Thursday, July 3, 2014

Anthony Breznican

"If you thought high school was hell, has Anthony Breznican got a story for you…," says some guy called Stephen King.

From Breznican's Q & A with Caroline Leavitt about his new novel, Brutal Youth:

Brutal Youth has one of the most astonishing openings I've read in a long while. Did that opening come to you originally, or did it come after you had written parts of the book?

I always knew I wanted to start with something intense and visceral - a real grab-you-by-the-collar opening that would thrust you into a school where the danger wasn't getting a good grade, or getting a date ... It's basic survival. I'd heard this story from my own high school about a kid who flipped out in the hall after many years of being teased and tormented. He started swinging his bag in a circle, and clobbering anyone who got near. I heard one of the teachers jumped on his back, and then rode him around like it was a rodeo when even that didn't slow him down. As another kid who carried his whole locker in his book bag, I wondered: what could have made him snap? We all face hard times and feel angry and powerless, but what makes someone really lose it and switch from trying to lay low to trying to cause pain. I amped up that old legend, added what I'd consider kind of a horror element to illustrate that this was a story with fangs. But sadly, we've seen plenty of instances over the years where a kid goes over the edge and causes much more catastrophic damage.

Which, of course, leads to a structure question. Did you plan out this book or just follow the characters to see where they might lead you?

I knew I wanted to write about four main freshmen -- Davidek, a nice kid who just wants to avoid trouble; Stein, who loves trouble and fights every good fight; Lorelei, who is desperate to be liked (but doesn't like herself very much) and Green, who charms his way to safety, but loses touch with where he came from. After that, the story...[read on]
Visit Anthony Breznican's website.

--Marshal Zeringue