Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Author Interview + extra: Sean Beaudoin

Sean Beaudoin, author of Fade to Blue, has graciously accepted to donate some time to me to answer some interview questions.

But first, let's find out a bit more about the man himself:
58% of the letters in Sean Beaudoin's name are vowels.

In ASCII binary code, his name is 01010011 01100101 01100001 01101110 00100000 01000010 01100101 01100001 01110101 01100100 01101111 01101001 01101110

Backwards, it's Naes Nioduaeb. In Pig Latin, it's Eansay Eaudoinbay.

Sean Beaudoin has used his B.A. in photography as a springboard into the following jobs: construction laborer, circus roustabout, busboy, used book buyer, hotel desk clerk, camp counselor, statue repairman (really), seller of jazz vinyl, and a nine-day stint as The World's Worst Telemarketer. He now resides mostly in Seattle, but also sometimes San Francisco, with his wife and daughter.

I also tend to list my history and traits in the third person, as if someone else were writing it for me. I love hot sauce and almonds and Turkish coffee. I hate the phrase "it is what it is." When people say that, I tend to respond, in a much deeper voice than I really have, "NO, IT ISN'T." I like vinyl and French movies and books about unhappy people from the Fifties. I'm not particularly crazy about police procedurals, ketchup, rap-metal, Julia Roberts, cell phones, or Sudoku.

And now, the interview!

Besides writing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I have a five year-old daughter who is a spare time sponge. I read a lot, play guitar, download music for way too much money, read even more, eat almonds, watch French movies that no one but me likes, ride my bike in the rain, and think of ideas for comic books that will never exist.

What inspired you to write Fade to Blue?

Mostly this girl I was friends with in high school. We weren't a couple, there was nothing romantic about it. We were both cool and relaxed with each other and it was fun to just hang out and cut up her mom's fashion magazines and laugh at bad records and drive around town in her car that smelled like baby vomit and buy weird stuff at the thrift store. Then, for some reason, we just stopped being friends. I wanted to write a book that had a bit of the feeling of that relationship to it. About what it felt like to have a certain amount of understanding and ease you'd taken for granted ripped away from you.

I just have to ask - what's with all the scary ice cream truck scenes? Where in your mind did that come from?

Definitely way down in the lizard brain. My sister used to always race me out to the
ice cream truck and since she was older and faster I always lost. So I developed an irrational fear that by the time I caught up they would be out of ice cream. They never were. I particularly liked Bomb Pops, which, in a stroke of clever marketing, were shaped like bombs. There was a red nose cone on top and then a blue and white fuselage that melted before you could get down to it. The syrup tended to make your hand all creepy and bluish, like it had been soaking in formaldehyde. Which was almost better than eating it.

If you were to describe Fade to Blue with a few words, what would those be?

Crushingly awesome. Deviant. Milk-sprayed-through-nose funny. Reassuringly vampire-less. Priced right.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

The best advice I can give, and I mean this completely sincerely, is that to be a writer you have to be willing to be really terrible at it for a very long time without giving up. Almost no one writes well at first, in the same way almost no one picks up a violin and starts winning competitions. You have to practice just like you would to become a dancer or athlete or chef or surgeon. I think the notion of 'being a writer' is falsely enticing because we don't usually look at it as a linear pursuit. But you can't just expect the chops to materialize. Unless, of course, you're writing tell-all memoirs. But if you want to do anything with a longer shelf life, you have to wade through all the stuff inside you that doesn't matter and doesn't work as fiction first. Once that apprentice time is over, and you still haven't given up, there's an excellent chance you're going to be cranking out Dickens 2.0.

Anything else you'd like to say to your readers?

People who still read are part of a small-ish but excellent club everyone else should be desperate to join. I'm proud to be part of it.

I just had to know more about the inspiration behind the ice cream truck scenes in this book, so Sean wrote up the following for me:

Man, ice cream trucks were it when I was a kid. That jangly song coming around the bend would perfectly serve its intended purpose of driving us all practically insane with the lust for frozen sugar. There would be lots of jumping up and down and begging mom for change, grabbing at her purse and spilling pennies across the floor. There would be screaming, tripping, skinning knees, and jostling for position out the screen door. Our bare feet would slap-slap in counterpoint across hot pavement in a desperate attempt to catch the driver's attention before he took a left and drove his wares away from us forever. It was always such a relief when the brake lights went on. I particularly loved studying the pictures of the different ice creams painted around the serving door. I would settle on one and then change my mind again and again, half glad I hadn't gotten there first so I had extra time to decide. The ice cream dude rarely brooked any foolishness, a heavy-set guy with a mustache who was bored out of his mind and anxious to pop it in gear and hawk more the next street over. Invariably, he was sold out of what I wanted. Some of the ice creams had a black magic marker X scratched over them, and some were so implausibly named and expensive you knew they never even existed. I usually went with a Bomb Pop, which was this elaborate popsicle shaped like an ICBM nosecone. It was red, white, and blue in a frost-bitten approximation of patriotism. It was huge. I never could finish one, and by the time I'd given up the melty stuff had turned my hand frozen blue and corpse-like, as if it had been soaked in formaldehyde. Which may, in the end, have been the best part of all.

Thanks to Sean for giving me his time to answer some questions and sharing that awesome childhood story! Make sure to check out his website and read my review of his book Fade to Blue.


  1. Going to the thrift store to buy weird stuff is awesome! There's an LJ community solely based around pictures of weird things people find at thrift stores.

    Sean seems like a very awesome guy, definately someone who would be fun to drink a beer/coffee with and just talk about weird stuff like French Movies, and I can't wait to read his book when it comes out.

  2. Great interview. I'm still curious why the girl's car smelled like baby vomit in high school, though!

  3. I have heard a few things about his book but didn't real know exactly what it was about. So I looked it up a minute ago and it sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out.

  4. Great interview! You asked some neat questions. But I am with Stephanie, why did your friend's car smell like baby vomit? That's kinda strange.


  5. This author sounds like such a fun guy! I love the story about running after the ice cream truck, and of course his friend's car. And the facts about his name. Thanks for such an enjoyable interview!

  6. Sean sounds like a really fun guy! I loved his answers to the questions--and I think it's really cool to write a story based off a high school friendship.

  7. and love the story behind the ice cream truck! baby vomit? why?:S

  8. I'm definitely putting this one in my To Read queue on account of the interview alone!

  9. I thought it was great that you followed up with more about the ice cream truck! When I read the first question I wanted to know more, I'm glad we think alike. (Bomb pops were my favorite on really hot days, milder days were for strawberry shortcake)

  10. "Reassuringly vampire-less"-- I love it!

    I hate Ice Cream Trucks...

  11. Sadly, I've never experienced the fun of an ice cream truck. I live too far out in the country for it to be sane/my town doesn't have neighborhoods. Great interview!

  12. Scary ice cream truck scenes? I have to read this book now. Great interview!

  13. Awesome interview! Now I want to read his book.

  14. I love this book! Really funny! Good to know about the Ice Cream Truck!

    BTW great interview!

  15. Now that was 1 colorful interview lol

  16. Lizzy there's no such thing as ice cream where i live, but we have ice cream bikes lol

  17. Ooh I just saw this at the store and almost bought it but then remembered I am trying not to buy more books. Oh well. I will get it soon. =]

  18. This is probably the best author interview I've ever read. Sean is HILARIOUS! And his little childhood story was so descriptive! I'm definitely going to have to check out his book(s).


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