Today we're excited to chat with J.C. Geiger, author of Wildman.
Read on for more about J.C. and his book, plus a giveaway!
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I’d spent about a decade trying to write the Great American Fantasy Novel when my ‘93 Buick broke down on the way home from a writing retreat. I had stacks of failed manuscripts and not much money in the bank and took the breakdown as a really bad sign for my career as a writer. Like the universe basically telling me to stop. While I was stranded, I came to terms with two things: 1) I was never going to sell a book, and 2) I loved writing too much to give it up.
After that, I felt like I could write whatever I wanted to. So, naturally, I wrote a book about the breakdown of a ’93 Buick, and how it profoundly changes the way someone sees the world. It suddenly felt more important to be authentic than to be original.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Tough question! It’s easy to say Dakota or Lance, because they are main characters and I know them so well. But Robert and Cheri Front Desk make me laugh the hardest. And Mason was the most surprising. I’m going to plead the parental 5th on this one: “I love them all for different reasons.”
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
Both, in a way. The original title was WE’LL ALL BE GHOSTS. It had the same characters and themes, but hadn’t completely emerged as a story yet – and was probably destined to join my piles of unpublishable novels. When the title WILDMAN came to me, everything just snapped into place. I didn’t tell anyone for months because I didn’t want its magic to escape. The title told me which way to lean with the book, and which themes to focus on. Over the next few months, WE’LL ALL BE GHOSTS morphed into WILDMAN, and was a much stronger story for it.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I’m a sucker for the train jumping scene. And the kissing. Both scenes require going from something very physical to something very interior – because it’s not the mechanics of how you kiss or jump a train that matters, it’s how it feels to do it. I want the reader to be right there with the characters. So I had to jump a lot of imaginary trains and do a lot of imaginary kissing. Luckily, both are a lot of fun.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love the cover. Aside from Jeff Östberg’s beautiful artwork and Maria Elias’s design, I love the image of hanging boots. It can signify death, drug use, achievement, graduation, celebration or mourning, adventure or confinement. I expect readers to interpret WILDMAN differently, and love having an open-ended image on the cover. I also want readers to read the last line, look down at the cover and think: YES. THIS.
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2016?
The best book I read in 2016 was A MANUAL FOR CLEANING WOMEN by Lucia Berlin. Her stories are beautiful, heartbreaking, and slap you across the face with their authenticity. You feel them for days.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
Adventure! I’ll be touring around in my ‘68 Bookmobile, visiting bookstores and schools and other points of interest. Creating pop-up experiences. Social experiments. Scavenger hunts. There will be music involved. Basically trying to merge my love of theatre, travel, writing, and teaching in the most interesting possible ways. I’ll also spend some time observing and writing in small towns along the Lost Coast, which is the setting for my next book.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
Drafting, because of that wild, free-wheeling luge into the subconscious – fingers-flying, surprise and sadness and laugh-out-loud delight. When it’s working, there is this flow state where the self turns invisible and word and characters are electric bolts from brain to fingertips. When it’s not working, you may find me in a fetal position on my office floor.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
I’m a divining rod for coffee shops and dive bars. You could parachute me into a national wilderness area and I’d self-navigate to the nearest windowless, cinder-block watering hole or solid cup of coffee.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
Education is the cause closest to my heart – specifically public education. Teachers have the hardest, most important job in the world, and we have to honor and support them to do their best work. Writing has pulled me away from working as full-time teacher, but I’d like to get back into schools as much as possible.
Meet J.C. Geiger!
J.C. GEIGER has eaten the beating heart of a snake, been deported from a full-moon party, and spent a short time locked in a Bolivian prison. He also writes fiction. His short works have appeared in the pages of Murky Depths and Horror Garage, and on stage at The Second City in Chicago. J.C. now writes, teaches, directs, and performs in the Pacific Northwest, where he can often be spotted behind the wheel of a 1993 Buick Century. It still runs like a dream. Visit him online at www.jcgeiger.com and on Twitter @jcgeiger.
Lance Hendricks is homeward bound, four hundred highway miles from the best night of his life. There’s an epic graduation party brewing, his girlfriend will be there, and they’ve got a private bedroom with their names on it. When his ’93 Buick breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Lance is sure he’ll be back on the road in no time. After all, he’s the high school valedictorian. First chair trumpet player. Scholarship winner. Nothing can stop Lance Hendricks.
But afternoon turns to night, and Lance ends up stranded at the Trainsong Motel. The place feels ominous, even before there’s a terrible car wreck outside his room. When Lance rushes out to help, the townies take notice. They call him Wildman, and an intriguing local girl asks him to join in their nighttime adventures. He begins to live up to his new name. As one day blurs into the next, Lance finds himself in a bar fight, jumping a train, avoiding the police. Drifting farther from home and closer to a girl who makes him feel a way he’s never felt before—like himself.
This debut novel by a remarkable new talent explores the relationship between identity and place, the power of being seen, and the speed at which a well-planned life can change forever.
By: J.C. Geiger
Release Date: June 6th, 2017
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion Publishing