Author Interview & Giveaway: Robert Paul Weston

Whoops! Due to some time-zone mix-ups, I'll be posting today's contest early. Hurrah!

Today I had the honor and priviledge of interviewing Robert Paul Weston. His new book Dust City comes out soon, and you should TOTALLY read it. My review is here.

Robert's Blog
Dust City's GoodReads page

First, do you have any interesting birthday stories? Embarrassing? Perfect? Terrifying?

At one of my birthday parties when I was a kid (I can't remember how old I was), I received this enormous box from my parents. When I opened it, I found it was full of garbage. Naked cylinders from the middles of toilet paper rolls, empty cardboard boxes, plastic shelving brackets -- all sorts of things. All my friends were standing around looking awkward and confused, not certain how to react, and meanwhile I was all excited. I think I did a little dance. "Your family is weird," was the comment I got from more than one of my friends. See, when I was a kid, my favourite thing to do was to make marble tracks by taping garbage to the walls. Believe it or not, my parents were into it (notably my dad, who basically taught me how make them in the first place). PS: That story also explains the inspiration for chapter 3 of Zorgamazoo. Incidentally.

I haven’t yet read ZORGAMAZOO, but you’ve said on your website that it’s quite different from DUST CITY. What made you want to change styles?

To be honest, the switch was an effort to preserve my sanity. Zorgamazoo is a novels-in-verse, but it's not written in free verse like a lot of contemporary poetic novels. Quite to the contrary, Zorgamazoo is written in a particular kind of formal poetry called "rhyming accentual verse." And yes, that means the whole novel rhymes! It also means every line has a fairly regular rhythm (that's the accentual part). So needless to say, it was a difficult book to write; and the idea of establishing myself as "the rhyming novel guy" was a scary prospect. I was so scared, in fact, that when it came to my second book, I sort of wrote an antithesis to Zorgamazoo, at least in terms of tone. Dust City and Zorgamazoo do share similarities, however, if you keep an eye out.

Where did the idea for DUST CITY come from?

I came upon a book called "The Hard Facts of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales" by the Harvard linguist and folklorist, Maria Tatar. The book speculates on why people would be attracted to the terrible violence found in the folktales collected by the Grimm Brothers. That started me wondering. Let's say medieval Europe had been just the way it's represented in the Grimms' rather grisly stories. What would a modern city look like? Dust City, I suppose, is one possible answer.

DUST CITY features all different kinds of fairy-tale species. If you were in that world what would you be and why?

I might be a wolf, but a sheepish, slightly neurotic one like Henry. I'd certainly be nothing like Roy. Or perhaps a raven, though maybe that's wishful thinking. I've always wondered what it would be like to fly on one's own power.

What kind of books do you read?

All kinds, but almost always novels. Probably my two favourite books are The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break by Steven Sherrill and The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. My favourite titles for youth are Skellig by David Almond and How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff.

Is there anything you need in order to write? (i.e. music, quiet, food)

I require the following: Quiet; a spiral notepad featuring grid paper; a mechanical pencil; my rented, gray cubicle that looks like something out of Being John Malkovich.

Are you working on anything now? Can you tell us about it?

Regrets! I never talk about what I'm working on until it's finished.

Finally, some fun from the random plot twist generator.
You’re just about to drift off to sleep when a muscular zookeeper arrives bringing with him an animal. You aren’t able to sleep even after he leaves. What animal did he bring to have such an effect on you?

Wait, so the zookeeper leaves, but the animal stays? No wonder I can't sleep. And why does the zookeeper have to be muscular? I suppose it's because the animal's so large. In that case, the answer's obvious. The zookeeper came in with a Chinese giant salamander, probably about a five-footer. Have you seen one of these? Huge! But with terrible eyesight. He probably mistook my mattress for a swamp bed and curled up around my feet. Like I said, no wonder I can't sleep.

Anything else you'd like to say?

Only thank you! It's surprising to me how many great book blogs exist out there for teens and youth. It's a pleasure to have such clear and direct feedback from readers.

Thanks Robert!


  1. Haha I love the birthday story shared in the first question.

  2. Awesome interview, I love the answer to the first question.

  3. Looking Forward to Reading this book.

  4. I love Grimm's fairy tales but am also creeped out by them. What a creative idea for a book. I am absolutely going to read this one. Great interview.

  5. Awesome. Looking forward to eventually reading this book.


  6. Dust City sounds so cool! I've always loved re-imaginings of fairy tales, especially Grimm.

  7. Awesome possum. Looking forward to it :)

  8. Dust City sounds like an awesome concept! I wonder what sort of fairytale-esque vibes you're gonna toss into the mix? Can't wait! I haven't read your previous novel, but at the sheer thought of it rhyming the whole way through, I'm pretty giddy to go look it up and give it a go!

    Super excited, and happy belated birthday! :)

  9. I loved the birthday story lol! This book looks pretty cool, I'm excited to read it:-)

  10. I love novels in verse. There's something so refreshing about combining poems and a great YA plot. Thanks for the interview!

  11. Awesome interview! I loved the random generator question, AND his answer! Hilarious. :P

  12. I can't wait to read this book! :) It sounds amazing!
    lol, the Chinese giant salamander answer was hilarious! I thought he was going to say something like a tiger... :)

  13. Dust City sounds awesome! And I love that Weston writes out long-hand in a spiral notebook. It's fun to learn these tid-bits!

    Happy Birthday!!

  14. Awesome response to that random plot generator question - totally made me laugh! Dust City sounds dark but a really fresh take on fairytales :)

  15. This sounds like an interesting story!


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