(Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway) Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican

Brutal Youth
by Anthony Breznican
Series: None
Release date: June 2nd 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genres: Coming of age, contemporary
Age category: Young Adult
No. of pages:  432 pages (paperback)
ISBN: 1250067898 (ISBN13: 9781250067890)
Three freshmen must join forces to survive at a troubled, working-class Catholic high school with a student body full of bullies and zealots, and a faculty that's even worse in Anthony Breznican's Brutal Youth.

With a plunging reputation and enrollment rate, Saint Michael’s has become a crumbling dumping ground for expelled delinquents and a haven for the stridently religious when incoming freshman Peter Davidek signs up. On his first day, tensions are clearly on the rise as a picked-upon upperclassmen finally snaps, unleashing a violent attack on both the students who tormented him for so long, and the corrupt, petty faculty that let it happen. But within this desperate place, Peter befriends fellow freshmen Noah Stein, a volatile classmate whose face bears the scars of a hard-fighting past, and the beautiful but lonely Lorelei Paskal —so eager to become popular, she makes only enemies.

To even stand a chance at surviving their freshmen year, the trio must join forces as they navigate a bullying culture dominated by administrators like the once popular Ms. Bromine, their embittered guidance counselor, and Father Mercedes, the parish priest who plans to scapegoat the students as he makes off with church finances. A coming-of-age tale reversed, Brutal Youth follows these students as they discover that instead of growing older and wiser, going bad may be the only way to survive.
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Author Interview

1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I grew up in the early 1980s and used to make up my own Transformers stories by talking into my grandfather’s tape recorder. I did all the voices and had these elaborate battles. I realize now, I wasn’t just playing – I was writing stories, and I was just 7 years old.

Later, as a teenager, I became obsessed with Stephen King and started crafting short stories to be like him. He was a massive inspiration and influence on me. It was around then that I decided I wanted to be a writer.

2. How long does it take you to write a book?

It took a lot of nights and weekends – probably a year and half, altogether. My wife was studying to get her master’s in library science, so while she worked on papers and classes at the desk, I sat at the kitchen table typing out a book for her to shelve when she finally got her degree.

3. Where do you get ideas for your books?

Brutal Youth was inspired by some of the craziness that went down when I was in high school. I made some of the best friends of my life during that freshman year, when we were trying our best to survive despite some demented experiences that were thrown our way. I wanted to write a novel about foxhole friendships, the people who are by your side in the battlefield of growing up.

4. What do you do when you're not writing?

I have two little kids who keep me pretty busy. Also I like to cook and tend a garden. Reading is another passion, but I think that goes hand in hand with being a writer. You can’t write if you don’t recharge your battery with other good storytelling.

5. What does your family think of your writing?
My grandmother, who passed away in November, was very upset that one of the characters in Brutal Youth was inspired by the real priest from our hometown who was caught embezzling from the collection plate. “Why’d you have to bring him up again?” she asked. I was like, “Why are you taking his side? He stole from you!” She was raised to never speak out against authority, but she was a very sweet person. I miss her so much.

My brothers, Greg and Stephen, have been tremendously supportive. They’re the kind of brothers anyone would be lucky to have, the kind who guard your back no matter what. Greg read an early draft of Brutal Youth and gave me the great one-liner: “It’s Fight Club meets The Breakfast Club.”

6. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I was surprised by how characters will start to tell their own stories by the end. In Brutal Youth, Hannah is this mysterious upperclassman who caught me off guard several times. There were certain things about her history that came out of the blue and just fit perfectly with the character from the beginning of the book – even though I hadn’t imagined them before. She’s a tough customer, Hannah. I like a character who leaps off the page and tells you what’s what.

Prologue Excerpt

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About the author:
Anthony Breznican was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania and graduated from the University of Pittsurgh in 1998. He has worked as a reporter for The Arizona Republic, Associated Press, and USA Today. He is currently a senior staff writer for Entertainment Weekly.

Brutal Youth is his debut novel.
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Signed finished copy of Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican (US Only) 07/09
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