Author Kevin Vachna is taking his latest book OBSOLETE: A Teacher’s Tale (of tomorrow, today!) on tour — a Virtual Book Tour, that is, with Outskirts Press! Technology has created a wide variety of ways to reach audiences all over the world. All it takes is a little thinking outside the box, and nowadays you can market a self-published book in a variety of affordable and impactful ways. Virtual book tours, for example, are a great way to connect with readers from all corners of the globe, all from the comfort of your own home. Join Kevin Vachna and OBSOLETE: A Teacher’s Tale (of tomorrow, today!) as they appear in features and interviews (such as the one below) in the weeks and months ahead!
Luckily for us, Kevin was kind enough to answer a few questions as the tour was getting started so that we can give you a sneak peek into the mind of the creator of OBSOLETE: A Teacher’s Tale (of tomorrow, today!).
OP: Tell us a little bit about OBSOLETE: A Teacher’s Tale (of tomorrow, today!). What is it about?
Kevin: OBSOLETE is a thrilling adventure about the future of school, technology, and society. Crime, Disease, and Poverty are all but extinct. Democracy is decided in real-time with lightning-fast ease. Holographic projections are at everyone’s fingertips, swallowing them in in a world of constant entertainment and communication. There’s just one problem: the kids are all becoming hyperactive, disconnected screen-addicts. The America Learns Initiative, a federal program under the Department of Restructure, has a solution: The Success Spheres! Championing the mantra, “Do nothing and learn!” this state of the art technology promises to save the failing school system, its students, and teachers, once and for all. After an unauthorized history lesson, Professor T is reassigned to one of the worst performing schools around. There, unlikely allies and hidden threats lead T to revelations about a conspiracy with sinister roots. What T discovers could threaten to overturn the ALI’s Success Sphere program and the very foundations of society, itself.
OP: Why did you decide to write this story?
Kevin: I wrote and drew this graphic novel after being inspired by what I saw in the schools every day. There were never enough resources and they were always pushing for something that wasn’t in the students’ best interest but their own. And that’s when an over-reliance on technology infected our schools. I watched teachers replaced by screens. Education stagnated and the children suffered most of all. Over the past decade I have been witness to, participant in, and victim of this drastic transformation inside the New York City public school system. They’ve embraced detrimental practices under the guise of technological reform. There are computers in every classroom, but students enter through metal detectors and undergo body-searches. More often than not, teachers are encouraged to use media such as YouTube to entertain and pacify students while passing them through to graduation. Like parts in a machine, these overworked teachers are replaced by younger, cheaper ones. Students graduate into a world in which they are wildly under-prepared to participate let alone prosper. The What-If, nightmare scenario of where this path might lead and the underlying dangers for society are realized in the world and characters of my graphic novel, OBSOLETE.
OP: How did you get your book published?
Kevin: As we shifted to screen learning during the pandemic, the relevance of what I wrote seemed increasingly important, so I was encouraged to publish OBSOLETE and share my story. Outskirts Press accepted my manuscript and has been incredibly supportive throughout this process.
OP: What types of readers would be interested in this story?
Kevin: Parents, teachers, and students (ages 15+) will benefit from reading this book and will connect with its important lessons and themes. People involved in school and education will connect with this and hopefully re-examine the effects technology has on education and their lives. For high school students and teachers, this book offers confirmation of many unspoken frustrations and fears they may have. The visual nature of this graphic novel creates avenues for reluctant readers to reach places of comprehension and introspection. Additionally, lovers of science fiction and/or dystopian fiction will enjoy this, as well, due to the major conflicts and tensions with technology in this book. Anyone who has attended (or is attending) High School will be interested in this graphic novel. There is some violence, so I wouldn’t want to give it to anyone under 15.
OP: What is special about your book?
Kevin: I spent the last decade working as a teacher and eventually an administrator in several NYC public schools. Slowly, but surely, I found myself experiencing what F. Scott Fitzgerald called “Emotional Bankruptcy.” It was emotionally draining, and I felt like I was continuously being forced to make ethical compromises for the sake of data. The stress of this time period was like nothing I had ever felt before. I started to reflect on the plight of the students and teachers around me. I needed a way to process these experiences. I also felt like there were a lot of sinister decisions made “behind the curtain” of which most people were oblivious. I’ve always written as a way to process and make sense of my own experiences, but my writing career has truly been a search for an appropriate medium. I’ve written stories, poems, novels, scripts, but this time I decided I’d experiment with a graphic novel. I love graphic novels, use them in my teaching, and found them influential in my own literacy development. So I began the 3-year process of learning to draw, and finally finished my graphic novel, OBSOLETE: A Teacher’s Tale (of tomorrow, today!). As we shifted to screen learning during the COVID pandemic, the relevance of what I wrote seemed increasingly important, so I was encouraged to publish OBSOLETE and share my story.
OP: What differentiates it from other books in the same category?
Kevin: As a teacher with over ten years of classroom experience, published author, and frequent media expert on themes involving technology and culture, my life has centered on pedagogy, analysis, and storytelling. I believe the characters and setting are unique among other science fiction books, dystopian fiction books, and graphic novels. The setting of the school is a location most readers will have intimate knowledge of and experience with, despite there not being many dystopian, science fiction stories that take place in school. The characters also are relatable due to their interactions with and dependency on technology like cellphones and computers. In a time of distance learning and increasing screen-time, many individuals (including teachers, students, and parents) are beginning to seriously contemplate the impact of technology in the classroom and on our lives. While technophobia is an emerging mood in fiction, OBSOLETE focuses heavily on these themes and moods in a way I believe has not yet been explored and discussed, prior.
OP: Have you published any other books?
Kevin: In 2009, at the age of 21, I published a short novel, Summer of the Fall.
OP: Do you plan to publish more?
Kevin: Absolutely! I currently teach English at a private high school in Westchester, NY, host a film discussion series on television, and use any remaining time to work on the next volume in the OBSOLETE series. In addition to all that, I’m hard at work, developing a new graphic novel, End of the World, where two college students must team-up with the Antichrist to prevent the Apocalypse.
OP: Thanks for your time, Kevin! We look forward to learning more about you as you visit other bloggers!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
In the spring of 2009, at the age of 21, Kevin published a short novel, Summer of the Fall, through Outskirts Press. He spent the next few summers editing a second, experimental novel, Not All Vampires Suck Blood and a screen play, titled End of the World. For ten years, Vachna was employed as a high school English teacher at a New York City public school in the Bronx. In 2012, Kevin completed an English Literature MA at Lehman College. In 2016, he received a Masters in School Administration. The completion of Kevin’s latest project OBSOLETE in 2019 came on the footsteps of his exit from the New York City Department of Education. Neither parties elected to comment on any meta-narrative connections between art and life. Currently, Kevin teaches English at a private high school in Westchester, New York and hosts a film discussion show on television.
Press play to watch the book video for OBSOLETE: A Teacher’s Tale (of tomorrow, today!)
For more information or to contact the author, visit https://www.outskirtspress.com/obsolete
This author purchased the Virtual Book Tour marketing option, which allows self-publishing authors to connect with bloggers and harness the power of the blogosphere by taking their book on the “virtual road.” Learn more about this service by visiting your Publishing Center and reviewing the available marketing options.