Monday, June 02, 2008

Extra: Fellow blogger's novel in the bookstores. Win one here!

Driving Sideways is a just-released novel written by a blogging buddy of mine, Jess Riley and I'll be giving away a brand new copy of her book one week from tomorrow.

I first stumbled onto Jess's blog about 2 years ago while blog hopping around, and became an instant fan of her smart humor, hysterical references and easy writing style. At that time Jess was on a journey to get her freshly-written novel published and I was fortunate enough to be able to tag along as she went from final edits, to being published, to being selected as a Target Break-Out Book due out on their shelves on June 19! In the meantime you can pick it up at all the other major bookstores.

The other journey I followed was the story in the book itself. Driving Sideways is a deliciously funny story of a woman who, after receiving a kidney transplant, also receives a new lease on life - and fueled by the energy being channeled to her from the deceased donor himself, suddenly decides she wants to take a road trip from Wisconsin to L.A. in hopes of meeting her donor's family and her long-lost mother who left her when she was a young girl.

During this adventure the title character, Leigh, winds up picking up a stray hitchhiking companion, hooking up with old friends and lovers, and getting slapped in the face by hysterical calamities, characters and surprises.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jess for this post. Here's a little insight into her experience with writing Driving Sideways.

5 Questions with Jess Riley

1. Based on the level of detail you write about during your character Leigh's journey westward, it seems obvious you've taken this trip before. Is that true?

True! I took the trip before I wrote the book, and again afterwards, to make sure I got it right. Also, to take all but two of the photos at the beginning of each chapter. I even bought some auto bingo tiles at the Corn Palace, and posed with my own head in the Getting’ Corny at the Corn Palace cut-outs. Later we stopped at Wall Drug, where I experienced a mildly sweaty case of “Ineedtogetthehelloutofherenow.”

I was a supreme nerd on the second trip, actually taking notes in a little digital recorder, and I’d type them up each night in our motel while my best friend gave the room a cautious inspection, always finding the inevitable stray hair or skidmark that led to threats to sleep in the even filthier (but familiar) car.

2. In your book, Leigh has Polycystic Kidney Disease which is the backdrop of her story. What is your connection with PKD?

I arrived at PKD during my research as I worked backwards from my premise about cellular memory. I was shocked to discover how prevalent it was—affecting more people than Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and muscular dystrophy combined, and there is no cure. I’d heard of every one of the other conditions, yet I had never heard of PKD. So I wanted to do my small part to put it on the map for others who may not have heard of it, too. Later, I became friends with two amazing young PKD patients, and I’ve also learned that it affects other friends and colleagues in my life. PKD research is now one of the causes I support.

3. How has your life changed now that you have a novel on the shelves?

My family now knows for sure what a warped mind I have. Some of them may start avoiding me at get-togethers, and who could blame them. (Rip VanGina, anyone?) But in all seriousness, life hasn’t changed much—I still polish my diamonds one gemstone at a time, and my ears still pop when I fly to Europe on my private jet, just like everyone else.

4. Name one scene from the story that has actually happened to you in real life.

You know, I could probably open the book randomly and land on an anecdote that really happened. The bar in Vegas is actually based on a piano bar in Milwaukee, and I had a sassy cocktail waitress just like the one that serves Leigh and Chris. But at the real piano bar, they are very protective of their microphone, and would never let just anyone get up and sing.

Also true: a nineteen year-old creepy stoner ski bum sneaking up on me while I slept on the couch at my friend’s apartment in Colorado. I gave him a stern talking-to, just like Leigh did.

And this: breaking down in the middle of nowhere out west. We were rescued by a filthy tow-truck driver, though—no hot state trooper or RV of ‘swingers.’

5. I know you've thought about it... so who would you want to play your characters in the movie?

This is WAAY too hard to answer, but I would love to see Lauren Ambrose or Kelli Garner (from Lars and the Real Girl) as Leigh, Paul Rudd as James, Vince Vaughn as Wes, and Ellen Page as Denise in a film version of the book. This is a hard question! I wish there were a posse of bawdy yet vulnerable young actresses, like the female version of the Judd Apatow crew from Superbad and Knocked-Up.
And now - on to the contest! If you would like to enter, simply leave a comment that you would like a copy of Jess's book. I will do the drawing next Tuesday, June 10 and the winner will receive a new copy (not the one I spilled my coffee in) of Driving Sideways, complete with an autographed name card AND postage paid by me!

In the meantime, I encourage you to stop by Jess's blog and read some of her stuff. As a sample, I've selected 5 posts below that made me chuckle, which was hard to narrow down since everything she writes cracks me up.

So have fun checking out Jess. You'll be glad you did!

Tiny Hand

Lawnmower Battle

Advanage - without the T

Monkey Business

Baby Got Back

* * * * *

Drive on over here for some other sideways humor

40 comments:

VE said...

I'd like a copy of the book. I hopped over there and left a comment; oddly I'd never visited and I do get around...funny stuff and nice interview. Could you intervie J.D. Salinger next for us?

VE said...

Oh, and when is your book gonna come out Jeff? Diaries of a teenager... ;)

Susan said...

)( Crossing my fingers that I win a copy of the book!

Jess Riley said...

I smell a new blog tradition! "Jeff's Weekly Trip Back in Time: The Teen Journal Years."

Heather said...

