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Friday, November 1, 2013

First Friday - Five Favorite Things - Debut Novel Day

by Dave Amaditz and 
Marcy Collier

Welcome to November’s version of - First Friday - Five Favorite Things - Debut Novel Day. In this monthly series, we ask five simple questions about a debut novel that will hopefully entice anyone reading this post to pick up the novel and read it themselves, and/or give them at a glance some insight into the author's writing style and voice as well as how some of the characters might think or act. We do this by presenting, first, answers to our Five Favorite Things, followed by the author's answers in a follow-up post.

This month we're pleased to highlight debut YA novelist, Geoffrey Girard and his novel, Project Cain.  This fantastic read will pull you in from beginning until end. We hope you enjoy our answers and encourage you to buy the book.

1) What is your favorite line or paragraph from the novel as it relates to the main character's development and/or growth?

Dave – There were quite a few passages to choose from, but in the end I chose this because it gave insight into how Jeff, the main character, was able to rationally process information so that he could cope with everything that had gone wrong in his life (since he was created).

One thing I've learned from all of this is that there aren't answers for everything.

Science and logic and facts can't cover all of it.

Sometimes stuff just can't be explained.

Marcy – I really enjoyed this passage in the novel. It provoked thought and gave me great insight into the main character, Jeff. It ended up being his mantra throughout the remainder of the novel. 

EXTREME LIFE would have been simple enough for any skate park. Extreme sports and lifestyle and all that stuff. It meant “to stay radical and colorful and dangerous and loud and outrageous.” And I’m sure that’s how most of the skaters here took it. But the “FOR,” I think, added something else entirely. Something that whoever’d spray painted this message however many weeks, months, or years before had meant for the whole world to see. Or maybe just for himself or herself. It meant, I think, to fight FOR life. Not taking it for granted. Call it carpe diem or YOLO or whatever. This person embraced life, was made for it. It meant don’t take one minute of life for granted. It meant DON’T EVER BE AFRAID OF THE DARK. A challenge. And a promise, too.

2) What is your favorite chapter ending or cliffhanger?

Dave - To me, there were so many parts throughout the book where the tension was so high, so riveting, that I could've found a cliffhanger to write about on nearly every page.  As insight, the "dark men" were created by the government to seek out and find people like Jeff. Chilling.

All that whole day, Castillo and Ox and the other guys prepared.
A lot of it involved explosives. Mines and stuff.
Consequently I was asked to stay in my room.
A room surrounded by concrete that was a hundred feet below the ground.
They took turns guarding my door.
I tried to sleep. To heal.
All that whole day, I could feel the dark men in my head.
Listening for me. For my blood.
All that whole day, I could feel them getting even closer.
I closed my eyes.
Come and get me, I said to the dark.

Marcy – I won’t go into detail as not to spoil this scene, but Jeff is quite intuitive. The deeper I got into the book, the more dark secrets I learned about Jeff’s dad. This chapter ending kept me reading late into the night. And I have to say, I had some very bizarre dreams while reading this novel!

He’d wanted me to have it. Just another one of his little experiments for me. Left it precisely where I’d find it. Wanted me to see all that he’d been up to.

So I guess he got exactly what he wanted.

Because when I opened the door, the very first thing I saw was the dead guy.

3) Who is your favorite secondary character and why?

Dave – Castillo. Not to be repetitive, but ditto Marcy's comments found below.

Marcy –  First, Jeff is scared of Castillo. He feels like he’s being held captive against his will. But the more I get to know the strong, silent Castillo, the more I like him. His true personality is uncovered, and he becomes this gentle, protective giant.

It was a paperback. The Pillars of the Earth. Something about building a Gothic cathedral in England. What’s this for? I wondered out loud.

Castillo said: You said you were a reader. He positioned his new lawn chair at the back window. Unless you wanted a romantic thrill, he said. That’s all the store had.

I flipped through the book. It was, like, eighty thousand pages long and weighed fourteen pounds. I had the feeling Castillo had bought it only because it was the biggest one they’d had. Guess he thought we were gonna be in an empty house awhile.

Castillo watched me, looked like he wanted to say something, and then turned to look out the window again.

4) What is your favorite line or paragraph of description?

Dave – As Marcy has said below, there were so many interesting descriptions to choose from. I took the liberty of picking two.

First, can you imagine knowing your father thinks of you like this:

The night my father left, he'd told me I was part of the special 5%.

That when living conditions become too crowded in any environment, 5% of the population will resort to violence to achieve its goals.

They've done studies with rats. Perfectly calm and nonviolent animals until they're introduced into an environment with limited resources. Limited food, mates, and space. Then 5% of the previously nonviolent rats get medieval. They murder other rats. Rape other rats. Eat other rats. Even though they'd never done any of these things when in small groups or appropriate space. It was just part of their nature to adapt. To survive and thrive in a more challenging environment.

These are the dominant ones, my father said. The ones meant to rule their world.

That's, I guess, who I was with now.

Second, I think this explains a lot of what the main character has to deal with throughout the novel on a very personal level as to why he is always having visions of some sort.

Online I found all sorts of information about other people who claimed to see faces. Mostly right when they were falling asleep. But most of what I found talked about weird stuff like astral projection and passed lives and something called the Akashic Records, which is like a universal storeroom for all human knowledge that can be assessed during deep meditation. None of this was too helpful, so I basically just went around for years weirded out by it all.

The mystery was solved only when my father handed me that folder. Inside, remember, were pictures of all of Jeffrey Dahmer's known victims. Pictures with names.

I'd looked only at the top sheet. Hadn't known any of the names.

Their faces, however...

I'd recognized everyone.

Marcy This perceptive line rang so true to the book and everyday life. Totally relatable to most everyone. There were so many “ah ha” statements made by the main character that it was extremely hard to choose a favorite.

It was funny to think about the whole world just going on. I mean, when shitty things are going on in your life, everyone else just kinda carries on. Business as usual. All those people passing had no idea what was going on in the motel room below me.

5) What is your favorite line of dialogue?

Dave –  This line comes from Castillo. It made me wonder. Do we all become our parents? Also, Jeff's thoughts following the response are worrisome, but I'll let you read for yourself to find out what he's thinking.
Castillo suddenly said his own dad had taken off when he was nine.
Yeah? I prompted.
Yeah, Castillo said. I hated the son of a bitch for close to twenty years. And the more I tried hating him, the more I became just like him. The way he moved, talked. Things he said. Christ... I don't know. In a couple of years I'll probably be him.

Marcy – Again – another way that the reader can identify with Jeff. Even though his circumstances are way over the top extreme of normal people, he tells it like it is and makes the reader think deeply about everyday life.

If everyone told the truth, even half the time, we’d probably all jump off a bridge.

To read more about Geoffrey Girard’s debut YA novel Project Cain or his adult techno thriller, Cain’s Blood, please go to:

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