Review: The Darkest Minds Review: Chasers Review: Cornered Review: Finale Review: Leopard Moon

Monday, April 25, 2011

Blog Tour: Throat

Follow R.A. Nelson on his blog tour for

Monday, April 25th
Books with Bite
Tuesday, April 26th
Patricia’s Vampire Notes
Wednesday, April 27th
Bite Club
Thursday, April 28th
Friday, April 29th
Random Acts of Reading
Saturday, April 30th
Dangers Untold and Hardships Unnumbered

We’ll be tweeting about Russ’s blog tour on @RandomHouseKids!
(Follow the author: @RANelsonYA)

I was so exited that I have been ask to be a part of this tour! Please welcome Mr. Nelson author of Throat!

Great questions. Thanks for having me!

 What is needed for a story to be good?

Of course the most immediate answer is this: good characters and a good plot. Which is no doubt what most readers are looking for when they pick up a book. But then you hear all this talk about “character-driven” vs. “plot-driven” or “slice of life” vs. “action/fast-paced.” I have enjoyed books that would fit under any of these headings, but the books I tend to like best are usually a combination of several of these – what I like to call “story driven.” But I do think it all starts with an amazing character. Good ideas are surprisingly plentiful, but good characters are a gift from the gods. A good character can carry a lackluster story. And when you wed a great character with a great story, that’s what makes a classic. A good recent example for me is The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean. Her main character Sym is quirky, interesting, and fun, driven by an obsession with the South Pole and a handsome long dead explorer. She also has a crazy uncle with an insane theory who takes her on an insanely dangerous adventure. To top it off, the writing was spectacularly good. Could not put it down.

In the case of my book Throat, I began with a character that I couldn’t stop thinking about – a 17 year old girl named Emma who felt cursed by her epilepsy. Her condition has wrecked her social life, driven away her only boyfriend, and she can’t even legally drive. But when she is attacked by a vampire and goes into a grand mal seizure, her epilepsy not only saves her life, but also leaves her with all the powers of a vampire and none of the weaknesses (avoiding sunlight, the need to drink blood). So Emma should be overjoyed, right?  Only thing is, the other vampires want to kill her for it.

Where do you get ideas for your writing?

I get ideas all over the place, usually in the most unexpected ways. The trick is separating the proverbial wheat from the chaff. I often come up with lots of ideas that are almost “there,” but I can’t quite commit (or can’t find the right character to make the idea really come alive). When I came up with the idea for Throat, I had been considering a list of 22 possible ideas for several months. The problem was, I couldn’t make Emma fit into any of those ideas. And the thing about ideas is that you can almost never consciously force a storyline to work; for me it has to come from somewhere that feels deeply organic, subconscious, right. I spent lots of hours mulling this over in endless variations for a couple more months until finally one day – when I wasn’t thinking about writing at all, just driving down the road – everything suddenly clicked when I wondered what it would be like for a vampire to have epilepsy. I was off and running.

What is the hardest part of writing?

For me, the hardest part of writing is the “in between” time when I’m NOT writing (as described above). Thinking about writing is writing too, of course. Books wouldn’t be possible without it. But the circular, grasping nature of this kind of thought can be maddening, because I feel this restless need to create and I’m not sure what I’m going to write about. It’s frustrating and wonderful, all at the same time. It’s much better, much easier, once I’m committed to an idea and can begin the actual work. I’m not saying the work itself is easy – far from it. Just easier. There are hard days to be sure along the way to a finished novel, but that happens more often due to factors outside of the actual work itself.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I think I have always wanted to be a writer in one way or another, whether I realized this consciously or not in the beginning. I always wanted to dream and explore and do amazing, interesting things. I often think writing is a way of doing more than I am capable of physically doing in one lifetime; it’s like generating a hundred or a thousand additional lifetimes to use to explore the mysteries of the universe, as well as the equally vast and intriguing “inner universe” inside our heads. More specifically, I still have a one act play I wrote when I was six. I began subscribing to Writer’s Digest when I was in high school. But I didn’t really get completely serious about publishing until I realized the focus that was required. I had to decide what not to do in my life in order to reach my dreams. Okay, so I wasn’t going to be the first person to walk on Mars or invent time travel or play basketball in the NBA. But I could still be a writer.

What do you do on your spare time?

There are so many things I would love to do if I had spare time: visit archeological digs or historical sites, travel to interesting places, amateur astronomy, hiking and exploring, spelunking, music, etc. There are so many of them and it’s simply not very possible for me to do any of them right now. Even reading, one of my greatest passions, often has to take a backseat to the day-to-day necessities of life. But I’ll get there eventually.

Do you have any pets?

These days just two cats, Socks and Paco. For a long time we had dogs. Love them all. Especially love watching the cats.

What do you wish you had more time for?

Everything! Well, every good thing. J See my answer above about all the great things I would love to do. I think humans were meant to live to be about 800, and even that wouldn’t be enough. I have always loved doing things with my family, so that would be priority number 1.

Have you ever caught a fish and ate it?

I love to fish but haven’t done it in years. And yes, I’ve caught many a fish and eaten a few hear and there. I don’t much like fish, but then again, I haven’t tried very many aside from the “fishy” tasting ones I’ve caught in ponds and rivers. My wife, who is from Maine, keeps trying to get me to try “ocean” fish. I order steak at Red Lobster.

Anything you got planned for this weekend?

My first thought would be this: work, work, and more work. Ha, might see a movie. Actually, with everything that has been going on, not having something to do would be very nice indeed. I’ve been so busy for so long, I’d love to read and just relax, watch a few NBA playoff games. Finally figure out how to work my iPod so I can download audio books. That all sounds wonderful.

Do you resemble anyone famous?

Ha, when I was in high school the person I heard again and again was John Travolta, believe it or not. A couple of people thought I looked like Robbie Benson. (Must’ve been the hair).

What do you do in the summer time?

Love going to the beach, though it’s been a while. Getting outdoors as much as possible. Swimming. Grilling. Working in the yard.

What is your favorite food?

I used to say pizza automatically, but after having consumed approximately 1.2 million slices, I need to choose something else. I love my mom’s manicotti recipe, even though it takes forever to make (seriously, several hours). I love hot dogs sliced down the middle, stuffed with cheese, and wrapped in bacon. Ye gods. Obviously I can only eat that one about once a decade. My real comfort food is chocolate.

If a character from a book could be your best friend, would who you pick?

Nine. I would dearly love to be friends with her (from my book Teach Me about a girl who has an affair with her English teacher). She’s brilliant, interesting, flings ideas all over the place about science, history, language, and digs Emily Dickinson. What’s not to like?

What do you have on your mind?

My next book. I’m very excited about it. I love to be excited about writing a book. This one is going to be very different from anything I’ve ever written. Working title: Beyond Where I Can See.

Thanks again for having me!

Thank you Mr. Nelson for stopping by! Be sure to check out the rest of the tour stops to learn more about author R.A. Nelson and the Throat Novel!

Happy Reading!


  1. What a fun interview! I love Savy how you asked some book-related questions and then threw in some random questions as well, I feel like I get to know the authors a little bit more when the questions are so nice and varied. Love the sound of this book, I've made a note of it on my ridiculously long TBR list:)

  2. I really enjoyed the guys panel at Teen Book Con! They're questions and answers are always so different :D

    Great interview!

  3. Awesome interview. I bet it is hard to squeeze in some fun time around work, going to the beach would definitely help with that.

    And yup, manicotti takes forever to make but it is soooo good!

  4. Great interview. You can tell you really enjoy your work. Oh, I'm sure that shows in your stories. I really need to look up this book!


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