Title: Over the Rainbow
Author: Brian Rowe
Release: August 6, 2013
Pages: 147 (e-format)
Review: Five Stars!
Over the Rainbow was a fun, interesting, cute novel. It was a quick read that I couldn't put down. The characters are spunky, the plot is well-done, and it's filled with humor. To get an idea of the story, imagine a cross between The Wizard of Oz and Jurassic Park. An unlikely cross that make for a very good story. Anyone who knows the plot and characters of The Wizard of Oz can accurately predict the course of the book, but it's still very fun to watch it pan out before your eyes. Over the Rainbow takes place in 1999, but it addresses issues we still have in today's society. It shows the character's development and how they deal with these issues remarkably well. I was intrigued when I read the synopsis and the story did my hopes justice.
The main character is named Zippy. I can't believe she put up with her home life for as long as she did. Zippy is lesbian, and when her father sends her to an anti-gay camp, she sneaks off in someone else's suitcase to see the girl she's in love with. Throughout the course of the book, Zippy shows courage and loyalty. The friends she meet on the journey are ones that she won't give up on. Each character resembles a character from The Wizard of Oz. They're remarkably personified and endlessly adorable. I love the characters with all my heart.
The story is done in an interesting way, each section having a date above it, almost like a diary. It's a very quick read that will leave readers wanting more. The ending, while concrete, leaves room for imagination. The story itself is kinda cheesy, but the good kind. It makes me giggle and I feel each emotion that Zippy does. I dug into the story and didn't stop until I'd finished. I will must likely read it again and enjoy it just as much. The story leaves almost nothing unsolved. The characters are constantly contemplating what is real and what isn't, giving them deeper meaning. I can relate to the characters and enjoy them. It's a quirky, cute story that everyone will enjoy! The story is fully deserving of it's five stars.
Interview With Brian Rowe:
Q. What are some things that provided inspiration for Over the Rainbow?
A. Over the Rainbow, a book that incorporates a love story, loads of action, the rapture, dinosaurs, and The Wizard of Oz, started with one simple idea. What if a gay teenaged girl escaped from her bigoted father by packing herself into a large box and mailing herself across the country, all the way to her true love? This nugget of an idea stuck with me for a few years, and I'd always been meaning to explore it. It wasn't until I told the concept to Shaunta Grimes (author of Viral Nation) in January 2012 that I started getting more excited about turning it into a book.
Shaunta was so enthused about the project that she started working with me on it almost every day in spring 2012, allowing me to toss ideas off her. She helped me conclude that putting her on an airplane would be more interesting than herjust getting packed away in a mailing box. And she also helped me with the apocalyptic elements of the scary new world I introduce in the book. I'll never forget the look on her face when I told her I wanted to incorporate dinosaurs into the plot. The book was already getting a little crazy, and then I made it even more nutso by introducing the living, breathing dinos. I really wanted to be the first author to mix an LGBT coming-of-age story with a Jurassic Park-like action adventure. Lo and behold, Over the Rainbow was born.
Q. Which part of Over the Rainbow was the most fun to write?
A. The most fun scene to write in Over the Rainbow? Wow, that's a tough one. There are so many scenes I had a crazy amount of fun writing. You might think the more action-packed scenes toward the end would have been the most fun to write, but actually those were the most difficult, especially when I had to figure in six characters. I love the first scene, but first scenes are always hard because it's the one you obsess over the most; it's the one that needs to draw readers in so with each subsequent book I write the very first scene always gives me more and more anxiety. I would say the most fun scene to write in the book was the Alice in Wonderland dream scene. It makes me smile every time I read it, and I hope you all like it, too!
Q. What inspired you to be a writer?
A. I have been in love with storytelling ever since I was a kid. I can't remember a day in my life that I didn't have a desire to read books, watch movies, and tell stories. I love to create new three-dimensional characters that come alive on the page. I like to imagine what I would do in certain situations, and then have my character live through them. Every time I receive a glowing review from a reader who took a few hours out of their day or week to spend a little time in one of my worlds, that makes all the difference, too. Writing isn't easy, and it's rewarding when you see that the story is working for your readers. Ultimately I feel like I was put on this Earth to be a storyteller, and I never want to step away from that for as long as I live.
Q. Over the Rainbow touches many topics that are touchy in today's society, were you worried about how readers might react?
A. I knew from the beginning that Over the Rainbow was probably going to be polarizing to readers. Over the Rainbow deals heavily in homosexuality, religion, dinosaurs, and more. There's a lot going on, and it's one of those books that you either go with, or you don't. I don't think Zippy being gay will be an issue for any of the readers, but the focus on her father's religious bigotry might rub some readers the wrong way. I just felt his character trait was important for this book, and for the arc he goes through later in the book. I'm not a very religious person myself, so that element of the book was borderline scary for me to write, but I'm glad it's a part of this very ambitious book.
