Friday, June 03, 2011

BLOG TOUR: Interview with Don Calame

I am *very* pleased to be participating in the blog tour for Don Calame's utterly hilarious debut novel, Swim the Fly. I really, really enjoyed the book, as you will see in my review which will go up this weekend. Here's an interview with Don himself and there's a giveaway to win your own copy of Swim the Fly (courtesy of the awesome publishers) at the bottom of the post.



Three adolescent boys with a single goal: see a real-live naked girl. The result? Razor-sharp, rapid-fire, and raunchy, of course. And beyond hilarious. 

Fifteen-year-old Matt Gratton and his two best friends, Coop and Sean, always set themselves a summertime goal. This year's? To see a real-live naked girl for the first time — quite a challenge, given that none of the guys has the nerve to even ask a girl out on a date. But catching a girl in the buff starts to look easy compared to Matt's other summertime aspiration: to swim the 100-yard butterfly (the hardest stroke known to God or man) as a way to impress Kelly West, the sizzling new star of the swim team. In the spirit of Hollywood’s blockbuster comedies, screenwriter-turned-YA-novelist Don Calame unleashes a true ode to the adolescent male: characters who are side-splittingly funny, sometimes crude, yet always full of heart.

Q: Describe Swim the Fly in a tweet-sized message (140 characters or less)
I really like what the publishers came up with:
Three teenage boys, one goal: to see a real-live naked girl. Raucous, raunchy, and beyond hilarious.
I think that about sums it up (although, truth be told, I think there’s quite a bit of heart in the book as well).
Wait, is that more than 140 characters? I’m still figuring out this whole tweeting thing.

Q: What's the story behind the book? It's incredibly different (good-different!) to anything I've ever read!

The true story is that my wife (strongly) encouraged me to write this book. She’d read a little piece I’d written about being on swim team, as well as another story about going in search of a nude beach when I was fifteen. She’s a writer as well and while she was out touring she kept hearing from teachers and librarians that there weren’t very many good humorous books for teen boys out there.

Also, my wife says I have a very sophomoric sense of humor (which I take as a complement) and that I know what makes teen boys laugh (she witnessed this first hand with her two teenage sons).

I was reluctant to write it at first but I’m glad my wife was so insistent because I’ve never had so much fun writing anything in my life.

Q: What's your favourite scene in Swim the Fly?

I don’t think I could pick just one. There are so many I enjoyed working on. There’s the scene where Grandpa Arlo wraps a kitten in a box and asks Matt to deliver it to the widow across the street. There’s the scene where the boys dress up like girls to sneak into the women’s locker room. And of course, all the scenes with Ulf, the imposing life-saving instructor, were tons of fun to write.

Q: Which character from the book can you relate to most?
There’s probably a bit of me in each of the boys but I would say I relate to Matt the most. He’s the central character for a reason. I’ve definitely felt Matt’s pain before.

Q: If Swim the Fly had a theme tune, what would it be?

Oh, I’ve never had that one before. Let me think. I might have to check my iPod for this one. Part of me wants to say “The Lumberjack Song” by Monty Python and then there’s another part of me that’s thinking it should be Marshall Crenshaw’s “Girls…” Or it could be “Summer Nights” by Van Halen. “The Kids Are Alright,” by The Who?

Wait, what about Big Star’s “Thirteen” (even though the boys in the book are fifteen – I love that line “Won’t you let me walk you home from school, won’t you let me meet you by the pool…”)

Oh boy, I’m totally dating myself. I better leave it there…

Q: I believe this *has* to be asked: have you ever swum the fly?!

Yes, unfortunately. I was “asked” to swim the butterfly for my team one year and it was a miserable experience. I was not a very strong swimmer at all. It did not turn out very well, I can tell you that. There was a reason I chose the breaststroke as my event because it was the easiest to swim.

Q: What is the craziest thing you have done/would do for a girl?

I moved up to Canada! When I met my wife I was living in Los Angeles, California and had never been to the Great White North before. But I love it up there now and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done!

Q: If you could travel back in time to relive one day, which one would it be and why?

Right, you’re really making me have to think here. Here’s the thing, do you pick a day that you want to change or do you pick a day that you just want to relive because it was so amazing?

I’m going to go with the latter and say the day I met my wife. I know it sounds cheesy but it truly has been THE pivotal point in my life on so many levels. I am forever grateful to whatever force out there in the universe was at work that day.

My second choice, I suppose, might be the day I saw Canada win the gold medal in ice hockey at the Vancouver Olympics. It was one of those moments in life I’ll never forget.

Q: Name one book you think we *have* to read this summer
The Passage by Justin Cronin – a really long but well-written vampire apocalypse novel that constantly scares and surprises you.

I know, I know, we’ve had quite enough vampires, but this one is different, I promise.

Q: Finally, can you tell us UK-ers what we can expect in the sequel to Swim the Fly, Beat the Band?
It’s not a sequel in the traditional sense because it’s not told from Matt’s point of view. Beat the Band is Coop’s story and, although it takes place right after Swim the Fly ends, you don’t have to have read Swim the Fly to understand it.

Basically, Coop decides that this semester is the time he and his friends are going to up the stakes and run the bases, upping their love-life quotient.
Unfortunately for Coop, the very first day of school he gets paired up with Helen Harriwick (Hot Dog Helen), the least popular girl in the school, for a Health project on contraception.
Coop thinks this is going to ruin his reputation (as if he had one to begin with) and so secretly signs him and his friends up to play in the Battle of the Bands (even though the boys barely know how to play their instruments) in hopes of becoming rock gods.

Needless to say, things do not go smoothly for the boys.

As promised, I have one copy of Swim the Fly for one of you lucky readers! To enter, fill out this form. UK residents only please! Ends June 23rd, 2011.




  1. Great interview Iffath! Don sounds like a really interesting person.

  2. Fab interview, I really like the sound of this one :D


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