Steve Brezenoff is the author of The Absolute Value of -1, a YA realistic novel released by Carolrhoda Lab on September 1, 2010.
The absolute value of any number, positive or negative, is its distance from zero: |-1| = 1 .
Noah, Lily, and Simon have been a trio forever. But as they enter high school, their relationships shift and their world starts to fall apart. Privately, each is dealing with a family crisis—divorce, abuse, and a parent’s illness. Yet as they try to escape the pain and reach out for the connections they once counted on, they slip—like soap in a shower. Noah’s got it bad for Lily, but he knows too well Lily sees only Simon. Simon is indifferent, suddenly inscrutable to his friends. All stand alone in their heartache and grief.
In his luminous YA novel, Steve Brezenoff explores the changing value of relationships as the characters realize that the distances between them are far greater than they knew.
And now for the Magic 8 questions!
1. At age eight, what did you want to be when you grew up? And at age eighteen? And while you’re at it, what about at age twenty-eight?
Eight: a chef. I was endlessly whipping up terrible masterpieces in the kitchen
Eighteen: an English teacher, because I was certain I’d never succeed as a writer
Twenty-eight: a music journalist, and I had a little success. Very little.
2. Which Breakfast-Club-style label would have best fit your teenage self?
3. What are some of your superstitions and/or phobias?
This is kind of embarrassing, but when I was much younger—like maybe 8—I started sleeping with the blankets over my head to prevent vampire attacks during the night. I STILL DO THIS.
4. Without giving away too much from your book, which character or scene are you the most pleased about having created, and why?
I’m most proud of Lily. I never thought I’d be able to give a female character a good voice, but I think Lily comes across as quite real. Several girls and women have read |-1| already, and most really connected with her. That makes me feel pretty good.
5. Was there any certain music that inspired you while you were writing this book, or is there a song that could serve as your protagonist’s theme song?
There are three protagonists here, and I actually know just which songs they all get as their themes. Lily gets “Paperdoll” by Kittie; Noah gets “Passin’ Me By” by the Pharcyde; and Simon gets “He Feels Bad” by Helmet. What can I say? The 90s were a good musical decade.
6. What’s up next for you as a writer?
I’m this close to selling my second novel, about which I will say very little: it’s more realistic fiction, this time in Brooklyn and starring a couple of runaways.
7. And, now, the most important question of all: Beatles or Elvis? Please support your answer. ;-)
Elvis Costello? No? In that case, the Beatles, but I’d love a third choice.
8. Okay, your turn. Do you have a question you’d like me to ask my Magic 8-Ball on your behalf? (I’m telling you, this thing is scarily accurate! Well, except for when it’s lying.)
Will we ever have a bigger house??
As usual, the camera on my Blackberry is taking TERRIBLE pictures. But! The good news, in case you can't read it, is that the answer is, "As I see it yes."
Hooray!!!!! Thank you so much, Steve!
And, everyone else, if you love edgy YA (like I do!), do check out THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF -1. I got a chance to read it already and I absolutely loved the three-narrator structure. Steven does a fabulous job with voice and authentic teen dialogue and point of view!
Wait! One more thing! Here's the book trailer: