Book Nerd Interview
Flynn Meaney grew up in Mamaroneck, New York, ten minutes away from Pelham, home to the fictional Finbar Frame. She graduated from Rye Neck High School, where she participated in every nerdy activity imaginable, including Mock Trial, Academic Challenge, literary magazine and the school band. Flynn's hilarious high school friends and their conversations preserved in letters, emails, and notes passed in class have provided endless inspiration for her YA writing.
Flynn went on to study Marketing and French at the University of Notre Dame, where she spent many Saturdays standing on bleachers in the freezing cold cheering on a losing football team (Go Irish!) and also took her first creative writing workshop courses. She studied abroad in Paris and also at University College Dublin.
After graduating from Notre Dame in 2009 with President Obama as her commencement speaker (and successfully sneaking snacks past the Secret Service under her graduation robe), Flynn moved back to New York to study poetry at Hunter College and hang out with her vampire-obsessed friend Lucila, whose comment "Now that vampires are so hot, we can stop tanning" planted the first seeds of the idea for Bloodthirsty.
In 2012, Flynn finished her degree at Hunter College and her second YA novel, The Boy Recession. Now she is on the lookout for inspiration for her third book!
In second grade, I “published” a book, in our little elementary school publishing room, called “The Crazy Class.” It was the story of my second-grade class behaving terribly to drive a substitute teacher away. I included all of my classmate’s names, and the more outrageous their behavior in the book, the more they loved it. It had a lot of realistic details, like my YA books now, and some of the same humor.
Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
I guess it’s important to have some kind of record, to say “I was here.” I think a lot of people are scared to write because they haven’t had exciting or exotic experiences. You may not be able to get a TLC show unless you’re a hoarder sister wife with octopus arms and an ice-road trucking business, but you can write! Your everyday experiences are completely exotic to someone on the other side of the world or someone who will read about them a hundred years from now.
At the same time, when I read books about plotting, a lot of them say there are only seven or so basic plots that all stories have (falling in love, seeking revenge, search for identity…), so I think it’s some combination of those two things—finding the universal experience across cultures and different times.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
I finished my MFA in Creative Writing this year, and my thesis advisor Donna Masini taught me to strip down my writing and use more simple language. Don’t use language to force an emotion on a reader; just present a scene as clearly as possible and they will feel the emotion. Basically, don’t “over-write.”
In your new book; The Boy Recession, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about your novel?
The Boy Recession is a YA romantic comedy told by two narrators, a guy and a girl, who go to a high school in Wisconsin that has a really unbalanced female-male ratio. They like each other, but—as in every romantic comedy—there are some obstacles keeping them from getting together.
What part of Kelly did you enjoy writing the most?
Definitely the scenes with Kelly and her two best friends. I missed that when I wrote my first book, Bloodthirsty, because that narrator, Finbar, was alone most of the time. Kelly’s scenes with her friends reflected much more of my own high school experiences (luckily I wasn’t too much like Finbar), spending hours on the phone with my friends and consulting with them about every little decision in my life.
For those who are unfamiliar with Hunter, how would you introduce him?
Hunter is a skater, a slacker, and—let’s face it—a stoner (not sure how much of that came through the Little, Brown censors). He’s that kid with shaggy hair who hangs out on the corner flipping his skateboard and probably doesn’t shower as much as the average guy. But he’s smarter than he looks, and I like Hunter because he’s less judgmental and uptight than Finbar from Bloodthirsty.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’d like to write another book soon, but after doing my master’s thesis, I need some recovery time!
If you could introduce Kelly to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I really love the book Beatle Meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams, and I think Kelly and Beatle might make a cute couple. She’s very down-to-earth and average and Beatle has a lot of quirky and unusual things happen to him, so they might balance each other out. And she loves music, so she would appreciate that his name is John Lennon!
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
Nothing that I can think of. I just turned 25, so maybe I should start lying about my age in a couple of years?
What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
I try not to read that much fiction while I’m writing fiction, so I don’t end up copying another author’s style, but “read less” is probably not good advice…I guess I would say do a lot of stream-of-consciousness writing—just set the timer and write for twenty minutes non-stop--because whatever flows out from you naturally should be very genuine.
Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
I hate talking on the phone, but I’d probably text my friend Christine, who I’ve known my whole life. We love to vent to each other about things and people that annoy us.
What's the worst summer job you've ever had?
My friend Robin and I worked as waitresses at a country club during high school. We earned six dollars an hour and got NO tips, because the members had tabs and didn’t pay cash. Once Robin was waiting on the owner of the club and his daughter ordered a milkshake. We didn’t have a blender, but Robin had forgotten that because she was nervous, so we ended up creating some weird concoction back in the kitchen, using spoons to mash up scoops of ice cream in a glass of milk. That job was pretty bad (almost as bad as our makeshift milkshake), but managed to be funny sometimes because I was working with a friend.
Who was your first boyfriend?
My current boyfriend! He has three sisters, so he’s easy-going enough to put up with me.
When was the last time you cried?
Superstorm Sandy affected the area where I live really heavily. I’m really lucky that my apartment is okay now and I’m so grateful, but the stress and uncertainty of the situation was overwhelming at the time. I definitely cried. I think I also got caught on camera eating a bunch of the oatmeal raisin cookies they were giving away in the disaster relief wi-fi tent, which is not cry-worthy but embarrassing.
What do you think is the single best decision you've made in your life so far?
Probably not getting a full-time job after college—although I’m not sure if I made that decision or the recession made it for me, because I graduated in 2009. But I decided to give myself time to try to write a book, and it worked out. I’m happy I tuned out all the conventional wisdom about how hard it is to get published and how impractical it is to work in the arts.
What is the one, single food that you would never give up?
Mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Where can readers stalk you?
Preferably on Twitter, because I just got it and I’m still trying to figure out how to use it. If readers can simultaneously stalk me and teach me about hashtags, that would be great!
With little competition, the remaining boys find their stocks on the rise, and even the most unlikely candidates have a good chance at making the team and getting the girl. Guitar-strumming slacker HUNTER FAHRENBACH has made an art of blending into the background, but now desperate coaches are recruiting him and popular girls are noticing his scruffy good looks. With a little help, Hunter might even by boyfriend material...
Down-to-earth KELLY ROBBINS has a simple wish for her junior year: "one normal, nice boy to crush on." Kelly and Hunter have always been friends, but is there something more to their platonic relationship? And can Kelly overcome the odds? After all, dating is hard enough without a four-to-one ratio.
This was a seriously funny book that will have readers laughing out loud. Told from the perspectives of Hunter and Kelly, author Flynn provides readers with accounts of how the male and female gender would handle such a predicament. The writing style brought authentic personalities in the characters and really showed how it would impact the lives of these coming-of-age teenagers. With the boy recession in full effect, many girls find themselves desperate and eyeing boys that they never considered boyfriend material. The slacker, Hunter, sees a transformation as he was once just considered to be a short-term boyfriend, now is rising as a top candidate for the perfect type. The humor is flat-out hilarious. The chase that the girls engaged in pursuing boys made for entertaining scenes. The Boy Recession is truly a witty and fun book, but it also tends to its sweet and romantic side.