Tuesday, June 14, 2016

2016 Debut Author Bash: Christian Heidicker

Hey everyone! Today I have an awesome post for you guys which features 2016 debut author Christian Heidicker. His book actually is released today! Here is a bit about Christian's book:

23656453Title: Cure for the Common Universe
Author: Christian McKay Heidicker
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Sixteen-year-old Jaxon is being committed to video game rehab...
ten minutes after he met a girl. A living, breathing girl named Serena, who not only laughed at his jokes but actually kinda sorta seemed excited when she agreed to go out with him.
Jason's first date. Ever.
In rehab, he can't blast his way through galaxies to reach her. He can't slash through armies to kiss her sweet lips. Instead, he has just four days to earn one million points by learning real-life skills. And he'll do whatever it takes-lie, cheat, steal, even learn how to cross-stitch-in order to make it to his date.
If all else fails, Jaxon will have to bare his soul to the other teens in treatment, confront his mother's absence, and maybe admit that it's more than video games that stand in the way of a real connection.
Prepare to be cured. 


Without further ado, let's get on with the post! It's told in a series of emails. Christian's messages are green, mine are blue.


Krystianna! Pleasure to meet you. I love your blog. It's so splashy and full of nice lovely spaces in which to ruminate. I'm prepared to get downright dystopian with you. (That sounded like a threat; it was not.) Just lead the way.

Hi Christian!
Sorry for the late response as I've been pretty busy this week. Thanks so much for the compliment! I'm up for anything when it comes to our post. Did you have anything specific in mind?

That depends. Have you ever thrown a book across the room? Like, literally hurled it at a wall because you were so mad? If so, which one and why?

Yes actually. I threw Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins because I was upset that my favorite character was killed off. 

Rose was your favorite character?! That's rad. I've heard so many people complain that she wasn't present enough in the books to feel the impact of her death. I want to hear more about this. In retrospect did it seem like the right move on Collins' part? Or are you still angry? Any other books you've thrown?

I ask this question because someone shelved CURE FOR THE COMMON UNIVERSE under 'books-ive-thrown-across-the-room' on Goodreads. At first I was deflated. Then, after talking to friends, I realized, hey, at least she's feeling feelings. And in the end isn't that kind of my job? I mean, if I were in the business of making people feel all kittens and roses every day, then I'd work in an animal shelter or garden. (I guess in this instance, Collins was in the business of killing roses. Eh? Eh?)

This Goodreads reviewer had a specific grudge about CURE's ending. But here's the thing. She had read an ARC (advanced reading copy). I was in the unique position of having an extremely flexible editor who said he'd let me change it if I really wanted to. This left me wondering if I should try to appease this reader so my book wouldn't end up a fluttery mess in the corner of many homes. Or would it be wiser to stick to my guns?


Actually it was Finnick! I was pretty mad because he was such a unique character. I didn't want to say the character's name in the original email in case you hadn't read/watched Mockingjay, because I know that not everybody has. I actually didn't like Primrose that much, though it was upsetting because Katniss went into the games originally in place of Prim only for her to be killed off later on. I haven't thrown any other books (yet).

I guess it is good that the reader at least felt something. I mean, a book can be thrown for both good and bad reasons. Even though Finnick was killed off in Mockingjay, I love going back to the story just to read more about him. It didn't make me like the story any less, it just made me upset at the time. In fact, since I had such strong feelings from that book, it's become my favorite book of the series.

I don't think you should try to appease a specific reader. You should stick to your guns! At the end of the day, it is up to you to write what you feel is right. If you are proud of what you've written and feel that what happened in the story is what you wanted to happen, then I'd leave it exactly how it is!

I just read a whole bunch of Finnick memes, trying to refresh my memory. President Snow forced him to become a sex worker?! But he traded himself for secrets instead of money?! He wielded a trident?! Man, I read that book WAY too quickly. Now I'm upset about Finnick's death too . . . I'm going to try and refrain from throwing my computer across the room.

Yeah, sticking to guns is important. (Unless they're aimed at Finnick--mumblegrumble.) But I cannot begin to describe the temptation of swaying to the audience's desires. Alan Moore has this great quote. "Don't give them what they want. Give them what they need." When I read this, I was like, "THAT WILL BE ME FOREVER." This has been infinitely more difficult to accomplish than I imagined.

As an author, you work hard on bringing your characters to life. You hang out with them every day for YEARS. You ask them every question you can think of, especially the humiliating ones. And you get to know them as living breathing people. For someone to hate them . . . well, it's tough not to take it personally. (Although, in that reviewer's defense, I will say that my MC represents my more despicable teen years.)

