Senior Thesis (Author Interview)

Senior Thesis looks like a great book.  What can you tell us about it?

Senior Thesis is a romantic comedy in screenplay form that’s perfect for fans of John Green with its mixture of humor and thought-provoking ideas. The story centers on Landon and Aurora, two seniors who get off to a very disagreeable start at the beginning of Senior Week but slowly become confidants with chemistry. They have very different post-college plans, and the question becomes whether they will alter their plans to continue to get to know one another.

In that way, the story is similar to the movie Before Sunrise.

Readers shouldn’t be intimidated by the book being in screenplay form. In the introduction, I explain how to read standard screenplay elements. And the reader will find, I think, that reading a screenplay is more fun than reading a novel because a script moves much faster. Although there aren’t chapters, the reader can still find natural stopping points.

Any plans to turn it into a series?

No, this book is a standalone story, which I think is refreshing because the reader gets a true conclusion to the story. My next book, a novel, will be part of a series, but the series will be an anthology series, similar to The White Lotus, in that, for each book, the characters and story will change, but there will be some shared elements between books.

That’s an amazing cover. Can you tell us about it?

I wanted to create a cover that would communicate the story premise in a very visual and clear way, so the cover shows these two seniors as each one heads toward their specific vision of their future. But as they head in different directions, a connection is budding between them. I worked with a wonderful artist, Kaitlynn Jolley, who I found on 99designs, and she executed my vision beautifully.

What scene or section did you have the most fun writing?

There’s a sequence about a third into the book that involves a Senior Week game night, and our two leads go head to head, along with other seniors, in a battle involving Nerf guns and an inflatable jousting event. That sequence was fun to write. The sequence also results in a climax that changes the direction of the story and rewrites what we think we know about one of the characters.

I also had a lot of fun writing the story’s climax, which has a mixture of romance and visual humor.

What inspired the idea for the book?

I thought it would be interesting to set a story during Senior Week, the party- and activity-filled week before college graduation when finals are done. And having two characters with very different plans meet and begin to like one another during that limited window seemed like it would be a story with strong stakes and urgency.

How did you come up with the title for the book?

The title works on both a figurative and literal level. In a figurative sense, both of the leads have different theses as to what will bring them happiness in life. So, they each, in effect, have a senior thesis. But then there is also a character who has a literal published senior thesis, and that character’s senior thesis contains the wisdom of the story.

Did anything stick out as particularly challenging when writing Senior Thesis?

So many things. One challenge, though, was writing the romantic rival character of Maggie, who has to be likable enough to plausibly maintain Landon’s interest but still not be the right person ultimately for him. That balance was challenging. But there were plenty of other things that were challenging. And while I think there are choices I made that some readers might find fault with, the overall story is one that will entertain and move them.

What do you like to do when not writing?

I enjoy spending time with my fiancée and our maltipoo. I also enjoy reading, of course, and I like watching movies. I grew up in New Jersey and love to bodyboard, and my novella features a brief scene at Island Beach State Park in New Jersey. Growing up, we did a lot of day trips to that beach, and it’s a beautiful beach.

Where can readers find out more about your work?

My Amazon author page is a great place, and they can also read more about me on my website, which is for my freelance writing business. I’ll eventually create a website devoted to my work as a book author, but I haven’t done so yet. And if readers would like a free novella from me, they can find it here.