Hey gang! Remember that time I couldn't stop gushing about Firecracker? Well I STILL HAVEN'T STOPPED. And author David Iserson has been kind enough to indulge my swimfanning with a visit to the FYA lockers! In addition to creating the delightful asshole known as Astrid Krieger, David has also written for shows like New Girl and Saturday Night Live aka these are a few of my favourite things! Without further ado (and before I break out into any more Von Trapp), here's the fantastic and hilarious Mr. Iserson!
THE ACTUAL BOOK RELATED QUESTIONS
Obvs, I need to know: is Astrid based on a real person? Please say yes. (And also more words than just 'yes'.)
Then, yes. But also, no. When I started, Astrid was based on no one. She just popped into my head, pretty much all there. It was after I’d already been working on versions of the Astrid story, that I met my wife, Allis (well, she wasn’t my wife at the time. That would be weird.) Allis is very Astrid-y (except for the super-rich part, and Allis drinks a lot more wine) and Astrid took on a lot of Allis’ quotes and stories. Par exemple, Astrid once kicked someone so hard, he had to have testicle retrieval surgery. Allis, apparently, did that too. (Don’t get on Allis’ bad side.)
Damn, Allis! Can she be my BFF too? (And that's her on the cover!)
If you were one of Astrid's accomplices, what would she consider to be your useful skill? Other than being her biographer, of course.
I am good at research, stay calm in high pressure situations, drive a good getaway car and I’m excellent at forgery. Do you by any chance need my father’s signature on anything? I can do that.
Would that get me a furniture discount? Then I'M IN.
One of the things that impressed me about this book was how authentic Astrid is. How do I put this nicely (OK, I'm totally not going to put this nicely) -- how'd you manage to think like a teenage girl?
Thank you very much. I always found when I wrote characters that were based on myself, they would be very boring. People have a tendency to think about their lives passively, like, things happened to me, instead of I did this. When I write characters that are not me, I’m not hung-up in my own life and experiences and it’s very freeing. So, a teenage girl isn’t me (but, honestly, Astrid is totally me too.) I wasn’t trying to speak for all teenage girls, just this one specific one. I wanted her to be strong and powerful, and she just made sense as a girl. A lot of adults write teens as dumber versions of adults—I hate that and it’s completely untrue. If anything, I was way smarter when I was a teenager than I am now. The things I knew about, I knew everything about, and I wanted Astrid to be the same way.
Also, when I was young, all the good books were about girls and all the boys books (except for a few great exceptions) were about, like, baseball (this was in a pre-Harry Potter era.) When I decided to write YA, I was drawn to write about a girl, because those were the books I loved.
You've generated a lot of extra Astrid-related content on your Tumblr, including an interview with her and a movie (!!!) poster. What's next for Astrid Krieger? An Astridism-of-the-day calendar? World domination?
Astrid would want nothing less than absolute world domination. I want Astrid everywhere: a movie, a TV show, lunch boxes. I made Firecracker t-shirts.
David modelling the latest product in the Astrid Krieger cottage industry
If people like Astrid, they’ll like the book. If people hate Astrid, they’ll be like almost every other character in the book, so they may also like it.
P.S. I feel bad that I haven't asked about anyone or anything else, but Astrid is just so freaking charismatic! And I def. could go on ad infinitum about your TV resumé too (holy shit Omeletteville!), but I'll just shut up before my fangirling scares you off.
Aw, thanks. And while I didn’t write Omeletteville, but I was definitely twenty feet away when it was happening on stage.
Proximity to greatness is pretty awesome, though. See: me, conducting this interview.
THE YA QUESTIONS
If your real life adolescence was a YA book...
What would you, the main character, be like?
Do you want to see something horrible? I mean something you can never unsee and it will alter the way you see me and see the world? Google “David Iserson” and “commercial” and then you will know the horror of my awkward adolescence. That was me. I was thirteen. My dad suggested I act in the commercial for the family furniture store and I said yes. I was such an idiot. It ruined me for the next five years. So, the main character in the YA book about me would teem with regret, have a Bob’s Big Boy haircut and a very colorful rayon shirt.
That? Was AMAZING. When Astrid finishes conquering the world, you need to return to acting in commercials.
Who is your secret crush?
In this story, I write weekly letters with intricately hand-drawn envelopes to a summer camp crush who lives 70 miles away. It’s a terribly obvious “secret” crush. Of course she knows. Everyone knows. I write her letters every week. The mailman sadly shakes his head and is like, “Come on, dude.”
What is your number #1 source of angst?
