Monday, June 12, 2017

Welcome to the FFBC: Post-High School Reality Quest by Meg Eden

Post-High School Reality Quest

by Meg Eden
Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Genre: Young Adult
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Buffy is playing a game. However, the game is her life, and there are no instructions or cheat codes on how to win.

After graduating high school, a voice called “the text parser” emerges in Buffy’s head, narrating her life as a classic text adventure game. Buffy figures this is just a manifestation of her shy, awkward, nerdy nature—until the voice doesn’t go away, and instead begins to dominate her thoughts, telling her how to life her life. Though Buffy tries to beat the game, crash it, and even restart it, it becomes clear that this game is not something she can simply “shut off” or beat without the text parser’s help.

While the text parser tries to give Buffy advice on how “to win the game,” Buffy decides to pursue her own game-plan: start over, make new friends, and win her long-time crush Tristan’s heart. But even when Buffy gets the guy of her dreams, the game doesn’t stop. In fact, it gets worse than she could’ve ever imagined: her crumbling group of friends fall apart, her roommate turns against her, and Buffy finds herself trying to survive in a game built off her greatest nightmares.

Hello Meg! We are super excited to have you on our blogs today and to talk to you about POST-HIGH SCHOOL REALITY QUEST!


Favorite Book?

Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis
Three Scenarios in which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail by Kelly Luce
Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel

Favorite TV show?

IT Crowd
Bojack Horseman
Parks and Recreation
Dark Matter

Favorite movie?

Probably Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, though Dreamwork’s Prince of Egypt and My Big Fat Greek Wedding come up close too. 

Favorite Song?

This is literally impossible for me to pick one…
Hellfire, from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame (I’m not even making this up)
The whole soundtrack for Dreamwork’s Prince of Egypt
The whole soundtrack for Undertale
Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
Death was Arrested by North Point InsideOut
The Battle Belongs to the Lord by Petra 
Stamp on the Ground by Italobrothers
Dragostea Tin Dei by O-Zone (AKA “The Numa Numa song”—I perpetually live in the late 90s, early 2000s)

Favorite Food?

Chick Fil A

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

Anywhere in the Pokémon Universe (probably Kanto though, for real)
Inside a Miyazaki film (probably Spirited Away)
The surreal Japan of Haruki Murakami’s stories

What were your favorite books growing up? (I was a Fear Street girl!)

Anne of Green Gables
Totto Chan, the Girl at the Window
The Hiding Place

 Favorite Quote?

“Nothing is new under the sun” from Ecclesiastes. 

What do you find yourself “Fangirling” over?

All my debut friends’ books that I see in B&N! 

Who is your favorite fictional boyfriend (or girlfriend)?

Growing up, it was always Tracey from Pokémon and/or Shaggy from Scooby Doo. I was a really weird kid.  


Could you tell our Book Addicts a little bit about POST-HIGH SCHOOL REALITY QUEST?

Post-High School Reality Quest (PHSRQ for short) is a novel in the form of a classic text-adventure game—that is, those old MS-DOS games before graphics where the game would narrate what was happening, and you would type in commands to interact with the game (e.g., “You are in a room. There is an axe. Exits are: out.” and to move out of the room, you’d type “out”). 

The book follows high school graduate Buffy, who is trying to cope with transitioning from high school to college, making life decisions, and changes in her friend group. During these changes, Buffy starts hearing a text parser narrating her life (e.g., “You are in a room. There is a piano. Exits are: out.”), and feels stuck in this video game that the voice is creating. Is she actually in the game? Is it all in her head? How does she escape? Read the book and find out!

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 POST-HIGH SCHOOL REALITY QUEST.)

#teamnarwhal #retrogaming #adulting

Are you a gamer?  What is your favorite text adventure game?

I am definitely a gamer. My favorite game is a tie between Pokémon Gold, Life is Strange, and Undertale. When it comes to text adventures, I have a love-hate relationship with Zork. 

