Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Story.... What can happen when books are banned

There once was a boy named Johnny Lee. Johnny Lee was your average ninth grader, trying to find himself, though still very impressionable, and lacking in the area of worldly wisdom. Johnny Lee liked high school alright so far and it helped that his 18-year-old brother Clay was there, if needed.

During one seemingly normal English class, his teacher announced that the next book they would read had some adult material, but she thought it was important that they read it. The book was called Crank. Johnny Lee's teacher further explained that it was about a girl that got hooked on, you guessed it, crank. This got Johnny Lee thinking. Just like all the other kids, he had attended the assemblies and seen the videos that pleaded the students “just say no to drugs”. Sure he saw some gruesome footage of the addicts but there had to be a missing link. Why would anyone start if they would only go crazy and live in pain? Either they left out some major details or it was simply acting and that stuff didn't really happen.

Over the next week, Johnny Lee could not get his mind off the subject and it certainly didn't help that his teacher informed his class that they would no longer be reading Crank on account of it currently being challenged and would likely be banned because of the controversial material. Johnny Lee overheard a few of the token smart kids discussing how they were going to order the book online to cure their curiosity. Johnny Lee was curious all right, though not necessarily about the the book itself. What he really wanted was someone he confide in about his confusion towards drugs.

Later that afternoon when Johnny Lee came home, he was happy to see that Clay's friend Buster was over. Buster had been Clay's friend since middle school and was Clay's only close friend that really payed talked to Johnny Lee, and his attention made him feel special. This made Buster very cool in Johnny Lee's eyes, so naturally he had always looked up to Buster and truly believed that he knew everything. Johnny Lee decided to share his confusion about drugs with the older boy. A sly smile came over Buster's face when Johny Lee brought up the topic of drugs. Buster told him that they were “freaking incredible” and “Just look at me, I'm happy as calm and healthy as a horse.” Johnny Lee felt relieved that he finally got the “truth” on drugs and was glad he didn't need a book to do so.

Six weeks later, Johny Lee gets high whenever he gets the chance. He has all failing grades and gave up his dream of starting on the football team. It makes you wonder what could have happened if he was able to be educated on this “too scandalous for the classroom” material....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mad interview with Suzanne Young

Suzanne Young is the author of The Naughty List, coming out in February 2010. You can learn more about Suzanne at

(1) Can you relate to any of the characters or situations in The Naughty list?

I definitely relate to Tessa. I had to really get inside her head when I was writing the book and I’ll tell you, she is a fun girl. And her boyfriend, he’s not half bad.

2) Do you have a favorite book that you have written?

I’ve written about a dozen novels. I love The Naughty List and other than that, I have a few that I’m fond of. One of my older books is Delinquents—totally different than TNL. I tend to write serious books when I’m not working on The Naughty List series.

3) Who is someone that inspires you? And why?

My grandmother always inspired me. She believed I could do seemingly impossible things and never let me give up. My books are all dedicated to her memory.

4) What is your favorite book that you have read? Why?

Gosh, it’s hard to decide a favorite book. Some of my favorites include: The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Bluest Eye and Looking for Alaska. A book usually has to really grab me if I’m going to finish it. I just have so many to get through. My to-be-read pile is a mountain right now.

5) Are there any certain experiences that give you ideas for your novels? Such as your daughters “soap opera's”?

I sometimes will hear a word or a sentence and then it starts my brain going. The other day someone was telling me a story and a phrase really stuck out to me. Immediately my brain twisted that sentence into a YA story that had nothing really to do with her story. Ha ha. But my ideas almost always comes from something random I hear.

6) If you were animal what kind would you be?

I want to say something cool, but really, I think I’d want to live in the forest or somewhere isolated. Maybe I’d be a bear because I’d get to sleep through winter and I REALLY don’t like being cold.

7) Can you see your daughter one day starting an undercover cheer squad? What do you see your son being like in high school?

My daughter is something to fear. I’m pretty sure no one will be cheating on her. Lol. My son is going to be great. He’s really into reading and writing. Sort of like me—but hopefully he’ll end up a little cooler.

8) Do you have any pets?

Oh, God, yes. I have a sweet older dog named Murdock. He’s sort of dumb, but we like him like that. Then I have a devil spawn named Basil. She’s a Basset Hound and the most troublesome dog ever. She spends her days torturing me. It’s her mission.

9) How long does it usually take you to write a book?

It depends. Usually I write a rough draft in 6-8 weeks and then spend a few more revising. It really just depends on the project.

10) Is there any thing else that smoothes along your writing process? I.e hot cocoa, nearby dog available to pet periodically?

Snacks. I love Reese’s Pieces. And my friends help keep me sane too. Other than that, I just need a little peace and quiet (which doesn’t happen that often) but when it does, I plow through the books.