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Parade Interviews Matthew Quick on His New Young-Adult Novel, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Silver Linings Playbook Author Matthew Quick on His New Young-Adult Novel, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

August 5, 2013 – 3:00 PM  |  www.parade.com
By Sona Charaipotra @@sona_c

New York Times best-selling author Matthew Quick, the man behind the little indie that could, Silver Linings Playbook, returns with his first novel since the 2012 hit swept the Oscars this January. Former high-school English teacher Quick’s latest YA novel, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, is a funny and poignant teen tale of high school bullying, gun violence, mental illness, and self-awareness. It’s equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting—and definitely worth a read, whether you’re a teenager or not.

We caught up with the author to talk teen angst, bullying, and mental illness—and of course, how fame and fortune has intruded on his writing life.

You’ve done both adult fiction and YA—where’s your comfort zone?

I feel very comfortable in both genres. I try to write about people, so whenever I write characters, I try to climb into their heads, whether they’re 18 or 34. I just try to be authentically them. I don’t approach it any differently.

How do you tap into that teenaged angst?

That angst and pain that Leonard Peacock has? I was a secretly depressed teenager. I never brought a gun to school, and I was never prone to violence in any way. But I hid it well. I felt as though there wasn’t really a place for me. I grew up in a blue-collar town, raised by good men, but men who didn’t read literature or understand my need to express myself that way. I felt very hidden and very alone, like there weren’t many options for me. I didn’t have a horrible childhood by any stretch of the imagination—but it felt very much like the things I wanted to do weren’t accepted by my community. I felt trapped. It wasn’t till I left for college and became an adult that I worked all that stuff out.

You also were a teacher.

I taught high-school English in South Jersey, where I counseled troubled teenagers. This was a privileged high school, where most of the kids were headed to Ivy League schools. On paper, it looked great. But underneath that façade, there was a lot of stuff going on that people don’t want to talk about. Once you give them a little room to open up, all this stuff comes tumbling out—all this stuff about your soul and society. Not the SAT answers, the pat answers you give most grown-ups, but the real deal.

Given the issues that the book explores—of sexuality and abuse and bullying and violence—do you see it being banned?

Most of my favorite books have been banned at one point or another. Look at Slaughterhouse-Five, which was one of my favorite books growing up. It’s always banned. The best books are the books that touch on something people are afraid to talk about—books that get people talking. I hope this one will start a dialogue on mental health and violence and bullying. But it’s not something I’m worried about. I’d wear it being banned as a badge of honor. All my heroes’ books are banned. 

.....read the rest of the interview at Parade.com HERE.