Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christa Talks To The Teen Boy--At Last

So you all have waited a long time for this, but at last, here is the interview with my teenage boy (Well, not my teenage boy, but you get what I mean). Warning: this is a bit of a long one because I ended up harassing him on Facebook with way more questions than I expected.
I promised him I wouldn't put his picture on my blog. Sorry. 
I should tell you in advance that he is adorable and delightful but he is NOT a reader. Which is why I want him to read my books. As many of you know, getting boys to read is one of the BIGGEST items on my agenda and I will shamelessly coerce all of them to do it with promises of cookies and knitted Spartan hats if I must.

Which of the following books have you read?

a. The Hunger Games
b. Twilight
c. 13 Reasons Why
d. Looking For Alaska
e. Perfect Chemistry
f. Boy Toy
g. The Sky is Everywhere

17yo: I've heard of Twilight and The Hunger Games, but I've not read either of them.

What would you call these pants?

17yo: Tight Capris
For real? You wouldn't call them jeans? You'd say to one of your friends, "Did you see the capris that girl was wearing?" and not "Did you see the jeans that girl was wearing?"
17yo: Tight Capris

What would make you read a book over playing a video game?

17yo: If it was a homework assignment:)

Who is your real life hero? Who is your fictional hero?

17yo: Real life- Jim Lovell. Fictional- John Wayne.

(Side note: John Wayne! Isn't this kid adorable?)

Which of these two covers would you buy and why?

17yo: Of these two, I would choose the Wicked Lovely book because the kissing in the shower is a little much for me.

What type of cover would appeal to you?

17yo: Hmm...I really like simple covers. For example, for Econ I had to read a book called Naked Economics and I really liked the cover.

I know your mom read to you when you were younger and you were also an early reader. When do you think you stopped reading for fun? 

17yo: Maybe around 7th grade. I think it was because I started to do other things like football and the school gave us more books to read. The English class I'm in now doesn't require us to read books and I can't remember all of last years : / But for my stats class we could choose a book to read each semester. I read the book Bringing Down the House and Moneyball and I enjoyed both of them, especially Bringing Down the House.

What are some books you have read in English?

17yo: In the past we've read Catcher in The Rye, Harold and Maude, Portrait of An Artist, My Name is Asher Lev, Antigone, and Grapes of Wrath.

Did you like any of these books?

17yo: Ehh, not really, maybe Antigone. I might have liked them more if I was able to read them at my own pace. 

This is the part in the interview where I tell him about the book I'm writing and describe the crazy plot for him:)

17yo: That sounds intense.

Is this your way of saying "Wait to give it to me until summer, Christa."

17yo: Haha I could use a good book to read while Im waiting for a loop at caddying.

So that is the reality of what I'm up against. What anyone who writes for teenagers (particularly boys) is up against. Yes, there are teens who love to read (I have two other boy betas who are BIG readers), but I think that my friend here represents a fairly significant majority of boys. Feel free to correct me. It's highly unscientific speculation. But I am so very grateful for the chance to pick apart his mind. Thank you, my 17-year old friend!


Jodi said...

Agreed...in my experience a majority of boys switch to non-fiction or stop reading altogether toward the end of middle school. If they do continue to read, the male protagonist needs to be a Harry Potter/Indiana Jones sort. Good at sports, relatively popular within his sphere, an adventurer. And even if you hit that sweet spot, your male audience has at least been halved once they entered high school. Depressing. ;)

Brinda said...

I have a grown son who WAS a reader. It breaks my heart that he's not reading for pleasure now. He reads blogs and internet type literature all the time, but he's not reading books now. He read fiction for pleasure while he lived at home, so that was through the tenth grade. (He went away to school after that...long story.) I think he chooses to play video games in his spare time. He's a college student. He would probably say that he's overloaded with assigned reading.

E. Arroyo said...

I have three boys at home. 19 15 and 9. I wouldn't call them "readers". My 15 year old reads more but he likes Darren Shan which is middle grade with a whole lot of gross-ness. My 9 year old did enjoy the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. My 19 year old likes anything where the kid has powers. Yeah, I think he considered getting dunked in sludge to see if that works. But the 15 and 19 year old were disappointed that the Hunger Games had a female protag. the 19 year old is reading it now. We need more boy heroes.

Emily R. King said...

Interesting info! His choice in covers, and his preference for simplicity, were intriguing. Boys like it simple and without sex? Wasn't expecting that. Then again, I don't think he'd want to be caught dead reading the book with the people kissing in the shower. He'd never live it down.
Excellent interview!

Jenna Cooper said...

My brother is 17 and HATES reading. Let's put it this way: he read The Hunger Games (as an outside reading assignment for a class) and disliked it, which is a huge compliment because he usually hates books (he even tried Harry Potter). But he's excited for the movie.
But I think my brother is the extreme. Still, boys (not all boys, but quite a few) do tend to put other things ahead of reading now. It's rather sad.

