Author Jeff Strand is at The Hiding Spot today to answer a few questions about his newest book, I Have a Bad Feeling About This, and more! Jeff is the author of many demented books and a
Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Or, were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write?
The book basically had the "easy" half and the "hard" half. The first half of the book has lots of scenes where our heroes (a small group of teenaged boys who are way out of their comfort zone) have to go through various wilderness survival exercises. It wasn't a case of "Gosh, this book just wrote itself!", but it's not that difficult to squeeze comedy out of scenes where kids who've never spent any time in the woods try to, say, build a shelter that won't fall apart. In the second half of the book, a trio of gangsters show up and the situation suddenly becomes much more serious. I wanted the second half of the book to be just as funny as the first, so it took more work to get the laughs in there.
If you were sent to Strongwood’s Survival Camp, how would Max respond to your performance and survival skills?
Max would not be impressed. At all.I'm really glad this book is fiction.
Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication?
The book was sold based on a very brief pitch and I didn't have a title for it, so I was calling it Grimwoods Survival Camp, even though that was never going to be the real title. (And I ended up changing the name of the camp.) The publisher wanted to call it Camp Doom, which I really liked, so that's the title on the contract. Later, the marketing department decided that Camp Doom sounded like more of a middle grade novel than a young adult novel, so they proposed I Have A Bad Feeling About This. I counter-proposed This Can't End Well. A quick glance at the book's title shows how it turned out!
What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general?
It's probably a combination of Douglas Adams, Dave Barry, and Richard Laymon.
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing?
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?Retail clerk, dishwasher, telemarketer, photocopier, general ledger guy, remittance processing analyst. Aside from using the occasional detail in a book, these jobs really haven't shaped my writing. I've been at my current job for seventeen years, and it's the perfect blend of "keeping my mind occupied all day" but not "sucking away all of my creative energy." Because I spent a few weeks as a telemarketer, I used to be understanding when people called me to sell me stuff, but I'm long over that.
Kumquat. Because it's such a goofy word that it's hard to believe it's an actual name for a kind of fruit, and it also sounds dirty even though it's not. I've got a kumquat tree in my backyard, although that's unrelated to my feelings for the word. Also, I wrote a novel called Kumquat. I'm waiting to hear back from a publisher. If they buy it, it'll be even more my favorite word. If I'm unable to find a publisher for this one, I will disavow my love of the word, and make it my lifelong quest to slap kumquats out of the hands of people who are eating them, which is not a very ambitious quest since I have not, as far as I can recall, ever actually witnessed somebody eating a kumquat. It's bound to happen sometime, and I'll be ready.
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
Jeez, this feels like the kind of question where I should have a really fantastic answer, especially since it's the last question of the interview. But really, it's just "I put on my iPod and go for a walk." I love my iPod.
Check out my review of I Have a Bad Feeling About This here.