02 July 2012

Title: I Am (NOT) The Walrus
Author: Ed Briant
Publisher: Flux, 288 Pages (July 8th, 2012)
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis: A quirky story about girls, love, and rock 'n' roll

As the singer and bass player for Lucky Twenty, a Beatles cover band, Toby wants to make it big. But Zach, Toby's best friend and fellow band member, is convinced there's a problem: Toby's utter lack of mojo. How can he croon about love when he's never even kissed a girl?

So begins Toby's quest for cred as a lovestruck singer. But his quest derails when he finds a note inside his old bass guitar. Who is the true owner of the bass? And can a kiss really help Toby figure out who he is?


Ed thanks for stopping by today to talk to us about your new book – I Am (NOT) the Walrus.

1 – Can you tell us in your own words what I Am (NOT) the Walrus is about?

Hah! Good question. What is the book about? Sometimes it’s best to ask that question of somebody other than the author, so if I may, I’ll refer to the review from Publishers Weekly which, in my opinion, is pretty accurate:

“English teenager Toby’s big dream is to succeed with his Beatles cover band, even though they can’t even decide on a name. Things get complicated when Toby discovers a note hidden inside the vintage Fender bass he borrowed from his brother, which suggests that the instrument was actually stolen. Toby’s life gets even more interesting when he meets Michelle, a cute girl whose prickly disposition doesn’t deter Toby’s interest in her in the slightest. After Toby learns that he may have to move to London, leaving behind both girl and band, he has only a short amount of time in which to woo Michelle, get the perfect gig, and find his guitar’s original owner.”

2 – What are a few things you hope teen readers will be able to relate to or take away from your story and your main character Toby?

I was about 14 or 15 when I began really taking notice of what was going on in the wider world. Before that age I think I believed that grown-ups were running the world the best way they knew how, but at 14 I began reading the newspaper my parents got delivered every day, and realized that this was not the case by any means. The people in charge were actually making a pretty bad job of things.

At the time the Vietnam War was still in full-swing, the Yom Kippur War had just taken place, and the troubles in Northern Ireland were building up.

Why couldn’t everyone just sit down and talk things through? Didn’t everyone want the same things when you got down to it?

I think that by the time I was 20 I’d become cynical. I’d realized that the people running the world really did want the same thing (and still do). They wanted to stay in power and would do whatever it took to stay in power, right or wrong. That had always been the case, always would be, and there wasn’t much that could change it.

At 16 Toby is right in the middle of his idealistic time of life. He still believes that by doing the right thing he can make the world a better place. I think if there’s one thing I’d like teens to take away from my story it’s to hold on to those ideals as long as possible. I don’t think that being idealistic is naïve or unrealistic. Who’s to say that teens aren’t right, and older people are wrong? I hope my books encourage more naïve idealism.

3 – The Beatles have been such a HUGE influence in so many peoples’ lives. Their reach has crossed multiple generations and countries around the world. Can you tell us a bit about their influence on the characters in the story? What about their influence on you and with writing the book?

Toby and Zack are at a time of life when the religion they grew up with has begun to seem a little irrelevant to them. For all its qualities the Bible doesn’t have a lot to say––for example––about how to talk to girls, or about how to deal with a break-up, or even what to do if girls aren’t interested in you.

Pop songs, on the other hand, have plenty to say on these subjects. Of course, the words of most pop songs are complete nonsense, but not so the words of Lennon and McCartney. A lot of their words seem to ring true. That’s why their songs have endured, whereas countless other songs from that period of history have disappeared into obscurity.

Beatles songs really have become a kind of universal language.

I’m not saying that teachings of Moses and Jesus are no longer relevant, not by any means, but for where Toby and Zack are in their lives, and when it comes to such things as love, loss, and longing, maybe just for that moment in life the Beatles have more important things to say.

4 – If I Am (NOT) the Walrus was being made into a movie and you had the chance to choose the music, would you share with us what your dream soundtrack would be?

Obviously the soundtrack would have to include the Beatles songs that are featured in the story, although they wouldn’t necessarily need to be the original versions. Ideally the songs would be performed using just guitar and bass, with vocal harmonies, as they are in the book. I’d like to have the Beatles songs performed by the Raconteurs. I’m sure that there’s not a chance of it happening, but that would be my dream.

5 – Could you share with us a favorite line or two from I Am (NOT) the Walrus?

Zack grabs my shoulders and spins me back to face them. “Remember the time you stood on the edge of the top diving board and you couldn’t jump, and then you did jump, and it was fun?”
“I didn’t jump,” I say. “I climbed back down the ladder.”
“Well, there’s no ladder this time, Toby,” he says. “Just do it.”

6 – Lastly, any plans on writing anything with a strong musical influence again in the future? And I’m just curious, even if you have no currently plans who would your wish list featured artist be?

Right now I’m working on a story about a graffiti artist. I probably wouldn’t write another Beatles-themed story, but I’d love to do another book on music at some point. From the age of 13 onwards I was always in a pop group of some kind, so it was a huge part of my life. Being on stage is glamorous and fun, even a cramped, little stage like the one Toby and Zack get to play on. Traveling to gigs is another matter. It often involves long, uncomfortable, and boring rides in the back of vans, and to pass the time musicians tell anecdotes about other musicians they know.

The best stories are always the most scandalous ones. In my band days I probably spent hundreds of hours bouncing around in the back of a van, and so now I have no shortage of scandalous stories I could write about bands. Names would have to be changed, of course.

It was great to have you here to visit with us today Ed! Thanks for taking the time out to answering some questions about your book.

Ed Briant grew up in Brighton, England, but now lives just outside Philadelphia, where he writes, illustrates, and creates the popular comic strip "Tales from the Slush Pile." He has two daughters, teaches creative writing, and plays the alto saxophone (quite badly). Choppy Socky Blues was his first book for young adults. He can be found online at ebriant.com.


Enter to win a copy of I Am (NOT) the Walrus & a Guitar Pick!

To enter, please fill out the simple form below. Comments are welcomed but no entries in the comments section will be counted. Please do NOT leave your email address in comments.
You MUST be at least 13 years old to enter.
This giveaway is open to: US and Canadian residents only. Sorry!
Giveaway ends: July 19th, 2012

The winner for this giveaway will be chosen at random, via random.org. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen to take their place. Please be aware that the winnings will be mailed from the publisher. If you have any questions, please check my policy page or feel free to email me.

A HUGE thank you goes out to Flux for providing a copy of the book and guitar pick for giveaway.

Be sure to visit the other blogs throughout the tour

Tues, July 3  - Readinista

Wed, July 4 - The Hate-Mongering Tart

Thurs, July 5 - Confessions of a Bookaholic

Fri, July 6 - The Book Monsters
Mon, July 9 - The Brain Lair

Tues, July 10 - Guys Lit Wire

Wed, July 11 - Mundie Moms

Thurs, July 12 - WORD for Teens

Fri, July 13 - I Read Banned Books

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  1. Great interview, and thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog.
    Ed Briant.

  3. Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog.
    Ed Briant

  4. I do not really read contemporary fiction, but I'm probably going to read this one. The Beatles are my favorite group and they have influenced me greatly as well as my entire family. Thank you for giving them a place in your book! : )


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