Interview With Ben Philippe, Author of “The Field Guide to the North American Teenager”!

ben 2If you are passionate about writing and want to pursue it professionally, you might want to keep certain skills off your resume. Ben Phillippe, author of the forthcoming debut novel, The Field Guide to The North American Teenager (Balzer + Bray, January 9, 2019) is one of many who had jobs that he disliked, but when he removed Microsoft Excel from his resume, he yielded opportunities that were a lot more appealing. “For a while my resume was just a bunch of stuff I knew how to do, but that didn’t make me happy because the only thing that makes me happy is writing,” he explained to So Booking Cool.

“I would get these temp jobs that required a lot of Excel and Microsoft Access because that’s what I was advertising to the world, and then I just started to remove them. They were small jobs–I was living month to month, but I was just doing stuff that was close enough to writing so that I could keep the passion alive.” Phillippe would go on to write for a host of publications including Vanity Fair, Observer, The Guardian, Thrillist, and Playboy, just to name a few. He also has a background in ghostwriting and teaches writing at Barnard College.

FGTNAT - CoverAs for Field Guide, Philippe hopes people will find the book funny. He also feels his character Norris is an underrepresented one in mainstream storytelling.  “Representation is kind of a big thing these days, especially in YA literature, which is great. We see a lot of characters that we wouldn’t normally see, like ten years ago we wouldn’t see characters of color in bestselling books, but I think there’s still the expectation that when you’re reading a story about a black male character, ‘oh no, it’s gonna be sad at the end; oh no, it’s gonna get Precious.”

While Philippe notes that Norris does have stakes and an emotional journey in the book, the story is more about comedy and a young guy’s high school experience. Listen to the interview to learn more about Philippe, The Field Guide to The North American Teenager, creating characters, his insight on ghostwriting, why he loves teaching and how it fuels his writing, who he envisions portraying Norris, his thoughts on the reboot of Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and more! For more information visit his official website.

Interview With Michelle Wolett, Owner of Once Upon a Book Club!

ONCE UPON A BOOK CLUB

Once Upon a Book Club is not the typical book subscription box. It enhances the reading experience by including a replication of an item mentioned in the novel. As you can imagine, this concept is engaging for people, an aspect that the company’s founder, Michelle Wolett, appreciates. “I’ve learned that it’s really helping the world read more,” Wolett told So Booking Cool. “So that’s the part that I really love about our company because I also at some point in my life just stopped reading; life just got too busy. There’s so many people out there that say ‘oh, I just don’t read’ or ‘I don’t like books,’ and this has actually changed their mind because they’re not supposed to open their gift until they reach a certain page. So it’s also like a treasure hunt for them.”

MICHELLE WOLETTE

It would not be untrue to say that entrepreneurism runs in Wolett’s family. However, one unlucky business move that her parents made with her uncle, unfortunately led to her parents losing their home (that her father handmade, by the way). Wolett, who recalls her father’s devastation, turned tragedy into triumph. She was determined to start a successful business. Anything to help her parents out financially. Her parent company, Chick-Lit Designs would also revert her love for reading and she would eventually quit her day job to take over her business full time.

When asked for her advice for anyone who wants to become a self-starter, Wolett said, “…I notice that a lot of people seem to just be afraid of failing and that’s one thing as an entrepreneur that you have to just go with. It’s okay if you fail, it’s not the end of the world. You can fail or you can adjust or tweak.”

Listen to the full interview for Wolett’s advice, her insight on re-branding and branding in general, the Once Upon a Book Club system, how she selects books for the subscriptions, her Once Upon a BookCase collection, and more! For more information visit Once Upon a Book Club.

Interview With Jerald L. Hoover, Author of “My Friend, My Hero”!

