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February 4, 2011

Sean Beaudoin: Who He Writes From, and Who He Enjoys Writing For

Posted by jordana

beaudoin-sean_150x110.jpgSean Beaudoin, author of the newly released YOU KILLED WESLEY PAYNE, talks to Teenreads about "J" --- his niece, who acts as both an inspiration and a target audience for his books. Not all kids are popular, not all are unpopular --- the majority are those who fall in the middle. These are the "J's" of the world, and the ones for whom Sean Beaudoin loves to write. Read on, and then ask yourself this: Are you a "J"? Are you some version of her? Even if you're not, YOU KILLED WESLEY PAYNE is sure to keep you reading long into the night.

I write pretty much everything with my niece J in mind. She’s a freshman in college now, but when my first book, Going Nowhere Faster came out, she was still in eighth grade. Even when J was little, it was clear she was a bit unusual. Extremely bookish. Not just smart and funny and disconcertingly poised, but also blithely unconcerned with her peer’s approval. She wore mismatched clothes. Her hair stuck up. She never went out of her way to court my attention, even though she seemed to revel in it. And she seemed bored by the usual popularity games of her friends and classmates.

J sort of steamed through high school without a lot of drama. My impression is that she spent those years with her toes in the murky water between popular, semi-popular, and various outcast-ish groups. She was a jock, but sort of jumped from sport to sport. She was brainy but not quite a nerd. She was nerdy, but still cool enough to be invited to the right parties. She was hip enough to want to go, but responsible enough to stay home and baby-sit her little sisters instead. J got good grades, not great. She went on plenty of dates, but never found a guy right enough to do the whole junior year romance routine. Meanwhile, she read everything that wasn’t nailed down. From Gossip Girls to Dickens to Beaudoin to Vonnegut, and back again. I can’t believe how fast it all went. One minute we were at the playground, checking out the monkey bars, her arms around my neck as she pretended to be more scared than she really was. The next she was a young woman freaking out about what to decorate her dorm room with, let alone whether or not she’d chosen the right school.

Actually, what I said at first is not entirely true. J is the person I’ve always been writing for, but just not her specifically. A version of her. Female J’s and male J’s alike. Kids that fall between the clique-cracks, kids either unwilling or unable to be obvious enough to be widely accepted, kids that love books more than food. All books. Trashy stuff to classics. The Universal J is the one I’m trying to make laugh, or cry, or maybe think about something just a little bit harder. They’re the one who I want to put down YOU KILLED WESLEY PAYNE after finishing, and say “Wow!” just like Marsha Brady after being kissed on the cheek by Davey Jones. Or Zach Galifianakis after being punched by Mike Tyson. I want them to hold WESLEY PAYNE to their chests and smile at the ceiling, wishing desperately that their school was exactly like my fictional Salt River High. Well, not exactly like it, but close enough to make the real thing seem a whole lot more interesting.

Mostly, I want them to roll over, ignore their iPhone, and crease flat the first page, dying to read YOU KILLED WESLEY PAYNE all over again.

Just like I know J has.

Three times.

She texted me about it just last week.
Killer Book Trailer


--- Sean Beaudoin