Q. If given the option, would you rewrite or redo anything you've published?
A. Not really. I think like Woody Allen, the great film director who has been making a film a year since the late 1960's, and who never looks back on anything he's done before. Each book I write is its own experience, and once it's done, I don't like to look back at it, or even think about it much. I've spent a long time with Over the Rainbow, close to a year and a half, but I'm finally in the process of letting it go, and focusing solely on the next work.
Q. Over the Rainbow has many topics that readers can relate to. How does it feel to know people will read your story and think "I know how ____ feels." or "I get treated the same as ____."
A. I would love for readers to identify with one or more of the characters in the book. Of course gay readers, young and old will be able to identify with Zippy and Frankie, but I imagine straight readers will see themselves in these characters, too. They're gay, but the book isn't really about them being gay—they just are. And then there's Mr. Balm, who older readers will identify with because his goal is to make sure the young kids around him stay out of harm's way. There's Elle, the seven-year-old, who I imagine every reader will understand, given that she's probably the most scared when the mean, green dinosaurs attack. And finally, there's Raymond, the true villain of the book. I'm hoping parents will see the ultimate extreme of how a parent can treat his gay daughter, and make sure to always be loving and thoughtful toward a gay child no matter what.
Q. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
A. When I wrote my first novel, Slate, in the spring of 2010, I didn't have a clue what I was doing. Looking back on the actual writing in that novel today is like sticking a fork through my eyes, but without that book, I wouldn't have learned all that I have in the three years since. You become a better writer by writing. So my advice would be to write every day. Even if it's just a few hundred words. Try to write every single day. That's the best advice any writer can give to someone who's looking to start.
Q. What are some of your favorite novels, as a child and now?
A. My favorite book of all time is Boy's Life, by Robert R. McCammon. I read it in the summer of 2000, before my sophomore year of high school, and no book I've read before or since has put me under its spell like that one. I have given it to friends, I have talked it up in writing classes, I have preached the greatness of this wonderful novel to anyone and everyone who will listen. If you've never heard of it, or of Robert McCammon, I implore you to check it out. You won't be disappointed!
Q. What are you working on now? Can readers expect to ever hear another story about Zippy and her friends?
A. I am currently working on three upcoming books. The first, Crashing Into You, is my first New Adult novel, and I will be self-publishing it in November. It's a contemporary romance with a trace of mystery and intrigue. The second, Magic Hour, is my first gay young adult novel to focus on a gay male, and it tells of a wedding videographer who accidentally makes a bride and groom disappear. This book is currently out to literary agents. The third book, The First Day, I completed the first draft over about a week ago. This book tells of a romance that blossoms between two gay boys over the course of 12 years. Think that book One Day, but with a gay relationship. I also have a sinister young adult thriller in the works, as well as my first literary adult novel, which will be based on a short film I made in college. Both of these I will be starting in 2014.
Over the Rainbow is unique in that there are so many directions I could take it in a sequel. I love the idea of doing a second one from Mira's perspective, since she's a character we barely get to know in the first book. I also like the idea of writing a book about Frankie's life growing up in Florida, as well as a book about Mr. Balm's backstory. Ultimately, here's the deal. Me writing a sequel to Over the Rainbow entirely depends on the response and sales I get on Over the Rainbow. If the readers are there, and if they demand it, I'd love to write a sequel to Over the Rainbow down the road. But let's get the first book out, and see what everyone thinks.
I sure hope everyone enjoys it! Thank you for taking time to write the books and to stop at the blog!
I sure hope everyone enjoys it! Thank you for taking time to write the books and to stop at the blog!
Author Bio:Brian Rowe is a writing fiend, book devotee, film fanatic, and constant dreamer. He's written ten novels, dozens of short stories, five feature-length screenplays, and hundreds of film articles and essays. He is currently pursuing his MA in English-Writing at the University of Nevada, Reno, and is hard at work on his next novel.
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Zippy Green never meant to fall in love with a girl, but when she does, her ultra-conservative father tries to send her to anti-gay camp. At the Kansas City airport, however, she hides inside a giant suitcase and sneaks onto an airplane headed not to the camp, but to Seattle, where her online love Mira lives. Halfway through the flight, the plane barrels out of control and crashes into the ground, knocking her unconscious.
When Zippy awakens, she finds that most of the passengers have vanished. She doesn’t know what’s happened, but she’s determined to find out. She begins a quest on foot toward Seattle, and along the way, she meets a teenager with a concussion, a homeless man with a heart condition, a child without a shred of bravery, and a terrier named Judy. Together the group discovers that more than two-thirds of the world’s population have mysteriously disappeared. But that’s only the beginning…
All Zippy wants is to find her Mira, but before she can she has to contend with two outside forces. The first is her homophobic father, who does everything in his power to keep her from the girl she loves. And the second is extinct creatures of all shapes and sizes, including living, breathing dinosaurs, which have replaced the missing population.
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