Monday, March 25, 2013

A Catholic-Themed Novel, Synopsis, and Interview with the Author

Sprainter by JT Therrien

My rating on a 100 point scale: 93

My thoughts: 
   I really liked this novel. It held my attention from beginning until end and ended up being a real quick read, ending too soon. There are a few things that could have been fixed, but from here on out, if a novel has less than ten total technical errors, I choose not to mention them in my reviews, as is the case in this novel. There simply isn’t enough to complain about. And the complexity of this novel and the enjoyment I got reading it totally makes up for whatever I could find to complain about it. I highly recommend for anyone and everyone who likes a good read.

My synopsis:
   A spray painter named MrE spreads God’s Word and revolutionary propaganda through illegal vandalism in a city purposely isolated by its government from the rest of the world. One routine night, a girl named OZone appears out of nowhere to admire his artwork, alarming the cops to his presence with her voice. She helps him escape being arrested and he takes her back to his hangout, a church where anyone can stay as long as they remain chaste, attend Mass, and bring food back with them whenever they’re out. MrE can’t help but wonder where OZone came from and who she is, and she seems to be incapable of telling the truth, but he has no choice but to trust her and let her stay. 

My interview with JT Therrien, author of The Well and Sprainter:  
   What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Are there any people who are extra special to you as a writer or as a person that you would like to tell us a little bit about?
   Um… I don’t understand the question. What do I do when I'm not writing? Lol… Well, I love to bike! In Southern Ontario, we have a great system of recreational trails, so I'm on there whenever it's not raining… or snowing. I'm married to a perfect woman who also happens to be a librarian, so we have a common love of books that keeps us together. Oh, and we also have a son.

   The son is added as an afterthought, huh? Haha - he must be a teenager then. 
   How did you get the idea for Sprainter? How long did it take from conception until publication to write it?
   This story goes back more than a couple of years, and it went through several incarnations, so I'm not exactly sure where I initially got the idea. *Wracking brains* I think I wanted to write a relevant young adult story that featured street art.

   What was the best part of Sprainter for you as a writer? What was the hardest part?
   The best part was realizing, once I had finished the story, that it crossed so many genres! Young adult. Dystopian. Romance. Inspirational. Art-themed. I couldn't plan that if I tried. *Sighs* The hardest part was the editing process. I worked with a new publisher and editor and each publisher has its own particular rules and procedures, so there was an inevitable period of adjustment.

   Are the characters of Sprainter based on people in real life? If they are, would you care to share with us who? If they aren’t, how do you create such complex characters as MrE and OZone?
   I love Jean-Michel Basquiat and his art. MrE, the main character, is a nod to this amazing and tragic artist. OZone is MrE's counterpart, a girl who's a stranger to this dystopian world of oppression. She's someone MrE can't completely trust, but she's nonetheless stolen his heart. I wanted some tension between these two teens, in order for them to examine the limits of their love, and their faith in what they were doing.

   What kinds of books do you read? What is your favorite book?
   I read books in just about every genre. I like my sci-fi to be cutting-edge, like William Gibson (whom I tried to emulate in setting Sprainter in the very near-future). I also like Chris Bohjalian, Douglas Coupland, DBC Pierre, DM Thomas, Margaret Atwood, John Irving, JD Salinger, Anne Enright, Emma Donoghue, to name just a few on my must-read list. I was pleasantly surprised by The Hunger Games trilogy. My favorite book, for the past couple of years, is still To Whom It May Concern, by Priscilla Uppal.

   What would you say to a reader who approached you and praised your work, saying Sprainter is one of their top favorites?
   I'd tell them they need to read more fiction by better authors… lol. But seriously, I would be grateful that someone could enjoy the story and also find that it spoke to them in some way.

   What would you say to other writers if asked how to create a story as complex and interesting as Sprainter? What tips could you give them from your experiences?
   Two tips: Use a beat sheet to plot your story and two, develop a thick skin. Then write and get some honest criticism of your work. Writing is a craft. You gotta learn the rules before you can apply them and eventually break them. Oh, also, be aware of where you use passive writing.

   Great tips! Thank you for sharing. 
   How do you look at other successful writers who are making millions off their work? How would you respond if asked to make a movie from your book?
   I'm glad someone can make a comfortable living from writing. It's every writer's dream after all, but it rarely happens. I'm happy for them, but I'm sure their success has led to many issues that lesser-known authors don't have to deal with.

   That's probably more true than most of us realize. 
   Describe yourself in five words or less. Then define them in the sense of how they apply to you in one sentence.
   Persistent. Stubborn (It's different than persistent. I looked it up.) Tenacious (Okay, that one is close to persistent) Hard-working. You gotta be persistent to be a writer.

   What inspired you to become a writer? What would you say to someone who asked you why you do what you do? How has writing affected your life?
   Stephen King's Nightmares and Dreamscapes inspired me start writing. I was halfway through the book when I thought: I can write stories like this! Okay, I admit that I was wayyyy wrong, but that's what got me to write my first novel. I would say that I write because I think I have interesting stories to share with others. Writing has made me pay closer attention to how people talk, the words they use, how they use language. Most of my fiction is art-themed, so the writing has also given me a chance to go back and look at some of my favorite artworks more closely, which is always a good thing. It's also made me more aware of others in general. You write alone and for yourself, but you always have to keep in mind the reader.

   That's all the questions I have for you today. Thank you for joining me and my readers for an interview!
   Thank you for the great interview, Faye! I had a great time! No, I don’t always use so many exclamation marks! When can I come back? 
   I'm sure I'll definitely have you again sometime. I'll let you know. :)

For more about Sprainter and to purchase for only $1.99, visit Smashwords, Amazon, or Astraea Press.
For more about JT Therrien, visit him online on Twitter, Facebook, his blog, his website, and on Amazon

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