Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Talking About Friends and Stuff A Guest Post by Chris Rylander

I'm so happy to welcome Chris Rylander, author of The Fourth Stall, today as part of his blog tour. Check out the other stops at the end of this post!

This is my first ever guest post on a blog, so forgive me if it’s a little awkward at first. So, I, um, like just type directly into the blog, right? And who do I say hi to, the blog readers, or blog hosts? Or the blog itself? And what am I supposed to do with my feet while I type this, does that matter? Can I eat while typing, or is that rude?

Anyway, all that aside, I want to talk a little bit about friendship since it plays an important part in THE FOURTH STALL, as well as in most young adult and middle grade literature. As little kids, friendships are always a little more awkward, they're more about similarities than anything else. The same neighborhood, the same interests, the same clothes, or even similar families can play a role in who your friends are. Then as you get older, many more things factor in. People move, kids care more and more about the “types” of friends they have. Image suddenly matters more than it did before. That can affect who our friends are.

Also, interests change, maybe that kid who loved to stay up late watching scary movies, now dislikes movies altogether, and prefers eating peanut butter with his hands while ice skating. Maybe that kid who you used to play football with, joined band instead, and also grew a third ear that you think is kind of gross to look at. Friendship at its core will always be driven, at least partially, by similarities. Things we have in common, even if only slightly. But as we get older that changes.

And kids will change. Almost never do your friends stay the same all the way through grade school, middle school, high school, college and afterward. If you have that friend, then you really did find a special bond with someone. I know I did with my wife, who I met when we were in high school, and are still together today. And I think it’s that lucky, rare friendship that can span from early childhood through becoming an adult that we tend to strive to write about in our books as authors. We like to envision our characters staying friends long after the stories end. Unless, of course, the book is about the friendship ending or something.

I think that's why friendship is such an important part of THE FOURTH STALL, and why friendship plays such an important role in most MG and YA books. We like to write to our readers' and our own fantasies. And one of those that I think most people have is to find that ultimate friend, that one person who you know will always be there for you. Mac and Vince's friendship is such an important part of the THE FOURTH STALL that I felt it became necessary to challenge it as much as I possibly could. Maybe even to the point where it ends forever... (You'll have to read to find out!) And when we set up these friendships in our books that seem as though they are the kind that can last forever, you've instantly created high, emotionally-charged stakes.

Sometimes in our lives we can even find friends all over again and reconnect and realize that nothing has changed in how we relate to each other. Recently, I hung out with a friend who I had not seen since fifth grade. And although we had both changed and a ton of time had passed, we still had an easy, awesome conversation and it was obvious why we had been such good friends all through grade school in the first place. And although since we live in different towns and we’ll likely only remain friends via email, I think that were the circumstances right, we could easily be as good friends as we were back in grade school, if not better.

Visit the other stops on THE FOURTH STALL blog tour!

Monday 4/4 – Interview at Cynsations

Tuesday 4/5 – Guest post at My Friend Amy

Wednesday 4/6 – Review at There’s a Book

Thursday 4/7 – Review/Giveaway at 5 Minutes for Books

Thursday 4/7 – Interview at Anita Laydon Miller’s Middle Grade Blog

Friday 4/8 – The Fourth Stall editor Jordan Brown interviews author Chris Rylander at Alice Pope’s SCBWI Children’s Market Blog

Saturday 4/9 – Review at Bri Meets Books

Sunday 4/10 – Guest Post at 5 Minutes for Books

Sunday 4/10 – Review at Alison’s Bookmarks

Do you need something? Mac can get it for you. It's what he does—he and his best friend and business manager, Vince. Their methods might sometimes run afoul of the law, or at least the school code of conduct, but if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can pay him, Mac is on your side. His office is located in the East Wing boys' bathroom, fourth stall from the high window. And business is booming.

Or at least it was, until one particular Monday. It starts with a third grader in need of protection. And before this ordeal is over, it's going to involve a legendary high school crime boss named Staples, an intramural gambling ring, a graffiti ninja, the nine most dangerous bullies in school, and the first Chicago Cubs World Series game in almost seventy years. And that's just the beginning. Mac and Vince soon realize that the trouble with solving everyone else's problems is that there's no one left to solve yours.

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