Thursday, July 21, 2011

Guys Rock Too Thursday!: Jon Skovron

I started Women Who Rock Wednesday to spotlight the female writers, musicians, and artists I adore. However, there are a lot of guys who rock out there, too, and I wanted to have an opportunity to let you know about what they are putting out there. Back in May, I did my first Guys Rock Too Thursday with Daniel Kraus and planned to sporadically run other interviews when the opportunity struck and now that time has come again.

Jon Skovron, author of STRUTS AND FRETS (AKA one of my favorite YA books ever. Seriously this guy kills at writing about music and work harder to meet the high standard he sets), has a new book out called MISFIT that is coming out on August 1. And I'm honored to say that he gave me an interview and is giving YOU the opportunity to win a sign MISFIT galley.

Speaking of giveaways, we have one to do really quick. The winner of CHEAT SHEET by Rea Frey, my last WWRW guest, is Bean from blogger! Bean, I may have your email address from previous contests, but if you don't hear from me, email me at stephanie at stephaniekuehnert dot com.

Now on to meet Jon and hear about MISFIT which I am really psyched to read and will bet that you are gonna be dying to win!

Q: Tell us what MISFIT is about and what inspired you to write it.

JON: MISFIT is about many things: forbidden love, family, loyalty, friendship, kindness, betrayal, adventure, mythology, science, religion, believing in yourself, not letting others define you, and a lot more. But mostly, it's about this demon girl in Catholic School.

As for what inspired me to write it, I attended Catholic school all twelve years of primary and secondary education, and even went to an all-boys Catholic prep high school. It was a great education, but I didn't fit in very well. A lot of what MISFIT is about is this struggle many teens have to find their place in a world that doesn't seem to offer them anything past a strict mainstream traditional mold. I've taken the idea about as far as it will go, I think.

Plus, there are cool monsters.

Q: If you had a soundtrack for MISFIT, what are five songs that would be on it and how do they relate to the story or characters?

JON: STRUTS & FRETS was all about the indie rock, mostly male vocals. That was because the protagonist was male and in an indie rock band. The female protagonist for MISFIT, Jael Thompson, is someone who is deeply grounded. So I listened to a lot of female artists that I felt have the same sort of strong individualism that she does.

Troubled Waters - Cat Power

I listened to this song nearly every time I sat down to write the first draft. It's raw, earthy, simplicity is the perfect song for Jael. Plus the lyric "I must be one of the devil's daughters".

Samson - Regina Spektor

One of the chapters is inspired directly by this song. Its blend of sweetness, melancholy, and irreverent good humor is perfect.

The Good That Won't Come Out - Rilo Kiley

Jenny Lewis is such a contradiction of opposing beliefs and values. So is Jael. Plus, the idea that there is good inside that has trouble getting out is something Jael struggles with.

I Don't Feel Young - Wye Oak

Jen Wasner breaks my heart every time I hear this song. I would like her to sing this song to me. Um...I'm sure that has something to do with this book...really...
Your Next Bold Move - Ani Difranco

There is no way to sum this one up. The desolation, the anger, the defiant hope.

Here's a link to the playlist for these and other songs that inspired the book.

Q: What or who originally inspired you to write?

JON: Back in middle school I had horrible insomnia, and I used to make up stories in my head just to keep myself entertained. Possibly it was making up stories that kept me awake...ah well. But I didn't write them down. I was too busy writing lyrics to songs.

I kept a journal all through high school and college, but it wasn't until after I graduated from college that it actually occurred to me to try writing books. I was reading WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP by John Irving, and with the arrogance only an early twenty-something recent college grad can muster, I said, "I could do that!"

It took a long time for me to figure out exactly how to do it and what I wanted to write. I loved Neil Gaiman's AMERICAN GODS, Cory Doctorow's DOWN AND OUT IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM, and China Mieville's THE SCAR, and I tried to write stuff like that, but it just wasn't quite working. It wasn't quite right. Then I read in rapid succession Holly Black's VALIANT, Pete Hautman's GODLESS, and Gabrielle Zevine's ELSEWHERE and I realized I wanted to write YA.

Q: I know that like me you are a huge music lover. Can you talk a bit about how music figures into your writing? For example can you write while listening to music because freakishly I rarely can.

