Author Interview with Jason Ancona

I had the incredible honor of interviewing the author of the Covert Youth Agency series (The Case of Tangled Love and The Sext Crime) and Debugging Tori Redding.  Not only did I interview Jason Ancona, but I also had the chance to interview my two favorite characters of the C.Y.A. series.  That’s right, I interviewed Lightman and Tollhouse.  Just thought I’d say-It was awesome!  Now, let’s start this interview!

BB&R: What (or Who) is your greatest inspiration?
JA: Time spent with friends and family, kind gestures, and emails from one of my three fans. I’ve heard from a couple of moms who told me their daughters giggled when they read my book. That inspires me to write more.
BB&R:  If you could go back in time to when you were in high school, and relive those years, would you create a group similar to the C.Y.A.?
JA:  Most definitely. I wish I would’ve thought of it back then. Was going to create a C.Y.A. site now, where students could have secret forums and run a branch of the agency at their schools. But that seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen.
BB&R: When you first began writing, did you know you wanted to write for teens?
JA:  Not really. My first script, Notch 22, is about a freshman in college who pledges a fraternity to win the heart of a girl. It’s definitely R-rated because of the world it’s in. But it is a coming of age story that deals with growing up. I enjoy exploring those times. When you’re figuring out who you are.
BB&R:  I love how you include music in your books.  Did you listen to certain songs while writing The Sext Crime?
JA: Not while I’m writing. If I had music playing I would start singing along in my chair, which would definitely take me out of the story. It’s harder to finish pages when your hand is shaped like a pretend microphone. “I throw my hands up in the air sometimes. Saying AYO.” Gotta love Taio — Dynamite
BB&R: My favorite characters in the C.Y.A. books are Lightman and Tollhouse.  Other characters in the books have hinted at a possible “crush” on both sides of their relationship.  In future books, do you think their relationship will grow to be more than friends?
JA: Those two are combustible–sparks of love would be dangerous. Never know though.
BB&R: Are you currently working on anything?  (A new C.Y.A. book possibly???)
JA: I’m brainstorming for my next book–taking a stab at an adult one. My librarian sister wants me to write a romance novel, but a couple of fans have said they like action/thriller stories. Still deciding. Any votes out there? After I finish that project, I’ll start on C.Y.A. book three.

Jason Ancona’s Favorites:

Character Interviews:

My Interview with Lightman:

BB&R: When and how did you first meet Pi and Tollhouse?
L: I met Pi playing World of Warcraft online. Found out he went to Trenton, so we got together I.R.L. (in real life). His friend tagged along for our first meeting at the library. Tollhouse has been annoying me ever since.
BB&R: Tollhouse enjoys making you wear costumes that you’d rather not wear.  If you could wear one costume to wear backstage during the C.Y.A. client meetings, what would it be?
L: First of all, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Or how you could possibly know about C.Y.A. meetings and the whole costume deal. Second of all, I’ve never worn anything Tollhouse has given me, put out for me, or touched with his filthy fingers. What costume would I wear? Please. I’m a freshman, not in fifth grade.
BB&R: If you had a theme song what would it be?
L:  I have a theme song–the soundtrack from The Bourne Identity. And it plays in my head when I’m on a mission for the C.Y.A. Or in class when I already know what the teacher is talking about, which is most of the time.
BB&R: What is your favorite line from a movie?
L: “Mr. Wizard. Get me the hell out of here.” I can see from your blank stare that you don’t know it’s from the movie The Matrix. Neo said it. And I’ll say it now, “Mr. Wizard. Get me the hell out of here.”
BB&R: Do you ever hack into Tollhouse’s computer when he’s not home, or when he’s asleep?  Find anything interesting? 
L: Not that I’d admit. Let’s just say that if you checked his browser history you’d find out he’s active on the Gossip Girl message board. And I’m confident that he posts under the screen name “Bernice.”

