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Thursday 8 August 2013

Review + Interview: Over the Rainbow by Brian Rowe

Author: Brian Rowe
Page Count: 260 pages, paperback
Date Published: August 6th 2013
Find it on Goodreads: Over the Rainbow
Source: For review from author in exchange for honest review

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 an exchange student 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 has 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.

I was thrilled when Rowe asked me to review Over the Rainbow, as it had caught my eye on goodreads and I was curious about what it would be like... I always say that I want to read more books about LGBTQ teens and I'm so glad I read this one! This is a strange book, I won't lie, but it was a refreshing read that I enjoyed quite a lot! I loved Rowe's play on the names of the characters Frank, Elle and Baum, as well as Judy of course! (Fans of Oz will understand!) I'm wondering if I would have liked this book had I not been in a reading slump, as there are some extremely odd things that occur in it, but I guess I was just in the mood for something different and something a little bit silly! It was a fun story that I'd recommend to people looking for a book that's a bit out of the norm!


Have you always wanted to be a writer? If not, when you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was little I wanted to be a film director, and much of my young life was dedicated to making films, rather than writing them, or writing fiction. I wrote stories in elementary school, but I started making movies in high school, then focused on filmmaking for about ten years. In 2010, however, I realized what I really wanted to do was write fiction, and I have been focusing on that ever since. From the beginning I've always wanted to be a storyteller, and now I'm finally working in the discipline I believe I was meant for. 

How did you come up with the idea for Over the Rainbow?

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.

Do you share any traits with your main character?

I am gay, like Zippy, but I'm lucky in that my parents, and specifically my dad, have been accepting of my sexuality. Zippy is a girl who at seventeen knows who she is, and exactly what she wants, and all she really demands of her father from the beginning is for him to love her no matter what. I did not have the kind of confidence Zippy has at seventeen—I didn't come out of the closet until I was twenty-one—but I like to think that I'm more like Zippy today than ever before. I might not be able to wield an ax like she does, or fit inside suitcases, but I know if I met Zippy in real life, I would see a lot of myself in her. And I hope readers see a lot of themselves in her, too—both gay readers and straight readers. 

Is there a specific message you hope your book gets across to your readers?

Readers can take away from Over the Rainbow what they want, but if there's any specific message, it's to accept those who are different from you, and to try to be the person you want to be, not the person others expect you to be.

Favourite childhood books?

My favorite book is Boy's Life, by Robert McCammon, and my other favorites include To Kill a Mockingbird, Fahrenheit 451, The Shining, A Simple Plan, Looking for Alaska, and The Catcher in the Rye.

Favourite color?

Can I pick two? I like brown and orange, because they remind me of Halloween!

Favourite drink to get from a coffee shop?

I love white chocolate mochas. Yum.

Favourite movies?

Sunset Boulevard is my favorite movie, and other favorites include Mulholland Drive, American Beauty, The Truman Show, Defending Your Life, Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Breakfast Club, Planes Trains & Automobiles, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and, of course, The Wizard of Oz! 


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