Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog Tour: Author Spotlight on Jeff Garvin

12:00 AM Serena 1 Comments

Hey, all! Long time no see. Sorry I've been MIA - life has been crazy lately. But I'm back for spring break, and I'm so excited to announce that I'm a blogger for this year's Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog Tour! I've been attending this event for the past two years, and though I can't attend this year, I'm glad to participate in this way. 

This year's OTBF is on Saturday March 25th at Colony High School (3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761)  from 9 am to 5 pm. It is a completely free and unticketed event that is a full day of fun to hang out with authors and make new friends! The event is also sponsored by Once Upon a Time Bookstore. They will have books available for purchase at the event. There will also be t-shirts and posters available for purchase as well. 

This year's blog tour follows all 21 of the participating OTBF authors, and I'll be spotlighting two of them. Today's author spotlight is on Jeff Garvin, a 2016 debut author whose book I adored. Be sure to follow the rest of the blog tour, including previous stops, for other interviews; the schedule will be included at the bottom of the post. Now it's time to get to know Jeff Garvin!

About Jeff Garvin:

Jeff Garvin grew up in Orange County, California, the son of a banker and a magician. He started acting in high school, and enjoyed a fifteen-year career including guest-starring roles in network television series ranging from The Wonder Years to Roseanne to Caroline and the City, as well as several independent features.

While studying at Chapman University, Jeff won awards for classical guitar and visual storytelling before graduating with a BFA in Film. As the front man of his rock band, 7k, Garvin released three albums and toured the United States. When the band dissolved in 2011, Jeff, who had always written short stories and lyrics, found his passion in full-length fiction.

His debut novel, SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN, tells the story of Riley, a 16-year-old gender fluid teen who starts an anonymous blog to deal with hostility from classmates and tension at home. But when the blog goes viral, a storm of media attention threatens Riley’s anonymity. Coming February 2, 2016 from Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins.

Jeff lives in Southern California with his music teacher wife, their menagerie, and a respectable collection of books and guitars. 

About Symptoms of Being Human

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything. 

A Conversation with Jeff Garvin (my questions will be bolded, and Jeff's answers will be in regular type):

1.    You were very actively involved in the music scene before you were published. What made you want to make the switch to writing books instead of songs? And how does writing music compare to writing novels?

I loved being in a band, but touring kept me away from home for months at a time, and I missed my wife. So I decided to reinvent myself. I went back to my first diary and found the list of things I’d wanted to be when I grew up: Singer (did that,) Actor (did that,) Astronaut—I Googled it and decided there was too much math involved—and Novelist. I realized I could write a book without any equipment and without driving anywhere. The idea was very appealing. I roped a friend into doing NaNoWriMo with me, and I’ve never looked back.

For me, writing songs was more difficult than writing books. Song structure is less forgiving. You have to create a complete ride in three and half minutes, and while people might read ten pages of a book before they decide to stop or read on, you have about seven seconds to get people to fall in love with a song.

2.    Describe Symptoms of Being Human in seven words or less.

Secretly gender fluid teen blogger faces exposure

3.    Do you usually write to music? If so, what was on your playlist for Symptoms, and, if not, what would you put on a playlist about the book?

These days, I mostly write to a recording of a rainstorm. Sometimes I listen to ambient music like Moby, Boards of Canada, Random Rab, etc.

So much great music influenced the writing of Symptoms of Being Human; there’s a playlist of all the songs mentioned (or implied) in the book here.

4.    Riley is a genderfluid rockstar of an individual (and probably one of my favorite characters in YA ever). Where did you draw your inspiration to write about them from and what was your research process like?

Thanks so much for saying so! I’d describe Riley as the person I wish I’d been in high school. I think most of my main characters are parts of me, inflated with extra courage and disfigured by deeper flaws.

The inspiration to write Riley came from a court case in my county—a transgender student was suing the school district for the right to use the girls’ restroom at her high school. The response of some of my peers surprised me. One person actually said “Ew, it’s probably just some pervy boy who wants to see boobs.” I was flabbergasted by her reaction. To me, that transgender student was one of the bravest people I’d ever heard of.

I kept waking up thinking about that student. When I sat down to write, Riley’s first blog post came out: The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl? I thought it would be a challenge to write a character whose birth-assigned gender even I didn’t know. Fifty pages in, my writing group encouraged me to continue. Somehow, I got through the whole book. Along the way, I fell in love with Riley. I don’t know what it says on Riley’s birth certificate, and I don’t care. Hopefully, readers won’t either.

For research, I read as many scholarly articles as I could find—unfortunately, during the time I wrote the book, there was very little academic writing published about gender fluidity. Mostly I read about transgender demographic info and hate crime statistics. I did my most valuable research online, reading and watching first-person accounts by non-binary people struggling with gender dysphoria and lack of acceptance by their communities.

5.    What Hogwarts houses would your characters be sorted into and why?

Riley is obviously a Gryffindor because of their courage.
Bec is probably a Slytherin because she’s crafty and socially flexible.
Solo would likely be in Hufflepuff. He gets along with everybody.

6.    What, if anything, can you tell us about your future writing projects?

I’m working on another contemporary YA novel for Balzer + Bray. It’s not a Symptoms sequel, but there are threads between the two. It should be out sometime in 2018.

7.    And finally, you’re an Ontario TBF newbie. What are you most looking forward to about the event?

My favorite part of festivals is meeting readers. And since I’m a local, I hope to meet some folks who grew up in the area I wrote about in Symptoms and hear their stories.

Thanks so much for being here on Reading Over Sleeping, Jeff! I hope you have a wonderful time at OTBF! 

Blog Tour Schedule

March 15th:
Spotlight on Romina Russell - The Consummate Reader
Spotlight on E. Katherine Kottaras - 
Book You Very Much 

March 16th:
Spotlight on Catherine Linka - What A Nerd Girl Says
Spotlight on BT Gottfred - 
My Fangirl Chronicles 

March 17th:
Spotlight on Elana K Arnold - Read Now Sleep Later
Spotlight on Sara Elizabeth Santana - 
Starkiller Readers

March 18th:
Spotlight on Gretchen McNeil - Adventures of a Book Junkie
Spotlight on Charlotte Huang - 
A Traveling Book 

March 19th:
Spotlight on KM Walton - Recently Acquired Obsessions
Spotlight on Jeff Garvin - 
Reading Over Sleeping 

March 20th:
Spotlight on Jessica Brody - A Reader's Antidote
Spotlight on Aditi Khorana - 
Read Now Sleep Later

March 21st:
Spotlight on Ann Stampler - Movies, Shows and Books
Spotlight on Nicole Maggi - 
My Fangirl Chronicles

March 22nd:
Spotlight on Julie Buxbaum - A Traveling Book
Spotlight on Cindy Pon - 
Book You Very Much 

March 23rd:
Spotlight on Martina Boone - Movies, Shows and Books
Spotlight on Mary Weber - 
What A Nerd Girl Says

March 24th:
Spotlight on Jessica Love - Nite Lite Books
Spotlight on Lilliam Rivera - 
Starkiller Reads
Spotlight on Robin Reul - 
Reading Over Sleeping

1 comment:

  1. This looks awesome! I've got cousin booklovers that live in Ontario. I'll make sure she goes to this!

    Check me out @ https://weareallcritics.wordpress.com/