Jeff Yager will appear at the Norwalk Library (CT) tomorrow evening—Wednesday, June 3rd—at 7:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Copies of his debut novel, Atom & Eve, will be available for purchase and signing. Location: 1 Belden Ave.
Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Jeff Yager.
Yager is the author of the debut novel Atom & Eve, published by Hannacroix Creek Books. He grew up in Stamford and now lives in Florida. Yager studied professional wrestling in New Jersey and Florida, and has performed in several professional matches; he also boasts rapping as one of his talents. Yager has illustrated a forthcoming children’s book, Chuck and Alfonzo, and has co-written a novel (I Like God) with Skye Bynes that is due out later this summer.
Praise for Atom & Eve:
“‘Atom and Eve’ is one of the most imaginative young adult novels I have read in quite a while and a great debut for its author, Jeff Yager. Its mix of suspense, science, romance, and even politics will keep the reader turning the pages to find out what happens next, and there are enough twists and turns to ensure the pace never slackens. I can’t wait to see the movie!”—Alan Caruba, Editor, Bookviews.com, Founding member of the National Book Critics Circle
From the publisher:
Set several years in the future, sixteen-year-old Ricky Romanello, a college freshman, is playing basketball when he collapses and winds up in a coma suffering from a powerful flu that hits the U.S. population causing deaths and a dramatic economic slowdown. Research scientist Dr. Mandy Fox has been developing an anti-aging drug that she believes might also eradicate the flu. Ricky becomes one of the test subjects. The government rushes approval for the drug but Ricky and others soon discover there is an unintended side effect of the new drug and vaccine with severe consequences for him and for the entire population.
Now, Jeff Yager reflects on his creative life …
1) Your debut novel, ATOM & EVE, has been praised for its mass appeal. How do you endeavor to reach a diverse audience – and what are the challenges and liberties of experimenting with gender roles?
I think when anybody tries to experiment with gender roles in books, film, television, etc., they are entering into a discussion that has many perspectives, theories, and actualities. In my first novel, ATOM AND EVE, I wanted to create and interpret a new topic of discussion, a much larger series of what ifs, questions, and possibilities. When writing a fictitious novel, I want the reader to open up his or her mind; to stray away from what they consider normal and, if I can, to inspire them to become a bit more optimistic and imaginative. Gender roles aren’t talked about much but ATOM AND EVE gives readers some ideas to think about and to consider which they may not have had before reading it.
2) Though classified as sci-fi, there are elements in ATOM AND EVE that will resonate with readers as being immediate. What do you view as being some of the universal truths of this story – and why do you think that fiction can be a particularly powerful tool for exploring reality?
I began writing ATOM AND EVE back in 2009, when I was just nineteen, and continued rewriting it, on and off, over the next few years. When I started writing ATOM AND EVE, I just wanted something fresh to write about; something I didn’t think had been touched upon previously, at least in this way. But over the years, as I rewrote the novel, some universal truths to the story became apparent, such as the notion that we are supposed to live and love, start a family, and provide for each other, in a certain way. As we have seen in the last few years, that has been changing drastically. ATOM AND EVE breaks those walls down and makes you think, “What if things were different?”
Set in the near future, ATOM AND EVE follows five very different characters – a 16-year-old college student, a scientist, a female presidential candidate, a corrupt cop, and a former female gang member – through a crazy time for America when a deadly flu is sweeping the country. A vaccine to fight the epidemic has some very bizarre gender-bending side effects. That gave me the chance to write about a topic a lot of people still don’t want to talk about—inequality in our sex roles.
3) Your next book, I LIKE GOD, is a collaboration with your roommate and friend, Skye Bynes. Tell us about the project and how your collaborative process benefited the storytelling.
In I LIKE GOD, Joey Taylor makes a like page for ‘God’ on the popular social networking site, FaceSpace. What he comes to discover a couple of years later, after forgetting about the page, takes Joey on a viral adventure that will impact his own life as well as the lives of many others. He begins to learn how “likes” and “followers” on social media can quickly turn into power, control, and manipulation whether you “like” it or not.
Skye and I have been close friends since I was 15 and he was 18 when we met in Norwalk, Connecticut. Fast forward ten years, when Skye moved in with me in Florida back in November. I told him about a new novel I wanted to write. When we got into the specifics and details, Skye was really intrigued and asked if I minded if he co-wrote it with me. I said “Sure, why not? This could be fun,” and within 10 days, we had a working rough/first draft. I hadn’t thought of collaborating with anybody on a book until Skye moved in with me, but I’m glad I did. It is most certainly a project I am proud of and very excited to be getting out to the public once it’s published within a few months.
4) In addition to “author,” your business cards boast the titles “rapper” and “wrestler.” (Cool, man.) How do you balance these pursuits – and do you ever find that, as outwardly different as they may appear, these disciplines influence one another?
Haha, yes, the business card! I know it is not the most common of choices of industries to pursue together, but it’s true, I have been involved in wrestling since a very young age, getting trained at age 16 and then with the WWE developmental school at age 19 in Tampa, Florida. Rapping has always been in my life including freestyling with friends since middle school and battle rapping here and there. But over the last few years, it has most certainly become a much more serious dream I have been pursuing. I have done more than 15 live shows, I have more than 35 music videos on YouTube, and I have over 100 unreleased songs, with a few albums ready to go out. And writing, I have so many ideas for novels I figured, why not just try? On top of all this, I am working on creating a few new apps that I’ve had in mind for a long time.
One thing all of these activities have in common is creativity and the need innovate. If I can’t be creative, I feel like I can’t live. To me, creation is true freedom. The sky is the limit and in this day and age, I’m happy to be considered a jack of all trades, or at least some trades. Nowadays I feel like you have to be somewhat multitalented. I want to encourage younger generations that they can really do anything they set their mind to, and I’m living proof of it.
5) In your opinion, what is the role of the library within its community – and how can author events help to enhance the reader/writer relationship?
The role of the library within the community is a very important part of the publication process — marketing — for young and/or up-and-coming writers trying to get their work out there. A lot of people think it’s straight to every Barnes and Noble in the country and just sit back and relax when that’s far from the case. At this point in my writing career, I am just as interested in getting my novels into libraries as bookstores. Doing events at libraries will help authors to get themselves out there, to meet and speak with avid readers from all walks of life. A library author event is a way for me and any author to prepare for many more speaking engagements and even to help us with media interviews including radio, talk shows, and all that. Every author should experience doing a library author event, as well as being interviewed by the media, as often as possible.
With thanks to Jeff Yager for his generosity of time and thought and to Jan Yager for facilitating this interview.
Don’t forget: The author will appear at the Norwalk Library tomorrow evening—Wednesday, June 3rd—at 7:00 p.m.