Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


Interview with Christopher Krovatin

Let me open with an apology to my interviewee: Chris, I am so, so sorry! This interview has been a long time coming. Christopher Krovatin, Wesleyan University student and author of Heavy Metal and You, very graciously agreed to sit down for an interview with Pop back in August, 2005. I thought it would be a great idea to conduct the interview via AIM, and Chris agreed – so spontaneous! so freewheeling! so everything Pop stands for! – and therein lay the problem. When the interview came to a close and I copied and pasted our wonderful, hilarious, and yes, spontaneous, nearly two-hour conversation into Word to start editing it for posting here at Pop, it came in at a whopping 27 pages. 27! I thought I’d have time to massage it into something more concise, but every time I tried, the flavor of the interview was lost, and then I gave birth, and all thoughts of posting regularly at the blog went straight out the window. Nearly seven months later, here we are. I think I’ll skip IM for interviews from now on. This time, though, Christopher Krovatin: An Interview in Five Parts.

Part The First, in Which The Interview Subject Reveals his Influences, Literary and Otherwise

sophiebiblio: Hi!

RemoveTheSutures: What's up?

sophiebiblio: I have some prepared questions, but I think this will be pretty free-wheeling. You ready to go?

RemoveTheSutures: Yessum.

sophiebiblio: Excellent!
sophiebiblio: Okay, so my first question is about your writing influences: What stuff did you like to read when you growing up? Do you have any significant literary influences or writing mentors? HM&Y is peppered with references to The Catcher in The Rye, and Sammy even self-consciously pulls a Holden on his bedroom window, but I found Sammy to be a far more sympathetic character than Holden Caulfield. (Embarrassing admission: I have never been able to finish reading Catcher. I love Salinger’s short fiction, but Holden Caulfield drives me nuts.)
sophiebiblio: Oh, and who are your influences now (I realize they may be the same as when you were younger, because you're not exactly ancient).

RemoveTheSutures: Hrm. Well, when I was a young kid, my main literary base was in comic books, honestly. I loved superheroes, and slowly began reading comics for adults like Sandman and Sin City at a pretty early age. When it comes to literature, I lived for gothic and romantic writings, basically anything that tries to really get into the human mind and heart. I loooooved Dracula as a kid.
RemoveTheSutures: Catcher has always had a hold on me in the same way that, say, Freak The Mighty and Bridge To Terebithia did, in that it was utterly honest. Holden Caulfield taught a whole lot of young people that it was not only okay to be really really really unhappy, but that there was some good in it.
RemoveTheSutures: That's the problem with Holden, though--he's a great character as a voice for a group of people, but he's not someone you want to have lunch with. He's utterly miserable.

sophiebiblio: That's so interesting to me that you were into comic books (and heartwarming to me, as a librarian focused much of the time on male literacy, that your parents were evidently supportive of you reading comics -- I sometimes see parents trying to discourage their kids from reading comics because they don't view it as "real" reading. To a lot of people, reading = books without pictures. Did you have a particular comics shop that you frequented?
sophiebiblio: Or maybe a friendly librarian who helped guide you towards the more sophisticated & darker stuff you mentioned?

RemoveTheSutures: Right now, my favorite authors are H.P. Lovecraft and Chuck Klosterman, the former because of how strange and terrifying he is, and the latter because of how honest and witty he is...My love for comic books came mainly from my Uncle Dan, who's an illustrator. He got me into weird art and strange comics right away.
RemoveTheSutures: The librarian question is a great one.

sophiebiblio: Well, you know I have to get a plug in for my profession somewhere, right?
sophiebiblio: I love Klosterman, too. His column is the first thing my husband & I read in every new issue of SPIN.

RemoveTheSutures: My grade school librarian, Ms. Eissman, would always push books my way which she loved and thought I'd love, too. She took care of me, moved me from Bruce Coville to Poliodori in no time.

sophiebiblio: So when did your Uncle Dan introduce you to R. Crumb? Embarrassing confession #2: no idea who Poliodori is.
sophiebiblio: Yay for Ms. Eissman!

RemoveTheSutures: Yeah, his new book's incredible. And he's a metalhead, which makes me happy to be alive.

sophiebiblio: I'm looking up Poliodori right now.

RemoveTheSutures: 'S cool, he wrote the first real vampire story called The Vampyre, actually, I think, before Stoker wrote The Big One.
RemoveTheSutures: Uncle Dan introduced me to R. Crumb and Ed Roth and all that mainly through weird, off-the-handle comic. Nothing says love like an issue of Milk & Cheese or Tank Girl.

sophiebiblio: Ahhh. Hey, have you read Vampire High, by Douglas Rees? It posits a town in New England that is basically run by Vampires, who are sort of pasty, supergenius aristocrats who haaaate Stoker, because, they say, he betrayed their trust and made them look like fools. It's a fast, funny read.

