Monday, August 24, 2009

The Librarilly Blonde Authorcrush Series, Part 1: Christopher Krovatin

Welcome to part 1 of a new, maybe regular feature on Librarilly Blonde: The Authorcrush Series.

Each of the posts in the Authorcrush Series will spotlight a writer who I, well, have a crush on as an author. Authors may be male or female (or neither, or both) and write in any genre, but what they all have in common is some aspect of their writing, their in-personality, or both that makes me swoon like an eighth-grade girl with a crush. Hence the name. Authors who are part of this series also get this endorsement from me: I would pay retail for any of their books.

The first honoree: Christopher Krovatin

The attraction: Raw honesty and male characters with feelings.

The books:

Heavy Metal and You (Scholastic, 2006) is the surprisingly sweet story of Sam, a metalhead who falls in love with straitlaced theater aficionado Melissa. I confess, I was totally late to the Heavy Metal and You party because, well, you know how it is when there are more books than hours in a day. In fact, I didn't read it until after I saw Krovatin speak at the NJLA conference this past spring. I was impressed with how thoughtful yet unpretentious he was about his writing. To make things even more awesome, he liked heavy metal music! To date, I have met exactly one other librarian who likes heavy metal and hard rock as much as I do. We are few and far between in the profession and I couldn't help but admire a well-spoken YA author who also understands the deep need for the existence of Slayer, Celtic Frost, and Iron Maiden. Though the rocky romance was fun to read, I fell hard for the way Krovatin explores boys' feelings and how much he loves heavy metal and its fans. Heavy metal fans, though they look scary, are actually some of the most accepting, laid-back people around. As observed on GraphJam:

song chart memes

Thinking that my authorcrush might have come simply from the joy of finding another person in the YA world who likes their drums fast and their lyrics dark, I picked up Krovatin's second book.

Venomous (Atheneum, 2008) tackles yet another complex male main character, this one with an anger problem. Locke, sixteen, knows that his brand of anger is a little more vicious than everyone else's. He tries to control it but he finds that he's losing more and more of himself to it. It's got graphic interludes, where Locke tries to give a face and backstory to his venom. As he did in Heavy Metal and You, Krovatin did a great job exploring the wide range of emotions contained in one young man who scares the hell out of everyone who doesn't scare the hell out of him first. When the venom starts affecting the people Locke loves, he enlists outside help to keep it in check. Also there's kissing and a Goth girl with a dark past.
I loved Venomous even though "venomous" is one of my Ten Words I Can Never Spell Correctly (and still can't even after writing this book review).

Editing to add: There's going to be a comic book based on Venomous!

As I've read his books, I've developed a crush on the way Krovatin isn't afraid to give emotions to male characters. They fall in love, they fight with their friends, they hurt, they're happy, and sometimes they rock out. We (as in the YA lit community we) hear all the time that boys don't read, boys want adventure, boys don't want feelings in their books, blah blah blah and I love that Krovatin has basically said phooey to all of those. The adventures his male characters have are adventures of the heart and mind, ones that take place over just a few city blocks which are occupied by, you know, boys. Who don't read.

If you ever get the chance to hear Chris Krovatin speak, go do it. When he talks, people listen. I was particularly interested in his work with Revolver Magazine, which I read to keep up on all the metal bands that have actually produced music since 1995. (I'm the Heavy Metal/Old School sort, though I find I'm enjoying Killswitch Engage these days.)


tanita davis said...

I fell deeply in love with Sam, and I loved the cover of that book. I haven't gotten to the next one yet, but it's on my list. I don't know from metal, really, but occasionally I like LOUD, and this, with all the raw, gutsy emotions, worked well for me. Can't wait to read Venemous... er, Venomous... Hate spelling that word, too.

Julia said...

Chris is a fine writer and a lovely dude. Should you ever spot him at a metal show, make him smile by buying him a beer.

Carlie Webber said...

@Tanita That is exactly the problem I have spelling "venemous." I mean, "venomous." I loved Sam, too, especially because he articulates why heavy metal is so loved by fans.

@Julia I will keep an eye out for him. We should have an easy time finding each other: I'll be the one wearing pink.

Anne said...

Hear hear! Well done!

Leigh Anne Vrabel said...

Sold, to the woman in black!!

Angie said...

OMG, this is the best idea for a series of blog posts EVER. I am ridiculous in love with it. And, also, Heavy Metal & You is one of my favorite "guy" books ever.

Carlie Webber said...

@Angie: Wait until you see who's in part 2. Part 3 was going to be Robin Brande, but I've already interviewed her and I think everyone is well aware of how big my authorcrush on her is. In any event, I have at least parts 1-5 planned, so stick around.