Welcome back to the re-invigorated Author Answers feature of Word Nerd. We're putting together a great line-up and kicking things back off is Sean Beaudoin to talk about his new YA-pulp-noir novel, You Killed Wesley Payne. And, stay tuned to the end of this post for a great giveaway from Sean
WN: How did you come up with the idea for "You Killed Wesley Payne" and what was it like to take it from idea to finished book?
BEAUDOIN: I’ve pretty much been writing Wesley Payne in my head since I was fourteen. I didn’t realize it until two years ago, when I sat down and the first chapter just sort of appeared on the page. Stewarding a novel from that first exciting idea, to the point that it’s ready to be on anyone’s bedside table, is pretty much like the 9-volume Adventures in Early Dentistry series. In other words, excruciating.
WN: At the core of Wesley Payne is the high school clique idea. What fascinates you about that social structure and which group were you in when you were a high school student?
BEAUDOIN: I think I was a lot like Dalton in the sense that I wasn’t really part of any clique, but knew the secret passwords to a number of them. I’m not sure if that’s because none of them really wanted me, or I was too busy affecting cool to allow myself to be aligned with any one attitude or fashion. While the clique routine is usually most pronounced during high school, most of us don’t realize it’s actually something that continues throughout life. In fact, if you go to your grandfather’s retirement home right now, you’ll notice the residents are broken up into groups around the pool or craft center, eyeballing one another warily over the Elmer’s and lemonade.
WN: How did you come up with all the slang in this book?
BEAUDOIN: One of my great regrets is studying film in college instead of linguistics. I love playing with words. Coming up with the slang was fun and easy. The hard part was toning it down and not overusing it. Actually, I had to throw away pages and pages of the stuff. Mostly because it was too funny and marketable. The publisher’s lawyers were worried we’d get sued if no one was buying any other books.
WN: Putting "you" in the title seems gutsy... how do you hope readers react to being the accused killer of Wesley Payne?
BEAUDOIN: Both my hope and secret intention was that they’d react exactly like this: “How dare that guy put YOU in his title! I’ve never even met Wesley Payne, let alone offing him! Just for that, I am going to immediately run down to my local independent bookseller and buy eleven copies! And then steal a twelfth one!”
WN: If you had to live the life of one of the characters in the book, who would you most want to be and why?
BEAUDOIN: Kurt Tarot. I’ve always wanted to be the lead singer in a band. Also, I’ve always wanted to have sharpened teeth and wear ankle-length leather.
WN: What have you been reading lately that's really captured your attention?
BEAUDOIN: I just finished M.T. Anderson’s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing. It’s fantastic. Also, I’m halfway through Keith Richard’s memoir Life. A little Keef goes a long way, the purring engine within the ’71 Torino that was the Rolling Stones. Lydia Davis’ short story collection is wonderful. And anyone with a taste for symbolic absurdity and lyrical surrealism should read Jarret Midddleton’s An Dantomine Eerly.
WN: What's next for you as a writer?
BEAUDOIN: A well-deserved twelve hour break. And then we start ramping up for my next book, Wise Young Truck, which is currently in production. Although after the focus groups and marketing people get done with it, it may be called something else entirely. Like Cool Vampire Dragon Phat-Magic. Or Love Teen Rich Break-Up Shopping. Keep an eye out for it (them).
Giveaway: (This is part you've all been waiting for, right?)
You can win a signed copy of Sean Beaudoin's first book, Going Nowhere Faster. What do you have to do to claim this prize as yours? Leave a comment about what high school clique you were in or a piece of slang you remember from your high school days before Friday, 1/14 at 5 p.m. EST. Everyone is eligible to enter, even if you've won something from Word Nerd before