I’m very excited about this Students Want to Know post. Geoff has written an utterly fantastic debut that appeals to both guys and girls. Stupid Fast has been a home run book for my reluctant boys because of its humor, sports theme, and honesty.
This is a long interview, but one of my boys that read it really enjoyed it and had great questions for Geoff. Thank you for doing this with my students, Geoff, and taking the time to answer Adam’s questions! If you’d like to win a copy of Stupid Fast, fill out the form at the end of the interview.
Summary (From Goodreads): Fifteen-year-old Felton Reinstein has always been on the smallish side, but in his sophomore year he starts growing…and growing.
During gym one day he smokes the football jocks in a 600-yard race. Felton has never been interested in sports, but there’s no doubt-he is “stupid fast.” As he juggles his newfound athletic prowess, his mom’s sudden depression, an annoying little brother, and his first love, he discovers a shocking secret about his past which explains why he’s turning out the way he is.
- Where did you get the inspiration for the plot?
In some ways, I got the plot from my own history. I was a pretty weird kid who sort of found myself in sports. The only time my crazy, yappy brain shut up was while playing sports. I wasn’t Felton good, but pretty good. I’ve been thinking for years about a story of a kid with many more problems than I had and also huge ability and how that might play out. A couple of years ago when I thought of the title Stupid Fast, it all fell into place. Here’s a kid who does exactly what comes naturally to him and that reveals the truth of his life.
- I thought Andrew’s persona was hilarious. The way he said whatever he wanted and his antics to get attention from Jerri was super funny, especially when he burnt his clothes up. Did you know somebody like Andrew that you used to work off of?
I’ve known a couple of people who are sort of like Andrew. I love mega-geeks who are fearless about who they are. It would never occur to Andrew to be anyone but who he is. He is the opposite of angsty. One day on public radio I heard an interview of a young musician and the kid said something like, “Yes, I like music, but I might want to be a zoo keeper, except I don’t like poop, because it smells bad.” I thought, ooh. I have to use that. That’s perfect.
- To me, the setting seemed like pure farm land. Why did you choose this setting?
I grew up in Platteville, Wisconsin, which shares a lot of attributes with Bluffton. What I wanted to get across about these little towns is that they are on one hand exactly what you’d expect (farms, a little rough, a little boring), but also changing and multi-cultural and connected to the big world (especially through cable and internet). I know these places well. I live in one today. Mankato, Minnesota, where I teach college is also both small and dynamic and interesting.
- Why did you choose the piano as the instrument that Andrew and Aleah shared in common?
My dad was a really good pianist. He showed me a lot of good classical music when I was growing up. I felt like I knew enough about the instrument and the music to write well about it.
- How come Jerri didn’t want her kids to call her “Mom”?
It was part of her half-baked politics. She wanted her kids to see themselves as equals with her and not part of a power dynamic. I know people who raised kids similarly. It didn’t do the kids any harm (except making them seem a little weird to others). Funniest thing I remember about a kid (several years younger than me) who called his parents by first name: When he three or four-years-old, after he used the bathroom, he would shout, “Bill, Mary, please wipe my bottom!” It totally killed me. I’d fall on the floor laughing (even though I was like seven at the time).
- How did you come up with the nicknames for the different stereotypes of people in the town like “honkies”?
With the nicknames, I wanted them to sound inflammatory, like the dorky Felton and Gus were really trying to be mean, but also show they had no idea about why these names would be inflammatory. Gus and Felton are teetering between childhood and adulthood. They’re really sort of innocent. So, they call one group honkies (although they don’t know why) and another group poop stinkers, which is totally childish. I also find Gus and Felton hilarious, so the names have to be funny!
- Are you working on any other books?
I’m working on a follow-up to Stupid Fast (due to my editor in one month!?) that is more focused on Andrew. It’s called Nothing Special.
- I really think this should be an award-winning book (when it officially comes out). What was your goal for this book when you first started? What is your goal for it now that you’re done?
Wow, thank you! I really just wanted to tell a good, simple, funny story (my first novel for adults is this complex form that I think gets a little lost). I still just want people to be entertained and to care about the characters. But, yeah, my experience with decent fiction is that it makes me more compassionate, helps me understand the world better. So, if Stupid Fast can do that for a few people, I’ll be pretty psyched.
- Did you intend for this book to be more about football and Felton finding his gift, or the relationship side of it?
I think the football story ends up being a way to get into the relationships. Football is a trigger for Jerri, for Felton getting to know Cody, for Felton having the confidence to speak to Aleah. Felton finding himself allows for the other things to happen. So, it’s about both sides, but the important stuff is on the relationship side (Felton will one day grow old and not be Stupid Fast, but those relationships are lasting).
- What authors do you recommend that write like you or about the same topics?
I’m a big fan of John Green. I haven’t read a lot of Chris Crutcher, but I’m on it! I really enjoyed Gae Polisner’s The Pull of Gravity. When I was a teen, I read Vision Quest by Terry Davis, which was the first book that showed me that sports topics can tell deeper stories. Also, I watched the movie The Breakfast Club the other day and realized how hugely influenced I’ve been by 80s John Hughes movies. Probably shouldn’t throw that in, huh?
** Win Geoff’s Debut!! **
You must be 13 years or older to enter
U.S. and Canada entries only
The giveaway ends Friday @ 12am EST
You will be contacted via email and will have 48 hours to reply with your mailing address
Only one entry per person
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