We’re excited to have Alan Cumyn on the blog today! Have you heard about Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend yet? Here’s the scoop!Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Published by Simon and Schuster on March 22nd 2016
Genres: Animals, Dating & Relationships, Dating & Sex, Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures, New Experience, Social Issues, Social Themes, Young Adult
Prepare to be blown away—or rather, carried away on huge muscular wings—by this blissfully outlandish, bracingly-smart, tour de force about a teen who has to come to terms with relinquishing control for the first time as she falls for the hot new…pterodactyl…at school. After all, everybody wants him!Shiels is very pleased with her perfectly controlled life (controlling others while she’s at it). She’s smart, powerful, the Student Body Chair, and she even has a loving boyfriend. What more could a girl ask for? But everything changes when the first-ever interspecies transfer student, a pterodactyl named Pyke, enrolls at her school. There’s something about him—something primal—that causes the students to lose control whenever he’s around. Even Shiels, the seemingly perfect self-confident girl that she is, can’t keep her mind off of him, despite her doting boyfriend and despite the fact that Pyke immediately starts dating Jocelyn, the school’s fastest runner who Shiels has always discounted as a nobody. Pyke, hugely popular in a school whose motto is to embrace differences, is asked to join a band, and when his band plays at the Autumn Whirl dance, his preternatural shrieking music sends everyone into a literal frenzy. No one can remember what happened the next day, but Shiels learns that she danced far too long with Pyke, her nose has turned purple, and she may have done something with her boyfriend that she shouldn’t have. Who’s in control now? Hilarious and relatable (despite the dinosaur), Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend is about a teen who must come to terms with not being in control of all things at all times, break free of her mundane life, discover who her true self is, and, oh, finding out that going primal isn’t always a bad thing.
Describe HOT PTERODACTYL BOYFRIEND in 5 words.
Pterodactyl heartthrob rocks high school.
How did HOT PTERODACTYL BOYFRIEND come about, what was your inspiration? What made you think you had to write this story?
In a lecture, Libba Bray told a group of over a hundred writers at the Vermont College of Fine Arts to not go following trends. But instead of saying it that way, she said, “Don’t go writing your hot pterodactyl boyfriend novel.” Why did the phrase blow my circuits? Years and years ago I was riding a train that rounded a bend, bringing the vastness of Lake Ontario into view. I was pierced by the gaze of a solitary great blue heron standing on a rock by the shore, and instantly thought of a story about an ancient bird who is able to wander into the big city from time to time and become a man, almost as a vacation. I tried writing that story many times, and along the way became entranced with Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis in which Gregor Samsa famously wakes up transformed into a bug. I especially loved Kafka’s dreamlike sentences. Those early manuscripts stalled, but “hot pterodactyl boyfriend” give me a way into the story which would be fun enough to carry through with a straight face.
Can you share (without spoilers) a line or section of HOT PTERODACTYL BOYFRIEND that is your favorite?
Her brain was all gummed up with exactly the sort of thing her intellectual guide, Lorraine Miens, had written about in Organic Misgivings: what Miens called “practical/improbable absurdities”, the way life constantly surprises us with what we feel at first should not be true, and then accept without question: the round Earth, flying men, text breakups. This thing looked as if it ought to be extinct, nonexistent, yet here it was swaying and unsteady in front of her, carrying documentation.
Since we’re talking 2016 books, what upcoming 2016 release (besides your own) are you most excited to read?
Watching Traffic by Jane Ozkowski (Groundwood, Aug 2016)
What are you currently reading?
The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Four things: read voraciously, especially for what feeds you; write the book you really need to read, but that isn’t out there; remember to put books down and look fully, and with wonder, at the life around you; work hard but give it time, and more time, and then some more.
You’ve been kidnapped. You can call on the characters from one television show to make a rescue attempt. Which show do you pick and why?
I would want Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman from Sherlock to come and get me. They seem to have a high success rate no matter what the odds, and boy, would the video ever look stylish.
What’s next for you? Are you working on anything right now that you can tell us about?
Top secret. But I can say I recently spent three months in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, living across the street from Robert Sevice’s cabin and just down the road from Jack London’s place. Everywhere I went I kept tripping over stories…
If you weren’t a writer you would be…
Sad story. I’m afraid I would be a washed-up golf pro, probably still dreaming about curing that hook/slice doublecross that infects my game at crucial moments.
Tell us 5 random facts about you.
I have studied and practiced tai chi for 30 years now. Oddly enough, it’s not an automatic fix for a golf swing.
I worked in the bush as a geological assistant in northern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario for three summers while I was an English and history major in university. (The price of gold was so high they were hiring anybody who wouldn’t burn the camp down.)
I taught English, including creative writing classes, in China and Indonesia.
I am surrounded by artists: my mother (Suzanne) is a painter, my older brother (Richard) is a writer, my younger brother (Steve) is an actor, my wife (Suzanne Evans) is a writer, our eldest daughter (Gwen) is an actor, and our youngest (Anna) is an art director.
In grade 8 I won a city-wide youth essay contest sponsored by the Humane Society. My submission was actually a short story, which I think both confused and impressed the judges. The trophy was practically bigger than me.
Favorite Song (right now): “Killing the Blues” (Alison Krauss and Robert Plant)
Favorite Book (right now): Hattie Big Sky (Kirby Larson)
Favorite TV Show/Movie: Running on Empty (Sidney Lumet)
Favorite Word: pterodactyl
Favorite Color: purple
Favorite Curse Word: face-rake
Thanks so much for the amazing interview Alan!
3 Finished Copies of HOT PTERODACTYL BOYFRIEND