An Interview with Young Adult Author David Arnold
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After seeing the smart, funny AND super friendly young adult authors David Arnold and Adam Silvera at the recent launch of Arnold’s sophomore book, Kids of Appetite (Viking/Penguin, September 2016) at Books of Wonder (see photo of Arnold, Silvera, my friend Riley and me below), I was inspired to read the book. I’m so glad I did! Because I so loved Kids of Appetite, Mosquitoland, Arnold’s first book, it is now near the top of my tremendous TBR pile.
Here’s a short description of Kids of Appetite from the Books of Wonder website:
Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.
This is a story about:
1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.
This book was so fresh and so different from anything I’ve ever read. It is told in alternating perspectives by Vic, a 16-year-old grappling with the death of his father and with Moebius syndrome (a neurological condition in which facial paralysis renders him unable to smile or frown) and Mad, an orphan grappling with that and other struggles (I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil it for you). The story is so engaging, and the characters so endearing that I couldn’t help but be fully immersed in their unpredictable journey. The book’s structure and style were truly unique, and at times Vic’s love of art reminded me of Noah’s love of art in my favorite book of all time, Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun. And sometimes, the tone and feel of the entire book reminded me of another book I devoured, Grasshopper Jungle, by the very talented Andrew Smith.
Arnold was kind enough to take some time out of his busy tour schedule to answer a few email questions. I’m thrilled to share the Q & A below.
If Kids of Appetite had a soundtrack, what would the top five songs be?
Coming Up Roses by Elliott Smith; The Flower Duet (from the opera Lakme by Edmond Gondinet and Phillipe Gille); Wake Up by Arcade Fire; Glosoli by Sigur Ros; and Afraid of Everyone by The National.
I love the subtitle of Kids of Appetite: They Lived, they laughed, and they saw that it was good. It’s such a beautiful and positive message, one that we all need right about now! What inspired that? And would you say this reflects your sentiments about life as well?
Yeah, the line is initiated by an eleven year-old who above all wants to be part of a family and wants her family to be okay. So it needed to be something that an eleven year-old would say and think was entirely profound. But I also really enjoy the music and rhythm of words, so I often try to find phrases with a nice cadence to them. So that was definitely part of the creation of this line as well.
If you could choose only three books to have on your bedside table for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?
Ah! Only three? Fine. The Lord of the Rings trilogy. 🙂
Have you ever found yourself in a tight-knit group like in Kids of Appetite? If so, can you describe it/them?
I have two brothers and we’re pretty close. Growing up, we didn’t always get along, but we’ve become friends in adulthood. And I think I thought of them a lot while writing the KOA.
What are your favorite TV shows right now and why (please tell me that Stranger Things on Netflix and This is Us on NBC are among them).
GAH, YES. I adore Stranger Things and my wife and I have both really gotten into This is Us. Good TV is actually my go to when I’m struggling with my writing. I’m a huge fan of the West Wing, The X-Files, Arrested Development, The Office, Seinfeld, Six Feet Under, the list goes on and on.
To learn more about Arnold (pictured below with his son) and his work, visit his website. You can also find Arnold on twitter: @roofbeam.
And here are some reviews of Kids of Appetite:
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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