Interview: Bev Katz Rosenbaum
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What would it be like to be frozen, then brought back to life in the future? That's the premise of I Was a Teenage Popsicle. ( Read my book review of I Was a Teenage Popsicle and the sequel, Beyond Cool. ) I interviewed author Bev Katz Rosenbaum before and after reading the book.
Did you try to make the scientific portions of the story as factual and plausible as possible? How much cryonics research did you do before or while writing I Was a Teenage Popsicle?
I did do a fair bit of cryonics research before I started writing (including reading a detailed on-line diary - complete with graphic pictures - by a guy who cryo-preserved his dead dog . . . . yecch). I was mostly trying to determine what steps the doctors would have to take to preserve and then defrost Floe and Taz. But much of what is done to them in the book is not possible with today's technology, so I had to take a fair bit of artistic license. For instance, I invented new chemicals that would help preserve whole bodies without fatal cell damage. Currently, only heads are preserved, and the outer shells are not salvageable. The idea is that the brain, the essence of the person, is preserved. New bodies will have to be cloned to house these brains if whole-body cryo-preservation never becomes a reality. (This is way more information than you wanted, right?!)
The main character is named Floe; the leading man is Taz. Where did these unique names come from?
You know, I really have no idea! Sometimes these things just come to you! I wanted 'alternative' names for this book, so I just racked my brain to come up with a couple I hadn't seen/heard before.
Though it begins with Floe's reawakening and shock - dealing with life-threatening illnesses, her family, and the future - Popsicle soon infuses comedy with the drama, high school horrors with science and politics. Did you have fun blurring the genre lines?
I'm so glad you got all that out of the book! I loooove writing comedy, but I also wanted Popsicle to get readers thinking about stuff like conformity, discrimination, bioethics, and the political process (without being preachy, of course!). Aside from the varied subject matter, Popsicle is a big giant blend of styles, with elements of comedy, drama, chick lit, sci-fi and kitschy, 1950s style horror. But I love all of this stuff, so it wasn't difficult to blend it. It's the kind of writing that comes naturally to me. I did have fun with it - it was a blast to write!
How old are your kids? Were they early readers and assistant editors?
My kids are 11 and 14 - perfect test readers! Both read and liked early versions of the book, and were very helpful in advising me what teens would and wouldn't say, etc.
What's the scoop on the sequel?
Beyond Cool, to be released in August 2007, has Floe back in Venice Beach, which she realizes she romanticized slightly while living with her sister Sunny in Cactus Hill. (No cliques at Venice Beach Alternative School, my foot!) Aside from dealing with regular teen stuff (hoverdriving's a beyotch), the frozen zombies learn they're more prone to viruses than other humans, and the one scientist who is on the verge of helping them has gone AWOL. You guessed it - it's up to Floe to find him and save the day once again . . .
What is your favorite futuristic or dystopic story?
I've become a huge Scott Westerfeld fan. Loved the Uglies trilogy and am now reading the Midnighters series. Will follow with his single titles.
Where is your favorite place to read? To write?
The back of my galley kitchen is my 'office'. It's only big enough to contain a small computer desk, a file cabinet, and one shelf for reference books, manuscripts, etc.! But I have a big window in there facing my well-treed backyard, so when I'm bored or blocked, I can watch the squirrels do acrobatics! I love to read on my zero-gravity lounge chair in the backyard. (Not possible in Winter, though - then I curl up on the comfy couch in my living room, with a red velvet throw blanket . . . )
What is your favorite popsicle flavor?
I'm actually not a popsicle person; I love chocolate - does a fudgsicle count?!
Of course it does! What are your top ten books of all time?
This is a tough one! I managed to come up with ten (warning: it's an extremely eclectic list!), but ordering them was impossible, so here they are, in a totally random order:
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy
Quick Shots of False Hope, Laura Kightlinger
Middlemarch, George Eliot
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok
One for the Money, Janet Evanovich
Angus, Thongs & Full Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
Uglies, Scott Westerfeld
The Way Men Act, Eleonor Lipman
I, like Floe, am wearing a bracelet. Why? You'll have to read the book to find out!