How did you come up with the story? Did you find inspiration in any other story/movie/show and how has this affected your writing?

One day a friend said to me: "Hey, you should write a novel in the form of a text adventure game." I honestly didn’t think much of the idea but tried it out one day for fun. Once I started, I got hooked! 

I learn a lot about storytelling not only from books but also movies, television shows and video games. I’ve been really inspired by games like Gone Home, Life is Strange, Papers Please and Undertale, which subvert expectations and use objects to do some powerful storytelling and make the player fill in the gaps. I could talk for days about Undertale but in short, the rules of the game are constantly changing to subvert our expectations as players, and the mechanics do really interesting things to make you feel powerless, and feel the consequences of your choices. I think this was something I thought about a lot when thinking about the Text Parser and his relationship with Buffy.

Felicia Day’s The Guild was one of the shows that really started getting me thinking about nerd group social dynamics. When I turned in a really crappy old excerpt of PHSRQ back in community college, my professor encouraged me to read Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. I fell in love with the book, and I know it greatly influenced PHSRQ and thinking about complex character development.
Japanese magic realism like Haruki Murakami, Kelly Luce and Yasunari Kawabata have been really influential to me as well, making me think about how to blur the line between reality and the magical, and having bizarre surprises in the everyday. 

Tell us your favorite quote from POST-HIGH SCHOOL REALITY QUEST.

A tie between: “Don’t rage quit, Buffy. It’s unbecoming.” and “What’re you doing—regretting life decisions?”

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

This book in general was a lot of fun to write. I had a lot of fun with the fireworks scene. I think what was hardest was when my editor asked me to cut a character out (which is like, asking me to saw my arm off!) and having to rewrite scenes without him. However, once I could see how his absence made the tension between Merrill and Tristan stronger, I found the rewritten scenes to be much more solid. I think “Somewhere Not Yet Decided Upon” was the most difficult—I’m afraid to say much more than that to keep things spoiler-free ☺ 

If you had to pick one song to be the Theme Song for POST-HIGH SCHOOL REALITY QUEST– Which one would you pick? 

I Could Be the One by Avicii & Nicky Romero

Are there any recommendations you could give your readers to be in the “perfect mood” to read POST-HIGH SCHOOL REALITY QUEST (specific music, snacks…)? 

Listen to lots of Cazzette (especially the album “Eject”). Also, if you have a local gaming arcade or 80s mancave basement, those are great environments to get “in the zone.” ☺

What’s next for you? 

I’m hoping to be done with rewrites and edits of my project currently called Case Study of Lotus Spaulding’s Love Life. It’s a YA about a love advice columnist who gets into an abusive relationship and has to find her way out. The novel is composed entirely of found materials: tweets, texts, snapchats, journal entries, homework assignments—so it’s an interesting challenge to give myself: how to tell a story with the fewest number of words possible. 

I’m also working on a sci-fi novel about neuroimaging, virtual reality, and environmental disasters, as well as a video game themed poetry collection. 

Thank you so much for everything, Meg!

I love that you fangirl over author friends' books!!  I feel like I fangirl when I see YA books in stores-- even though I don't "know" any authors that well :)  Also, I love books told through texts and other epistolary elements, so the book you're working on now sounds AWESOME!!

Meg Eden's work has been published in various magazines, including Rattle, Drunken Boat, Poet Lore, and Gargoyle. She teaches at the University of Maryland. She has four poetry chapbooks, and her novel "Post-High School Reality Quest" is forthcoming from California Coldblood, an imprint of Rare Bird Lit. Check out her work at:

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  1. This book looks absolutely incredible. I've never heard of anything like it! Definitely a to-be-read

  2. In the poker room I can only play at one table. To do otherwise would be physically impossible. I will see around 30 hands per hour. It would seem that the game should appear to be in slow motion to the online player, but it isn't. There is so much going on at the table that it is hard to follow until you get used to the commotion. click this