Convergence and extension

It’s been my good fortune to work with dozens of amazing young-adult novelists, and a trend I find among them is that their artistic and intellectual pursuits often extend beyond writing fiction in surprising ways. The authors on the Lab launch list this fall are no exceptions, as you’ll see.

-1_J_croppedSteve Brezenoff launched his trailer for |-1| yesterday. I first heard about this over a month ago while he was still working on it, and I was extremely excited to say the least because now not only is Steve the kind of novelist I love, but he’s the kind of trailer-auteur I love. Maybe I’m weird, but this is what I like to see in a book trailer personally: an extension of the book and of the author’s vision and personality. Novels are largely solitary, do-it-yourself efforts. They are highly personal in a way film almost never is. However tyrannically controlling James Cameron is of every aspect of a movie, he’s got nothing on a novelist. I think creative promotional pieces for books do best when they reflect that personal aspect. My objection to filmlike book trailers is that they distance me from the author, whereas the DIY ones bring me closer. The incomparable Maggie Stiefvater is, I believe, the best case study in this. Steve’s trailer is absolutely in the same vein for me.

I asked Steve to tell me a little about making the piece. Here’s what he said:

I am not a filmmaker. I guess that’s pretty obvious. But am I an artist? Here’s a little story: When I was twelve, there were two routes open to me. I’d submitted the required portfolio to join the accelerated arts program beginning in 8th [014.JPG]grade and was accepted. I’d also kept up the grades in science to enjoy accelerated science classes, leading up to AP courses my senior year.

My whole childhood, I loved nothing more than drawing. I’d sit for hours, usually creating superheroes with my good friend Jon or Adam. But the fact is, it was impractical. I knew I’d need a career, and, understandably, I chose scientist! You can’t get more practical than that. With a career in mind, I signed up for advanced science in 8th grade, and never looked back at drawing seriously. However, I quit the science program after 10th grade and never took another science class. Why? Because I hated science. Or anyway I hated several science teachers, which amounted to the same thing. That same year, I started creative writing electives. You can guess where that track led me.

The point of that whole tale is that I love drawing, or used to, and much of that love came back when I sat down to draw the ten or fifteen frames this trailer required. I’m happy as hell to be a writer today, and to make a living at it by some miracle, but I still regret with all my heart that I chose — at the end of 7th grade — the road of science. Imagine how great the trailer would have been if I’d stuck with drawing! Of course, there would have been no book to make a trailer for. Now my head hurts.

Anyway, pragmatically, beyond the sketching, creating the trailer was a simple job of importing my drawings into Windows Movie Maker, dropping loads of goofy effects on them, and adding text and the cover of |-1| as necessary.

Oh, and the music? That’s my metal band from around 2003. We don’t need to get into that.

Follow Steve on Twitter at @sbrezenoff, and pepper him with questions about his novel and about his metal band.

-Andrew Karre