Christopher Grant is the debut author of Teenie (Knopf, Dec 2010). Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Christopher earned degrees in Economics and Human Resource Management from Stony Brook University. In addition to being an author, Christopher also works as an equities trader in New York.
School Library Journal praises Teenie, calling it an “enjoyable reading experience” with “realistic descriptions of teenage life and appealing characters.” Amy Lignor of Bookpleasures.com also chimes in, calling Teenie, “a debut novel that goes directly to the heart of the angst, trials, and pain involved with growing up.”
For the 7th Day of Twenty-Eight Days Later, please welcome debut novelist Christopher Grant!
The Brown Bookshelf (BBS): Your first novel, Teenie, is a coming of age novel about a young girl trying to find a balance between her studies, her family, and her secret crush. Obviously, you’re not a 5’-1/4”, 101 lb girl. What was your inspiration for the novel—what drew you to write about Teenie?
Christopher Grant (CG): A young adult editor reviewed some of my early work, which was geared more toward an adult audience. She asked me if I write young adult material and Teenie just popped into my head. Teenie is what I think my little sister would have been like had she been born into my family.
Regarding her 5′-1/4″ height, it’s one of many references throughout the novel where I pay respects to people who helped and inspired me through the process. One of my best friends is Teenie’s height, and makes sure to tell everyone about that 1/4 inch when they ask her how tall she is.
BBS: According to your bio, you have degrees in Economics and Human Resources Management, and currently work as an equities trader. With that background, what drew you to write novels—specifically novels for young adults?
CG: I started writing creatively about 10-11 years ago based on prompting from a bunch of my friends. I love to tell stories and make people laugh. I thank those people that challenged me to apply that desire in a more meaningful way.
I have always been a proud YA reader. I ‘m a huge Harry Potter fan and have trampled a few unsuspecting kids who got between me and a hot title (kidding…maybe). I hope that Teenie will one day be the cause of similar stampedes.
BBS: And following up on that last question—do you see any big difference between novels for teens and novels for adults?
CG: The books that young adults read now would have been banned from bookshelves for ADULTS two generations ago. As we’ve evolved in terms of what’s acceptable, the divide between books for adults and young adults has closed substantially. Granted, this is me throwing my two cents in, but it’s clear that what may have been inappropriate in the past (in terms of content and language) is quite common in both contemporary literature and conversation. When you couple that with trends showing that young adult fiction is growing in popularity with adults, it’s easy to see where once rigid lines are being crossed with regularity.
BBS: What is your typical writing day like?
CG: I have a little HP mini that I carry with me on the NYC subway. I get on at the second stop and usually get a seat in the corner so I don’t have to worry about some burly man looking over my shoulder trying to read my screen. My commute is about 45 minutes to work. It’s a bit more difficult getting a seat on the return trip, but when I do, I take my laptop out and get to work.
My favorite place to write is my Aunt and Uncle’s back porch on the island of Grenada. There’s nothing like looking out into the Atlantic Ocean and seeing sail boats and breaching whales to stimulate the brain.
BBS: What have you enjoyed the most during your path to publication—getting the call from your editor, seeing the book in print for the first time, or something entirely different?
CG: Getting the call from my agent ranks very high on that list, as I still have the voicemail message saved on my phone. However, walking into Barnes and Noble and seeing my book in the Teen New Releases section was breathtaking. I’m sure I looked like a kook standing motionless for two minutes just marveling at the sight of Teenie amongst some great teen fiction.
BBS: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
CG: I would suggest that in addition to honing your craft (by taking a writing course and/or a workshop or three), all aspiring writers need to know how to properly submit a book proposal. Editors and publishers are inundated with material and will look for any little reason to chuck your book into the incinerate pile. There are plenty of books and information on the internet that can help writers structure query letters and such. Make sure you do the research so you can get your work past the first chopping block.
On another note, I read something a long time ago that still resonates with me to this day. An author was asked the same question and she said, “You may not be published if you write, but you’ll never be published if you don’t.”
BBS: Can you tell us a little about what you’re working on next?
My next book features a character by the name of Genesis, a blue-blooded, butt-kicking, time traveling protagonist. He’s a little different than Teenie, but just as much fun to write about.