Christopher's debut novel, TEENIE, will be published on December 28, 2010 by Knopf Books for Young Readers.
1. As a male, how did you step into Teenie's shoes?
Without fail (and for obvious reasons), this is always the first question people ask when they find out that I've written from a female's perspective. I always think of John Leguizamo saying, "I don't know how I do it. I just do it."
A more acceptable answer may be that I fancy myself a good listener and have one of the best outlets to hear teenage banter. Riding the the NYC subway everyday, I "overhear" tons of dialogue that can readily be incorporated into my stories. Even when I'm unsure of where the dialogue will fit, I know when I hear something good and make sure to write it down anyway. My niece helped me a great deal as well, acting as my consultant on all things current. I choose to say current because I'm not sure if it's still cool to say cool.
2. What was the inspiration for TEENIE? I read an article about publishers looking for men writing from a woman's perspective. I grew up in a household dominated by strong female influences (my mother and three aunts). Given my upbringing, I felt uniquely equipped to tell that kind of story. The idea forTeenie came about while I was having a discussion with an editor regarding some of my earlier work. She asked if I could write young adult fiction and the image of a fourteen year old girl just popped into my head.
3. Did you put any of yourself, or people you know, into Teenie and Cherise?
Teenie is choc-full-of my life experiences. Teenie is loosely (and I use the term loosely very loosely) based on one of my nieces. Cherise is a combination of about five girls that I had crushes on at various points of my life, the aggressive, confident young woman who always knows what's going on and what's in style. Teenie's father Beresford is a combination of my mother and three of my uncles. Her brothers are based on my older brother, who tormented me mercilessly, much as Teenie's brothers harass her.
4. It's Teenie's dream to study abroad in Spain, are you a traveler? Is there one place you really want to go?
I have only recently started traveling but enjoy it immensely. The most exotic place I've been so far is Dubai. There are too many places I want to visit to pick just one. I'm a wildlife geek so a safari in Kenya is high on the list.
5. Is there something you especially want readers of TEENIE to take away with them?
Being a first generation American, I struggled with many of the same issues that Teenie faces. It was a constant battle, trying to find the balance between the traditional customs instilled by my mother and the new "American" way of doing things. I wanted to give readers a window into that struggle, with a West Indian twist. In my humble opinion, stories centered around West Indian characters are under-represented in fiction, especially young adult. I had an absolute blast writing this book. It would be awesome if people have as much fun reading Teenie as I did writing it.
Authors/Publishers: I would love to review your book! I pretty much read anything in the young adult category. I'll also hold contests, interviews, etc. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info! See my full policy here.
Let me know if you want me to add your blog to my list or link to your contests.
Fellow bloggers, I'd love to swap books with you. Especially if you have any from my wish list! E mail me if you're interested!
If you want any book suggestions feel free to email me and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
Also, any YA authors who are coming to New Jersey or New York City please let me know, I'd love to attend!