Synopsis: Who are you supposed to look up to when it seems like every adult you know is more screwed up than yourself?
Looming above Zach Ramsey's hometown are the smokestacks of the truck assembly plant, the greasy lifeblood of this Detroit suburb. Surrounded by drunks, broken marriages, and factory rats living in fear of the pink slip, Zach is getting out of Blaine after graduation. But first, he's going to enjoy the summer before his senior year.
And Zach's having a blast until he uncovers dark secrets that shake his faith in everyone, including his best friend Tank (a state wrestling champion), whose 'roid rages betray a shocking habit. Falling in love with Tank's twin sister Sarah, an Ivy League-bound scholar, doesn't exactly make Zach's life any easier.
Eventually, with enough evidence to nail the town's steroid kingpin, Zach is faced with the toughest decision of his life—one that will prove just what kind of adult he's destined to be.
How did you come up with the idea for Exit Strategy?
I knew I wanted to write a book geared toward male readers in their late teens and early twenties. I thought about what I wished was out there back when I was that age, especially when it comes to peer pressure topics like alcohol, tobacco, and teen sexual pressure. Those are things a lot of guys don’t feel comfortable sharing their emotions about, so I wanted to write a story that explored those issues in a realistic way, without getting too “preachy” about them.
Having said that, it’s been great to hear from female readers who have read the book and enjoyed it. The crossover appeal has surprised me, but in a very good way, of course.
Did you find it hard to write about such sensitive subject matter such as steroid use in teens?
I did in the beginning. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I could justify the idea of having a high school steroid scandal in the book. I kept asking myself, “Is this realistic? Could it happen?” So one day I Googled “high school steroid scandal” and had my answer within seconds.
Without giving too much away, what's your favorite part of the book and why? Favorite scene or line?
My favorite part is the very last scene. Zach (main character) is alone and terribly confused about everything he’s been through. It’s not exactly a happy ending, but I think the themes of confusion and loneliness hit home with most teens.
My favorite line is when Zach says, “I imagine a giant suction tube falling from the sky and slurping me up and out of Blaine, then spitting me out into some clean, sterile city free of smokestacks, layoff notices, fighting parents, and drug-dealing football coaches.”
Was there any part of your road to becoming published that you were completely unprepared for?
Writing a novel is a lonely experience, but the loneliness ends once you get an agent and make a sale. The final product you see in bookstores is the result of a great deal of teamwork between the author and many other talented people. The teamwork and dedication of everybody involved with EXIT STRATEGY has amazed me. It’s been a wonderful experience.
If you had the choice to take a favorite song and turn it into a book, what song would that be and why?
I’ll go with Green Day’s “American Idiot,” because it sounds exactly like something I’d love to read—edgy and brutally honest.
Lastly - I read your currently working on a new book. Anything you can tell us about that and when we might be seeing it in print?
Here’s a quick, one sentence movie-like synopsis: Four rich but bored high school seniors embark on an innocent challenge that spirals violently out of control and changes their lives forever.
In terms of seeing it in print, I’ve set a self-imposed completion deadline of August 2010. We’ll see what happens from there. But I promise to keep you posted!
For more info about the book and the author - please be sure to visit these links.
Thanks so much for taking the time Ryan, looking forward to reading more from you in the future!