Today we welcome Alex London to our Penguin Teen Author Spotlight! Tomorrow (tomorrow!!) his newest book, Proxy, is coming out, which is pretty much why we’re having him do Penguin Teen Author Spotlight today. After Proxy comes out, there’s no way we’ll be able to tear your attention away from it long enough for you to hang out here with us! Before you rush to pre-order your copy, read Alex’s interview. Aside from having really, really great taste in authors (living AND dead), the rest of his answers are awesome as well. See for yourself!
Name: Alex London
Available: June 18th, 2013
Who’s your favorite author, living or dead? Tough question. Choosing a favorite author is like choosing a favorite person. There are many I love, but some I keep closer to the bed.
If forced to pick, I’d have to say David Mitchell might be the best living novelist. He has such a generous and humane imagination and an amazing way with words. I love everything he’s published so far. In writing for teens, I’d say it’s Patrick Ness. His Chaos Walking series is one of the most astonishing pieces of sci-fi storytelling I’ve ever read. I also think David Levithan is writing astonishing books. They make me long to be 16 again, even with all the heartache that entails. I wish Nick Burd would write more, because Vast Fields of Ordinary blew me away. I notice this list in trending very male and very living, so I’d be remiss not to add the late Shirley Jackson, whose unsettling short fiction provides a fantastic lesson in psychological suspense and the still very much alive Jennifer Egan. When I read A Visit From the Goon Squad, I was awed, thrilled, and deeply intimidated. That’s my favorite way to feel when I finish a book.
What’s your favorite thing about your book? The flaws in the main characters, Knox and Syd. These two boys start with some serious character deficiencies. They’re selfish, self-centered, confused, angry. But they grow. They connect. They evolve. They surprised me as they did.
If you could spend one year on a deserted island with one character from literature, who would you choose? Albus Dumbledore. Not only could he teach me magic, he could probably make the deserted island not so deserted and help us leave it whenever we chose. Of course, that’s not really in the spirit of the question is it?
I guess, if I was really going to be stuck for a year, I’d want to be stuck with one of my own characters, Knox or Syd. I don’t have children, so the characters I write are the closest thing, and I’d love to know them better, to hear what they think beyond what I’ve written, to see them living and walking and breathing. To know I made them whole and to know they can surprise me, and to know, for all I put them through, that I can be forgiven.
Where do you write? When I started Proxy, my apartment was small so I wrote, ironically, in a closet. It wasn’t so grim. I was surrounded by colorful shirts and sweater and there was a window. I name the tree outside the window Ethel.
Now that I have a house, I write in a corner of the guestroom, also by the window. I write best with natural light, so I write during the day. I’m very picking about light. I don’t think I write as well when it’s overcast. It’s kind of curse that traps me at my desk on really nice days.
Who is your favorite hero or heroine of history? The ones no one writes about. The anonymous baker in Nazi occupied Poland who risked his life to bring bread to his Jewish neighbors. The nun who helped child soldiers in the Congo escape the Mai Mai militia. The queer kid in rural Indiana who comes out to his community, fearing rejection by everyone he loves, but knowing the only way to find real love is with truth, and the popular kid who stands up for him. Neither of them may have any idea they’re making it easier for the kids after them to live truthfully, but every tiny act of this kind of bravery adds up and reminds me that the heroes of this world far outnumber the villains.
Do you tweet? What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever tweeted? I am addicted to twitter (@ca_london). My first tweet was something like: “When placing a bet, remember there is no dignified way to lose your fortune at a goat rodeo”
I suppose that’s the truest thing I’ve ever tweeted too.
What is your favorite season? Early Fall, when everything feels like change.
If you could teleport anywhere in the known universe right now, where would you go? I am exactly where I want to be right now. But, I suppose, if I had to teleport somewhere: Mars. I want to hang out with the Curiosity Rover, who also has a great twitter feed @MarsCuriosity
Do you have any writing rituals? Writing is my ritual.
What is your idea of earthly happiness? I’ll let you know when I figure that out.
What is the best concert you’ve ever been to? Radiohead playing at Roseland on the Kid A tour. I slept out on the street in Manhattan to get tickets, ended up shoved right to the front row during the show, right beside someone I had a crush on. Thom Yorke made eye contact with me during Everything in Its Right Place. I guess this answers the last question too.
What are you currently working on? The sequel to Proxy!
Thanks, Alex! We’re pretty much dying for the sequel to Proxy over here at Penguin HQ, so we’re glad to hear you’re busy writing it!