Seventeen-year-old Gilbert Garfinkle is the ultimate tech geek. He likes to take apart, figure out, and fix things, and he dreams of someday fixing the world. But now his own life has been taken apart by the one thing he’ll never be able to figure out. Her name is Amber, and she’s a gorgeous girl with a killer smile who wants to turn him into her platonic BFF–literally forever! It’s the ultimate geek’s ultimate nightmare, and it leaves Gilbert asking life’s ultimate question: “Why me?”
Why My Love Life Sucks is a funny novel about geeks, girls, gadgets, vampires, and the start of a most unlikely friendship. It’s the first book in The Legend of Gilbert the Fixer, the series that proves it takes the ultimate geek to be the ultimate hero.
And here’s the book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHSVkegWeWM&list=PLCB49B1B8A26EDED3&index=4
Freado (where you can start reading the book for free): http://www.freado.com/read/14575/why-my-love-life-sucks-the-legend-of-gilbert-the-fixer-book-one
The night after Amber bites Gilbert, he wakes up in pain and confusion in a hospital. He wants answers, so he escapes and heads to the arcade where they first met.
“Where to?” the driver asks.
“Bucky Bee’s on Broadway.”
Everything seems mercifully quiet the moment I close the door of the cab, but I’m noticing some extremely unpleasant odors. There’s the smell of cigarettes, the musky odor of sweat, and something that smells like grungy gym socks. The lights outside on the streets of New York are so bright and colorful. It’s like I’m Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, when everything goes from black-and-white to Technicolor. I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
The people remind me of television commercials for fruit-flavored breakfast cereals. So many flavors, and all so yummy. This is so wrong. It’s like I’m that damn shark from Finding Nemo. I have to keep telling myself that people are people, not food. I tie my sneakers, and try to spend the rest of the ride just staring at my feet.
The driver lets me off. After paying the fare, I’m left with thirty-four dollars from the money Uncle Ian gave me, and I still have the other thirteen in my wallet, or rather Amber does.
“Hi, Alex,” I say as I walk into Bucky Bee’s. “Anything broken tonight?” I don’t know why I said that. Force of habit I guess.
“You look different.”
“I’ve had a really bad day.” Oh, wait, he’s probably talking about my glasses. “Oh, and I . . . got laser eye-surgery.” Okay, stupid thing to say. I’m pretty sure you have to wear goggles for weeks after eye surgery.
“Really, that fast?”
“Oh, yeah.” I should have said contact lenses.
“Looks good on you. Maybe I should get laser eye-surgery too.”
He informs me that all the machines are in working order, so my services aren’t needed tonight. Still he lets me in.
I scan the tables. Amber isn’t at one. So what do I do now?
Oh, wait, there she is, leaning against the wall next to the game I fixed last night. She’s still wearing her bright red dress, and the navy-blue jacket she borrowed from me is draped over her shoulders. She sees me, and she comes over. I find an empty booth and sit down. She sits opposite me. Bucky Bee’s looks like a rainbow threw up in it, the colors are so damn bright.
“I hardly recognized you,” Amber says, with a wide smile. “You look great.”
“Great like a corpse at an open-casket funeral?”
“No, silly, great as in you’re no longer wearing those nerdy glasses, your zits are gone, your hair and skin look terrific, and you have this really sexy brooding stare.”
“Mmm . . .” Amber is looking at me and making a yummy sound. I can’t help but twitch, knowing how she thinks I taste and what part of me she’s tasted. “It’s very sexy.”
“This is not a brooding stare. This is my I’m-so-mad-I-could-kill-you face.”
“Well, whatever it is, it’s working for you.”
That’s it. I can’t keep my anger inside any longer. “How could you do this to me??”
Wait a minute . . . Did I just yell in Bucky Bee’s?
