Brent and Michael: The New Gay Power Couple! (Cue sound of readers upchucking)

So Michael (the editor of this site) interviewed me (who happens to write a series of semi-popular gay teen novels) for the main site. Here’s our little tete-a-tete, which may be a little, uh, unusual.

Attack of the Gay Teen Zombies: An Interview
with Geography Club’s Brent Hartinger

by Michael Jensen, February 5, 2007

150.jpgBrent Hartinger made a splash with Geography Club, his 2003 gay teen novel about a group of kids who start a secret high school gay-straight alliance, then give it the most boring name they can think of, the Geography Club, to keep others from joining. A sequel, The Order of the Poison Oak, followed in 2005.

Hartinger, a contributor to AfterElton.com (and the partner of this writer!), is back with another sequel to Geography Club. Called Split Screen: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies/Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies, and it’s actually two-books-in-one. Read the first “book,” Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies, which is told from the point-of-view of gay boy Russel, then flip the book over and read the second “book,” Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies, which is told from the point-of-view of Russel’s bisexual best friend Min. The two books together are the story of when Russel and Min get jobs working as an extra on a zombie film being shot in town.

I recently sat down with Brent Hartinger, which wasn’t hard to do, since we happen to share a house.

AfterElton: So since we’re partners of fourteen years, and you also write for me for AfterElton, I have to ask some hard-hitting questions to establish my journalistic credibility.
bhartinger.jpg

Brent Hartinger: Michael, I would expect nothing less.

AE: I’ve cleaned the kitty box three times in a row. Are you trying to drive me insane?

BH: I’ll clean the kitty box when you start aiming in the general vicinity of the toilet bowl.

AE: Okay, journalistic credibility established! Onto your new book, Split Screen: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies/Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies.

BH: Or SSAOTSSBZBOTSSBZ, as we call it at my publisher.

AE: So. Another sequel to Geography Club that’s really two sequels! How’d you get the two-books-in-one idea?

splitscreentn.jpg BH: Well, with each new book in this series, I’ve tried to do something completely different, really shake things up. Geography Club was set in high school, so for The Order of the Poison Oak, I sent them off to summer camp. Now they’re off to the set of a zombie movie being shot in their town. One advantage to this is that all three books have ended up pretty much as stand-alone titles, which is supposedly a good thing.

But then I wanted to take it one step farther, or maybe pile gimmick on top of gimmick, and tell two versions of the same period of time. You might say it’s Rashomon for teens, except the two books cover completely different events. It’s not at all like reading the same book twice. That said, the two books definitely inform each other. You don’t know the whole story until you read both books together.

AE: I hate to encourage you, because high praise always goes right to your head, but I admit this is a great gimmick.

BH: Uh, thanks, I think. Truthfully, I love a good gimmick. A great high concept definitely doesn’t mean the book or movie will be any good. Hello, Van Helsing! But I do think it can be an indication of something, some creativity on the part of the creator. I’m in awe of the truly great gimmick, the Jurrassic Park gimmick–Jurrassic Park being probably the highest concept, and best high concept, of all time.

AE: I hate to encourage you, because high praise always goes right to your head, but I admit this is a great gimmick.
BH:
Uh, thanks, I think. Truthfully, I love a good gimmick. A great high concept definitely doesn’t mean the book or movie will be any good. Hello, Van Helsing! But I do think it can be an indication of something, some creativity on the part of the creator. I’m in awe of the truly great gimmick, the Jurrassic Park gimmick–Jurrassic Park being probably the highest concept, and best high concept, of all time.

AE: Great gimmick, okay book, bad movie, terrible sequels.
BH: Totally agree. Anyway, there are so many books and movies and TV shows out there these days that I personally am now on the look-out for stories that seem fresh and different and new–something I haven’t seen or read before. I think we all are, aren’t we?

So my latest gimmick is I wrote a flip book.

READ THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW HERE.