So, it turned out Ms. Throwsalot wasn't the only dissatisfied reader. I started to notice a trend. A few people felt robbed by CURE's ending. I didn't want to lie to appease these readers just for appeasing's sake, but I realized I could offer more info. I went back and had a conversation with the offending character, and he (grudgingly) gave me a bit more information. (That is, I bounced ideas off of the character as he existed within the book, testing whether they felt genuine or not. Finally, something stuck.) I felt like I was still true to the story but that I wasn't obscuring any information. 

I ended up doing what no author should ever do and messaged any reviewers who had this particular grudge, providing those additional sentences. I was basically like a parent saying, "He's not such a bad kid! See? He, uh, he does good things . . . sometimes." They all responded, claiming those lines made all the difference, and they all changed their reviews. I'm really hoping they didn't do it out of guilt . . . My editor told me to stay away from Goodreads after that.

What I'd like now is to list all of the books I've thrown across the room, but I can't. I know way too many authors now, and I'm afraid I'll say something terrible, and they'll just happen to read this, and then I'll meet them some day, and my skin will crawl off of my body in shame. I used to have a nom de plume on Goodreads so I could go to town on everything I read, but now that feels disingenuous and backstabby. I will say I tend to throw books where authors don't follow their own rules or allow their characters to be stupid enough not to get themselves out of easy situations. How many times have you read something and thought, 'Duh. Just go to the cops.'? I suppose this is the difference between a book you throw because you care and a book you throw because you couldn't care less. We should probably come up with terms for each before this conversation is finished.

Finnick was quite the character... that's why I couldn't help but get mad!

I can definitely see why it's tempting to try to please the audience. That relates to a lot of decisions that people make in life... is it right to choose the path that you want or the path that others want you to take? I myself always like to try to please others, but as I've been growing up I've been doing my best to do the things that make me happy while also making people happy at the same time. I don't think it was a bad thing to add in some more lines as long as it made sense and I'm sure that those reviewers did not fix their reviews out of guilt. 

I hate it when characters do dumb things! Your reason for throwing book basically made me think of every horror movie ever. I'm that person that's constantly yelling at the screen even though I know the characters can't hear me. That's why I tend to stick to horror movie spoofs now instead of watching actual horror movies.

Regarding terms for caring and throwing a book, I immediately thought of candy bars. A candy bar that you like (for me, that would be Twix) and a candy bar that you don't like (I hate Butterfingers) would work perfectly. So a Twix could be a book I'd throw because I care while a book I throw because I couldn't care less could be a Butterfingers. I'm sure that there are better ideas out there but I'm a sucker for chocolates and candy!

That idea terrifies me! What if I take someone else's advice and end up ruining the ending? What if I make the character too sexist, or conversely, not realistic enough? In a broader sense, this is really about life choices. You're in more danger of having a boring life if it's dictated by others. At least if you make a decision and screw it up grandly then you get to learn from it. You'll do better next time. You'll HAVE to. It's way scarier putting yourself in a position where you take the blame for everything . . . but it also puts you in control. As Neil Gaiman said, "I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something."

(We haven't reached total Gaiman quote saturation yet, have we? No? Okay, good.)

I assume you've seen Cabin in the Woods? If you haven't, stop what you're doing and watch it immediately. It's on Netflix, and it will make you feel better about every stupid decision a person in a horror movie has ever made.

I'm starting to get your candy bar analogy. You mean, like, Twix is so good you can't stop eating it, so you throw it because you have to get it away from you? But you don't like Butterfingers so they just . . . slip from your fingers, as if they were covered with . . . oh, I dunno . . . some slippery substance? Yeah, I'm hoping CURE is a Twix. People may have the opposite taste in candy though . . . and I'm hoping for higher stakes when people read this. So here's hoping my book's more boomerang than hand grenade.

I actually have not seen Cabin in the Woods! I'll have to check it out now, because my interest is piqued. 

That's exactly what I meant with my analogy! 

Let me know what you think. :)

Thanks for hosting me!


Thanks so much to Christian for being a pleasure to work with and thanks so much to you for taking the time to read this post! Don't forget to check out Christian's book as well as his social media links down below!

Christian's social media links: 


  1. Okay that synopsis has me. Adding it to my TBR now. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Oh my gosh, that was one of the best posts I've seen! I loved the back and forth! And I love the cover of that book as well. Great post!

  3. What a fantastic cover! It helps that it also sounds like an interesting read ;)


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