Welcome to the blog tour for The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik! Today I’m thrilled to share a Q&A with the bestselling author, David Arnold. Keep reading to learn about his own experience with hypnosis, his writing process, and more:
Where did the idea for The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik come from?
In 2010 I was on a cruise ship and one of the evening performers was a hypnotist, and I thought, what if one of these people woke up in an alternate reality? The idea of change—what if you went under, and when you came out, everyone in your life was different? But subtly different, not like whole other people. The idea evolved over time, but I think that was the seed. Change is really the theme of the book: at the beginning, Noah feels he’s changing while everyone around him is stagnant; after hypnosis, everyone around him has changed and he has to figure out why. There are a lot of other allusions to change in the book (Noah is obsessed with David Bowie, who was perhaps the very embodiment of change), and I think that’s due to the fact that I wrote NOAH during a time of transition for myself and my family. We were in the middle of a major relocation, having sold our house in Nashville, but not yet bought a house in our new city, and doing all that with our two-year-old son. So I think it was natural not only to write something I could latch onto, but also something that reflected my own season of change.
Do you consider yourself a pantser, plotter, or something in between? What was your process while writing The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik?
I’ve written three books now and each process has been very different. Mosquitoland had no outline at all, which I think helped that particular book. The protagonist is on a literal journey and she’s constantly hitting detours and road blocks, and if I’d outlined it, the trip probably would have been far more efficient. So in that case, I think the process informed the content. Kids of Appetite had a loose outline, as did Noah Hypnotik, and I think that’s probably the way I’ll go from here. But for me, it helps knowing the outline is just a guide. Inevitably, the characters start to go their own way, and when they do, it’s my job to follow.
The plot for The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik hinges on Noah’s experience with hypnosis. Did you have to do any research on hypnosis to write this novel? Have you ever been hypnotized?
I did research a lot of the terminology, as well as listen to various accounts of people who’d been hypnotized. As I wrote above, when I was on that cruise ship in 2010, the hypnotist asked for volunteers, which I was not all about. But he also said we could follow his instructions from our seats and the hypnosis would be effective. I tried it. It didn’t really work.
What did you enjoy most about telling this story? What did you find most challenging?
I probably most enjoyed writing the friendships. In both of my prior books, the main characters spend the majority of the novel with found families and recently-made friends. In Noah, the main characters have real history, which was fun to write. Noah’s best friends are twins, Alan and Val Rosa-Haas, and we see early on the depth of their relationship. I love Samwise Gamgee-type stories where friends are loyal to the bitter end, and I wanted to write a story where the main character mistreats his friends, but they stick around to save him anyway. Alan Rosa-Haas, specifically, is based on my friend Adam Silvera. It’s the only time I’ve ever based a character on a real person, but I just couldn’t help myself. There are a bunch of text threads in the book which are probably a little too close to reality.
If you could spend a day with a character from The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik, who would it be and why?
DEFINITELY NOT ALAN GAH HE’S THE WORST. (Jk, Adam, calm down.) I would probably spend the day with Noah’s little sister, Penny, who was one of my favorite characters to write. She dresses like she doesn’t care, loves Audrey Hepburn movies, and just generally seems like a fun person to spend the day with. (DEFINITELY MORE FUN THAN ALAN WHO IS NOT COOL AT ALL.)
What do you hope readers will take away from reading The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik?
This is a tough question to answer because the truth is, more than any other book I’ve written, I wrote this book for me. Noah’s story is not mine, but it’s probably as close to an autobiographical character as I’ll ever write—so it feels really personal. Or the process of writing it was personal, anyway. Now that it’s written, I guess I want the book to be for anyone who has ever been offered some dim version of the world and thought, “Surely it’s brighter than that.”
What were your favorite books when you were a young adult? Did that influence your own writing at all?
When I was eight, I discovered the Hardy Boys and that was it. I was in. In middle school, I read two books over and over again: Jurassic Park and Sphere. (I was a Crichton megafan.) I feel like I read less in high school, probably because I was focused on guitar and songwriting and becoming a rock god (as you do), but I got into Vonnegut and Salinger (also as you do), and eventually settled into a healthy mix of adult and YA. Recent favorites would include Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert and The Humans by Matt Haig.
About the book:
This is Noah Oakman → sixteen, Bowie believer, concise historian, disillusioned swimmer, son, brother, friend.
Then Noah → gets hypnotized.
Now Noah → sees changes–inexplicable scars, odd behaviors, rewritten histories–in all those around him. All except his Strange Fascinations . . .
A stunning surrealist portrait, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is a story about all the ways we hurt our friends without knowing it, and all the ways they stick around to save us.
David Arnold lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with his (lovely) wife and (boisterous) son. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland, and his books have been translated into a dozen languages.
Blog Tour Schedule:
May 7 – The Blonde Bookworm – Review
May 8 – Confessions of a YA Reader – Review + My Strange Fascinations
May 9 – Forever Bookish – Review
May 10 – Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile – Playlist with Graphic Quotes
May 11 – Adventures in YA Publishing – Author Q&A
May 14 – The Nerdy Girl Express – Review
May 15 – A Court of Coffee and Books – Review + Graphic Quotes
May 16 – BookCrushin – Review + Playlist
May 17 – Mind of a Book Dragon – Review
May 18 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Author Guest Post: What Would Your Strange Fascination Be?
May 21 – Pop! Goes the Reader – Wallpaper
May 22 – The Young Folks – Author Q&A
May 23 – Page Travels – Creative Instagram
May 24 – Bookfoolery – Review
May 25 – Dazzled by Books – Candle Creation Post + Review
May 28 – Paper Trail YA – Author Q&A
May 29 – Snowandbooks – Review + Aesthetic Board
May 30 – Reading Writing and Me – Book Review
May 31 – The Radiant Reader – Playlist + Creative Instagram Picture
June 1 – We Live and Breathe Books – Review + Moodboard
The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is available today wherever books are sold!