Author Interview: H.A. EnriPosted in author, featured, interview, post, promotion
About the Author:
Would you actually want to own a food truck, and if so, what would you serve and what would you call it?
Owning and operating? Hmm. Perhaps, with a capital P. In conducting the research for this book, I came to understand a) it’s no easy task to keep a successful food truck running; b) success does not always have to do with the ability to deliver big on taste; c) concept and branding i.e. marketing are huge aspects to the business and, like many artists, that whole part of it is not always where the passion of it all lie; d) a little luck never hurts. Does this sound like someone trying to be a writer? Surely does. I love to cook and do at least four days out of the week, but to make my livelihood out it...I’d have to be pretty hungry to commit anytime soon. Lot’s of love to food truck owner operators.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I've actually known I've wanted to be a writer since I was twelve. The brief excerpt of that mini epiphany is on my website’s FAQ's. As for YA, I didn’t know I actually wanted to write for young adults until about eight years ago. This book made it through the publication portal, but there are other predecessors on my hard drive, many young adults megabyte format wondering why they never got to graduate from being mere Word docs to full blown, bound, edited and printed books.
If you were a dish on a food truck, what would you be called?
I would be a patty of thick, ground, kobe beef, topped with cheese, caramelized onion, tomato, guacamole and a special sauce, all between buttered and toasted, thick sourdough. I’m simple, like a burger, but I am also not just your regular driver through or diner burger either (does this sound like some dating site profile? Ha!). In any case, it would be called the Soul Melt because more than deeply satisfying the palate, it would penetrate the soul of anyone who ate it. P.S. I really am into the world “soul” and all it connotates.
Novelists who inspired you?
The list is long. In YA we have Sarah Dessen, Gary Schmidt, Caroline Cooney, Ned Vizzini, I will add that not many people mention Vizzini—God rest his talented soul, and it’s shocking. He’s been considered a pioneer of the modern YA lit genre, and I agree. Hopefully, I see him on the other side and we can collaborate.
Talk about YA Lit.
It is summarily different than it used to be even twelve years ago. And pre 2000’s—forget it. That was like reading Homer. Seriously, I mean you have to practice writing effective scenes during commercials (do don’t delete them, you aspiring YA writers, from your DVR. They may prove to be useful yet) in order to match the pace of the current ideal YA. Secondly, don’t forget the lingo the characters used in your favorite sitcom right before the commercial. It should be transposed to your novel. Remember they used to teach, “Don’t write how you speak”? Not so anymore. Those teachers, apparently, were wrong. And no, I haven’t perfectly mastered the art of copy-matching-and-pacing at commercial speed in my writing style. you remember reading with a dictionary handy? Hey, with apps now, it should be easier, except that rarely do YA books require readers to have to use one anymore. Remember when you read something and went WTF? Even after three reads! And it wasn’t because you checked out. Sometimes it was like the writer just wrote and invited you to his house but said, “There’s the fridge and stove. If you’re hungry, do your best.” I’m not saying I don’t appreciate what is happening now and don’t get it, I do and am not against it. But something in my writing approach still doesn’t mind if readers are expected to sort of work through certain language tones and aspects.
Love and romance aren’t depicted the way the YA genre seems to be going in your novel. Why?
Have you been around a high school aged lately? Till death do us part, mad love isn’t en vogue. Most young adults aren’t really sure where love fits into their lives, and to begin to truly to answer that is scary enough for many people, let alone young people. I wanted Sole to reflect a kid who didn’t just zero in on one girl and know she was the one. That’s usually not how it works anyway, at least not when your age still has “teen” as a suffix. As for Ava, many young girls with allure have older guys after them, and that’s why I wanted to show that in the first chapters. That’s reality for many young adult girls of her capacity. Sometimes, too, they chose those guys. I don’t think this makes my book not YA. Upper YA? Sure. But still YA definitely.
I sense an intentional avenue in your book carved out, specifically referring to your focus of a father and son conflict. Explain that.
Well, it’s got nothing to do with my own relationship with my father. We have an outstanding and close one. But you’re correct about the father and son aspect. Many fathers take a backseat in literature or are two dimensional caricatures who are hands off and don’t really permeate the minds of the young adult protagonist. Really? That is most dads? Huh... Anyway, I wanted to write not for guys, but so that guys could related to the literature as easily as girls could and do. Let’s face it: girl readers vastly outnumber young males, and I sort of wanted both to equally relate here. I can say I’ll probably continue to develop that in other novels.