JON: I totally know what you mean! I can't listen to new music while writing or music I'm not very familiar with. It's too distracting. Instead, I'll just listen to a few songs (see above) that really capture the mood or character for me, and listen to them so much that I'm almost not hearing them. I think they do influence me though, even if I'm not consciously aware of it.
I sometimes think it would be a good idea to write in silence. Like, it would be more pure or something. But with two small kids, the idea of actually achieving silence is pretty much impossible. It's either write to music or write to the sound of epic action figure battles in the next room. Which sometimes I do.

Q: What is next up for the fabulous Jon Skovron?

JON: Hmmm, not quite sure yet. A lot of possibilities, none of them set in stone yet. Get back to me a month or so after MISFIT comes out ;)

Q: I have two standard questions that I ask my women and guys who rock interviewees. The first is a two parter, what was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge.

JON: I am about to utterly destroy any indie cred I might have earned in your eyes. The first album I purchased was Fat by Weird Al Yankovik. The first concert I attended was Milli Vanilli. But in my defense, I wasn't really into music at that point. The first album I truly fell in love with, the one that made me love music, was Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, given to me by my stepfather.

Q: Tell us about your biggest rock star moment, perhaps it's a moment of real success in your career, a time when you met someone super cool and had that Wayne's World "I'm not worthy" moment, or just a time where you felt like you got the rock star treatment. I get a huge variety of answers for the questions, so it's pretty much whatever "rock star moment" means to you!

JON: I love meeting famous authors, people I respect. Pretty much every time I meet Holly Black I'm struck dumb. And I love getting rockstar treatment at book festivals, like Rochester's TBF Live and Austin Teen Book Festival. But the times when I really feel like a rock star are when readers tell me how much my work means to them. Like when I got this email from a teen boy reader who said S&F was the first book he'd ever willingly finished and that he loved reading it so much it made him late for soccer practice twice. Or when this girl introduced herself at a festival and she was so passionate that her hands were shaking and she couldn't really formulate sentences. For me, it doesn't get better than making that kind of impact on readers.

I would have to agree that it really doesn't get any better than that. Also I have a bit of of Weird Al and Milli Vanilli in my past, too. If being honest doesn't get you indie cred than screw it! Thanks for joining us, Jon!

Today's Contest:

After hearing more about it, I'm guessing you want MISFIT and you are in luck! Jon is offering up a a signed galley of it!

This contest is open to international entries!

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment. However you can gain additional entries:

+1 for tweeting or posting on facebook about this interview
+1 for tweeting or posting about MISFIT
+5 for blogging about MISFIT

Note your additional entries in your comment as well as giving me an email address or some way to contact you if you win. I will be drawing the winner on July 27 during my next Women Who Rock Wednesday interview!


Anonymous said...

Count me in! This sounds awesome! I am also picking up Struts and Frets now.

marina said...

I'm sure you have my e-mail address. Haha. If not from contests from me just e-mailing for odd questions and such.
But, this book sounds neat. I like how he described it as pretty much anything that could be in a book. It's very detailed. [=

wplmom said...

I met Jon at TBF and would love a copy of Misfits to read and share. I've been a Catholic school girl myself...

Library Lady said...

Would love to win this!
Thanks for the giveaway!
adsanders77 at gmail dot com

Jasmine1485 said...

You sold me with 'demon girl in Catholic school'. I went to a public school, and I wouldn't have been surprised to find out some of the snotty private school girls I caught the school bus with were secretly demons.

P.S. I love Weird Al, very impressed with your first album purchase

kate1485 at

Audrey (holes In My brain) said...

Fantastic interview, I really liked his playlist! and Weird Al, hehe :P Thanks for the fantastic contest!

Anonymous said...

Oh man, oh man, oh man. Demon Catholic girls? As a Catholic school kid myself (going on the twelfth year!) this sounds like an awesome book because, in my Catholic high school at least, we have demon girls aplenty - but none that listen to Cat Power.

Book Chatter Cath said...

I was lucky enough to read 'MISFIT' thanks to NetGalley and it was really good :)
Great narrative of a girl MC for a male author :)

Llehn said...

I'd love to play please.


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