on February 2nd 2016
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.
Hey, guys! Welcome to the Sunday Street Team! I had the chance to ask Jeff Garvin, the author of Symptoms of Being Human some questions and he answered openly and honestly. His answers are perfect, and his book touches on a subject we need to speak more openly about in the world. I’m a huge fan of books that touch on subjects we tend to avoid or that make people uncomfortable. Sexuality is one of those things. If you have a chance to grab a copy of this amazing book, I highly recommend it. Pop by in a few days to read my review.
Please enjoy my interview with Jeff. At the end, there is a giveaway you can enter to win some amazing stuff.
If you could sit down and have lunch with one of your characters and get to know them more on a personal level, who would it be?
I got to know Riley very well from all the blog posts in Symptoms of Being Human…but Bec remains somewhat mysterious. I’d want to talk music, books, and find out more about her life prior to meeting Riley. Her past with Solo, her family, and when (and why?) she got the lip ring.
What are you currently reading?
THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE by Heidi Heilig, coming out 2/16/16. Girl on a time-traveling pirate ship. It’s SO GOOD. Also, MORE HAPPY THAN NOT by Adam Silvera (from 2015.) It’s fantastic.
Which writers inspire you?
J.D. Salinger, Cormac McCarthy, Dr. Seuss. But the top two slots are reserved for J.K. Rowling and Stephen King. If it weren’t for them, I never would have sat down at the keyboard again after so many years away.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Oh, man. The list is long–but my younger self would probably think my current self was a pretentious windbag. I’d say things like, “Dude. You’re going to be a late-bloomer. Try not to get so frustrated,” and “Don’t try so hard. It produces the opposite of the result you want,” and “That hair color looks rad, you should totally keep it bleached like that in your wedding photos.” Okay, maybe not that last one.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Sarah. Are you trying to kill me? J/K (not really.) Leonardo Da Vinci said, and I paraphrase brutally, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” Yes, I’d probably change things. But look what happened to Star Wars: A New Hope when George Lucas did some “revising” twenty years later. At some point, you have to let go and let the book be what it is. A book is only one window into a story. The world outside that window is created by the reader. So, as an author, it’s arrogant to assume that world belongs to you. You have to let it go, to let it live in the minds of the readers.
What books have influenced your life most?
The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield continues to save me from my inner darkness. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger changed me when I read it. I’m not sure how, because I can’t really remember who I was before I read it. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley opened my heart and my mind about what it means to be an American and a human being. As far as my writing life, The Harry Potter series and On Writing by Stephen King.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The hardest part for me is the story line, or the “plot,” if you prefer. Characters, dialogue, and prose are the fun part–the story is where the work comes in.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
My favorite books moved me, changed me, made me laugh and cry. I’ve always wanted to make that happen for others. I hope you have those moments when you read Symptoms of Being Human.
About the Author:
Before becoming a novelist, Jeff Garvin acted on TV and toured as the lead singer of a rock band. He has a BFA in Film from Chapman University and lives in Southern California, surrounded by adorable, shedding beasts.