My Interview with Tollhouse

BB&R: You seem to not like Lightman very much.  When you first met her, did you dislike her?
L: When I first met her I liked her–until she opened her mouth. I don’t dislike her. Lightman’s not all that bad. But when she pushes my buttons, I’m going to push back–most of the time.

BB&R: Favorite cookie?
L: Nestle’s Toll House Chocolate Chip. Fresh baked. Right out of the oven. There is no substitute.
BB&R: If Lightman ever cooked/baked something for you,  would you eat it?
L: Not unless you tried it first. To make sure it’s safe.
BB&R: If you could pick one costume to wear backstage during the C.Y.A. client meetings, what would it be?
L: Lancelot–with all the armor. And the cool helmet. I could make a big entrance onstage with my sword drawn. Although that might scare off the person coming to the C.Y.A. for help. I don’t think Pi would go for that.
BB&R: Deeks seems to be obsessed with finding out who the members of the C.Y.A. are.  Are you worried, especially after the events of The Sext Crime?
L: Heck yes I’m worried. I don’t need any more urinal cake feedings. Hopefully the goose chase Pi sent Deeks on keeps that guy off our tails.
I would like to thank Jason Ancona (as well as Lightman and Tollhouse) for taking the time to answer these questions.

Book Review: The Sext Crime by Jason Ancona

Title: The Sext Crime
Author: Jason Ancona
Series: C.Y.A.: Covert Youth Agency #2
Pub. Date:  February 2011
Source: Kindle
Genre: Espionage/YA/Humor/Mystery
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads:  SNAP–a girl sexts racy pics of herself.
She thought the fun shots would stay between her and her boyfriend.
SNAP–an anonymous hacker hijacks her photos.
If she doesn’t obey, she’ll be exposed.
SNAP–the Covert Youth Agency takes the girl’s case.
The agents jump headfirst into Operation: Sext Crime. Their new client has less than a week to surrender to the hacker’s ultimatum. Or else the naughty photos go “wide.”
SEND–a squad of goons are closing in on C.Y.A. members.
Agent identities may be unmasked.
REPLY ALL–end communication.
It’s not safe.
WARNING–this book contains NO explicit sexual content.
Material suitable for ages 12 and above. May contain some humor.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  The Covert Youth Agency (C.Y.A.) series is about a group of teenagers in high school who run the C.Y.A., a secret crime fighting group that helps students (like the C.I.A. for high school).  The CYA is made up of three members: Pi, Tollhouse, and Lightman.  Pi is the leader; Tollhouse is the main field agent; and Lightman is the computer genius.
In this installment, the group gets involved in the student council elections.  When Meredith, one of the candidates for student council president, gets blackmailed into dropping out of the race, the C.Y.A. steps in.  But whoever hacked into Meredith’s phone is extremely skilled.  After Meredith dropped out, the C.Y.A pushes for another candidate to run against the remaining one, supporting the same issues in hopes that the blackmailer might try to strike again.  However, this time, the hacker/blackmailer targets Pi.  Now it’s a race against time.  Meanwhile, Deeks, the gym teacher, is out to get the C.Y.A. since they blackmailed him into resigning from his coaching job since he was responsible for the bullying of the “Noble Nerds.”
I was smiling and laughing the entire time I was reading The Sext Crime.  Tollhouse and Lightman had the BEST scenes.  Just having them in the same room together brought at least five minutes of straight-up-out-loud laughing (per scene!).  Honestly, they are my favorite characters.  They have a love-hate, well, maybe a like-hate relationship.  They are always bickering; but deep down, and I mean deep deep down, I think they like each other.  Unlike the last book, Lightman is allowed to work in the field.  Although she quickly regrets it when she realizes that being undercover means going shopping with “the girls” for a dress.  Lightman is so smart and can be nice when she wants to (very rarely).  She uses her genius status to bully the principal and teachers in to letting her do what she wants.  Tollhouse is a likeable nerd.  He’s not the coolest guy in the world and he does get picked on by the jocks, but he is very easy going.  He can get along with anyone (well, anyone that’s not trying to bully him-and Lightman).  Pi was such a cute nerd!  Seriously!  Some of my favorite Pi scenes involved rap music, youtube videos, and some awkward dancing.   One word: hilarious!  He’s a bit insecure when it comes to social interactions with people other than family and very close friends.  When it comes to the C.Y.A., he’s in his element and the insecurity disappears.
Jason Ancona did a great job!  I was drawn back into the world and did not want to leave.  I felt like I was back in high school with all the drama.  Ahhh, it was so funny.  I really wish Pi, Lightman, and Tollhouse went to my high school (if it was co-ed).  I would SO want to be in the C.Y.A..  Also, if I was Vera, Pi’s crush, I’d give Pi a chance.  He’s so sweet.  The whole book was very entertaining.  I can’t wait until the next book (fingers crossed that there will be a next book).


