FREE PIZZA by G.C. McRae ***Spotlight -- Interview -- Giveaway***
by G.C. McRae
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction, 360 pages
Genre: Humorous Fiction
Publisher: MacDonald Warne Media
Release date: May 1, 2019
Tour dates: May 1 to 17, 2019
Content Rating: PG (No sex or drugs, just mild expletives such as "hell" and "damn".)
Brian McSpadden is always hungry. Does he have a disease? Worms? Does it have something to do with his being adopted? He spends his days at his crazy friend Danny’s house, hoping for snacks, but nothing seems to fill the void.
Then Brian receives a mysterious birthday card that says, Free Pizza. He soon discovers the card has nothing to do with food and everything to do with the big questions in his life: where did I come from, why did my mother give me up and is there anyone out there who will like me the way I am?
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An Interview with the Author
We’re excited to be showcasing Free Pizza today. Is it a new release?
It is a new release. I feel odd saying that because I wrote the first draft over 35 years ago. It started life as a much larger and more complex story. I put it aside and wrote a bunch of other books until I finally figured out how to streamline it. But yes, it’s definitely a brand new release.
Can you share a little bit about it?
Sure. I originally titled it The Boys of Summer, after the Dylan Thomas poem. The story is told by Brian, who is turning twelve in a couple of days. His mother receives a phone call from an adoption reunion place. Brian’s birth mother, whom he has never met and knows nothing about, wants to connect with him, starting with a call on his birthday. The impact of this on Brian’s family is huge. While this emotional upheaval is quietly going on at his house, Brian is actually gone, spending his days at his friend Danny’s house, where everything is always chaotic. Danny’s whole family is reckless and accident-prone and, after a couple of disasters, Danny and Brian find themselves caught up in a mystery - all while dealing with their bizarre, heartwarming and occasionally heartbreaking families.
Where did the idea come from, and what inspired you to write it?
Well, 35 years ago, I was driven to write, and that was pretty powerful. I was adopted at birth, so there was a ton of emotions surrounding the mystery of where I came from. Since the first draft, I have met my own birth parents, so that experience, too, became central to the tale. One of my favorite things is to see people laugh, especially kids, so writing something I know is going to make them double over and clutch their sides is maybe the most powerful inspiration.
Titles and names of characters are always interesting. How did you choose yours?
The title comes from a birthday card that Brian receives from a weird aunt in England (pictured on the cover of the book). Brian’s adoptive mother is pretty stingy when it comes to feeding him, so when Brian sees the birthday card saying ‘Free Pizza’, he thinks his weird aunt knows that he’s always starving and is sending him a gift card for pizza. When he opens it, he finds has aunt has given to a fund-raiser in his name, and not given him a gift at all. The fund-raiser is to improve the life of a young polar bear who lives in a small cage in a Chinese shopping mall. The bear’s name is Pizza. So the card means, free the polar bear named Pizza. It’s a real bear, by the way. Just google “The Saddest Polar Bear in the World” and you’ll see pictures of him. In a lot of ways, Brian is just like the bear, except possibly hungrier.
Are themes an important part of your writing, or do you allow the story to unfold them?
I absolutely let the theme emerge organically. That doesn’t mean I don’t act on it once it emerges. If it’s too moralizing, I will do whatever is necessary to break that. There nothing more destructive to the believability of a story than a preachy author. But once the theme is set, I do a lot of work behind the scenes to build it up and support it.
Which authors have inspired you over the years and what is it that drew you to them?
I have heroes in just about every genre including fiction, plays, poetry, and non-fiction. In fiction, I’m a sucker for books that move me to tears. Lassie Come Home, Les Miserables, How Green Was My Valley. I’m also a big fan of the well-turned phrase. Saki, Oscar Wilde, G.K. Chesterton come to mind. For Free Pizza, I drew mostly from the great straight-forward story-tellers like Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. I love it when an author can slide easily between bathos and pathos, between the humorous and the serious.
Who is your favorite character from your own books?
Wow, that’s like having to choose your favorite child. If I had to save one of my characters from certain death, I’d probably pick the kid from my fairy tale, The Brave Houseboy. Courage in the face of impossible odds: that just slays me.
What advice would you give new writers today?
The one piece of advice I’d give a budding writer is, take your profession seriously. Say you’re a carpenter. A carpenter needs tools. They don’t saw with their teeth or hammer with their hands. And they measure everything. Literally, everything. So go and study how to build a great sentence, how to construct a story that will do what you want it to do. If haven’t read great writing, you will never know how to make your own. So read until you are completely humbled. Then get to work and figure out how they did it. And don’t fall for this nonsense about writing so many pages a day or so many minutes a day. Writing is a challenging skill. It takes years of intelligently applied effort. New writers should respect that, and respect themselves for doing it.
Thank you so much for joining us. Good luck with your book.
Meet the Author:
In his latest work, Free Pizza, McRae spins the highly emotional themes from his decidedly unfunny childhood into a brilliantly comic yarn. After being given up for adoption by his teenage mom back when single girls were forced to hide unplanned pregnancies, his adoptive parents didn’t exactly keep him under the stairs but, well, let's just say, there were spiders.
A lot has changed since then. McRae’s own children have now grown and he runs a small farm with his wife, who is herself an award-winning writer.
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Ends May 25, 2019