Interviews at Fiction Writers Review and the Orlando Weekly, plus letter to my adolescent self at DEAR TEEN ME

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Gearing up for the hometown launch of Juventud tomorrow evening at 6-9pm at the East End Market, and crossing fingers here that we’ve got enough copies of the novel for the crowd that will be descending after this locally-focused author spotlight in the current issue of the Orlando Weekly. I’ll be spending this evening baking Colombian sugar cookies for tomorrow night’s festivities, and perhaps a few other surprises.

More great press this week, including a conversation I had recently with Barrett Bowlin about Juventud at Fiction Writers Review. “Train Shots,” the story, was published under his editorship of Harpur Palate and you can imagine his excitement in following the collection’s success, especially the news that it has been optioned for film.

An especially enjoyable piece to write was the letter to my adolescent self, featured this week at DEAR TEEN ME. I tackled a subject I’ve been itching to write about for a while — how the AIDS scare paralyzed my generation — although I never would have guessed my essay would emerge in the shape of a letter…to myself. Hope you enjoy the read.

Lastly, thanks to Ryan Rivas and LitHub for including me in 30 Questions for 30 Writers at the Miami Book Fair, which is in just a couple of weeks. MBFI is one of my favorite literary events in the Sunshine State, and it will be a dream come true to present Juventud to the audience there on Saturday, Nov. 21st.

Now, off to bake!

Happy pub date to JUVENTUD, and high praise from Publisher’s Weekly!

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Publisher’s Weekly loves Juventud! Here’s what they have to say: “What begins as running away from tragedy and betrayal turns into seeking out the reconciliation of one’s past. This tale of self-discovery and intense first love is spiced with bursts of action and curious twists. It will engage readers who have a soft spot for entertaining storytelling and a familiarity with Colombian social history.”

After a month on the road of speaking to audiences and signing copies, today’s *official* pub date feels somewhat surreal. For a taste of what it’s like to be “in conversation with” the novel, check out this wonderful interview from earlier this month with my longtime friend, fiction writer Robin Rozanski, who teaches at The Loft, for their blog: The Loft Interview with Vanessa Blakeslee. Robin and I have been fast friends since I first walked into Pat Rushin’s contemporary fiction class back in August 2002, and enjoyed a wonderful sojourn in the Czech Republic back in 2005 as participants in the Prague Summer Program.

Tonight, if you’re in the Orlando area, I’ll be presenting Juventud and talking about the novel drafting process as a guest of the UCF MFA program’s GWA series. The campus bookstore will have copies for sale/signing. The event is free and open to the public.

JUVENTUD playlist at Largehearted Boy, and the latest Q&A with Deborah Kalb

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I wrote about the music that inspired Juventud for Largehearted Boy (read the list and check out the songs here: Juventud playlist on Spotify). From classical guitar to Shakira’s pop hits, salsa to Mark Piszczek’s “Dangerous Times,” these are the tunes I turned to again and again.

Also this week, a conversation about Juventud with Deborah Kalb for her excellent blog, who interviewed me last year for Train Shots. Read our latest chat here: Book Q&A with Vanessa Blakeslee

Finally, today, at long last, I return to Florida for a (brief!) breather and then the first book launch events in my home state, beginning next week. I’ll be speaking to the GWA at UCF, 7:00 pm, HPA Room 126. Free and open to the public. The UCF Barnes & Noble will be there with books for sale, and of course, I’ll be signing afterward.

 

JUVENTUD Research Notes & Book Trailer up at Necessary Fiction

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Wonder what went into building the vivid world of turbulent 1990s Colombia in Juventud? Some of the primary footage I referenced while drafting the book also ended up in the official book trailer, released last month by the good folks at The Rumpus. You can read my notes and view the trailer today over at Necessary FictionJuventud Research Notes & Book Trailer

John King and I discuss JUVENTUD in the latest episode of The Drunken Odyssey

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Such a pleasure it was to have this conversation with my friend and Drunken Odyssey host, John King, about my debut novel, Juventud, what inspired the story, and to a greater extent, the novel-writing process. You may listen here:

Interview with Vanessa Blakeslee about her novel, Juventud

More to come soon — today’s book tour stop brings me to the Heartland Fall Forum in Chicago, IL, where I’ll be pitching the novel to independent booksellers from across the Midwest in a speed-dating style lunch event cleverly dubbed, the “Moveable Feast.” Wish me luck!

A Craft Discussion on Douglas Glover’s “Attack of the Copula Spiders” at The Drunken Odyssey Podcast

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On this week’s episode of The Drunken Odyssey Podcast, host John King and I discuss the first of our contemporary books on writing, and one that I’ve found to be most influential: “Attack of the Copula Spiders” by Douglas Glover. A lively, if not combative, conversation ensued about the post-literate age, but-constructions, Alien, and more. You can listen to the episode here:

http://thedrunkenodyssey.com/2014/09/28/episode-119-a-craft-discussion-about-douglas-glover-with-vanessa-blakeslee/

Today at Buzzfeed Books: “18 Short Story Writers On Why They Decided To Write A Novel”

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Tremendous thanks to Benjamin Woodard and Buzzfeed Books for inviting me to participate in a conversation with 17 other fiction writers on how we transitioned from writing short fiction to the longer form. I’m honored to have my response featured alongside these remarkable talents, including Lydia Davis, Charles Baxter, Roxane Gay, Rebecca Makkai, Bret Anthony Johnston, and Lindsay Hunter, just to name a few. The responses are as varied as they are illuminating; you can read them here:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/benwoodard/trying-to-ski-jump?bffbooks

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