Sunday, July 7, 2013

Teddy Wayne

Teddy Wayne, the author of Kapitoil, is the winner of a 2011 Whiting Writers’ Award and a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award, PEN/Bingham Prize, and Dayton Literary Peace Prize. He writes regularly for The New Yorker, the New York Times, Vanity Fair, McSweeney’s, and elsewhere.

About his latest novel, The Love Song of Jonny Valentine:

Megastar Jonny Valentine, eleven-year-old icon of bubblegum pop, knows that the fans don’t love him for who he is. The talented singer’s image, voice, and even hairdo have been relentlessly packaged—by his L.A. label and his hard-partying manager-mother, Jane—into bite-size pabulum. But within the marketing machine, somewhere, Jonny is still a vulnerable little boy, perplexed by his budding sexuality and his heartthrob status, dependent on Jane, and endlessly searching for his absent father in Internet fan sites, lonely emails, and the crowds of faceless fans.
From the author's Q & A with Claire Zulkey:
How did you ensure a level of believability for an 11-year-old kid (aside from marketing speak?) What changes did you make throughout the process to make sure that it was accurate?

In the earliest pages, his voice was a touch too infantile--an overreliance on slang like "fav," for instance. Instead of focusing on a wholly diminished vocabulary, I decided to make Jonny's grammar and sentence structures more kidlike; run-on phrasings, consistent (and subtle) syntax errors, as well as specific diction that he returns to.

What were some alternate covers suggested for the book? How did the current one get decided?

The current one is all I saw at first, though my publisher later floated a few alternates. But I was sold from the start on the reflective holographic foil, which is a perfect tongue-in-cheek self-critical design: a novel about the glitzy packaging of art is itself wrapped in a glitzy package.

Similarly, were there other names you considered for Jonny Valentine?

The book's first germ of inspiration was as a parody of pop-star autobiographies, and in that version (I wrote one chapter, which later became the New Yorker Shouts & Murmurs piece Jonny reads about himself), the protagonist is named Tyler Beats--which would eventually become the megastar whom Jonny attempts to emulate. Once I threw out the parody...[read on]
Visit Teddy Wayne's website.

The Page 69 Test: Kapitoil.

Writers Read: Teddy Wayne (February 2013).

--Marshal Zeringue