Please welcome Jason Reynolds today who will be answering a few questions on his latest book, A Boy in the Black Suit.
Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more—and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down—in this wry, gritty novel from the author of When I Was the Greatest.
Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died—although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. She’s got a crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness—and who can maybe even help take it away.
Jason Reynolds on what he’s reading, and what books inspire him as a writer.
And now Jason Reynolds answers a few of our questions on The Boy in the Black Suit.
Question 1: What is your favorite letter of the alphabet and why?
I always have to go with, J, just because it was the first letter I learned to write that actually had meaning and value to me. I mean, when you’re young, you learn to write the alphabet, but the moment you learn to spell your own name the letters become part of your identity. And so writing that, J, was a huge deal for me, even if I didn’t understand the magnitude of it until much later.
Question 2: What do you want readers to know about your latest book?
That it isn’t a sad book. Or a book about death. It’s an honest book…about life. And about love. And about grief and our traditions around coping and dealing with loss. Oh, and that it’s pretty funny.
Question 3: As an author, how do you know when you have discovered an idea for your next book?
Ah. Good question. I don’t know. I just know. It’s just a feeling. I’ll say this, I try to be as open as possible when it comes to the people and information around me. I listen to everything, and research everything. I’m hyper-curious, and eager to learn all that there is to know. That, coupled with my own life experiences, create the book ideas.
For instance, I just left a restaurant, where I had an interesting conversation with a friend who is a mathematician. She was telling me all about this number, 1.618. Math people call it, THE GOLDEN FORMULA and what it is, is the number that greek artists used to calculate scientific beauty. They used it in their art, and everything. Now, that is fascinating. And it may eventually make its way into a story someday. Perhaps someone figures out that 1.618 is a flawed formula, which then wakes everybody up to the fact that most things seen as beautiful in this world, aren’t so beautiful after all. See? That’s how it works for me. And then the daydreams start. And then…PUNCH THE KEYS! Hahahaha.
Question 4: What was the catalyst for creating your latest book?
The Boy in the Black Suit was inspired by the fact that I had experienced so much death and so many funerals at a young age. If I went through that, I know other young people have gone through it, so why not write something to help them feel less alone? Why not create an offering of comfort, and a documented acknowledgment of the human condition as it pertains to coping? Just seemed like an important story to tell.
Question 5: What’s next?
Lots going on. Some of it I can talk about, some of it I can’t. But I will say that I have two books coming out next year. One is a middle grade about two brothers who spend their summer in Virginia with their blind grandfather. Wild story. And the other is the first in a four-book series about an “interesting” track team. I also have a book in verse coming, in which the whole story takes place in two minutes on the elevator. I could tell you more, but…y’know.
More books by Jason Reynolds:
To learn more about Jason Reynolds, please go to his website.
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Alex Baugh says
I have The Boy in the Black Suit to read and can’t wait to get to it. Great interview, and I am looking forward to what is next for Jason Reynolds.
We really want to read The Boy in the Black Suit too!! We are so glad to have him here!