Saturday, April 1, 2017

0 Bill Konigsberg, author of HONESTLY BEN, on writing in a bank vault

We honestly can't thank Bill Konigsberg enough for sharing more about his latest novel HONESTLY BEN, a companion to OPENLY STRAIGHT.

Bill, what do you hope readers will take away from HONESTLY BEN?

I hope readers will take away the fact that we live in a world that prefers that we stay "inside the lines" of what is expected of us, and that often times the magic lies outside those lines. It's frightening to go there, and the world will try to punish us for doing it, but I hope this book will inspire readers to look at what sorts of agreements they've made with the world in terms of what they're expected to do, and to think about breaking up with those agreements.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

For the past six years, every day I go to a coffee shop in Tempe, Arizona, and I write there in the mornings. The coffee shop used to be a bank, and it has an old bank vault that is now a quiet space. I like to write in there. I've never really had a ritual I've stuck with before, but this one seems like a keeper because it's worked so well.



What are you working on now?

I'm working on a romance that is tentatively titled ASH AND JORDAN. It's about two very different boys who meet on a food truck one summer in Mesa, Arizona, and it's about what happens when love finally appears in our lives and we want it more than anything, but it's inconvenient, and you have to decide what you're willing to give up to embrace that love.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Honestly Ben
by Bill Konigsberg
Hardcover
Arthur A. Levine Books
Released 3/28/2017

In the companion to Openly Straight, Ben confronts pressure at school, repression at home, and his passion for two very different people in figuring out what it takes to be Honestly Ben.

Ben Carver is back to normal. He's working steadily in his classes at the Natick School. He just got elected captain of the baseball team. He's even won a full scholarship to college, if he can keep up his grades. All that foolishness with Rafe Goldberg the past semester is in the past.

Except . . .

There's Hannah, the gorgeous girl from the neighboring school, who attracts him and distracts him. There's his mother, whose quiet unhappiness Ben is noticing for the first time. School is harder, the pressure higher, the scholarship almost slipping away. And there's Rafe, funny, kind, dating someone else . . . and maybe the real normal that Ben needs.

Purchase Honestly Ben at Amazon
Purchase Honestly Ben at IndieBound
View Honestly Ben on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill 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 ESPN.com 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 billkonigsberg.com.

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Have you had a chance to read HONESTLY BEN yet? What sort of agreements with society do you need to "break up" with? Have you had an "inconvenient love"? What were you willing to give up for it? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Emily, Jocelyn, Anisaa, Sam, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, and Lori Ann

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