HOOVERThough it took nine years for Jerald L. Hoover to get his book, My Friend, My Hero published, it would later celebrate 25 years of release; win multiple awards and garner accolades; become a semi-finalist in the Gotham Screenplay Contest; and make Hoover a staple in his hometown of Mount Vernon. He was awarded with the WritersCorp Award by president Bill Clinton and was among the top selling black authors in the early 90’s. The professor, motivational speaker, playwright, award-winning author and sports journalist is now excited for the new generation to be introduced to My Friend, My Hero, the first in a series.

The young adult novel tells the story of Bennett Wilson, a level-headed athlete who seemingly has it all with the top colleges lining up to sign him to their basketball roster, but life tests him in a major way when his mother falls ill and behind on the rent, forcing Wilson to consider the bad road he’s always tried to avoid in order to save his family. The novel, which Hoover began writing when he was 17-years-old, is a powerful story of friendship, education, the choices one makes.

25th 3D Light Red Shirt“My endeavor is to reach everyone, but out of everyone I want 1 million young men to read the book because I really think it will shape their thinking to be more positive and proactive,” Hoover told So Booking Cool. “And I really think that will help America going forward.”

Listen to the full interview to learn more about Hoover’s journey to writing My Friend, My Hero and getting it published; how the book is still relevant; why he champions literacy; the comment he’ll always remember from a fellow reader about his book; the marketing ideas he implemented for his book; and info on the series; and more! For more information, follow Hoover on twitter, as well as the Hero Book series.

Interview With Literary Agent, Mollie Glick!

mollie glick photoThe love for writing and business is what Mollie Glick cherishes about being an agent. “You know if you’re gonna be an agent if you love the stories, you love the words, and then you also love the entrepreneurial business-building side,” the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) agent told So Booking Cool. Glick, who has adored books since childhood, started out as a literary scout fresh out of college. While the job served its purpose, she ultimately knew she wanted to work directly with writers. Following her tenure at Crown Publishing (Penguin Random House) as an editor, the Brown University graduate eventually transitioned into agenting.

Subtle Art CoverHer seasoned career has seen the success of Mark Manson‘s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, which is still sitting comfortably in the top two of the New York Times bestsellers list two years later (90 weeks to be exact); former Vice President Joe Biden‘s memoir, Promise Me, Dad; Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood; and Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone by ocean scientist, Julie Berwald.

Senator Kamala Harris and Valerie Jarrett, former government official, and New York Times bestselling author Ali Benjamin (The Thing About Jellyfish) are among the forthcoming projects Glick is excited about. Listen to the full interview to learn more about these upcoming books, as well as Glick’s insights about publishing, especially agenting and editing, whether or not publishers or agents make more money, more about Manson, her favorite way to discuss new projects, and juicy tidbits!

Interview With Daniel José Older, Author of the “Shadowshaper” Series, “Dactyl Hill Squad” and More!

daniel jose older photoDaniel José Older penned his first novel in 2009,a manuscript that would be rejected forty times and eventually put on hold as he gained inspiration for creating other stories. This story is Shadowshaper, the YA bestselling series praised by New York Times (“magnificent”); Kirkus Reviews, “a must”; and Publishers Weekly, “exceptional.” And yes, there will be another installment of the thrilling sci-fi fantasy.

Of course So Booking Cool asked Older to give advice to writers who are experiencing what seems like endless rejection, which also prompted an insightful conversation about the different states of rejection, and which of them are useful. “It can feel very circular because you feel like you’re getting nowhere,” the former paramedic said. “But if your focus is really on the craft and becoming a better writer, then the rejections will get you to that goal.”

Even as an accomplished author, Older’s goal remains to improve and write better books. He believes it is critical as a writer to self-reflect, work on the craft, and trust the gut.  “When we’re talking about your gut, what that really means is you understand the beating heart of your story better than anybody else. You may not be able to put it into words…usually the heart of a story is not an elevator pitch; it’s a little more complicated than that; it’s almost poetic and that’s why it takes the whole book to get to it.”

Listen to the full interview to learn about the upcoming projects he’s excited about, including the highly anticipated Dactyl Hill Squad (Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic), his new Skillshare class, the gadget he uses to create his magic, his favorite sci-fi and fantasy works, Octavia E. Butler, and more! Visit his website for more information.

