As I write this I’m torn. I have forty-five pages left to read in THE LOUDNESS and the last thing I want to do is stop and get this post ready to go. But being a grown up sometimes sucks — so forgive any typos as I rush through this post so I can finish the book before bedtime.
While THE LOUDNESS is considered middle grade with our hero, Henry, a mere thirteen years old, it doesn’t read like a typical middle grade novel. Using vivid language, Nick captures the narrow focus of a young teenage boy who is more interested in the muddy coffee buzzing through his body and the punk music he just heard for the first time. Henry has a non-anatomical heart that causes regular problems for him in a community repeatedly struck by natural disasters.
Here’s a little from the book’s cover:
“As Henry uncovers more about the conflicting forces that run his world, he realizes that not everyone is who they seem to be—including himself. In THE LOUDNESS readers will be propelled into an electrifying world where superheroes emerge from the unlikeliest people.”
Awesome, right? Trust me, it’s even better than it’s incredible cover.
Read below for Nick’s responses to the Deb Ball interview.
When you were a teenager, what did you think you’d be when you grew up? I never actually had a clear idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I’ve always envied people who were on any kind of track. What I had – instead of a career goal – was a hazy vision of myself at twenty-eight: I’d be living in a bigger city than New Orleans (my hometown); I’d ride a beaten up Vespa; I’d have a wall-to-wall record collection; I’d be in a punk band that people liked. The “what,” which felt implied but was never articulated, was just “something creative.” I’m in my thirties now and more of a teenager than I ever was in high school—I’ve gotten back into skateboarding; I’m catching up on lost time with my guitar—so I figure I have a few more years to go until I have to get that Vespa and grow up once and for all.
Have you ever met someone you idolized? What was it like? Having worked in publishing for over a decade, I’ve actually met a few authors I’ve idolized at one point or another – but it’s always been in a professional context, so I’ve had to keep it together. And I can usually pretend like we’re just two normal people in the world having a conversation, but make an exception for childhood heroes. I don’t think I’d be coherent if I ever met Daniel Pinkwater, for example. I definitely wasn’t coherent when I met Jesse Michaels, the lead singer for Operation Ivy, one of my favorite bands since 7th grade. My wife had a normal conversation with him while I stood a little behind her, wild-eyed. She’s a literary agent and ended up selling his debut novel – I’m still a little dumbstruck that she talks on the phone with him like it’s no big deal.
What is your advice for aspiring writers? I taught first-year writing, very briefly, at Boston College, and my number one recommendation to my students was to brew a pot of coffee, put on a Dixieland jazz record, and wear something formal. In other words, make writing a ritual. If you do that, and stick to it, you’ll have written something. It’s important to have that closure, because once you’ve written (past tense), everything changes—you have something discreet and real to sell or otherwise share with the world. The trick is remembering to flip to side B and revise.
Have you ever tried writing in a different genre? I’ve always been a little squeamish about horror, so—after a Halloween-related Stephen King bender—I decided to challenge myself to write a scary story. I’d been busy with my day job for a few months and hadn’t written much, and this gave me a chance to spend a few days creeping myself out in the stacks at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library (which looks out over the dinosaur exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History). That was really fun, and now I want to write an entire collection.
What’s your next big thing? I’m writing a sequel to The Loudness – which I’m hoping will be EVEN LOUDER! Editor’s Note: I wish I would have known this before I started reading – now I have to wait for the sequel!
GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by Noon (EST) on Friday, May 8th to win a copy of THE LOUDNESS (US only). Follow The Debutante Ball on Facebook and Twitter for extra entries—just mention that you did so in your comments. We’ll choose and contact the winner on Friday. Good luck!
Nick Courage is a New Orleans-born artist, musician, writer, and aspiring skateboarder. His work has recently appeared in Story, Full Stop, and The Paris Review Daily. He splits his time between Brooklyn and Pittsburgh, where he lives with his wife and two cats. Find Nick on Twitter, Goodreads, or his website.
Nick Courage’s debut novel, The Loudness, is available wherever books are sold. For more information on The Loudness, visit: nickcourage.com/theloudness.
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