In June 2008, I interviewed Myles, a then-sophomore who had just become a regular customer at my store. We soon bonded over a love of books and music. (Read the old survey.)
Two years later, he is older, taller, and about to graduate from high school. Myles still counts Amelia Atwater-Rhodes among his favorite authors, and he comes by the store at least three times a week. If you were to come by the shop while we were talking, you would probably hear one or both of us break into laughter at some point.
No, not "probably." Make that "definitely."
Before Myles moves across the country to attend college, where he will undoubtedly acquire a new accent and grow rather fond of brick buildings, I thought we'd discuss how his literary preferences have changed since we posted that first survey, and celebrate his successes as a writer.
Little Willow: How have your tastes in books changed since you were a sophomore?
Myles: I'm off the vampire phase. The concept is still appealing, but that genre of books no longer interests me because their new appeal is single teenage girls. I like urban fantasy, I still love thrillers, and I have increasing appreciation for realistic literary young adult fiction.
Little Willow: You have written poetry, short stories, and plays, and intend to also write novels someday. How has your writing changed in the past two years?
Myles: My writing, which used to be very fantasy-based and plot-driven, has evolved to emphasize more realistic scenes and character development. I've become interested in exploring human responses to situations in which they are outcast, such as the clinically insane, schizophrenics. Also, examining multiracial relationships.
Little Willow: One of your plays, Mise-en-Scene, has been selected to be part of an upcoming one-act young playwrights festival. Congratulations! Tell the people out there about it. (Wave hello to your future readers!)
Myles: Mise-en-Scene was based on a poem I'd written, and I decided that it would be interesting to see the poem or the idea behind it turned into a play. I submitted it to my school's one-act festival on a whim, and it was selected. I've submitted every year since I was a sophomore, which meant I had two rejections before this acceptance, which is a nice way to cap off my senior year.
Little Willow: Were you involved in the auditions and casting?
Myles: I didn't get to choose the cast, but I'm very happy with who they picked. I'm more involved with the production than I expected, actually. Usually, the writers aren't even involved in rehearsals, because the directors take over, but I've been at all of the rehearsals.
Little Willow: I can't wait to see the show! Hey, have you seen any good movies lately?
Myles: The Black Waters of Echo's Pond, The Blind Side, Shutter Island
Little Willow: Your taste in music has expanded in recent years. You still love Michael Jackson, and listen to a lot of smooth jazz and R&B, but now you also like -
Myles: - pop, hip-hop, rap, a capella. I recently became addicted to a capella music when I saw some college groups performing, and now I look them up on YouTube.
Little Willow: Yes, and often when you're in my store, which is totally allowed. Not the rap so much, though, unless it's Will Smith. What books have you recently read for fun - not for class, not for assignment - that you enjoyed?
Myles: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Deadline by Chris Crutcher, Right Behind You by Gail Giles, and the short story Empire of Dirt by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes.
Little Willow: What books have you recently read for class?
Myles: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, which I didn't care for, and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, which was half-decent.
So there you have it. A little insight into the mind of a young man who is an avid reader, a volleyball player, and an evolving writer who, within a month from this posting, will be sitting in the audience (or pacing in the wings) when his new play is brought to life by his classmates. Not only do I know that this play will lead to more writing and more reading, but I also know what Myles will ask himself if and when he gets nervous: "What would Morgan Freeman do?"