You have a lot of comedy in your book. What’s the best joke (keep it clean) that you’ve ever heard?
I heard Dennis Miller onstage and, though I’m not saying this is my favorite, I’ll mention it because it just came to mind: he was speaking of the past and with subtlety, in his verbal memoir, he said, “It was hot back then...” and he paused. It was all about the way he said it. The audience slowly got it. Then he said, “The sun was still hot then, right?” He was comparing it to the way people think the past happened in black and white. The genius was, he didn’t even have to say that part to get audience in on it. Brilliant.
Are any of the characters in the book based off of someone you know?
Most characters are concoctions of many people in various forms—those we know, those we’ve heard about, those we’d like to know and those we knew. Once you put all that together, my answer, like a writer, would technically be kind of but not really. Not very technical, is it...
Why did you write this book?
I wrote this book because this idea had never been pursued in YA lit, let alone fiction. When the idea came to me, I thought it was worth telling for others out there. Of course, now there’s a film about a food truck owner operator, but not when I wrote the novel. I wanted to explore the concept of the food truck operator as a person with issues, so that’s when it turned YA because my teenage protagonist Sole became the focus. You can watch The Great Food Truck Race or Eat St. if you just care about someone and their food truck, but life as an owner operator is not the star idea of this narrative.
How’d you pick the title of the book?
It’s the material clashing with the existential. The truck is a symbol for all things wrong with the world for Sole, the novel’s main dude. Street food is what the truck is all about, so I used that terms versus “food truck.” Since the food truck or “street food” are always at odds with Sole and his heart (yes, it’s okay to sigh and say “aw.”), I chose to capture that with “love.” Until these two opposing forces learn to coexist, neither of them has a chance to make it. The title, in a simple way, somewhat epitomizes those novel’s major motifs.
Why did you pick LA as the setting?
My character, as an aspiring comedian, inspired all that is L.A.—someone who wants to get into showbiz and has the chops to do so. Sole thinks, like many, that achieving his celebrity plan is his exit card from all things painful. From there, I wanted to unveil of a story of someone whose greatest obstacle is not external—abuse, violence, etc.—but rather is the soft issues of the heart that are sometimes more detrimental than the obvious ones. There is this individual surrounded by the giant of possibility that is L.A., and his world is just this tiny, fading echo. I liked the contradiction.
How often do you write?
As often as I can but not as often as I’d like. This is where you probably want to hear my writing process and such. Really, some days it feels like I’m hacking away like a lumberjack at a petrified tree other days it feels like I’m driving up the 101 outside of L.A, ocean to my left, top down, music son, and the sun holding back some of its heat just because I’m on the highway. Do I go at it daily? At least four days out of the week, but I aim for seven. Writing doesn’t currently foot the bills fully, so I have another gig. I know, I know: when I say that I leave myself open for comments like, “Good thing, then I don’t have to worry about reading too much of your work,” or, “I can see why you keep your day job.” Sure, I get that I’m vulnerable to those criticisms, but it’s just the reality of most writers’ lives. Want to buy a thousand copies and change that? Ha, ha.
What kind of books do you read?
I’m a social science junkie. I’m talking an obsession beyond obsessions. As for other genres, I do read lots of YA, of course, lots of it. And, I take in about four literary adult novels a year, one per quarter. I read that in parts between my others.
How important are names to you in your books?
Sometimes too much, so I try to back off. Many of my first drafts start off with names looking like this: ________. Yes, really. Then, when I finally give them a name, it’s nothing as potent and floral and full of atmosphere and meaning like I thought it would be. Someday, I’ll name my characters Jim, John, Jen and things like that.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
I’m sort of just lifting off the launch pad. That’s a flattering question, but I’m not quite in a position to answer that yet. One might say, “I’ll take his advice and do the opposite.” Ha. I’m kidding about the mini joke. But really, I feel like I’m still aspiring. I’ll answer better when I’m past the aspiring level.
What secret talents do you have?
You mean writing isn’t one of them?
Your main character’s defense mechanism against pangs of the soul is comedy. It seems like you can relate.
That is maybe one trait the novel’s main dude and I share.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Time travel with knowledge retention. I would continually perfect my life, constantly updating it with the new life lessons I am learning.
What is the biggest lie you've ever told?
If I answered that, then that would be it. The biggest one hopefully was my best and hopefully I got away with it (last time I checked, that was still the case). So, yeah...
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