Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Seth Baumgartner's Love Manifesto

If that title doesn't grab you, you will be completely hooked by the first page of Eric Luper's newest novel, just released by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins.

Rachel Cohn, the bestselling author of NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST, think so, too. She says, "Delightful, funny, and true, Seth and his manifesto will win your heart."

Eric's story tugged at my heart strings and brought back memories of my own teen years that made me want to laugh and cry at the same time. I rooted for his main character, Seth, from the moment he was getting dumped by his girlfriend at Applebees. That was only the beginning of life's complications for Seth. He had me wanting to run right out and find him a new girlfriend. The story, told from a delightfully fresh boy's perspective, had me shirking my own writing obligations so I could follow Seth through to the end.

I knew people would want to know more about the man behind the book, so Eric Luper has so graciously agreed to answer a few questions on The Backstory...

ANN: You have recently delved into rules for writing fiction on your blog. What is your favorite writing rule to break?

ERIC: I break them all when they need to be broken. I look at writing rules less as laws and more as suggestions to nudge you in the right direction. I think it's important to know the rules, though, so you can make an informed decision when it comes time to break them.

ANN: If you could collaborate on a novel with anyone, dead or living, who would it be?

ERIC: Hands down Kurt Vonnegut. That guy was funny and smart and wrote awesome books. Need I explain this?
ANN: You have had some interesting and unusual jobs in your non-writing life. If you could go back to one of those jobs for just one week, which one would it be and why?

ERIC: Interesting question. I would love to go back and work at the Raptor's Trust, a facility in northern New Jersey that rescued and rehabilitated birds of prey. Those birds were so awesome...except for the turkey vultures that would throw up this disgusting, stinky, vomit-slime.

ANN: I know I'll never get you to admit to the Clark Kent thing, but I do know you are a chiropractor in all of that free time that you have. Tell us a little about your work as a Red Cross Disaster Relief volunteer and what led up to it.

ERIC: After the attacks of 9/11, I felt a compelling need to get to New York City and do what I could. There wasn't a huge call for children's writers down there, but I could help out in my capacity as a chiropractor. So, I called the Red Cross, got my credentials, and went to the Red Cross Respite Center at St. John's University. I treated rescue workers as long as I could, morning, noon, and night. Closed my office here and everything. It was a moving experience, but I was doing nothing compared to those rescue workers. Those guys were awe-inspiring.

ANN: I absolutely loved SETH BAUMGARTNER'S LOVE MANIFESTO. If Seth were to appear on Oprah, what would his top break-up advice be?

ERIC: What...? Huh...? What was the question? I was paying attention to that first part of your question. Oh, break-up advice... Okay... If Seth was on Oprah, he'd likely tell people not to listen to clichés. Things like, "there are other fish in the sea", and "She was never the one for you" do no good. It's okay to be sad.

ANN: Is there a medical thriller in your future?

ERIC: Never. I like to write about things I'm learning about as I write. That way, I can put what is fascinating to me about the subject in my story, assuming it will be fascinating to others. If I were to write a medical thriller, I would include things so esoteric that they would be boring to laypeople. Does that make sense?

ANN: I know the St. Anne Institute is near and dear to your heart. (I am convinced that you don't sleep--wait... are you a ---???) Sorry. I got distracted... can you tell us a little about your latest project involving piles of books?

ERIC: Recently, I was asked to sit on the advisory board for St. Anne Institute, a not-for-profit residential/therapeutic school for at-risk teen girls. Of course, the first thing I wanted to see was the library and I was saddened to see that recent budget cuts led to a very small and very dated teen library. There were huge gaps in the selection, particularly urban fiction, fantasy and sci-fi... and that was exactly what the girls of St. Anne want to read! This was not acceptable to me, so I reached out to author-friends, editors and agents and within weeks, I had boxes of books on my doorstep read for St. Anne's. But's it's not nearly enough.

You can check the news story out at:

And if you are interested in donating a book, feel free to contact me via my website ( or to phone in a donation call The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza (, an independent book store here in Albany. They have a wish list from the girls and are offering a discount on books. Their number is (518) 489-4761.

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