Living a life like Justin Bieber, in an 11-year-old’s words

Teddy Wayne
Teddy Wayne (Credit: Christine Mladic)

Meet Jonny Valentine: an 11-year-old pop star who worries about his “chub,” hitting puberty and career longevity. In “The Love Song of Jonny Valentine,” author Teddy Wayne gives us a sly peek behind the velvet rope of a young pop star. Sort of inspired by Justin Bieber, the book delights in mocking an American society obsessed with nubile stars. But it also strikes serious chords, examining what that obsession does to the pint-sized pros themselves. Some serious moments even eerily parallel Bieber news stories after Wayne wrote the book, like violent threats and a marijuana scandal. Wayne, 34, talked to Metro about prepping through celeb glossies and guitar strums.

The book is based on Justin Bieber. How many front-row Justin Bieber concert seats did you buy to research?

I ended up not going to any. I didn’t want to be too beholden to the reality of Bieber concerts. I did watch his documentary film. It’s entertaining, it’s his own official documentary but he’s savvier and smarter about his image than you’d think, than the normal teen pop star. I watched a lot of amateur [Youtube] concert footage.

How did you get the idea for the book?

There wasn’t really a “eureka” moment. I’d been tutoring kids in Brooklyn once a week, and at the same time, I’d been working on a novel that was going nowhere. One time, I saw one of the girls reading Miley Cyrus’ book, “Miles to Go,” and it must have landed in my subconscious because a week later, a friend asked if I had any ideas. I said, “How about we parody these teen pop star biographies?” An hour later, I realized if I treated this with more gravity it could make a more serious novel.

Jonny struggles with a few challenges throughout the book, trying to find his father and deciding whether to go to a regular school. Some authors say they feel like their characters lead them – did you have a good idea of the ending, or did you feel like Jonny surprised you?

I had a general idea of where I wanted to go, but one thing I found with writing is I do a lot of ventriloquism. This novel and the previous novel are both in voices very unlike my own. I do a lot of humor writing for magazines and newspapers that’s also “ventriloqufied,” other characters. When I get into another character’s voice, I start thinking about this character, and it does lead me to their decisions and thoughts.

Why do you think society can get to a place where we idolize 11-year-olds?

We hold them up as these paragons of innocence. …. And then inevitably, they fail us, because it’s impossible to stay innocent forever, and once they do we punish them severely. We’re cruel about it.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

National

At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

By Piya Sinha-RoyLOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Marvel Entertainment's chief emeritus Stan Lee may be in his ninth decade, but it hasn't stopped him from adding…

National

Islamic State says beheads U.S. journalist, holds another

Islamic State insurgents released a video purportedly showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley, who had gone missing in Syria nearly two years ago.

Movies

Review: Sadly, Matthew Weiner's 'Are You Here' is…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner tries his hand at movies with "Are You Here," a misjudged Owen Wilson-Zach Galifianakis comedy that turns into a drama.

Movies

Review: 'Love is Strange' is not only a…

John Lithgow and Alfred Molina tie the knot in "Love is Strange," but the film winds up being more about living with people than an activist picture.

Movies

Frank Miller on writing 'Sin City'

Frank Miller's comics career is a long and storied one, with "Sin City" being one of his most individual creations. Here, in his own words,…

Movies

Interview: Jessica Alba is a stripper again in…

Jessica Alba has gotten used to vague phone calls from director Robert Rodriguez, the Austin-based auteur who has made a habit of putting Alba into…

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

MLB

Shane Greene travels unlikely road to Yankees stardom

Shane Greene was throwing a bullpen session on a quiet field at Daytona Beach Community College one day when the ball started moving.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL tight ends (TE)

Wellbeing

What eye symptoms need emergency attention?

Many people experience temporary eye-related problems such as pink eye (conjunctivitis) from a cold virus or a scratched cornea resulting from an object coming into…

Sex

Big weddings may lead to longterm happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. A new…

Parenting

Fun family activity: Off-Broadway show for pre-teens

"The Love Note" is an off-Broadway musical your pre-teen won't roll his or her eyes at.

Parenting

Barnes & Noble partners with Samsung to release…

Barnes & Noble releases the first full android tablet optimized for reading.