Monday, September 8, 2014

Author Interview: Dean Ammerman

Book: "Waiting for the Voo"
Author: Dean Ammerman
 A bit about the book:
“Waiting for the Voo” is the story of a tall, thin, geeky 13-year-old boy from Minnesota named Wilkin Delgado and a tug-o-war champion, gray-haired, exiled 14-year-old tattooed Missouri girl with serious anger issues by the name of Alice Jane Zelinski. Wilkin and Alice Jane join forces with an intergalactic, flip-flop wearing plumber named Cardamon Webb to fix a nasty sewage problem that threatens to destroy the universe. Along the way the three—and one or two others—must deal with a spiky monster, a ch-duck, an ancient book, a rat, a pair of ostriches and the mysterious Voo. Can the universe be saved? Probably not.

When did you start writing?
In college I competed in forensics, which at the time didn’t have anything to do with dead people. I wrote persuasive, informative and humorous speeches. (Here’s one line I remember: “I used to be inclined to talk about it. But I kept falling over. And then I’d be prone to talk about it.” I was the only one who thought that was funny.) A friend and I also performed an interpretative piece we called Existential Bird Poetry. Once. After that I did some technical writing and copywriting for companies like Fuji and Target and 3M. If you write every day at work it’s hard to come home and write for yourself. But about nine years ago I decided to write a novel (“Anteater-Boy”). That took six years. Then I began looking around for another idea and ended up with “Waiting for the Voo.”

How did you get the idea for your book?
There are a lot of sad, gloomy, disturbing books out there. Whole categories of them. In fact, if you think about it almost all fiction and non-fiction is depressing. (With the exception of “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” of course.) So I decided to write something that was only mildly not uplifting. That was my starting point. Then it took about a year to come up with the character who became Alice Jane Zelinski, one of the two narrators in “Waiting for the Voo.” She’s a 14-year-old tattooed tug-o-war champion from Missouri with serious anger issues. After that it was a matter of figuring out how to get Alice Jane into a challenging situation and find the best way to tell the story. I settled on using two alternating narrators: Alice Jane Zelinski and a 13-year-old boy named Wilkin Delgado. Once I had that, then the two of them joining up with an intergalactic plumber, fighting ch-ducks and Gutrogs, and saving the universe was pretty obvious. 

What other works do you have out?
Just the one: “Anteater-Boy.” It’s a coming-of-age novel with a dachshund. There are no dachshunds in “Waiting for the Voo.” Only basset hounds. That’s the biggest difference.

Are you currently working on any other projects?
Right now I’m working on a follow-up to “Waiting for the Voo,” which is tentatively titled “Escape from Dorkville.” It brings Wilkin, Alice Jane and Cardamon Webb back together. I also wrote a children’s book, but my illustrator got busy so right now it’s just a bunch of words in a drawer.

What are your favorite movies, TV shows, and bands? Do they influence your work?
My favorite movies are probably “Waking Ned Devine,” “Spider-Man 2” and “The Incredibles.” Oh, and I also like the Bourne Trilogy (“The Bourne Identity,” “The Bourne Supremacy,” and “The Bourne Ultimatum”). And “Ramen Girl” anyone? TV shows: “Dr. Who.” Of course, when my daughters are home I watch “New Girl,” “Housewives of Orange County” and “Housewives of New York.” I just end up yelling at the TV during the “Housewives” shows. It’s not pretty. Musicians: Julie Fowlis, Steve Earle, Jack White, Elvis Costello, The Kinks, Junior Wells, Willis. I suppose everything influences everything. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more of a minimalist. I can’t imagine writing a sprawling 500 page novel that covers five generations of the Darcy family, or whatever. “Anteater-Boy” was 263 pages. “Waiting for the Voo” is 156 pages. I suppose my next novel will be a couple of paragraphs.

In three sentences or less, why should people go out and read your book?
“Waiting for the Voo” is an antidepressant. You’ll meet some interesting people, have some laughs and learn that a ferret is a member of the weasel family. (Oops, that probably should have been a spoiler alert. Sorry.) That’s four sentences. Now five. Darn.

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