This Book Is Not Yet Rated by Peter Bognanni | Author Interview

Title: This Book Is Not Yet Rated
Author: Peter Bognanni
Pages: 336 pages
Source: Hardcover from publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
The Green Street Cinema has always been a sanctuary for Ethan. Maybe it's because movies help him make sense of real life, or maybe it's because the cinema is the one place he can go to still feel close to his dad, a film professor who died three years ago. Either way, it's a place worth fighting for, especially when developers threaten to tear it down to build a luxury condos.

They say it's structurally unsound and riddled with health code violations. They clearly don't understand that the crumbling columns and even Brando, the giant rat with a taste for sour patch kids, are a part of the fabric of this place that holds together the misfits and the dreamers of the changing neighborhood the cinema house has served for so many years.

Now it's up to the employees of the Green Street Cinema--Sweet Lou the organist with a penchant for not-so-sweet language; Anjo the projectionist, nicknamed the Oracle for her opaque-but-always-true proclamations; Griffin and Lucas who work the concessions, if they work at all; and Ethan, known as "Wendy," the leader of these Lost Boys--to save the place they love.

It's going to take a movie miracle if the Green Street is going to have a happy ending. And when Raina, Ethan's oldest friend (and possible soul mate?), comes back home from Hollywood where she's been starring in B-movies about time-traveling cats, Ethan thinks that miracle just may have been delivered. But life and love aren't always like the movies. And when the employees of the Green Street ask what happens in the end to the Lost Boys, Ethan has to share three words he's not been ready to say.

Out now! 
I am so excited to be apart of this tour and to present an interview with the brilliant Peter Bognanni. Peter is actually a professor at the college I attend, and I sat in on one of his creative classes when I was a prospective student. it brings me great joy to support the work and creativity of my profs who love what they do and enjoy teaching their craft with students who aspire to do the same. So without further ado, I asked Peter some questions about his writing process and his teachings.

Q: This novel is a lot different than your previous Young Adult novel, Things I'm Seeing Without You. How do you decide the subject matter of your books before you write them?

Usually I realize I have a book idea if there’s an obsession that I just can’t let go of. In the case of Things I’m Seeing Without You, it was the idea of digital grief and mourning someone you only knew on the internet. For this book, it was the idea of finding your first work family. I kept coming back to these ideas and taking notes. Then I took notes on the notes. Before too long, I had the beginnings of a book.

Q: What inspired the story of This Book Is Not Yet Rated? Are there going to be movie references scattered throughout the book?

I grew up watching a lot of movies. My dad was a film buff and we used to go to the movies almost every Saturday when I was growing up. Later I worked at a small movie theater in Minneapolis called the Oak Street Cinema. Then, my first book was made into a movie and I got a chance to see what things were like on that side of things. All of these experiences cohered into book about the movies, family relationships, and a friendship between a theater worker and an actress. Oh, and yes, lots of film references!

Q: So not only are you an established Young Adult author, but you're also a professor of Creative Writing. What experiences have you gained as an author that you feel are valuable to share with your students?

I mostly teach the craft of writing, so branching out from adult to young adult has opened up another avenue for classes. I taught a YA literature course at Macalester for the first time last year, and the student work was amazing. I always start with the art of telling a good story, making a narrative work, creating tension and urgency, making the reader care. From there, I move to the smaller, fancier things like lyricism, psychic distance, and point of view.

Q: What's the most important writing tip you give to your students who are aspiring writers?

When you’re young, you just have to keep working. You wrote something good? Great, get back to work. Something bad? Make more work. It takes a while to find your own truth and the style that makes it unique. And most problems along the way can be solved by just writing your way through them. The rest of the answers are in books. So read lots of those.

Author Info
Peter Bognanni is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His debut novel, The House of Tomorrow, won the Los Angeles Times Book prize for first fiction and the ALA Alex Award and has been adapted into a feature film. He teaches creative writing at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. 

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