Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Audiobook Tour + #Giveaway: Frogman's Response by Heidi Voss @rarevoss @RABTBookTours

YA Fiction

Date Published: 09-06-2021

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

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Matthew Shaw is banned from his school's online counseling forum. Is it a crime his advice posts and anarchy blog are more popular than those on the school website? Though he's being as sincere as possible, Matthew, posting as "Frogman" online, wreaks havoc at Henry Blake High with advice that causes breakups, instigates a cheerleader fistfight, and turns a school assembly into an angry mob. When Matthew's private notebook goes missing, he worries not only about blowing his secret identity but about being suspended and ruining his shot to escape Mom's hoarding house.

Interview with Heidi Voss

    How many books have you written and which is your favorite?

    Frogman’s Response is the fourth book I’ve written and the first one published. My favorite book is usually the one I’m working on, which is currently a series about a coven of witches working odd jobs in Salt Lake City. I’m including mermaids toward the end of the second book, so it’s been fun to watch videos and read articles about the ocean.

    If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?

    Frogman’s Response is a stand-alone, since it was really meant to help me learn how to write a simple, engaging story from start to finish. Now that I feel like I have my feet under me on that front, I’m working on a trilogy so I can take a swing at crafting multiple books that work together.

    Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

    I’ve been told that readers tend to stick with an author more when they write a lot in the same genre, but I can’t help jumping around! I’ve published lighthearted humorous flash fiction, some more serious horror stories, and now a YA book about a school advice blog gone horribly wrong. I’ve had a few readers, though, tell me that they read a story of mine outside their usual genre and really enjoyed it. So hopefully if folks find that they like my style, they’ll be willing to join me in whatever new world I jump into next.

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

    Writing titles is so hard for me! I usually don’t come up with them until I’m done writing a book because at that point I have to in order to pitch it. I think I came up with “Frogman’s Response” as a placeholder, hoping the publisher I worked with might have a better idea. Changing the title never came up, though, so “Frogman’s Response” stuck!

    How long did it take you to write this book?

    This one took a couple years. I have a non-writing day job so it’s a bit tough to set aside time to write. I try to only take on one project at a time so I can be sure to finish what I’ve started.

    What does the title mean?

    In this story, the guidance counselor’s office at Henry Blake High School is trying out a website where they can post student problems and show the guidance counselor’s advice. The main character, Matthew Shaw, feels like the guidance counselor is out of touch and responds to the posts under the username “Frogman” with his own take. He’s dealing with a challenging situation at home, but hopes he can help other students when he sees that his “Frogman” response posts are getting a lot of likes and comments. From there, he decides to start his own advice blog and ends up making a big impact at school.

    What did you learn when writing the book?

    One of the biggest adjustments for me was thinking about what it would be like going to high school in an era of smart phones and social media. The main character ends up feeling a bit paralyzed while writing blog posts because he’s trying to figure out how to write in a way that no one will respond with negative comments. (Spoiler alert, it’s impossible.) Growing up with that type of pressure seems incredibly stressful, and violent incidents at high schools have skyrocketed since I was in high school. In the story, Matthew ends up having some rude but arguably innocuous comments in his notebook taken very seriously because schools today can’t ignore anything that could point to a shooting. I’ve talked to current teachers about what they’re going through with their classes and high school students today really have it rough.

    What surprised you the most?

    I’m surprised by the ending! I wasn’t invested in outlining when I started this book and although I found all kinds of ways to get the main character in deeper and deeper trouble, I didn’t necessarily know how he would get out of it. I ended up sending him on a really scary bus journey to Columbus to ask his sister in college for help. Since the narrative was so rough on him up to that point, I was glad to have the chance to come up with some positive experiences for him—still very outside his comfort zone—to help him in the healing process. One of my favorite jokes is that he starts out as a serious minimalist because his mom has filled the house with thrifted junk, and toward the end of the story he’s given a big bag of clothes he would never normally wear. From then on, we only see him in fun outfits from that bag of clothes, hopefully showing how much he’s changed since the beginning of the story.

    Have you ever killed off a character your readers loved?

    Not yet! That will definitely be coming up, though, for a series idea I have. I’m getting better at deciding endings ahead of time, because my stories turn out better. If I do plan to kill off a character, I want it to feel meaningful and right for the story and not just like a twist for the sake of having a twist.

    What do you do to get inside your character’s heads?

    I like to think about what my character’s view of the world is and why they may have developed that perspective. Most scenes deal with characters who have conflicting goals and how those play out over time. If you have a clear understanding of what shapes your character’s outlook, it’s easier to figure out how they would behave when presented with a conflict.

    Even characters who on the surface like the same things can have very different worldviews in a way that brings them into conflict.

    For example, Matthew and another character, Julia, both like video games—but Matthew is a more isolated character who spends his time on single-player games and Julia comes from a big family that plays loud, colorful multi-player games together. She asks him to play a racing game when they first meet and he ends up having a prickly reaction. Their drastically different family experiences affect their worldviews and that brings them into conflict throughout the book.

About the Author

Heidi Voss’ debut novel Frogman’s Response has been praised as being “instantly engaging” and her award winning short fiction has been featured in multiple anthologies. When not writing or promoting her work, she enjoys video games and exercise.


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