ABOUT THE BOOK
Lesh and Svetlana, two teens from St. Paul, Minnesota, are adrift in a sea of social coterie, desperate for something to change. When they crash into one another in a drunken bicycle accident at two am, they don’t yet know how close they are to finding it. For now, Svetlana is simply looking for a fifth member to legitimize the Central High School Gaming Club, and Lesh is looking to escape his being grounded for said drunkenness by entering, reluctantly, the world of online role playing games.
Lesh’s gaming life takes an interesting turn as, unable to figure out how to speak to Svetlana, he “becomes” her in-game. When real life and in-game life inevitably become entwined, Lesh and Svetlana both start to realize that the lines they draw to keep their lives in order are not so easy to maintain. Especially when you no longer understand why you drew them in the first place.
Now it’s time to see the cover!
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Q+A with Steve Brezenoff
1. Tell us about GUY IN REAL LIFE. What inspired you to write a love story intertwined with role playing games?
I didn’t sit down to write a love story, actually. I sat down merely to write about a boy—Lesh—who played online games as a girl. Eventually, over hundreds of thousands of words of drafting, Svetlana became a character in her own right, until finally she had her own point-of-view and everything. By the end, Svetlana—who didn’t exist in early drafts—was as rich a character as Lesh. I definitely fell for her as much as Lesh did.
2. Which character in GUY IN REAL LIFE did you most enjoy writing?
Probably Kugnar, Lesh’s in-game orc avatar. There aren’t many pages from his point-of-view, but they were super fun to write. I played a bunch of games as an orc to get into the spirit, and watched a lot of Klingon-centric Star Trek episodes. Worked like a charm. I ended up with a blood-thirsty, occasionally mindless, and thoroughly tongue-in-cheek brute, but with the sensibilities of a sixteen-year-old boy. It’s probably not as complex a combination as I initially thought, come to think of it.
3. Were you anything like Lesh as a teenager? If you could give teen Steve any piece of advice in the world, what would it be?
I was like him in that I didn’t talk much and I developed crushes on girls a little too easily. But I hated metal and the only computer games I had were in black and green on my Apple IIc clone. The RPGs were decidedly static and text based, too. But I digress. I think Lesh possesses (and I possessed) the most basic universals for a boy at sixteen, including a tenuous grasp on identity and a fairly new understanding of the fallibility of adults, most importantly his own parents. As for advice for teen Steve, I’d probably try to convince him not to be afraid of everything and everyone all the time, but I don’t think he’d listen.
4. You wrote two novels before GUY IN REAL LIFE. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was in seventh grade, my brother came home from tenth grade one afternoon with a copy of The Catcher in the Rye and said, “I think you’ll like this.” I know. What a cliché. But there it is. I devoured that book, it being the first novel written with a truly distinct and authentic voice that I’d ever read, and thereafter I have always wanted to write. In high school, I took as many writing electives as I could, including two years of independent study, during which I wrote a horrible draft of what only a very charitable person would call a novel. I also became co-editor of the school’s literary journal and submitted several very short and very derivative stories to that fine periodical. After college, where I majored in literature, I gave up fiction in favor of music journalism, but fiction wouldn’t give me up, and next thing I knew I’d written a very personal young adult novel.
5. What do you think of your novel’s awesome cover?
Well, I think it’s awesome, naturally. I love how clean it is, and how eye-catching and iconic. And I love that Lana’s and Lesh’s faces manage to speak volumes with so few pixels.