Saturday, June 28, 2014

Boarding Pass

 Not a Review -  a shout out for those interested in books about maturing into an adult and the challenges that brings.  Author Q & A below!

ISBN-13: 978-0988208605
$14.99 paperback / $7.99 ebook
338 pages, English - Printed in the USA
One Lane Bridge Publications, Buffalo NY
Available online at:
Twenty-one-year-old Matt Derby is a typical college senior: bright, open-minded, and full of potential. But he's also stuck in neutral, struggling with girl problems, a lack of direction, and decisions made difficult by too many choices. When a television news report tells the uncanny story of a heroic firefighter in a small Wyoming town, Matt recognizes someone he hasn't seen in nearly six years: his boarding school roommate Trey Daniels, who disappeared after being expelled
in tenth grade.
Matt boards a flight headed west, aiming not only to visit his injured friend, but also to put off his own return to school and the big decisions that await him there. Once at cruising altitude, his flashbacks recall the formative days at the Ashford River School and the memorable events that cemented their boyhood friendship before Trey's departure. Upon landing, Matt soon discovers the seemingly impulsive journey is nothing less than a pilgrimage that revisits his past, illuminates the present, and defines his future.
Boarding Pass, the debut novel by teacher and indie author Paul Cumbo, chronicles the rugged path from adolescence to adulthood, the challenging decisions that determine our futures, and the powerful bonds of friendship and family that shape our lives along the way.

Paul Cumbo is an English teacher and rowing coach at Canisius, a Jesuit prep school for boys in Buffalo, New York. He has also published a short fiction collection, Ten Stories. Paul lives in Buffalo with his wife and children.


What's your novel about? 
I think we all arrive at a moment in our twenties when we figure out that it's time to grow up...for real. That's at the core of Boarding Pass. It's a coming-of-age story, but it's also about defying the assumptions we tend to make about ourselves and others while we're growing up, particularly as teenagers. There's a lot in there about family, too, especially fathers and sons.

Why did you write it? 
Because I'm a teacher. I've looked out at classrooms full of kids—all boys in my case, since I've taught and coached at two all-male prep schools for the past sixteen years—and I've wondered what kind of  men they'll become. It's so interesting to see where people go in their early twenties. Sometimes they'll wind up exactly how you predicted; other times, they'll defy all expectations--either for good or bad reasons. Personally, I struggled to figure out who I was at that age. I think most people do. I wanted to write a story about that time in a young person's life. I feel like a lot has been written about teenagers and thirty-something's, but not as much about those tenuous years of the early twenties.

What is your intended demographic?
Boarding Pass might appear to be a young adult novel, and it has YA appeal, but I didn't write it with that in mind. Much of the story is the main character's flashbacks to his sophomore year at boarding school. However, it's a frame tale--meaning those flashbacks are set within the central plot, which is about the same character at age twenty-one. I think the book has appeal for teens on up, but for different reasons. Younger people will likely relate to the immediacy of  the high school and college experience, whereas older readers might have a more reflective, maybe nostalgic perspective about those times in their own lives. While the protagonist is a guy, and the story is unmistakably told from a male perspective, many of my most enthusiastic readers have been women, especially mothers who've raised teenage sons. Several have remarked how much they enjoyed a glimpse into the male psyche.

Why did you choose to self-publish?
There's been a lot of press lately about changes in the publishing industry, including a recent piece on NPR. When I started working more than twelve years ago on the story that would become Boarding Pass, I had big, dreamy aspirations of a contract with a major company, just like many undiscovered writers do. But the truth is, the publishing world has changed, thanks to the Internet. Self-publishing just makes sense now. There's a degree of independence that is hard to match, not to mention a surprisingly lucrative royalty schedule. Of course, independence also implies a financial investment, not to mention several other hurdles. Thorough editing is expensive, time consuming, and ultimately, humbling. I decided to form my own small business, One Lane Bridge Publications, to use as the publishing imprint of record, and produce the book using Amazon's print-on-demand service, CreateSpace. So far both print e-Book sales have been encouraging.

What are you working on next?
I recently published Ten Stories, a short fiction collection including, well…ten stories. Right now I'm working on two books. One is a series of nonfiction essays about teaching. The other is a novel that combines coming-of-age elements and a survival story to create a pretty fast-paced dramatic thriller, but I don't want to say too much about that just now.