I'm always jealous of people getting their books written and published! I'm such a slacker!

I'd love a new book to read...

Jeff said...

ve - How about Diarrheas of a Teenager? I think that would be more accurate considering the crap I ate in those days.

susan - Cross your toes too. It can't hurt.

jess - See, my Diarrhea idea would fit there too, you know, with the new tradition you're "smelling."

heather - I was jealous of her at first too - until I started reading her blog. Then I just became her biggest fan.

cathouse teri said...

Of course I want the book! I'm in!

Phil said...

Enter me in the contest! The book sounds like fun read.

Plus, "Driving Sideways" is my favorite Aimee Mann song.

Jeff said...

teri - You're SO in!

phil - Good one! You should win just for knowing that reference. Her book was originally titled -Riding With Larry Resnick (who was the kidney donor) but her publishers recommended she rename it to Driving Sideways based on that song. But alas, you're going to have to take your chances just like everyone else. Good luck though!

Drowsey Monkey said...

Excellent ... I will be looking into this some more. Thanks for highlighting it in this great post :)

Drowsey Monkey said...

And I agree with Ve ... I'm waiting for your novel. :)

Gette said...

Yay! A contest! Sign me up. Or post some rules or somethin somethin'

Bill said...

First Diesel, than Jennine, and now Jess Riley turning out great works for us to enjoy. I am still depends free, should anyone make enough to spring for an olympic pool.

Jeff said...

drowsey monkey - Me too. How long should we wait?

gette - No rules. You're all signed up just for asking.

bill - Oh yay. P l e a s e let us know when you're dependent on Depends!

Flip Flop Momma said...

aww, thats awsome...Im gonna buy a copy, gotta support the sister hood ya know:)

Sornie said...

I love how blogging has broken down so many walls and opened up the talent pool for so many writers who would normally have no outlet for their writing.

Sandy said...

Sign me up!

I'll give you a pine cone from Estes Park if I win.

Jeff said...

flip flop momma - Yaya. But hold on there... don't you wanna try to win one first? Do you want me to throw you in the pool?

sornie - That's so true.

sandy - Oh dear, now I have to disqualify you for offering me a bribe. So sorry Sandy, but it's out of my hands. ;-)

Sarah said...

I would love a copy of the book! I currently live in WI and will be moving to MN for school in the fall, the prefect blog connnection to receive a book huh? :)

Alice said...

Thanks for the links - I'll go check her out.

Durblady said...

I'd love a copy of the book! My DH aunt suffers from PKD and recently received a kidney transplant from a living donor (her brother)! Small world!

Durblady said...

BTW, it was nice to run into you and your family at HD on Sunday! Hope you enjoyed your breakfast! My DD couldn't believe that your DD was taller than her!

Jennine said...

Oooo oooo pick me! Pick me!

Jeff said...

sarah - Yes, you should definitely own this book. I believe it's the law if you're from WI.

alice - Jess will appreciate you checkin her out. She's very liberal that way. Let me know if you want in on the contest.

durblady - It was good to see you at the Depot too. We had a fabulous breakfast and timed it just right. By the time we got back there we were next in line! I had no idea the girls were having a height contest! :-)

jennine - Ok Horshack, you're in already!

Karl said...

I'd love a copy of the book.

Nancy in CT said...

I'd love a copy.

Mother Theresa said...

I would love a copy of the book. It sounds just like the kind of read I would enjoy. But I imagine sending it to Spain would probably cost more than the book itself. Now I'm going to check out Jess's blog, since I love some good humor and it sounds like she's got lots.

April said...

If I don't win the contest, can I have the one w/ the spilled coffee?

G said...

Congrats to Jess. I am impressed at how she researched and became committed to the subject matter. Hats off.

Throw me into the raffle as well! Especially because the book title is a favorite Aimee Mann song.

Keetha said...

I'd love a copy!

legallyheidi said...

i'd love a copy of the book. great interview!

Jeff said...

karl - You're in. Good luck!

nancy - Done!

theresa - Don't worry about it. If you win I'll go to the airport and tape it to someone's luggage.

april - Sorry. Now that I've marked it as mine, well, you know...

g - Like I told Phil, that's actually where the name came from. Cool huh?

keetha - Cross your fingers!

legallyheidi - Thanks. Jess will do that to an interview.

G said...

Ha, no time to read all the comments, you know.

Maureen said...

Great interview Jeff! I will now head over to her blog and do some more reading.

In the meantime, may a Canuck enter the draw?

I hope so, it sounds wonderful!

Jeff said...

g - I know what you mean. I barely have time to write my own stuff and visit other blogs anymore (as you can tell).

maureen - Absolutely! I happen to be very fond of the Canucks. Of course if you win it you'll have to drive down to pick it up. But still... it'll be worth it.

Nahria Medina Marzuki said...

In Jakarta, Indonesia is so hard to find the books :(

So, please this time give Indonesian book lover a chance to win the book :)

http://yayajanuary.blogspot.com/

cpullum said...

love to read this book! count me in!
cpullum@yahoo.com

Sexy Housewife said...

*Waving my hand in the air.*

Pick me, me, me, me! PLEASSSSE?!

:-)

Hannihaus said...

I would LOVE to win a copy of this book!

but Momma said...

Oo! Pick me, pick me...I didn't win the new tractor at the church raffle, so I could use a good book to pass the time!