Today's guest is New York Times bestselling author David Arnold, author of Mosquitoland and Kids of Appetite. When David's not writing, he's indulging his love for music (especially Elliott Smith!) or doing amazing dad things with his Instagram-perfect family. David's been busy the last few months promoting his brand new book Kids of Appetite, and we're so excited that he was able to find some time to talk with us today. Let's get to it!
James: Hi David! Thanks for joining us today! You've just finished a book tour for your second book, Kids of Appetite. I've heard a lot of authors talk about the unique struggles of writing a second book. Was that the case for you as well?
David: Oh, definitely. Writing your first book is a special sort of madness-- you do it for yourself, which is nice, but you also do it with an expectation that no one will ever read it. With the second book, you've got an editor and an agent and hopefully some eager readers, which means those words you're putting on the page aren't just for you. (The secret is, though, they *are.* But it doesn't feel like it.) In any case, it's hard to complain. I tell stories for a living; some are just a little harder to tell than others.
James: Your debut novel, Mosquitoland, is a story about a girl named Mim who takes a thousand mile trek on a Greyhound bus. Have you visited any of the locations that Mim visits on her trip?
David: Oh, yeah, I've lived in Jackson and Nashville and Ashland, and I've traveled through most of the places in the book. When I first wrote it, I actually hadn't been on a Greyhound though. I'd done plenty of research online, but again-- assuming no one would read it, I figured internet research was enough. Right after the book sold, I figured I should take a long trip on a Greyhound while I still had the chance to make changes. So I took a Greyhound from Nashville to Newark; that trip actually did have pretty profound impact on a few of the smaller details in the manuscript regarding bus travel.
James: Your most recent novel, Kids of Appetite, is about two teens: Vic and Mad. Which of these characters is the most like you?
David: Hmm, neither? Mad and I both adore Elliott Smith. But other than that, we're pretty different. Mim (from Mosquitoland) and I are pretty similar, so the second time around, I was intent on writing characters who weren't.
James: What advice would you give to teens who are just starting to do some creative writing of their own?
David: Other than read a ton, I would encourage young writers to find a community-- or at least one other person-- who is writing what they're writing. I know for me, I never would have published a book without the right help at the right time.
James: In addition to being an author, you are also an amazing musician. Your band Cinema Cycle has an upbeat indie flavor and is strongly influenced by your books. Tell me a little about that intersection. How do your books and your music work together? Or are they completely separate beasts?
David: For the most part, they're separate. The process for each is very different, but there is one intersection: honesty. In the acknowledgments of Mosquitoland, I thank Elliott Smith for teaching me that an honest voice is more compelling than a pretty one, and I think that holds up regardless of whether you're writing a book or writing a song or painting a canvas or making a movie.
James: Normally, I like to end interviews by asking authors some of their favorite books. However, because you're a musician as well, I want to add in a little twist. What are a couple books you've been loving recently? And what musicians or albums would you pair with them?
I just finished reading (and loving) Kelly Barnhill's THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON. It's an upper middle grade fantasy, so I might pair it with something like Yann Tiersen's Les retrouvailles. I also recently read and loved A LITTLE LIFE, which I would basically pair with... you guess it... Elliott Smith. Let's go with Either/Or.
That's it for today's interview with David. If you have any questions for David or want to let him know how his books have impacted you, be sure to reach out to him on Twitter or check out his website. And be sure to visit our Twitter, where you'll find interviews with other authors, fan art from readers just like you, and tons of amazing giveaways. Stay tuned next week for an amazing interview/giveaway with Dahlia Adler, author of Behind The Scenes and Under The Lights.