Thursday, 9 February 2017

Q & A with Alex Marestaing

Fifteen Seconds of Normal
by Alex Marestaing 

Step 1: Transfer High Schools.
Step 2: Hide your Tourette’s.
Step 3: Find your fifteen seconds of normal.

Kaeya Garay has a plan. And it seems to be working.But when a curious interruption named Thatcher Kelly stumbles upon her “safe” place in the school’s abandoned art gallery, her grand plans for normalcy are suddenly derailed.

Set over the course of three weeks, Fifteen Seconds of Normal is the quirky saga of a literature obsessed teen on the edge of a meltdown and the hope driven heroine who begins to pull him back. Fans of Eleanor and Park be warned. You won’t be able to put this one down.

A “Breakfast Club” for a new generation from EPIC Award finalist Alex Marestaing, author of I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages. 

Paperback, 294 pages
Published October 11th 2016

Find it on Goodreads
Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Read It & Reap:  May 21, 2017

About the Author
Once upon a time, author Alex Marestaing wrote a random letter to the Walt Disney Company asking if they needed any creative help. Fortunately, Disney had mercy on his embarrassing attempt to break into the publishing scene and gave him his first writing job. A lot has happened since then, including four novels, a beautiful wife, three kids, two cats, an extremely mellow dog, an honorable mention at the London Book Festival, a stint covering soccer in Europe and the U.S., and fun freelance work for companies such as Lego, Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins and The Los Angeles Times. Oh yeah, he also speaks at conferences around the country giving people advice such as “Writing letters to random companies isn’t always such a bad idea.” 

Connect with Alex Marestaing
Goodreads  *  Twitter  *  Website

Q & A with Alex Marestaing

Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
The characters in my latest book, Fifteen Seconds of Normal, are two high school juniors trying to make it through the worst year of their lives.

Kaeya Garay has just transferred to Glen Canyon High. The transfer is part of her plan, to escape from the stares and whispers, side effects of the Tourette Syndrome that’s plagued her since elementary school.  In case you haven’t heard of it, Tourette’s is a neurological disorder that causes a person do things like randomly shout, or make sounds, or contort their face in a wide variety of facial tics. It’s a hard disability to hide, but by transferring schools she hopes to start fresh, get asked to a school dance, fall in love, and finally find her fifteen seconds of normal.

Literature obsessed, Thatcher Kelly’s life has turned upside down over night. On top of his dad ditching the family, he’s just taken the worst school picture in the history of school pictures, a picture that has begun to circulate as a viral meme.  But, like Kaeya, Thatcher also has a plan, to rewrite the narrative by posting these artistic pictures of his own on Snapchat and Instagram. It’s his way of stealing his life back and somehow make his own way back to normal.

When Thatcher inadvertently crashes into Kaeya’s “safe” space in the school’s nearly abandoned art gallery, an unlikely friendship ensues, and they begin to help each other on their quests…and that’s when things get interesting.

I like to think of Fifteen Seconds of Normal as more than a love story. It’s a story about love, and there’s a big difference. 

Who designs the covers for your books?
It depends on the book I’m working on. When I worked on my first book series, I had no say at all as to what was on the cover. The publisher took care of everything. Though the covers were okay, I felt they were a little too “Hannah Montana” looking for the stories I had written. Nowadays, I’m able to create ideas of my own, and that’s one of my favorite parts of the process.

What is that process like for you as an author?
Fifteen Seconds of Normal took about two years from start to finish. I started by brainstorming ideas like a maniac. Then came a trip to New York to pitch the book to editors, a frantic binge-writing sessions in order to send them the chapters they wanted, editing, more writing, and editing some more. Unfortunately, I’m kind of a perfectionist when it comes to my novels, so I kept changing things, which kind of delayed the process.

Describe your ideal writing spot.
I don’t really have one favorite spot. I can write pretty much anywhere. But I do tend to get a lot of ideas when I travel. I wrote a big chunk of my last book I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages in a tiny, hundred-year-old house in Sweden. The house, with peeling paint and ancient plank floors, sort of became a character in that novel, the abandoned mansion that beckons agoraphobic Caleb Reed to come out from hiding and cross the street.

Soon I’ll be heading to Tokyo, so who knows what I’ll come up with there. An anime influenced, Studio Ghibli type epic? Who knows?

What is the best advice you have been given?
I’m always more inspired by the way people live out their lives than their words. People’s actions inspire me. But I will leave you with some advice from Fifteen Seconds (Shameless book plug…I know)

There comes a time when the fear of being alone
Outweighs the fear of rejection
And in this glorious imbalance
Love is born

Love is always a risk, especially when you’re unsure what the other person thinks of you. But if you care enough about the person, you’ll let them know, in spite the fear of rejection.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
 I always wanted to be a pilot, which is weird because I used to be terrified of flying.

Which do you prefer: hard/paperbacks or ebooks?
Lately, I’ve been reading on my Kindle. But I definitely love the look and feel of print books better, either hardback or paperback.

If you could have any supernatural power, what would you choose and why?
Teleportation. I lived in Sweden for a while and my close friends and family are there. Teleportation would give me a cheap way of visiting them without the eleven-hour plane trip from Los Angeles, where I live now.

What book are you reading now?
My daughter just gave me a book called PAX  for Christmas. It’s about a fox and a boy who are trying to find each other after becoming separated during a war. I love the cover and the premise, so, that’s next on my list

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