Interview With Deborah Gregory, Author of The Cheetah Girls!

DeborahGregoryHeadshotAs a child, Deborah Gregory‘s life circumstances required her to utilize her reading and writing skills for the benefit of her illiterate foster mother. It is the reason she says she became a writer and author. “If she had told me ‘make me laugh,’ I’d be a comedian. There’s no question about it. She controlled my every thought and movement,” she told So Booking Cool. This is just one of the compelling realities of The Cheetah Girls creator’s life. She revealed that she discovered the details about her paternal side, which included learning that she has a half-sister who resides in New York like herself. What’s more is she searched for her mother for 20 years.

The Cheetah Girls, a story that follows the lives of a young, ambitious girl group who also happen to be close friends, is close to Gregory’s heart. “I’ve never had a circle of friends, and that’s what these girls were to me,” she said. As a child she fantasized about being in a singing group, though she says she wouldn’t have pursued it because she can’t sing. She may not have boasted a talent in music, but even prior to having a bestselling series, she found success as a runway model, fashion designer, entrepreneur (she owned two boutiques in New York City) and award-winning journalist. Each of these areas of business proved instrumental in the development The Cheetah Girls.

Gregory knew Andrea Davis Pinkney from their days of working at Essence magazine, who would acquire and edit The Cheetah Girls, which would expand into a beloved franchise (three high-rated films, soundtracks, sold-out tours, dolls, etc.) Gregory’s success naturally resulted in her writing another book, Catwalk.

Listen to the complete interview to learn more about Gregory, foster care, therapy, how Destiny’s Child helped influence The Cheetah Girls, the girls who covered the original books, including former girl group, Before Dark, her thoughts on the film adaptation’s Hollywood casting, advice for authors, her upcoming projects and a lot more! For more information visit her website or Twitter .

YA Novel “The Sun is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon Gets a Movie, Yara Shahidi to Star!

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The Sun is Also a Star, 2016’s National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller, will become Nicola Yoon’s second novel to hit the big screen. Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi, 18, will portray Natasha, an illegal Jamaican immigrant who falls in love with a Korean immigrant, Daniel. An undeniable but inconvenient romance claims both teens when Natasha gets deported to Jamaica.

Alloy Entertainment, which produces books, films, and television, will collaborate with MGM, and its parent company, Warner Brothers for the project, just as they did with Yoon’s first novel, Everything, Everything.  The Sun is Also a Star is published by the Penguin Random House imprint, Delacorte Press (One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManu).

In addition to acting, Shahidi is also known for being involved with social issues, especially immigration. Yoon, who is also Jamaican-American like Natasha, tweeted about the film announcement:

You guys. I’m so over-the-moon thrilled about this!!! @YaraShahidi is not only a brilliant actress, she’s a tireless activist & advocate. She’s gonna make the perfect Natasha!!”

Yoon is currently writing more books (or hits). You can visit her at http://www.nicolayoon.com/

 

Interview With Joy Peskin, Editorial Director at Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers!

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Joy Peskin is the editorial director at Farrar Straus Giroux (FSG) Books for Young Readers, an imprint at the Macmillan Children’s Group, where she manages a department of editors and edits her own titles–a career Peskin describes as “the best of both worlds.” The esteemed editor has worked at Penguin Random House (her first publishing job was at Puffin) and Scholastic prior to joining Macmillan in 2012.

Peskin knew she either wanted to pursue social work or publishing when she was in school, where she majored in sociology and edited her school’s paper.  She was also a writer. She enrolled in the industry-regarded Columbia Publishing Course and landed a job at Course Crafters, an education development program for English learning.

Check out our full interview with Peskin, as she talks to So Booking Cool about children’s books of all ages, Viking’s executive editor Kendra Levin, her advice for aspiring executive editors and editorial directors, and more!