Saturday, May 30, 2015

0 Bill Konigsberg, author of THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH, on writing scenes that make you cry

We're excited to have Bill Konigsberg stop by to tell us more about his latest novel THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH.

Bill, what scene of THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

There's a scene in which Carson takes part in shooting at pigeons on the roof of a trailer with a BB gun. When the older man (a kind of father figure) hits a pigeon and it dies, Carson has this strong visceral reaction and has to hide it. His dad left him and his mom when he was three, and something about the callous killing of a bird by the father figure triggers grief that he feels he can't share. This scene makes me cry every time I read it, and writing it was a challenge for that reason. My parents split when I was four. I feel Carson's pain.

What do you hope readers will take away from THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH?

One of the things I hope readers glean from this book is something of a reconciliation between the LGBT community and spirituality. Both Carson (who is straight) and Aisha (who is gay) are atheists at the start of the book, but by the end that black-or-white view of "organized religion is evil" has been complicated. I used to have a ton of anger toward organized religion; I still do, as a matter of fact, for the treatment of LGBT people throughout history. However, there are good things about organized religion, too. To me it's the best and the worst of humanity. And spirituality, which is different than religion, is a gift to us all. As Aisha says in the book, I refuse to allow anyone else to own God anymore. I have as much right to the cosmic mystery as anyone else, and that is a right I hope all LGBT people claim.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

This book is such a logical fit for those who loved PAPER TOWNS, which is my favorite John Green book. There are similarities in the quest and friendship, and the humor and sadness have a similar feel, too. Other than that, readers who love this book will surely love MOSQUITOLAND by David Arnold. Uncanny how many similarities there are between these two books.


The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg Hardcover
Arthur A. Levine Books 
Released 5/26/2015 

The author of OPENLY STRAIGHT returns with an epic road trip involving family history, gay history, the girlfriend our hero can't have, the grandfather he never knew, and the Porcupine of Truth. 

Carson Smith is resigned to spending his summer in Billings, Montana, helping his mom take care of his father, a dying alcoholic he doesn't really know. Then he meets Aisha Stinson, a beautiful girl who has run away from her difficult family, and Pastor John Logan, who's long held a secret regarding Carson's grandfather, who disappeared without warning or explanation thirty years before. Together, Carson and Aisha embark on an epic road trip to find the answers that might save Carson's dad, restore his fragmented family, and discover the "Porcupine of Truth" in all of their lives. 

View The Porcupine of Truth on Goodreads


bksghead1Bill Konigsberg was born in 1970 in New York City. Expectations were high from birth - at least in terms of athletics. His parents figured he'd be a great soccer player, based on his spirited kicking from inside the womb. As it turned out, the highlight of his soccer career was at Camp Greylock in 1978, when he was chosen for the Camp's "D" team. There were only four levels. Bill played alongside the likes of the kid who always showered alone, the chronic nosebleeder and the guy with recurrent poison ivy.

Early in his life, Bill decided he wanted to be a disc jockey, a professional baseball player, or the Indian from The Village People. None of these career paths worked out for him. Yet. He still holds out hope for a Village People revival and has set up a Google Alert in case it happens.

A B- student throughout high school, Bill was voted Most Likely to Avoid Doing Any Real Work In His Life by a panel of his dismissive peers. He proved them wrong with a series of strange-but-true jobs in his 20s - driver recruiter for a truck driving school, sales consultant for a phone company, and temp at Otis Elevators.

He moved to Denver in 1996 and was voted Least Stylish Gay Guy in the Metro Denver Area (including Loveland!) for each of the years from 1996-98. His fashion-free wardrobe robbed him of prospective dates countless times, as did his penchant for wearing a mustache that didn't suit him.

He worked at ESPN and from 1999-2002, where he developed a penchant for sharing too much information about himself. That character flaw earned him a GLAAD Media Award in 2002, for his column "Sports World Still a Struggle for Gays." That coming out essay made him a household name to tens of people across the country.

He continued oversharing in graduate school at Arizona State, where he added People Pleasing to his growing list of character defects and parlayed that into the title of Most Chill Teacher of freshman composition.

As a sports writer and editor for The Associated Press in New York from 2005-08, Bill once called his husband, who was at the time working a desk job, from the New York Mets dugout before a game. "I'm so bored," Bill whined. He slept on the couch for a week after making that call.

He wrote a novel called Audibles at Arizona State, and sold that novel to Dutton Books for Children in 2007. His editor asked him to change the title so that it would appeal to people other than "football players who read." The resulting novel, Out of the Pocket, received strong reviews from his mother, father, significant other and one girl who had a crush on him in high school. It won the Lambda Literary Award in 2009.

His second novel, Openly Straight, hit the bookshelves in late May of 2013. He describes the novel as "Twilight-like, only without vampires and wolves and angsty teenage girls. Also, set in an all-boys boarding school in Massachusetts. Otherwise, it's like an exact replica."

Openly Straight won the Sid Fleischman Award for Humor and is a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award.

Bill currently lives in Chandler, Arizona, which is the thinking man's Gilbert, Arizona.

His blog and website is at

What did you think of our interview with Bill Konigsberg, author of THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH? Let us know in the comments!

Happy reading,

Martina, Jocelyn, Shelly, Jan, Lisa, Susan, and Erin

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