Paperback writer welcomes author Steven Verrier, author of Plan B as he interview with us during his virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book.
Life was good to fifteen-year-old Danny Roberts. He was a model student, playing violin in his high school orchestra and earning straight A’s on the fast track to university. But then things went very wrong very fast. The problems started when a teacher wouldn’t let Danny out of class to go to the bathroom – even though he said “I’ve really got to go!”
Danny responded by defying authority for the first time in his life. That shocking act of defiance earned him a suspension, and Danny’s troubles snowballed from there. But Danny isn’t your typical student, and he doesn’t take his lumps lying down. He fights back on his terms as he plots a course through uncharted waters.
About The Author
Steven Verrier, born in the United States and raised in Canada, has spent much of his adult life living and traveling abroad. Publications include Plan B (Saga Books, 2010), Tough Love, Tender Heart (Saga Books, 2008), Raising a Child to be Bilingual and Bicultural (Hira-Tai Books of Japan), and several short dramatic works (Brooklyn Publishers, USA). Currently he is living with his wife, Motoko, and their five children in San Antonio, Texas.
You can visit his website at StevenVerrier.com
Read an Excerpt
Though his parents had pushed him hard to make a hotel reservation in Paris before leaving the States, Danny, hardly strapped for cash but mindful of nearly every penny in his pocket and bank account, had ruled otherwise. He’d read a stack of books about traveling in Europe, and one, Europe on the Cheap, had warned him in no uncertain terms not to make any hotel reservations before starting his trip. It would be a lot easier, the book said, to find reasonable accommodations upon arrival at Charles de Gaulle International Airport, where desperate hoteliers would be dispatching workers to round up travelers to fill up unoccupied rooms. Travelers arriving at night would be able to play hardball and score rooms of any class for pennies on the dollar. But the reality awaiting Danny was that Paris was packed to the rafters, hostels were filled beyond capacity, and any hotel rooms that were still vacant were going for exorbitant prices.
Identifying himself as an American college student on summer vacation, Danny breezed straight through immigration, exchanged a hundred dollars for Euros, and then spent half an hour looking through brochures at a travelers’ aid bureau at de Gaulle and bartering in basic French with a few hotel agents who seemed intent on taking him for every Euro he had and then some. Though Danny wanted to see Paris, he decided to postpone that indulgence until later in his journey. Now, with no place to stay, and with night about to sneak up on him seven hours earlier than usual, he decided this would be as good a time as any to try out his Eurail Pass, which offered him fifteen days of unlimited travel on its intercity rail network covering much of the continent.
It took Danny, a novice at riding trains, a few hours to arrive at the Gare de Lyon, a station recommended in some of his guidebooks. As soon as he arrived there he learned he could have taken a bus from de Gaulle directly to the station and made the trip in under an hour. Determined not to rush into any other bad decisions, he decided to relax at a café he’d noticed near the station.
Not having his French footing yet, Danny looked about as disoriented as a hayseed dropped out of a plane into the middle of Manhattan. Such was all too apparent to a young blonde who sidled up to him as he headed for the café.
“Puis-je vous aider?”
“Uh, no, merci,” said Danny once his tongue was untied.
“Oh, you’re American.” Danny stopped and looked at the attractive young woman, who was about eighteen or nineteen. His disappointment that his accent had given him away as an American was mitigated greatly by the fact that a very pretty young female, dressed in tight shorts and smiling broadly, was standing barely a foot away from him.
“That’s right,” he said.
“What is your name?”
“Daniel.” He said it with a French accent, with heavy stress on the last part.
“Where are you going, Daniel?”
“I was just going to have a snack before catching a train tonight.”
“You’re leaving Paris?”
“I didn’t plan to. I’ve just arrived but couldn’t find a cheap place to stay.”
“Perfect,” she said. “My name is Julienne. You stay in my house.”
Danny, not yet wise to the world, stood there flatfooted, not sure which foot to pick up next.
“You don’t like?” said Julienne, smiling with the confidence of one who’d seen it all. “Daniel stays at Julienne’s house. Doesn’t that sound good?”
Unsure whether he was talking to a prostitute or a good Samaritan, Danny didn’t want to snuff out his prospects just yet. He’d hinted, after all, that he wasn’t a rich man – not that his worn clothes and tattered bag would have left much doubt anyway – and she still seemed interested … but in what?
Welcome to Paperback Writer.
Q: Will you share with us how you came up with the idea for this book?
A: I’m not sure it was anything conscious that inspired my writing Plan B. But all my life I’ve heard people making excuses … explaining how the deck was stacked against them … how they were being held back from doing this or that … and all too often how life just wasn’t fair. I just wanted to show how circumstances are secondary to character.
Q: Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?
A: I don’t like to go too far with an outline; that can take the fun out of writing a first draft. But I do need a general direction to follow. Once I can feel the story building up inside I’m ready to go.
Q: Do you know the end of the story at the beginning?
A: I try not to, because that would box in my writing. As far as fiction goes, I don’t like to place many limits on myself when I’m working on a first draft. But the characters and the situation will let me know the ending long before I get there.
Q: Do you have a process for developing your characters?
A: I don’t start writing until the key characters are developed enough in my mind that I won’t have any trouble describing them, describing their thoughts and reactions, and so forth. If you know a living person well enough it’s not hard to describe that person or his or her reactions. It’s the same thing with characters.
Q: It is said that authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what they would be?
A: I don’t always notice as I’m writing, but when I look back I see plenty of myself and people I know in my characters. Recently on a blog post I listed ten similarities between myself and Danny Roberts, the protagonist in Plan B. It didn’t take any time at all to come up with that list, and it could have been a lot longer. Danny and I share a lot of experiences and tastes.
Q: What is your favorite part about this book?
A: That’s hard to say. I think the book is a cohesive unit, telling a good story. But perhaps the first chapter – when Danny frantically needs to get to the restroom but is having all kinds of trouble getting his teacher’s permission to go – is most important. A compelling opening is so vital, and I think Plan B’s opening does draw the reader in.
Q: When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?
A: I contacted a previous publisher of mine concerning Plan B. I waited until the manuscript was completed.
Q: What struggles have you had on the road to being published?
A: None that most writers haven’t had. You just have to be patient and continue to improve your craft. It nearly always takes time.
Q: What has been the best part about being published?
A: When you identify yourself as a writer you can nearly always expect somebody to ask whether you have a book or two available somewhere. It’s always nice to be able to say yes.
Q: What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?
A: Don’t make excuses. If Plan A doesn’t work, try Plan B or Plan C or … Live up to that Nike slogan. My experience tells me, incidentally, that people who call themselves writers are among the biggest excuse-makers walking the earth.
Q: Do you have plans to write another book?
A: I’m putting the finishing touches to a couple of other projects – one fiction and one nonfiction. The nonfiction project is an account of my most recent year of teaching in a high school. The title is Class Struggle: Journal of a Teacher In Up to His Ears, so you can imagine what kind of an account it’s going to be. It should be available in the fall of 2010.
Thank you, Steve, for sharing your book and characters with us today. It has been a pleasure having you visit Paperback Writer.