Fortunately the noise level is so high I don’t think anyone’s noticed. Oh, I’m wrong. Alex is staring at Amber, so he’s noticed, and he probably thinks I’m nuts to be yelling at a girl who is way out of my league. Wish I didn’t know what you don’t know, Alex. And Chloe, who is working at the counter tonight, is also staring at me. And some guy or girl dressed as Bucky Bee may or may not be staring at me. It’s hard to tell with the costume on.
Amber’s looking around too. We have to wait until no one seems to be staring at us anymore. It takes several excruciatingly long minutes.
She sighs. “Look, Gil, I know you’re scared.”
“That’s putting it mildly.”
“But the truth is being a vampire—”
“Please don’t say that word.”
She raises an eyebrow. “Vampire?”
“Please don’t say it.”
She laughs and shakes her head. “Sounds like someone is in denial.”
She’s right. I am in denial. But what else can I do? How the hell am I supposed to accept this? “I. Am. So. Screwed.”
“No, you’re not.” She has this huge smile on her face, and I want to believe her, but . . . “Listen to me, Gil. In a few days after the pain has worn off, you’re going to see this is the best thing that ever happened to you.”
Top Ten Reasons I Enjoy Gilbert
He is a geek
He plays Dungeons and Dragons
He prefers to play a magic caster
Science is important
He names people things like bite me
He decided that he likes things just the way they are and doesn’t want to change
He thinks jackets with too many zippers look funny
He can’t stand being in crowded clubs
He has ABS
He carries a lockpick set which is always handy!!!
Can you share short histories/bios on the main characters from the book?
The main characters in Why My Love Life Sucks are Gilbert Garfinkle–a.k.a. Gilbert the Fixer–and Amber. Gilbert is the ultimate, teenage geek; and Amber is the gorgeous, vampire girl who wants to turn him into her platonic BFF–literally forever. The story is written from Gilbert’s point of view.
Goal: to fix the world
Weakness: anything illogical
Favorite things: electronics, lockpicks, fixing things, inventing things, rock-climbing, aikido, comic books, fantasy & science fiction, The Princess Bride, Albert Einstein, Dungeons & Dragons, his father, his Uncle Ian, his friends
Gilbert loves everything geeky: from Star Trek and Dungeons & Dragons to rock-climbing and inventing electronics. He has a compulsive need to fix things that are broken or can be improved on, and he plans on someday fixing the world. He’s already invented a few things to help him achieve that goal, including his Lablet, which is a cross between a laboratory and a computer tablet. At one time he tried to upload his own conscience into the Lablet, but it turned into a closed-lipped, depressed, animated robot instead. He has no idea why this happened. He is currently inventing a form of artificial intelligence with a will of its own. His father was a very successful chemical engineer who died at the age of 83 when Gilbert was still a toddler. His mother is a self-absorbed gold digger who only married his father for his vast fortune and who loathes even being in the same room as Gilbert. Uncle Ian, his mother’s lawyer, is the only person that Gilbert considers living family, even though they aren’t related. His best friend, Dylan, calls him “Little Dude,” and Gilbert calls Dylan “Big Dude.” He’s had a secret crush on the absolutely brilliant Jenny Chen since they were both six, and he considers Dungeon Master Dave his own personal Yoda, the mentor he turns to for advice. His life isn’t perfect, but as far as he’s concerned, it’s pretty good…and it was going to be amazing until the Amber ruined his well thought out plans. His brilliant mind, eidetic memory, sarcastic sense of humor, lockpicking, aikido and rock-climbing skills, various gadgets, and friends are just what he needs to help him solve any mystery and get him out of any jam.
