Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book Giveaway: Victory on the Homefront and author interview with DS Grier

Victory on the Homefront by DS Grier
It’s 1943 and eleven-year-old Les MacGregor is thinking of running away. He’s sick of his parents, who are always fighting, and his three horrible brothers—perfect James, bitter Charlie, and annoying Johnny—the youngest, and a total pest.
With his parents focused on their problems, Les has plenty of time on his own to do what he wants. After being ostracized thanks to the school bully, Les spends time dissecting a dead cat in his secret science lab, scaling the attic roof, and tapping phone lines, which seems like a great idea until the FBI comes calling. It’s time for Les to go, so he plans his escape.
While the family gathers at the station to ship his oldest brother off to war, Les figures it’s the perfect time to hop a train and go on a grand adventure. After all, there’s nobody looking — right?
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Physical copy, US only
Ends 6/9

--The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less.
It’s a coming of age novel about four ordinary brothers struggling to grow up in a dysfunctional household while WWII looms in the background. 

--How did you get the idea for the story?
My son is infatuated with World War II.  It seemed natural to share the stories of that era, which I’d heard all the time growing up.  I began talking to my dad and his brothers about their experiences, and the story fell into place.  It has a little bit of everything — humor, mechanical and science stuff, and the pathos of a family life that isn’t easy all the time.

--Which character would you most/least like to have dinner with?
Every character in the story is based on someone I’ve known.  My dad, his brothers, the extended family…they all have their roots in my own experience.  Because of this, I can honestly say I would love to have dinner with any one of them, or all of them together.  I’d love to be able to travel back in time to when these stories took place, to know what it was really like, to be a fly on the wall and — in particular — to give each of those boys a big hug and tell them how much they are loved .

--What are some of your favorite books? Do you still have much time to read?
I read a lot, but the books I enjoy as an adult never seem to have the impact of those I read when I was growing up.  Those books — the Little House series, Trixie Belden mysteries, novels like The Westing Game and Little Women….those all shaped the values I hold and the person I’ve ultimately become.  Very little can compare in my mind with those books.  My absolute favorite would have to be Up A Road Slowly by Irene Hunt —it’s the ultimate coming of age tale, and her voice is pitch-perfect.

--Do you have any other works in progress? Any teasers or release dates?
I have been putting some notes together on another YA novel about farm life during the Great Depression.  But I’m still quite a distance from being able to write something.  I believe so strongly in Victory on the Home Front that I’m really putting quite a lot of effort into promoting and expanding this reach of this book.

--If a fairy godmother told you your life could be like a favorite book for 24 hours, which book would you pick and why?
The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton.  I love the subtlety of the age, the thoughts left unspoken and the grace of the period.  There is such a contrast between today’s society, where nothing is hidden, and a time and place where it was important to keep so much concealed.  I like the intellectual challenge of following all that subtext.   Plus, everyone was rich and well-dressed, which makes for a good setting.
--Do you need anything to write (music, coffee, etc)? Are there any songs on your playlist- songs that inspired you or that were playing while you wrote?
I can write anywhere, at any time, under any circumstances.  I am a professional writer, so often all I need is something to write WITH. 

--If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
Total omniscience.  I want to know everything. I think omniscience replaces invisibility, time travel, and lots of other superpowers…it’s kind of like getting three wishes and wishing for more wishes, I guess.

--Besides writing, what do you like to do in your free time?
I don’t honestly have much free time.  I am a working mom, so when I’m not at the office or connected to my smartphone, I’m driving kids around, dealing with family life, or cleaning something.  If I have a moment, I like to read or play the piano or just stare and think.  Staring is fun, and it seems like there’s never enough time for all the staring I want to do.  That’s a guilty pleasure - I don’t want my kids to stare at stuff, but I really enjoy it. 

--Is there anything else you want to add or say to your readers?
It’s so important to leverage the power of relationships and connection.  Human connection is so essential, especially for boys, and in a world that is more and more digital all the time, they often get less of it than they need.  The power of an adult —any adult, not just a parent— saying, “I see you; I value you; I want to help you grow, even in the smallest of ways…” That’s so critical.  It’s something you can’t get from an Xbox or a Twitter feed.

I want to help boys to look up from their digital screens and see the people around them, and reach out for support when they needed it.  I also hope to leave a message for the adults who work with boys, to let them know that, even though the world is changing quickly in terms of technology, we can’t afford to let our human connections diminish.  We must learn how to use our technology to build and support our work with children, and not allow them to escape into it.

Lightning round: this or that?
Vanilla or chocolate?            Vanilla
Edward or Jacob?                  Edward
Hockey or soccer?                 Hockey
Ebook or paper?                    Paper
Salty or sweet?                      Sweet
Beach or mountains?            Mountains
Phone call or email?              Email
Early bird or night owl?        BOTH
Dog or cat?                             Cat
Messy or neat?                      Neat
Ninjas or pirates?                  Pirates

Stephanie Van Koevering has been writing professionally since 1995, first as a reporter and later as a public relations/marketing executive, freelance writer and educational consultant. She has co-authored a history of Bangor, Michigan and has had several articles and monographs published by various newspapers and state-level educational organizations. As a consultant, she has developed a good working knowledge of children's academic and developmental needs, which is proving helpful in the creation of effective young adult literature.

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  1. This sounds interesting. I love the concept. Best of luck to Stephanie with it.

  2. It's interesting that eventhough your book is placed in the WWII era, the coming-of-age themes fit almost any childhood. It even seems like every childhood has a war or civil disturbance of some kind in the background. So many of us had our childhoods heavily influenced by family problems, too. It sounds like a story that relates to all of us. Thanks for a chance to win a copy!

  3. I tried to leave a post at your Across the Universe review site but was unable to. Hope I can comment here. I, too, thought the book was great. The mystery was well kept throughout the story and the romance was well balanced with both the character development and the mystery. I haven't yet read Beth's next installment of the series but am looking forward to it. I also agree that the science fiction aspect of the story was not overbearing but was made into an integral part of the story. Good review!

  4. This book sounds really good. Please enter me in contest.

  5. Thanks for sharing about your favorite books. The book sounds interesting.


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