Monday, November 5, 2018

Welcome to the FFBC: YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY by Gordon Jack-- Interview & Giveaway!!

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Your Own Worst Enemy

by Gordon Jack
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: November 13, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
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Three candidates, three platforms, and a whirlwind of social media, gaffes, and protests makes for a ridiculous and hilarious political circus in Gordon Jack’s second highly satirical novel. Perfect for fans of Andrew Smith and Frank Portman.

They say that with great power comes great responsibility. Unless you’re student body president at Lincoln High School. Then you get all the responsibility but none of the power. And the three candidates running for president know all about that.

Stacey Wynn is the front-runner, but she didn’t count on Julia Romero entering this race. Julia is challenging Stacey for the title while also putting the moves on Stacey’s campaign adviser and only friend, Brian. And then there is Tony Guo, the way outsider. Tony is usually oblivious to the school’s political campaigning, as he’s oblivious to anything that isn’t about getting high and drinking all the Space Cow chocolate milk he can stomach. But when his favorite beverage is banned at school, a freshman political “mastermind” convinces Tony to become the voice of the little guy. But what kind of voice is that, really?

If this were an ordinary high school election, the winner would be whichever candidate was the most popular. But this year, each candidate may have to sink to a new low to win an election that could change the course of...very little.


Hi Gordon!!  We’re so excited to have you in our FFBC Tours and can’t wait to ask you a couple of questions about your new book, YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY!


Favorite Book?

Harold and the Purple Crayon (based on number of times re-reading it. Actually, this may be my son’s favorite book, but I still enjoy it whenever I’m reading it to him.

Favorite TV show?

The Simpsons

Favorite movie?

All About Eve

Favorite Song? 

Happy Birthday

Favorite Food? 

Birthday cake

Name 3 fictional places you would move to in a heartbeat. 

1) Any place imagined by Studio Ghibli; 

2) The Afterlife in Coco; 

3) Max’s Island from Where the Wild Things Are; 

What were your favorite books growing up? 

1) My Father’s Dragon; 

2) Life in Hell; 

3) Jaws 

Favorite Quote? 

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

What are your fandoms? 

1) My wife; 

2) My son; 

3) My dog

 What recent book would you recommend to our YA fans? 

1) The Echo Room; 

2) MunMun; 

3) We Regret to Inform You; 

4) Pride; 
5) The Poet X; 
6) Rabbit and Robot


Could you tell our Book Addicts a little bit about YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY?

YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY is about a high school election for student body president. Stacey is the front-runner because she has the most experience. But then Brian, her best friend and campaign manager, falls in love with her rival, Julia, a transfer student from Canada who may or may not be Latinx. Unbeknownst to Brian, his little brother, Kyle, is spying on both campaigns and putting his own candidate forward -Tony, a stoner who just wants to bring chocolate milk back to the cafeteria. Everything gets really crazy when a spaceship of giant squid-like creatures lands in the quad and enslaves everyone. Just kidding about that last part. I’m saving that story for the sequel.

What 3 hashtags would you most associate with your book? (Could be a word or phrase or anything that would instantly make you think of YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY.)

#BringBackSpaceCow, #MocktheVote, #YOWE

What fictional character (from any tv show/movie/book) do you think would make an awesome student council president?

Stacey is inspired in part by Leslie Knope on Parks and Rec, so I will have to vote for her. She’s super hard working, ambitious and motivated purely by her love of Pawnee. She’s the politician we all want because she thinks government can make people’s lives better. Of course, it helps sometimes that her enthusiasm is tempered by someone like Ron Swanson, who keeps Leslie from stalking Joe Biden or working her colleagues to death. 

Do you have any favorite teen/high school movies?

I love the movie Election with Reese Witherspoon so much, you might call YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY a bit of fan fiction. Another favorite is Rushmore, which also focuses on an overly ambitious student. I also re-watch Mean Girls and Heathers regularly. Now that I think of it, most of my favorite high school movies are dark comedies, which is probably the best tone for high school. 

Tell us your favorite quote from YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY.

If I were helping a student write an essay on this book for an English class, I would tell her to use the line Brian says to Stacey towards the end of the novel, “Elections demand that we simplify things, even simplify people, but sometimes that’s impossible.” So much of our politics today tries to pigeonhole people into very narrow categories – by race, gender, income level, geography, etc., when we’re so much more complex than these labels. All the characters in the book live in the middle of a spectrum, which is what makes them more real and interesting to me, and makes getting their vote so much more challenging. Stacey realizes this at one point walking through the hallways of her diverse school and it overwhelms her. “How did she create a menu to please both the carnivores and the vegetarians? She needed to find the item that pleased both. French fries, she thought. She needed to run on a platform of French fries.” That’s two quotes, which I hope is OK.

Is there a specific scene that you had the most fun to write?  Or which part was the most difficult to get through?

I loved writing the cafeteria scenes where Tony slowly ascends to power with the help of Kyle. Tony was my stand in for Donald Trump and I wanted him to tap into the same anger that Trump did when he was campaigning in 2016. So I thought, who are the angriest people in high school? It’s the freshmen guys. Imagine, you’re top dog in your middle school and then within the time span of a few months you’re back on the bottom rung of the social ladder. These guys are pissed and eat lunch together every day in the cafeteria. So, that’s where Tony starts campaigning and within a few days he’s turned the place into a Lord of the Flies hellscape.

If you had to pick one song to be the Theme Song for YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY– Which one would you pick?

I have two songs that feature prominently in the story. The first is Mitski’s Your Best American Girl, which Julia uses to seduce Brian and the second is Calle 13’s Pa’l Norte, which Julia and her crew use to stage their quinceanera protest. Either of those would make a great theme song for the book, I think.

Are there any recommendations you could give your readers to be in the “perfect mood” to read YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY (specific music, snacks…)? 

YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY is a comedy, so I would wait until you’re in the mood to laugh. For some people, this is all the time, in which case, go out and buy your copy right now, along with a big bag of candy and a liter of soda. Others need to fill up on super sad love stories before they’re ready to laugh at the absurdity of life. For them, I’d say, buy your copy now and place it in your TBR stack next to the book with the dark blue cover and gothic script that spells out the word “Cursed” in the title. Then it will be ready when you need it.

What’s next for you?

I am currently finishing my trilogy of terror series centered on pivotal high school experiences. My first book, The Boomerang Effect tells the story of someone trying to bring down homecoming. Your Own Worst Enemy tells the story of someone trying to bring down a high school election. The next story is going to be about someone trying to bring down prom.  Or graduation. Or back to school night.  I love working in a high school, but I’m starting to wonder if I’m taking out some of my workplace issues in my books.   

Thanks so much for chatting with us!!  I totally agree with you-- dark comedy is the perfect time for high school!!  This interview made me laugh several times, thank you for that!!

Gordon Jack always wanted to be a writer. In third grade, he put that on his “What I want to be when I grow up” list, just behind astronaut and professional dog walker. While working towards this goal, he had jobs as an advertising copywriter, English teacher, librarian, and semi-professional dog walker. The Boomerang Effect was his first novel. He lives in San Francisco with his family.

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1 comment:

  1. I love the premise and timing of this book. The comedy promised is my kind of humor.