Age: claims to be 17, although she appears to be 15
Goal: to turn Gilbert into a vampire and her platonic BFF–literally forever
Weakness: low self-esteem (although she hides it well)
Favorite things: bacon, pizza, candy, her friends, boys, dancing, laughing and smiling, and above all being liked
Why My Love Life Sucks is written from Gilbert’s point of view, and the first time we meet Amber is on the first page. As Gilbert lies paralyzed by her vampire bite, he looks back at the events of the night, starting with what happened when he brought her to his room: “Amber laughed. It was a nice laugh. I felt so relaxed, because she’s so beautiful. They say there’s no point in worrying about the things you can’t control, and I figured I didn’t have a chance in hell with her. Guess I was right, but not in the way I thought.” Aside from being drop-dead gorgeous, seemingly sweet, funny and quick, asking Gilbert to kiss her, and the whole turning-him-into-a-vampire thing, she remains mostly a puzzle for the start of the book, a puzzle Gilbert feels compelled to figure out. And he does figure out some of it by the end of this book. But there’s a lot more to Amber than meets the eye, and it will take the rest of the series for readers and Gilbert–and in some ways Amber herself–to truly know who and what she is.
I love all kinds of storytelling. When I was little, right up until the year before I graduated from college, I wanted to write and direct TV shows and movies. But then I found out that writers and directors never really have full control over the stories they tell, which is why I decided to become a novelist instead. My stories, though, still play like TV shows or movies in my head–with soundtracks and everything.
So here is the unofficial soundtrack for my funny, geek-centric YA novel: Why My Love Life Sucks (The Legend of Gilbert the Fixer, book one). These are songs I hear in my head when I think of certain scenes and characters from the book. Click on the song title to follow the link to a YouTube video.
10 + 1 Songs from the Unofficial Why My Love Life Sucks: The Legend of Gilbert the Fixer (part one) Soundtrack
Intro: “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” by Eric Idle (Monty Python)
Chapter one: “Breakeven” by The Script.
Chapter three (Amber): “She’s So High Above Me” by Tal Bachman
Chapter three: “I’m Going to Go Back There Someday” (Gonzo’s Song from The Muppet Movie, with clips from Life on Mars, cover version by Paula Jarvis)
Chapter four: “Crazy” by Seal
Chapter five: “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas (Oprah show flash-mob version)
Chapter 10: “Galaxies” by Owl City
Chapter 12: “D & D” by Stephen Lynch
Chapter 16: “Fix You” by Coldplay
Epilogue: “May It Be” by Enya from The Lord of the Rings soundtrack
As the credits roll: “My Life Would Suck Without You” by Kelly Clarkson
What Are You Geeky About?
Gilbert Garfinkle, the hero of my latest novel, Why My Love Life Sucks, is the ultimate geek. He has vintage Star Wars sheets on his bed, and posters of dragons, sci-fi movies, and Albert Einstein on the walls of his tiny room in the basement. He takes apart video game systems because he so desperately wants to see what he can do to improve them.
Character sketch of super geek Gilbert Garfinkle, the hero of Why My Love Life Sucks (The Legend of Gilbert the Fixer, book one) by Shevi Arnold
Some people see being a geek as a bad thing, but I don’t, and neither does Gilbert.
In one scene he explains to Amber–the gorgeous, mixed-up vampire who wants to turn him into her platonic BFF literally forever–what it means to be a geek: ““Geeks are awesome. If other people can’t see that, it’s their problem. The very definition of being a geek is that you love something just because you love it, not because someone is telling you you should, but in spite of them telling you you shouldn’t. There’s no greater love than geek love. If you’re lucky, maybe someday you’ll find it too.”
I’ve always been super geeky about comedy, fantasy, and science fiction.
When I was little, I’d take them apart and analyze them, kind of like what Gilbert Garfinkle does with video game systems. If I didn’t like what I found, I would try to fix it. And sometimes I would take parts of a story and use them to create something new. This continued into my college years, when I majored in English Literature and Theater Studies. Actually, it continued through my time as an editorial cartoonist, illustrator, editor, consumer columnist, and arts-and-entertainment writer specializing in children’s entertainment and, of course, comedy–and it continues to this day.
Nothing makes me as happy as tinkering with a funny, fantastic, incredible story.
So I ask you, “What are you geeky about?”
What is it that makes you so happy you don’t care what anyone else thinks?
