Geoff Herbach Author Interview + Giveaway
Geoff Herbach is the Author in the Spotlight here on BookSnob for the month of April. He has graciously answered some interview questions on his life, writing and his new book, Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders. Read on to find out his favorite authors, some writing advice and the back story behind his books. Oh and what he is writing now.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself? I’m a professor at Minnesota State, Mankato. I’ve got a sweet (very tall) wife and four kids (counting my two excellent step kids). I spend about half my time in a really giant log cabin in Mankato – when I’m there, I’m all by myself, generally, because my kids and wife all live in Minneapolis -- and the other half of my time in a three bedroom condo in Minneapolis where all the boy kids sleep in one horrifying room and the girl gets her own bedroom, so she lords it over the boys, which causes strife. My wife and I sometimes hide in our room. We have a bathroom in there, which is pretty great (I would maybe die without a this separate bathroom). That’s the primary way I describe myself: weird living situation.
2. What is the inspiration behind your newest book, “Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders”? What day
will your new book hit the bookshelves? I was staring at a pop machine at Mankato and I wondered where all the money went to (students were lined up, buying their Code Red Dew and energy drinks). Then I thought it would be hilarious if some kind of diet activist robbed the machines and gave the money back to poor kids who got most of their calories from soda, which is not good. This character would be like Robin Hood. Gabe was born a few days later. He is not like Robin Hood, exactly.
3. Usually an author puts some of his own life experiences in the book. Did you do that? Do you have anything in common with your characters? Well, I can in a blink take everything out of my refrigerator and jam it all in my mouth. I’m a huge unconscious eater. It actually runs in the family. I once found my mom asleep on the couch with a bagel stuck in her mouth. Gabe and I share bad eating habits. Also, the cleaning woman in the book is not fictional. She was my cleaning woman growing up. She spilled stuff everywhere, ripped down curtains, and said, “Better laugh than cry,” all the time.
4. Can you tell us why or when you decided to become a writer? I’ve always wanted to be a writer. In fifth grade I wrote a fine story on a typewriter, even though I couldn’t type. It was about hang-gliding ants. I pictured a secretary weeping openly about its beauty while she rode the subway in NYC. I tried to do a lot of other stuff when I was a younger adult, because I didn’t want to be poor (my parents terrified me about the poverty and squalor 19th Century writers sometimes lived in), but I really only wanted to write.
5. Do you like to read? What authors or books influence you? I read constantly. All the time. School reading takes much of my attention, but I try to read for pleasure as much as I do for school, if possible. Kurt Vonnegut was my first love. J.D. Salinger, of course (really, the book that killed me was Franny and Zooey, not Catcher, although I loved that plenty). George Saunders and Jennifer Egan are my favorite contemporary, literary writers, I suppose. There are so many amazing YA writers penning write now – just locally, we’re packed to the gills with people I love to read: Mesrobian, Cronn-Mills, Hautman, O’Connor, Avasthi, etc. etc. etc.
6. How do carve out time in your day to write when you are busy teaching college? Are you writing another book? I don’t know. Honestly, finding time is a huge problem. Maybe finding time is not the right way to say it, because I find time, but it’s all over the place and in fits and starts. My teaching schedule (including meetings and student conferences, etc.) really dictates when I can write. If I don’t stay on the writing, messing around on the page when there’s a spare moment, I’m doomed to fail. That said, I’m working on a book I really, really love right now! It’s called The Keeper about a very poor, remarkable kid who gets his wealthy girlfriend pregnant and is banished from contact with her.
7. Have your students read your book? What is their reaction to having a published author as a Creative Writing teacher? Yeah, many have. They seem to like it (sometimes they get Amazon emails highlighting one of my books, and they’re pretty psyched). My favorite students are the ones who bring my books to class and make a show of reading them, like maybe I’ll consider their interest in my stuff when I’m grading? I won’t!
Can you impart some of your writing advice to us? Have patience, because nothing happens fast. Keep writing for the love of writing, not for publication, because if you’re writing for publication, you will get sick and depressed and probably quit.
9. You won the Minnesota Book Award for your book, Nothing Special. Can you describe your initial reaction when they called your name at the awards ceremony? I was totally shocked. I know a bit about the other books that were finalists in my category and I figured I had no shot, because they are really, really good books. So, when I was called, I’d just stuffed a cracker and some hummus in my mouth. I was sort of choking on the way to the stage.
10. In one sentence, tell readers why they should read Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders. Gabe Johnson is a sweet, funny, hurt kid and you will enjoy seeing him find his power and his full human capacity (and he makes some great jokes along the way).
If you would like to win a copy of Geoff's Stupid Fast trilogy enter here: Stupid Fast Trilogy Giveaway