Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Blog Tour- Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Going Bovine by Libba Bray
All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.

This is a very messed-up book, but in a good way, which is an odd statement to make about a book, but it's true. Bray has created a story that is hilarious, random, surreal, and thought-provoking. I really enjoyed it, but I don't think it's for everyone. It's definitely a crazy, very weird, adventure-filled book; I mean, just look at the summary. I loved the characters in this book and they were all so much fun to read about. There was one part though toward the end that gave me pause; I was happy about this revelation, but at the same time, it felt like it came out of nowhere and I was puzzled by it. From what I'd read, there had really been no clues or hints about it, so when it was revealed, it seemed out of place. The ending was really interesting and very climactic. This was a wonderful book all the way through; it is very long but it held my interest all throughout.

Interview with Libba Bray
1) Cameron has a traumatic experience during the It's A Small World attraction at Disney World when he was young. Have you ever had a traumatic experience at either Disney theme park? If not, where did you get the idea for that to happen to Cameron?

You mean other than having to hug oversized, perpetually smiling chipmunks? I never went to Disney as a kid. It wasn’t until my son came along that we went. And I loved it. I remember thinking, man, this must be like a pre-schooler’s version of an acid trip. So surreal and completely delightful. It still ranks as my favorite family vacation.

There were three things that found their way into the story. The first was the Small World ride. I did have a thought that maybe, when you’re entering into whatever comes next, you get there on the Small World ride. It seemed like a great way to go. Monotonous, but great. And that got me to thinking about the River Styx, making those associations.

The second was the Transit Authority tram. It was possibly the least populated ride while we were there, and perfect for chickens like me, so I rode it more than once. Mostly, I liked it because it made me feel like I was five and everything was wonderful and possible, especially when we hit the part where the light streams overhead. To me, it felt profound. (I’m easily thrilled.)

Third, and most importantly, I suppose, was how much I enjoyed watching my son enjoying Disney World. That idea of a contagious joy definitely became a part of Cameron’s journey.

I guess that’s the thing about Disney that I really identify with—it’s all about staying in touch with your sense of wonder.

2) You've now done both historical fiction and contemporary fiction. Do you prefer one over the other? Was one genre easier to write? What made you decide to write this contemporary piece after the trilogy of historical fiction?

I don’t prefer one to the other, but I found that writing contemporary fiction didn’t present the same challenges that writing historical fiction did for me. Although I still did research for GOING BOVINE (mad cow disease, Norse mythology, physics, Don Quixote), the world I’ve constructed is its own ecosystem. It’s almost an alternate reality, so anything can happen, really. That freed me up a bit. Certainly, having contemporary teens using contemporary language that was closer to my own speech patterns was a relief.

With the trilogy, even though Gemma’s world involved magic and so was a bit altered, I was still playing with Victorian society and the London of 1895-96. So there were details that had to be gotten right, or as right as I could get them. (I never feel like I do enough.) I actually enjoy the research aspect. I like learning new things, and when you’re dealing with history, you’re dealing with narrative, with what came before and seeing the threads that connect you to the past. I find that fascinating.

As for why I decided to write this contemporary piece after writing a supernatural, historical trilogy, um, I’m wondering if this is the same fool-proof logic that told me I should quit piano lessons to play 8th-grade basketball. (For the record, I am very short and have zero hand-eye coordination. Also, I hate having objects thrown at me and will immediately duck.) The truth is that I actually wrote GOING BOVINE between books two and three of the Gemma Doyle trilogy, and then I put it in a drawer until that project was finished. I seem to like to ping and pong between creepy, horror-type pieces and weird, dark comedy pieces. Maybe I should just write a weird, funny, creepy, horror piece. Oh wait, that would be “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Curse you, Joss Whedon!

3) What are you working on now? Thinking of tackling a new genre?

Yes. Put me down for whatever Joss Whedon hasn’t gotten to yet. :)

I’m writing a satire about beauty queens stranded on a deserted island. Kind of like LORD OF THE FLIES meets LOST, but with a talent portion and lots of sequins. And I’d like to do another historical supernatural series at some point.

4) A lot of people have looked forward to this new book from you. What books are you looking forward to reading?

So much. I need a secret room where I can freeze time while I sit and read. I really want to read David Smalls’ graphic memoir, STITCHES. He and I were at the Novello Festival in Charlotte, NC, a few years back and he shared a bit of that story with us. He’s a lovely man, and I hear the book is absolutely stunning—in its art, its storytelling, and its honesty. I can’t wait to read Scott Westerfeld’s LEVIATHAN, David Levithan’s LOVE IS THE HIGHER LAW, Jo Knowles’ JUMPING OFF SWINGS. I want to read the latest incarnation of WHITE CAT, the first book of a new trilogy that Holly Black is working on, which will come out next year, and I’m doing a manuscript exchange with Sara Ryan on her latest and can’t wait for that. On the adult side, I hear John Irving has a new book coming out. He’s one of my faves.

5) Now, the burning question on everyone's mind: what is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor?


By the way, I hear a little Neosporin will take care of that burning question sensation.

Thanks to MO for supplying the book to me and Libba for answering my questions! Please check out the other blogs that are featuring Libba as part of the blog tour: Book Divas and Shaken & Stirred.


  1. I <3<3<3 Libba Bray. Like, LOVE LOVE LOVE.

    Her Disney trip sounds very amusing, but I cannot believe she didn't go to Disney when she was a child! That's practically against the law here in CA.

    Her latest project sounds awesome! =0

    Fabbity fab interview, James. :D

  2. Great interview! I'm reading the book now. You've definitely piqued my interest about what happens further in :)