Interview: Debra Garfinkle
Current Mood: awake
Current Song: The X-Files score music
Debra Garfinkle's first novel, Storky: How I Lost My Nickname and Won the Girl, featured a teen who was trying to find his place in high school. In her new series, The Band, those that make music together also make drama. Let's find out what she thinks about bylines, books, and music.
The byline of Storky used your first and middle names as initials. Was this your choice or your publisher's decision, and was this because the book has a male protagonist?
It was my idea to use initials instead of my name, but the publisher readily agreed with me. I worried that if boys knew the book was written by a woman, they wouldn't want to read it.
I'm very fond of Michael, so I see him in a very happy place in ten years. Perhaps he's a teacher or counselor, passing on the wisdom he's learned. And, of course, he'd be a great influence on his nine-year-old brother. I think he wouldn't be married yet. He should date a few women and get some experience before settling down.
What started up The Band?
I love listening and dancing to music, but I am not musically talented. To research the books, I read three memoirs from people in rock bands. I also asked a lot of questions of my teenage neighbor who's in a band, and pestered other musicians too.
In the first book, Trading Guys, relationships are tested and boundaries are crossed. What is the biggest difference between writing books for pre-teens and writing books for teens? Do you feel it is a matter of content, situations, and/or language?All three. Content, situations, language. I have some juicy heavy makeout scenes in THE BAND and some scenes in which teenagers get drunk. I would not include those scenes in a book for preteens. But since THE BAND is meant for teens, I wanted to keep things real for them while also keeping them entertained.
How did you select the name of the band? Who sings the song?
In the book, one of the main characters, Mark, names the band Amber Road. For most of the book, the identity of Amber and why she means so much to Mark is a mystery that I don't want to spoil!
The publisher actually commissioned a songwriter to write a song called "Beautiful Girl" for the fictional Amber Road band. I don't know who really sings it for the download, but she has a terrific voice. Amber Road has its own MySpace site and the song can be downloaded for free.
The band previously was named Sweet Marguerite. Unfortunately, we found that there was already a band with that name. So to be more original, we changed the name to Amber Road. The name change didn't occur until after the galleys were printed. I hope my publisher caught all the necessary changes before printing the actual book!
Your next novel, Stuck in the '70s, sounds like a cute story and a blend of genres. How much of the book was drawn from your own experiences?
Thanks! It's a humorous, romantic, time travel, coming of age, young adult novel. It was a lot of fun to write. It's set in 1978, the year I was a high school sophomore, so it's drawn on a lot of my own experiences. Of course, I won't write books unless it's a fun experience for me. If I wanted to write boring stuff, I could always return to writing legal briefs.
What are your ten favorite books of all time?
Oh, that's hard! So many books to choose from! Definitely Catcher in the Rye, which I've read at least a dozen times. I also love To Kill a Mockingbird and War and Peace because they make me cry, and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and anything by Nick Hornby and Jaclyn Moriarty because they make me laugh. I have to include Anne Tyler's books because I've read and loved all of them. I'll include The Woman's Room because it helped make me a feminist when I was a teenager, The Interpreter of Maladies because it's my favorite book of short stories, and Feed because it's my favorite young adult novel.