I’m so, so delighted to have David Arnold on the blog again (you can check out our first chat here). I loved his debut novel Mosquitoland and recently devoured (in the midst of a major reading rut) his latest Kids of Appetite which I cannot wait to write about in more detail. It was FANTASTIC truly. I fell in love with this group of characters and totally was engaged by the structure of the novel and how things unfolded.
So, grab a cuppa something and get to know David Arnold a bit more as we talk about his book Kids of Appetite, music and more!
1. If books used pick-up lines when readers stood by the shelves trying to choose which book to pick up, what would Kids of Appetite’s pick-up line be?
I imagine KOA trying to woo readers with a song, something like Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get it On.
2. I always love knowing the spark (a character’s voice, seeing something in the news, a line of dialogue) that led to the writing of a book. What was the spark of inspiration that produced Kids of Appetite?
I’d recently finished rereading S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, and I adore the band Arcade Fire, and I realized that the feeling I got while reading that book was similar to the feeling I got when listening to that band. If you’ve never heard Arcade Fire perform, it feels like at any minute they might hurl their instruments into the audience then run down the street for an ice cream cone, and The Outsiders captures this same sort of youthful recklessness. I wanted to try and write a book from that place.
3. One of my favorite things ever in books/tv shows/movies are ragtag groups of misfits who maybe wouldn’t otherwise become friends and I fell in LOVE with the group of individuals that made up the Kids of Appetite. Tell me one or two of your favorite bands of misfits from another novel/show/movie.
Well, The Outsiders is one of those, obviously. Off the top of my head, two others would be Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.
4. I loved the idea behind the Super Racehorse that comes out throughout the novel. What does the idea of “Super Racehorse” mean to you and 1) tell us someone in your life who you think is a Super Racehorse and 2) someone maybe in the public eye whom you don’t know but exudes the qualities of a Super Racehorse.
Well, you can be a Super Racehorse on a micro level (say you fix the garbage disposal, or you ace a test), but you can also be one on a macro level, which is a lot harder to define. I dedicated KOA to both of my grandfathers, who passed in the last few years, and I think for me, they’re the ultimate Super Racehorses. As far as someone in the public eye who I don’t know, but who exudes the qualities of a Super Racehorse, I’m going with Mindy Kaling.
5. I’ve loved watching your career blossom from when you were awaiting your debut novel, Mosquitoland, being published and now as Kids of Appetite is on the verge of being out in the world. What is the biggest lesson you think you’ve learned along the way?
Enjoy the process. Enjoy the people. Do your work, and don’t get hung up on what other people are doing or getting. Just be you—in person, and on the page.
6. I always love imagining who characters I love would be friends with from different books! Tell me another character from any book that you think Vic and Mad (individually) would be friends with and why.
This is a shipping question, isn’t it? It’s a shipping question in disguise. I’m old, Jamie. I barely understand the concept, but I will try: I think maybe Vic would like to be friends with Theo Decker (as a kid) from The Goldfinch. They could talk art and family, and I think they have similar philosophies on a few things. And I think Mad would be friends with Cassie O’Malley from Kerry Kletter’s The First Time She Drowned.
7. One of the things I loved about Mad was her unadulterated passion for The Outsiders and her Hinton Vortex theory — what’s that one book for you?
When I was in middle school, I just read Jurassic Park over and over again until the cover literally fell off. Other books I reread are J.D. Salinger’s Glass family novellas, Harry Potter, and The Lord of the Rings.
8. I always love the little tidbits of music (especially the Elliott Smith) in your books and I loved that both Vic and Mad had favorite songs that were really did mean a lot to them. SO, what is your all time favorite song AND a current favorite song that you’ve been playing on repeat a lot lately?
If I had to pick one all time favorite song, I guess it would have to be Jeff Buckley’s rendition of Hallelujah (written by Leonard Cohen). Or Debussy’s Clair de lune. Or maybe Elliott Smith’s Speed Trials. (Sorry! I gave you three.) As far as what I’m listening to now, it’s been a lot of The Antler’s Familiars and Daughter’s Not to Disappear. Oh, and I recently got Sufjan Steven’s 10th Anniversary Blue Marvel Edition of Illinois on vinyl, so I’ve been rediscovering that too.
ABOUT KIDS OF APPETITE
Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.
This is a story about:
1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.