RemoveTheSutures: Also, on reading being words without pictures--I challenge anyone claiming as such to read Art Spieglman's Maus and keep that belief.

sophiebiblio: If you're into gothica & vampires, were you also a Buffy fan? Buffy is a big favorite among the Pop Goes the Library folks.

RemoveTheSutures: I've never heard of it [Vampire High, that is -- eds.]. I'll check it out, though--I have a huge soft spot for vampires.

sophiebiblio: That's a great point, re: Maus.

RemoveTheSutures: I, sadly, was a Buffy fan for about two seconds. I felt there was too much worry about witty one-liners relating to math class and not enough hands creeping out of coffins.
RemoveTheSutures: I'm a Lugosi man myself.

sophiebiblio: Ahh. Well, we can still be friends. I can see that if your big thing is getting to the GORE, already, the witty repartee is sort of filler. My favorite thing about Buffy was always the Hepburn/Tracy goes to a Hellmouth thing.

sophiebiblio: So, between the metal and the gory movies and the gothic fiction, would it be fair to say that there's quite a bit of you in Sammy?

RemoveTheSutures: I dunno. There were parts I loved, the really creepy parts--the episode where Xander stops the zombie badasses from blowing up the school while everyone else fights to big ol' demon in the library is classic.
RemoveTheSutures: A whole lot. Sammy is an incredibly autobiographical character.

sophiebiblio: I kind of figured -- it's hard to invent out of nowhere the sort of immediacy you achieve with his voice.
sophiebiblio: Which leads me to my next prepared question...

RemoveTheSutures: Word.

sophiebiblio: I am so slick with the transitions, no?
sophiebiblio: I love Sammy’s voice – it’s so fresh & realistic – and I love that the book turns the old YA problem novel trope of “girl falls in love with controlling boyfriend” on its head. Did you draw on real-life experience for that, or did that theme just evolve as you were writing?

RemoveTheSutures: Oh, most of the book, like, ninety percent, is drawn from real-life experience. Many of the characters exist in my everyday life, just with different names. I wrote about a lot of the issues I've had with relationships, romantic or otherwise, in my life because I guess...in the end, I kind of hoped there were others out there who really got it. The heavy metal love story theme came together because I'm both a hopeless romantic and a huge metalhead.
RemoveTheSutures: Sammy's voice comes straight from my mouth, really--I write how I talk. A lot of people think you need to take on a Writing Voice, a stiff and/or poetic tone which makes your point valid. My writing was just sort of my thoughts vomitted onto paper. I like to reference bands. I swear a lot.
RemoveTheSutures: And a lot of the time, I guess it's not what you say, but how you say it.

sophiebiblio: A fine combination. I really liked that Sammy was intellectual about his metalness. I think there's a strong feeling among teenaged guys, particularly when they're around girls, that it's unmanly to be enthusiastic about anything, and here's Sammy, who's flawed and grumpy and loving and unabashedly into the things he's into: Melissa, music, booze. I liked that he was unafraid to be an expert in something, and to display that expertise in a way that wasn't show-offy, but was just normal.
sophiebiblio: Oh, there's much to be said for writing how you talk -- that is exactly what I do, and it's always worked for me.

RemoveTheSutures: Yeah, exactly. I mean, metal is a bit geeky like that, because it's such an obsessive form of music. It's hard to be a metalhead and not be a little geeky or out of control. Geekiness is good, though...keeps you honest.

Stay tuned for more Christopher Krovatin. In the next thrilling installment of our interview: geekiness! fandom! irony and the death of enthusiasm! gutwrenching metal!

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  • At 5:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I <3 Christopher. So much.
    That is all

  • At 9:24 AM, Blogger pluto said…

    hey i love christopher he reminds me of me lol he is now my favorie author!!!!

  • At 10:32 PM, Blogger tic.tac.toe said…

    what can i say.
    I am SO in love with chris.
    hes a metal head like me.
    hes a writer like me.
    and hes cute too!
    since when do teen girls have crushes on authors?!?!

    -- MRS Krovatin :D

  • At 12:19 PM, Blogger anemicxroyalxtea said…

    I am reading this book right now and i find it very entertaining. I can actually relate to it. I love to write and i love to read, and this book is TOP NOTCH!!!

    Thanks a lot christopher!!!

  • At 10:57 PM, Blogger Nikki said…

    I read the book, and I liked it, too. In a way, it's asking you to look into the music to understand how the character is feeling. My best friends, Courtney and Jon, agree that it's one that we'll end up reading several times over. Seems people like you.... "I heart Christopher." probable, due to the fact that you're a self-proclaimed romantic. Still, great book!


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