Survival. I cannot fight. I have no idea how. So, mostly I avoid getting beaten up. I weave the long way out of the school through back hallways to avoid particularly terrifying kids—kids who had full mustaches at 14. Sometimes I wear very brightly colored sneakers. I hope no one made fun of them, but I still wear them, because I like them. They can scare me, but they can’t take away my sneakers. And then someone takes away my sneakers from a gym locker. I should’ve seen that coming.
At what point would the reader pump his/her fist in victory?
There’s a big test. I forgot to study for it. Someone calls in a bomb threat. We find out later it’s to avoid the same test. The whole school lingers outside for an hour. There was some sort of military recruiting event at school that day, so there are Marines searching the school for bombs. This seems serious. A girl I’ve never met and her group of friends approaches me. “You have a car?” she asks. “Barely,” I say, “It’s kind of a car, kind of a go cart.” It’s good enough. They want to go to the beach. Even though it’s freezing. And I drive. Then it’s definitely freezing. But we’re not in school. And this girl and I sit on the rocks in the cold. And in the YA version, there’s most definitely a better song on the radio. I think in reality it was probably Counting Crows or Goo Goo Dolls or something. And in the YA version, we’d probably kiss on that beach. And it definitely wouldn’t end with someone approaching and saying, “I just called. There was no bomb. We have to go back to school.”
What was that you said about not basing a character on yourself? 'Cause I'd still read the shizz out of that book!
And who would play you in the film adaptation?
Daniel Radcliffe in Equus.
I dunno... can Harry Potter rock a Burger King shirt this well?
THE SLUMBER PARTY QUESTIONS
What is your secret power?
I used to draw caricatures at Six Flags.
What is your #1 favorite food?
Sushi and iced tea.
Tell me about your area of expertise.
I know so many song lyrics. If all of the brain space reserved for song lyrics was instead taken up by math, I would be... really good at math.
If you could assemble your own Ocean's 11 of fictional characters, who would you pick and why?
Veronica Mars: Problem solving.
Tom Sawyer: Picket-fence-whitewashing-avoidance.
Hermione Granger: Wizardry/Organization.
Peeta Mellark: Baked goods.
Marty McFly: Time Travel.
Arya Stark: Swordfighting/Archery.
Encyclopedia Brown: Know-it-all.
Gob Bluth: Illusions.
There was a show from when I was a kid called Out of this World and the girl in it could freeze time, so, her.
And, um, Spider-Man?
That is a GLORIOUS Ocean's 11.
What is your best karaoke song?
“Take On Me,” A-ha. I will karaoke with anyone, anytime.
Tell me something scandalous!
There’s a freezer full of dead animals in my backyard. I won’t explain further.
I know this to be true, but won't explain further in fear of joining the animals in the freezer.
What is your favorite adult beverage?
Pimm’s Cup. I’m not a big drinker, but when I do, it’s expensive, sweet and British.
Is that your audition for the Most Interesting Man in the World?
What book have you read the most number of times?
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. The best.
Who is your “freebie”?
Any and all of my twitter followers.
Beware, all takers: you'd have to contend with Allis. Guard your figurative or literal testes.
YA authors are so cool. Who would you give a BFF charm to?
I don’t know many YA authors in real life, but I’d like to hang out with Judy Blume once in a while.
Out of all of the characters you’ve written, which one do you most wish you could be?
Astrid. Of course.
If you were invited to the FYA slumber party (and obvs, you ARE), what is the most crucial snack food and/or movie/or anything you'd bring?
Food: I’ve been known to make my own ice cream (sometimes with bacon in it.)
Movie: Heathers feels classic slumber party viewing.
Also, I’d bring my dog, Dr. Bacon (there is a bacon theme to these answers) because he’s a great cuddler in a sleeping bag.
And now: MASH! In which David's future shall be predicted with 100% accuracy, within ± 100% (what? He said he was bad at math). He made three picks for each category, and we added a fourth choice worthy of Bad Idea Jeans. The magic number was 9:
(I’ll do these in photos. It’ll make the bad choice more fun.)
# of Kids
1 child (human)
My dog is my children
My porcelain cat figurines are my children
My kids (goats) are my children
This category was left blank. So I'll interpret it as a protest against being anything other than CEO of the Astrid Krieger Empire.
Rich in friends
Rich in money
Rich in money, middle-class in friends
Rich in juice boxes
Large American city, hustle, bustle
Giant mall, people live underground
Quaint small town, good breakfast places
Abandoned pirate ship, bad for scurvy
Siberian Domesticated Fox (look it up. They’re awesome.)
Naked mole rat
Used Honda Accord, decent gas mileage
Poor Allis and Dr. Bacon; at least they'll have each other (and those awesome boots) while you're stocking your shack with juice boxes.
Thanks for stopping by, David! Firecracker is available now (go get it!) and you can join David's list of Twitter
freebies followers here.