Maybe you’ve found it, and maybe you’re not as ready to tell the world as I am and Gilbert is. Maybe you’re still afraid of what others might think. Well, don’t be. Others only judge because they don’t feel the joy that being truly geeky about something brings. Don’t let them steal that joy from you.
I’m geeky about writing stories that make people laugh, cry, and think, and that transport them to worlds only reachable through the imagination. I’m geeky about books. I’m geeky about Gilbert, and Why My Love Life Sucks. And I’m geeky about my fellow geeks who love books just as much as I do.
There’s a scene in Why My Love Life Sucks that reveals Gilbert’s favorite kind of music. This is after Amber has turned him into a vampire, and she’s been trying unsuccessfully to get him to leave his old life and join her.
* * *
I grab my backpack, and head for the bus. I know I have to make a short detour at the school, but I can’t wait to get to Queens.
Amber meets me at the corner. I start singing, “And there’s a creepy doll, that always follows you. It’s got a pretty mouth . . .”
Amber frowns. “You make that up just now?”
“No, it’s a Jonathan Coulton song.”
“Never heard of him.” Figures. “Who else do you like?”
“Well, I . . .” Okay, obviously I can’t say any Nerdcore bands or singers, so that leaves out MC Frontalot and MC Lars. If she’s never heard of Weird Al Yankovic, the only word she’ll hear there is “weird.” She’s definitely never heard of Stephen Lynch, and if she has, she probably doesn’t find songs like “Beelz” very funny. Come on, who do I like that most people like?
Oh, I know. “I like the Barenaked Ladies.”
She scrunches up her face and crosses her arms. “Most guys do, but they don’t usually mention it when there are girls around.”
What? Oh. “No, they’re not ladies. They’re a bunch of Canadian guys.”
“And they play naked? Ewwww!”
“No, they don’t play naked. You must have heard of them. They sing the theme song to The Big Bang Theory.”
“The TV show?”
“No, the actual Big Bang. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe from Douglas Adams’s book was so successful they turned it into a franchise, and they gave the Barenaked Ladies a permanent gig there.”
She rolls her eyes and shakes her head. I keep walking, she keeps following, the song “Creepy Doll” keeps playing in my head.
* * *
So what are his ten favorite songs? It’s hard to narrow it down, but I’ll try.
1. “Creepy Doll” by Jonathan Coulton
2. “Code Monkey” by Jonathan Coulton
3. “Still Alive” by Jonathan Coulton (sung by GLaDOS)
4. “Goodbye, Planet Earth” by Matthew Ebel
5. “The Saga Begins” by “Weird Al” Yankovic
6. “Download This Song” by MC Lars
7. “D&D” by Stephen Lynch
8. “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” by Eric Idle (Monty Python)
9. “One Week” by the Barenaked Ladies
10. “The Big Bang Theory” by The Barenaked Ladies
I’ve always been super geeky about comedy, fantasy and science fiction.
When I was little, I’d take them apart and analyze them, kind of like what Gilbert Garfinkle–the hero of Why My Love Life Sucks–does with electronics. This continued into my college years, when I majored in English Literature and Theater Studies.
For twelve years I worked in magazines and newspapers as an editorial cartoonist, illustrator, editor, arts-and-entertainment writer (specializing in children’s entertainment and, of course, comedy), and a consumer columnist.
My last job was at the Jerusalem Post, but I had to quit when my family decided to move to New Jersey to pursue better education options for my autistic son.
This was in February 2001. Since then I’ve written 40 picture books and seven novels for kids and teens, four of which I’ve indie published. I was an ABNA quarterfinalist with Why My Love Life Sucks, and I won third place in SmartWriter’s Write It Now contest in the the YA category (which was judged by Alex Flinn, the author of Beastly) for my romantic, YA ghost story, Ride of Your Life.
Author is giving away-
3 ebook copies of Why My Love Life Sucks by Shevi Arnold -open internationally
1 paperback copy of Why My Love Life Sucks by Shevi Arnold- US only
5 signed bookmarks-US ONLY