Thursday, August 28, 2014

The cover reveal for my new novel. I don't know if this is the shortest novel in the world but it is certainly a quick read. I hope it gives a feel for the longer version.

The 2-Minute Novel: UTOPIA, IOWA by Brian Yansky

Here is UTOPIA, IOWA, from the first few pages to the last (with a few parts left out). It should take you about two minutes to read.  You can fill in the missing words yourself and/or wait to read the whole story,  300+ pages, which comes out February 10, 2015.

11.     I learned a lesson that day: Real revolution needs more than creamed corn.

22.     But I wondered if skewed priorities were a bad thing—which was probably just further proof I had them.

33.     I was already dealing with detention, the start of senior year, and all kinds of questions about my future. I didn’t need a dead girl, too.

44.     “What do you think, Mr. Bell, is true love real?”

55.     “Nathaniel says The Matrix is like Philosophy for Dummies…”
That sounded like Nathaniel.

66.     “Does the Banshee always mean death?” Whisper Wainwright asked.

77.     Penny was a fortune-teller. She also had a nursery. She was very good with plants and visions of the future. It was a small town; a lot of people needed more than one talent to get by.

88.     She had many gifts/curses but she didn’t like to be specific about what they were.

99.     “…something dead—dead and old and very powerful—was controlling her. But here’s the really spooky part.”
“That wasn’t the spooky part?” I said. “That sounded like the spooky part.”
110. He had a glass eye that saw much further than his natural one.

111.  Ash softened…”Just don’t take your dead girls out on me…”

112. She told me she needed a friend not another boyfriend. Numerically this was true, but…

113. Next to Ishi the king looked small and weak. All the same Ishi would be dead before he took one step if the king felt threatened.

114. “A dream,” the detective said…He reminded me of Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive (1993…)

115. The next morning Mom and Dad didn’t fight. It was worse. They were polite.

116. She wasn’t fooling me. I knew she was using some kind of reverse psychology. Still it’s kind of disconcerting to have your mother advise you to hold up a bank.

117. The dead wanted to forget they were dead. It was best for everyone if they didn’t.

118.   “You must eat your mortal’s heart,” the king says.

119.  It was not at all The Breakfast Club (1985…)

220.  Love is madness.

221.  “The dead don’t bleed,” I said, trying to reassure her.

222. My fourth mistake was not riding away after I called the police.

223. I liked to think of myself as the loner-outsider type (See Cool Hand Luke and Juno and about a million other movies) but maybe I was just socially challenged.

224. “I’m so tired of this small town,” she said.

225.  Sometimes she could be a very irritating witch.

226. Gram drank her potion and gave a few drops to Captain Pike.

227. “A monster’s got her,” Amanda said.

228. The bell rang.

229. Thanks to Silence of the Lambs (1991…)

330. Ash drove us over to the Cowboy Guru’s house…

331. “It’s a place that was and can never be again,” he said. “Now you be careful. The young should never want the past more than the future.”

332. The Princess Bride, I think.”
“That’s a great one,” I said.

333. “Hollywood,” she said.

“The stuff dreams are made of…” (Maltese Falcon, 1941)

3        THE END

UTOPIA, IOWA is about a small town where the supernatural meets the natural. There’s some murder and mystery and mayhem in this novel. Ghosts and other creatures and humans abound.  Some funny moments. Some sad. At heart, it’s a story about a boy who wants to write for the movies and his struggle with leaving all he knows (family, friends, hometown) to pursue his dreams. Long version-300+ pages available FEB 10, 2015: Candlewick Press.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Why I Write Funny/Sad Novels


Hi, my name is Brian and I write funny and sad novels. This mix is at the heart of any story I tell, no matter what else is in the story.  I don’t write comic novels, though I want you to laugh when you read my novels. I don’t write sad novels, though  I want you to experience the emotional roller coaster of my characters as they struggle through their stories.  Both humor and sadness are in my novels and that’s a big part of what makes them mine.

I see the world as funny and sad. People laugh at funerals and cry at weddings. Sometimes they laugh and cry at the same time. We’re complicated, we humans. Surgeons make jokes when they’re operating on patients. Cops joke at crime scenes. Are they doing this because they enjoy other people’s pain? Of course not.  Are they less serious about their jobs than someone who never jokes about anything? NO. They have difficult jobs dealing with life and death situations and humor helps them handle the things they must handle. There are many moments in life when funny and sad are side by side like this. For me it seems perfectly natural that funny and sad can both be in a novel, sometimes in moments right next to each other.

I’ve written novels that are mostly realistic (MY ROADTRIP TO THE PRETTY GIRL CAPITAL OF THE WORLD) and speculative novels (ALIEN INVASION & OTHER INCONVENIENCES) and realistic novels with supernatural elements (the upcoming UTOPIA, IOWA—February, 2015) and my last recently finished WIP told from the POV of a dead boy in a library between life and the afterlife (again, mostly realistic but with  supernatural elements), but what they all have in common is the mix of humor and sadness. Of course there are writers far more successful than I who also have this mix at the heart of their work:  Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gabrielle Zevin,  and Neil Gaiman, come to mind.  If you’re a writer who is forcing your writing to be either serious or comic because you think it must be one or the other, I’d ask you to consider the success of these writers.

 I know I didn’t really find the voice for my fiction until I began to work toward a balance of funny and sad in my work.  Now I can’t imagine writing fiction that doesn’t have both.