Kurt Dinan was kind enough to stop by and discuss Don’t Get Caught. (It’s out April 1.)
What was the inspiration behind this novel?
Before I start writing a novel, I make a list of books and movies I really love, then write down what I specifically love about those works. Somehow from that list a sort of creative magic happens and I end up with an idea I’m excited about and interested in. When I made the list for what ended up becoming DON’T GET CAUGHT, one of the items was The Great Train Robbery. Ever since my brother had me watch it with him when I was 10, I’ve always loved stories with that sort of plot. I mean, really, who hasn’t wanted to rob a bank? Or a casino? Or at least work out the plan for robbing one? (Yeah, I know, I’m in the minority on this, but it is a cool idea, right?) I already knew I would be writing a YA novel, so once I decided on a heist-like novel I need a crew, and since one part of my wish list was an ensemble cast, ala The Breakfast Club, it worked out nicely.
This is described as The Breakfast Club meets Ocean’s 11. Who are you in The Breakfast Club? (Me: While, yes, we are all all of those people, I am the geek.)
In high school I was easily Brian, the nerd. I wasn’t as studious as Brian, and I didn’t have the parental pressure on me that he had, but I definitely struggled on where I fit in and wanted everyone to like me. Nowadays though, I’d like to think I’m more like Carl, the janitor. He’s understands his place in the world, isn’t going to let anyone talk down to him, and knows more than he lets on. (Yes, I know, I cheated on that answer. Sue me.)
…and, piggybacking off previous question, would you be good at a heist?
I’d be good at planning the heist. The longer I worked on this novel, the better I became at plotting out how such capers would happen. I got to the point where I’d think, “How would you pull off stealing an administrator’s cell phone in the middle of a crowded cafeteria?” and I could see the answer. So I think I’d be a good heist crew mastermind. That being said, I’d be terrible after the heist. I might be able to play my part during the heist, but afterward I’d be a mess of worry, thinking the cops were going to knock on the door at any moment. Because I may not know much in this world, but I’m certain I wouldn’t fare well in prison.
Can you share the first sentence/paragraph?
Rule #1 in any quality heist film is Don’t get caught.
So I’m quiet as I slip out my bedroom window, cross the roof in the cool darkness, and drop from the garage onto the wet grass. Overhead, my parents’ lights may be off for the night, but this is a terrible idea anyway you look at it. It’s stupid, irresponsible, and borderline suicidal. But I’m going anyway.
If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be and why?
Neil Gaiman’s Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes. I love reading books (or in this case, a graphic novel) where you know you’re dealing with a writer who’s operating on a whole different level than everyone else. This graphic novel is absolutely perfect. In fact, the whole Sandman series is creative genius.
What are your five favorite books? You can do authors if that’s easier.
I’ll have to go with a mix: Robert B. Parker is probably my favorite writer overall. But Stephen King, Andrew Smith, A.S. King, and Chris Crutcher all kick my ass, too. These are the author’s I’ve learned the most from and who’s books I’ve enjoyed the most.
What 2016 releases are you looking forward to?
Marieke Nijkamp’s This Is Where It Ends; Jeff Zentner’s The Serpent King; Jeff Garvin’s The Symptoms of Being Human; Robin Reul’s My Kind of Crazy; Lance Rubin’s Denton Little’s Birthdate…there are just so many!