The Sext Crime (C.Y.A. : Covert Youth Agency)

Covert Youth Agency Trailer:

Book Playlist:


Book Review: C.Y.A.: Covert Youth Agency: The Case of Tangled Love

Title:  C.Y.A.: Covert Youth Agency: The Case of Tangled Love (Volume 1)
Author:  Jason Ancona
Series: Covert Youth Agency #1
ISBN:  145372463X
Publisher:  CreateSpace
Pub. Date: 2010
Source: From Author
Genre:  Young Adult/Mystery
Pages: 258
Rating:  3/5

From Goodreads:  An elite group of nerds fight injustices by running a clandestine operation in high school. The C.Y.A., a.k.a. Covert Youth Agency, hacked into the digital school sign and posted their message: – – – If ever you’re in need of help and you have nowhere else to go, seek out the C.Y.A. We’re always watching and we’re here for you – – – Peter “Pi” Samuels, a fourteen-year-old sophomore, runs the shadow operation. Pi’s obsessed with the high school band’s lead violinist, who’s as beautiful as the music she plays. When she contacts the C.Y.A. to find out if her boyfriend cheated on her at a party, Pi’s objective becomes clear. Prove that her beau was unfaithful. Then maybe Pi will be the perfect shoulder to cry on. Pi schemes to destroy his love’s boy-toy, all while avoiding a deranged coach bent on exposing an untraceable geek squad for hire. The Covert Youth Agency.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  Covert Youth Agency is a young adult novel about a group of young high school students who use their intelligence and individual talents to fight “crime” in school.  Peter or “Pi” is the leader of the C.Y.A. (Cover Youth Agency).  Tollhouse is the chubby yet hilarious field agent.  Lightman is the computer genius.  All three make up the C.Y.A.  In this particular case, Vera, Pi’s crush, doesn’t know whether or not her boyfriend cheated on her at a party.  She hires the C.Y.A. to find out.

This book reminded me so much of when I was younger.  I loved the pop culture references.  I really liked the songs mentioned throughout such as “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift-there is a whole scene kind of like the music video, which I consider one of my favorite scenes in the book.  Tollhouse reminded me of Chunk from The Goonies.  I could relate to each CYA member in a different way. For example, I felt for Pi because of his unrequited love and since he looked young for his age.  There were only two things I had a problem with: -1-a lot of clichés and -2- I really don’t think high school boys/guys would where Heely’s to school.  I wasn’t sure what to think of the clichés only because I thought in clichés when I was 13, 14, and 15.  The Heely’s shoes seemed more like elementary to middle school fashion-not so much high school.

Overall I really enjoyed this book.  It was an easy and fun read.  It brought me back to when I thought the world would end if the guy I liked didn’t like me back.  This book was like Agent Cody Banks meets Recess meets Codename Kids Next Door.  I hope you all enjoy this book.  The next book comes out on March 1, 2011.  I will definitely continue reading the series.  I give it 3/5.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The Case of Tangled Love

Book Trailer: