Friday, February 26, 2016

Chocolates, First Loves and Book Crushes: Brooks Benjamin (Interview + Giveaway)

Chocolates, First Loves and Book Crushes is a blog event featuring debut authors answering questions that I have sent them as they talk  about their Valentine's day routines, love, book crushes and more. For a list of all the participating authors, check it out here.

In sixth grade, Brooks Benjamin formed a New Kids on the Block tribute dance crew called the New Kidz. He wasn’t that good at dancing back then. But now he’s got a new crew—his wife and their dog. They live in Tennessee, where he teaches reading and writing and occasionally busts out a few dance moves. He’s still not that good at it. His first novel, MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS will be released by Delacorte/Random House (April 12, 2016).

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1.    Have you always seen Valentine’s as an important event? What do you usually do on Valentine’s Day?
  • I've never looked at Valentine's Day as important, but definitely as fun. I mean, hey...why not treat every day like Valentine's Day, right? *lowers sunglasses, winks, one of those THE MORE YOU KNOW stars rockets by behind my head* On Valentine's Day, Jackie and I will try to come up with something enjoyable to do together. In the past, we've gone to stay at BnBs, road tripped up the mountains, or attempted to cook some crazy recipe we've never thought to try. It's rarely the same, but it's always fun.

2. What is your fondest memory about Valentine’s Day? Can you go into details about it?

  • Oh this one's easy. One year Jackie and I both had the exact same idea for Valentine's Day. We both set up a little scavenger hunt for the other one to find these various clues spread around the house that would lead to a surprise. It was hilarious because we both forgot where some of our own clues were, so while we were searching through the house we kept accidentally finding the ones we had made for the other person. 

3. What has always been your idea of the perfect date?

My perfect date would be:
  1.  Go to Coolato Gelato for an Italian hot chocolate (drools).
  2.  Head to the bookstore for a while to browse and buy and read.
  3.  Find some really weird stores to go in and look around.
  4.  Buy a pair of Converse somewhere.
  5.  Make our way to the theater for a movie.
  6.  Find a gigantic pizza to take home. 
  7.  Spend the rest of the night watching stupid movies on TV and noshing.

4. Has it always been a walk in the park or had there been any Valentine’s Day disasters you’ve encountered? (Maybe about your own or someone you know who you would like to share)
  • Well, this one's not really a disaster because of the holiday, but it did cast a pretty legendary shadow over the date for a long while. My dad passed away on February 14th while I was in college. I got the call that morning and immediately packed up and went home. It was the scariest moment of my life. 

5. Can you tell us about your first love? What was he/she like? 
  • My first love and my current love are one in the same, actually. She's brilliant, gorgeous, hilarious, and the most generous person I know. She constantly pushes me to be a better writer and, more importantly, a better person.

6. Any book crushes/boyfriends?

Way too many to list. So here are my top five.
  1. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series
  2. Ryan Dean West from Winger
  3. Susannah Dean from The Dark Tower series
  4. Greg Gaines from Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
  5. Sadie Blood from Stone Rider

7. Are the characters in your upcoming novel big romantics or total party poopers?
  • Oh I'd say they're romantics, for sure. Austin is probably the biggest romantic of them all. His heart has belonged to the same person for a while. However, my main character, Dillon, is sort of a budding romantic. He knows who he's crushing on, but when it comes to letting that person know, he's completely oblivious. It's adorable, really. 
8. If you can go out on a date with a character in your book, who would it be and why?

  • If I were back in middle school, it'd be hard for me to choose. Kassie would be so much fun to go out on a date with because she'd come up with something outrageously fun for us to do. It'd be the exact opposite of a typical date and I'd love that. Then again there's Carson. He'd also be fun to go out on a date with because he'd probably find a way to get us into some exclusive restaurant or into an R-rated movie. He's got a bit of a mischievous streak and I'd love that, too. 
9. What would you like to say to any reader out there this Valentine’s season?
  • First and foremost, love yourself. Love who you are, who you're becoming, and everything in your past that has made you you. Then take all that love and spread it around as much as possible. Leave no stone unturned, no tree unhugged, no person or animal unloved.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Title: My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights
Author: Brooks Benjamin
Publication: April 12th 2016, Delacorte/Random House
Pre-order it on: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | The Book Depository | Kobo | National Book Store / Fully Booked (PH)



All Dillon wants is to be a real dancer. And if he wins a summer scholarship at Dance-Splosion, he’s on his way. The problem? His dad wants him to play football. And Dillon’s freestyle crew, the Dizzee Freekz, says that dance studios are for sellouts. His friends want Dillon to kill it at the audition—so he can turn around and tell the studio just how wrong their rules and creativity-strangling ways are.


At first, Dillon’s willing to go along with his crew’s plan, even convincing one of the snobbiest girls at school to work with him on his technique. But as Dillon’s dancing improves, he wonders: what if studios aren’t the enemy? And what if he actually has a shot at winning the scholarship?


Dillon’s life is about to get crazy . . . on and off the dance floor.

Thank you the adorable Brooks Benjamin and his adorable, adorable wife. I think Jackie is the true queen of this interview. HAHAHA! Anyway, thank you to Brooks for hosting the giveaway! It's super exciting!!! Tomorrow, we'll have another middle grade writer, Melanie Conklin, author of the gorgeous, Counting Thyme. See y'all!

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