Jennie Bennett said...

This is very enlightening. I like the naked economics cover too :)

Rida said...

I knew for sure he'd pick that Wicked Lovely cover over the kissing one- no guy at school would want to be caught with either, to be honest, and deffs not the kissing one.

Also, I have Moneyball sitting somewhere at home, too! So teens read the same non-fiction? *blinks* That IS kind of cool. I loved this interview, Christa, and anytime you want to interview me, just send me an email!

Raindrop Reflections

Jolene Perry said...

Okay. That was awesome.
And he sounds like a blast :D


Kelley Vitollo said...

That was great. Thanks for posting.

mooderino said...

Very interesting. I think you asked him about a lot of books aimed at girls, so not surprised he had no interest (the book covers for example) but I htink it was still very revealing.

Moody Writing
The Funnily Enough

ali cross said...

That was the best interview I think I've ever read! It made me think, people might think sex appeals to boys, but apparently not. At least not ALL boys, and not IN YOUR FACE. That I should have Jon Arnston design my boy book covers. And WHY OH WHY does the public school system ring the love of reading right out of our kids?

That's what I'm thinking.

And I'm also thinking I need to tweet this ....

Shell Flower said...

My son is 16 and he used to be a voracious reader. He was reading way above his grade level in third grade, but during middle school he definitely lost his interest in reading. Mostly due to video games and Facebook, I'd have to say, and just hanging with his friends or skateboarding. He did read Hunger Games and loved it. He actually begged me to go get the other two in the series after reading the first one. Now and then he'll re-read an Artemis Fowl, Alex Rider or Redwall book, and even read some Jodi Picoult, but he won't read much YA anymore.

I asked him which book he'd pick if he had to choose from those covers and he picked Chain Reaction. LOL. He said it was because there was at least a dude on the cover and the lighting was better. It was the overall more artistic cover, in his humble opinion. Boys...

Alexis Bass said...

Fascinating! I love that 'capris' are part of teenage boy vocab. I must say though, that the thing that surprised me most about this interview was that he didn’t care for Catcher in the Rye. I thought that was the ONLY assigned reading book teenage boys cared for. Thanks for sharing this!

Peggy Eddleman said...

Ha! That interview rocked! I loved it!

Jessica Silva said...

I should find a way to let you harass my brother, just for the giggles. I love this kid's idea of an appealing cover because, I mean, who DOESN'T want to read a book that looks JUST LIKE a textbook? and this was my absolute favorite: What would make you read a book over playing a video game? 17yo: If it was a homework assignment:)

hahaha let me just add my book to the school curriculum real quick...

Mandie Baxter said...

Great interview! I know my 2 younger brothers aren't big readers. The middle one reads some now, youngest is in college so doesn't have much time, but neither read a lot. I have a 4 yo boy. Right now he LOVES books! I hope to keep that feeling for him.

Bidisha said...

My brother is almost 15 and frankly, he's the only teen boy I 'know' who reads. I'd lay it on the fact that he has me for his sister. I talk nineteen to the dozen about the books I read, so he picks them up and reads them, maybe just to shut me up.
But I do also happen to know A LOT of teen girls who read.
The reader-gender ratio is a little disturbing.

Jonathon Arntson said...

Thank you, Ali, for pulling me into this!

The boy and I share tastes, for covers, at least - which is what Ali alluded to in her comment.

On the other hand, I found The Catcher in the Rye to be the most captivating piece of writing I have ever read. The Grapes of Wrath was neither here, nor there for me until I felt the reality of Joads in my own life (I live in Michigan and see the irrelevant ads for jobs all the time).

Thanks for sharing this interview. It makes me feel like I am doing some things right and that I can take on the challenges ahead. To Ali, you, and everyone else I say "Onward, ho!"

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

LOL! I think my hubby and this boy have a lot in common. My hubby is reading Catcher in the Rye and he keeps telling me, "This is the most pointless book ever written."

So yeah, I hear ya, mystery-17-year-old!

Awesome interview, Christa!

Carrie said...

I love that he knows what capris are! Very sophisticated :)

Most of the teenage boys I know who are readers tend to skip YA. They go straight from upper MG (Darren Shan/Young Bond type stuff) to Kurt Vonnegut/Terry Pratchett/adult thrillers. I also agree that we need more boy heroes (so it's a good thing we have you and your books...).

M Pax said...

I never would have guessed a teenage boy would know what capris are. Interesting data you gathered.

Alison Miller said...

I was just talking to my teen boys today about their reading habits - zip, zero, none. But I know plenty that do read.

Great interview!

Anonymous said...

Great interview, Christa. I work with teenagers and I usually pick up on their reading habits and preferences(or lack thereof).