle Grade fiction? It's a tough niche, especially with boys!
I just thought that doing a kid-friendly take on organized crime would lend itself better to middle grade. For YA, I think it would need to be even grittier and therefore would end up being a lot more of an imitation that its own thing. That’s not to say that it can’t be done well for YA. I’m actually currently reading a young adult noir murder mystery with a lot of nods to organized crime called YOU KILLED WESLEY PAYNE by Sean Beaudoin. And it is unbelievably brilliant. It’s really blowing me away with how well done it is, so it can be done. But, anyway, beside my general fear of trying to pull it off as a YA novel, I also felt like middle grade would offer me the chance to be a little wackier and that it might serve my humor better.
No one appreciates wacky humor like a 10 year old, you're right at home in MG fiction!
Which book hooked you?
The first novel I can remember that really sucked me in was Wayside Stories by Louis Sachar. It was just so strange and so funny, and it didn’t seem to be teaching me a lesson of any kind. It was the first book I’d ever read that seemed to be written purely to entertain. It just had this attitude about it, like, wow, this Louis Say-Kerr, Satch-er, Sah-car, Sa… whatever, this Louis guy really gets what it’s like to be a kid! It really changed my idea of what books can be.
You and my 8 year old have the same taste in books...nice.
Brains or brawn? Which character do you identify with the most?
Definitely the brains. I’m not much of a fighter. But if I did get into a fight, watch out, I’ll bite and scratch and gouge. I’m not really a believer in this whole “fair fight” concept. What’s that all about anyway?
Was your Middle School exactly like or nothing like Mac's?
Somewhere in between. We had some strange characters there, teachers and kids, but there was no organized crime ring that I know of. But physically, the layout of Mac’s school is based on my elementary school as a kid.
I have such a clear picture of Mac's school, I'm not surprised it was based on an actual school. We won't talk about the organized crime ring in my Jr. high. I could tell you, but then I'd have to, well, you know the rest.
Tell me about your first fistfight...and did you learn anything from it?
Yeah, it’s where I learned that fair fights stink. And that if I ever get into a fight, that I need to strike first. It was first grade and I remember I got punched first. And the kid was wearing big padded mittens because it was winter, so it didn’t even hurt at all. But still, I was so shocked at the audacity of this kid to hit me that I basically just started crying and walked away. So that’s another thing I learned… if you start crying and walk away then it pretty much ends the fight. And I also learned that if I ever get into a real fight, I’ll need to utilize my aforementioned arsenal of bites and scratches and gouges.
First grade!?!? I'm hyperventilating over here. Enrolling my boys in Kung Fu now...
Panic attack aside, Chris, it was a pleasure having you here! I'm so happy you stopped by, and we will keep our eye out for the next installment of THE FOURTH STALL.
For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure, head on over to my Giveaway and enter to WIN A COPY OF THE FOURTH STALL BY CHRIS RYLANDER.
Thanks again, Chris!