I’m delighted to be interviewing Allen Zadoff on publication day of Boy Nobody as part of the UK blog tour.
Hi Allen, welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
The character of Boy Nobody inspired me. He showed up one day out of nowhere (much like he does in the novel). He started talking about his life in short, intense sentences. Right away I knew that he was a boy without a name, a teen assassin with a troubled past who moved from place to place, fitting in everywhere but belonging nowhere. I was fascinated by him but also a little afraid. As a novelist, my job is to listen, to be unafraid, to sometimes go to dark and uncomfortable places in pursuit of the truth. So I followed Boy Nobody and this series is the result.
If you could choose to be one of your characters in your book which would you be and why?
I would be Mayor Goldberg, the fictional mayor of New York. He’s suffered some terrible losses in his personal life, but he’s a billionaire, a genius, a successful mayor and a good man, at least on the surface. He may also be a brilliant spy. That’s what Boy Nobody has to find out in the first novel.
Do you have a book trailer? What do you think book trailers achieve?
I’m a very lucky author as I have two book trailers, one from the UK and one from the US. I’d invite your readers to check them out and see the different ways the story has been interpreted. (blog readers, let me know what you think in the comments) At their best, book trailers create excitement and draw potential readers to the project. See what you think:
The UK Trailer from Orchard Books.
The U.S. trailer from Little Brown Books for Young Readers.
Which authors have influenced your writing?
When I was in school, I was inspired by Hemingway and Raymond Carver. You may notice echoes of their spare style beneath the surface of the Boy Nobody novels, along with Hemingway’s notion of a hero who demonstrates “grace under pressure”.
Do you think movie adaptations do books justice? Do you have a favourite?
There are movies that mangle books, movies that perfectly capture them, and movies that take the story of a book to new and thrilling places. As much as I love books, I’m partial to the third kind of movie, the kind that captures the essence of the book while building a visual world all its own. An example of that might be Kubrick’s The Shining, one of the greatest horror films of all time.
What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?
My first YA novel Food, Girls, and Other Things was very special for me. It tells the story of my teen years when I was extremely overweight and does it in what I hope is a hysterically funny but very honest way. It also won the Sid Fleischman Humor Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. That was a great honor for me, and it earned the book a lot of attention.
What is your WIP?
Boy Nobody is a trilogy, so it’s all Boy Nobody, all the time right not. I just turned in Book 2 and I’ll be starting Book 3 very soon. There are other ideas circling like traffic over an airport, but I have to bring the big jets down safely before I can think about them.
Thank you for sharing with my blog readers Allen.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog you will remember the high excitement I felt when my package arrived from Orchard Books. I was also fortunate to be able to share a sneak peak of the first chapter of Boy Nobody.
Visit the other blogs on the tour:
Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school, in a new town, under a new name, makes few friends and doesn’t stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend’s family to die — of “natural causes.” Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, and moves on to the next target.
When Boy Nobody was just eleven, he discovered his own parents had died of not-so-natural causes. He soon found himself under the control of The Program, a shadowy government organization that uses brainwashed kids as counter-espionage operatives. But somewhere, deep inside Boy Nobody, is somebody: the boy he once was, the boy who wants normal things (like a real home, his parents back), a boy who wants out. And he just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program’s next mission.