Archive for June, 2009

A Meeting of the Minds with Lauren Myracle!

June 15th, 2009 by admin | 3 Comments | Filed in After the Kiss, Appearances, News, Talking with Other Authors

Though we’ve only ever met in person once (and it was a long time ago at the Decatur Book Festival and I’m not sure Lauren remembers me), somehow Lauren Myracle and I have found ourselves in a kind of sisterhood together. And, like sisters, when we talk, we can talk a LOT, and we can talk all over the place. She was sisterly enough to answer all my million questions about peace, about love, about some baby ducks, and about a lot more–check it out!

1. One thing I really like about Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks is that it presents Carly’s spiritual life as well as her daily high school dramatics. We’ve both written books that explore religion–why do you think we think teen readers will care about this topic?

Because teens are people, too, dammit! ? That’s the answer that comes into my mind first, anyway. What I mean by that is this: teenagers do care about “big” issues. They care about their inner lives and faith and religion and philosophy and all that good stuff. Sometimes I feel as if old-heads (um, yes, like me, but in this case, not me) think that teens just want fluff. They don’t. I didn’t, when I was their age. Did you?
2. Being the oldest sister of three, there was a lot of sisterhood issues that I (sometimes shamefully) recognized in here. Talk about your own sister experiences (or lack of them) and how they fueled this story.
“Sometimes shamefully,” eh? Ooo, do tell! But I suspect I know what you mean. You’re probably talking about the fact that Carly and Anna’s feelings toward each other are sometimes…ugly-ish? Petty? Full of jealousy? Yeah, well, I absolve you. I absolve myself and all sisters out there! We are humans, we sister-people, and I think the goal is to work through those ugly-ish feelings, right? Anyway, for this book, I drew primarily on my relationship with my little sis, Susan. Classic Carly and Anna, really: she was beautiful, I wasn’t. She was “popular”; I wasn’t. And yes, I often thought I KNEW IT ALL (and, shhh, actually I did…). So we had a lot to work through as we grew older…and much of it–surprise, surprise–I worked through by writing the dang novel! ? (You know what’s cool? Susan’s a writer, too! Her first novel, BOUND SOUTH, *just* came out, and it is Made. Of. Awesome!!!!!! And I’m not jealous at all. Swear.)

3. It’s refreshing to me to see a book take place somewhere other than New York, Long Island, New Jersey, or California (especially since I live in Atlanta and Pure takes place there too). How was it writing a book that happens in the South, and why did you decide to?

Yay, Atlanta! Yay, Decatur! (For you non-Georgia Peaches, Decatur is like…hmm. How would you describe Decatur, Terra? It’s outside of Atlanta, and funky in places, but conservative in places, too. And when I read PURE—which I *loved—I was like, Ahhhhh! Decatur! I know you!!!!!)
(Terra’s note: Decatur is to Atlanta as Berkeley is to San Francisco. That’s the best way I’ve heard it described, at least.)

Anyway, yeah, almost all of my books are set in Atlanta. Why? Cuz I grew up there, and also cuz it’s a bubbling mess of Southern weirdness and wonderfulness. Like, I live in Colorado now, and when I go back home to visit? I feel SO UNDER-DRESSED. All the ladies are gor-juice, and they’re always done up in pastels, and their nails are done, and there I am in my ratty jeans and a T-shirt…and suddenly, I’m thrown back into the uncomfortable feeling of NOT FITTING IN. Which I felt a lot in Atlanta. Maybe that’s why I set my books there? Because books are sec

retly therapy, right? So maybe I’m still—and forever—working out my issues…

4. Okay, so, any horrific experiences with PE class or a high dive in your past?

Uh, YES. See Peace, Love and Baby Ducks, page…well, whatever page the back-dive-off-the-high-dive scene is on. THAT EXACT SCENE OF TEARY, HUMILIATING DISASTER HAPPENED FOR REALS. Not to me, but to a classmate, and oh, Terra, it was soooooooooo wrong and horrible. But, yes, when I was in high school (in Atlanta), we had to do a back dive off the high-dive in order to pass P.E. Yes, there is twisted-ness there, isn’t?

5. Another thing that I think is so great about Peace, Love and Baby Ducks is that it’s not just about how much we love each other, but also how much we hurt each other, even when we don’t necessarily intend to. Why do you think it’s so easy for us to do this to each other?
I know what you mean…I think. For me, it goes back to my steadfast determination to be real both in life and in the fiction I write, and we do hurt the people we love, don’t we? And it sucks for the hurter and the hurtee. And we can choose to muddle through it or not…but for my money, we have to muddle through it, or else we lose each other, you know? And I Don’t. Want. That. To. Happen. Not with the people I love.

6. Carly has a lot of rules for herself in this book (some good, some bad). What are some rules you have for yourself?

Heh. See question 4, except replace the dive page number with any of the page numbers where Carly cites her rules. Yeah, I’m bad. Some examples: You can’t start to say something, and then think better of it and cut yourself off. WRONG. You start it, you finish it. Also, Kraft Mac & Cheese. No generic mac & cheese for this girl—or for anyone who steps foot in my house, thanks very much. Also, hmmm, thou shalt not pass judgment on others for pretty much anything (except, um, not following one of my rules). Thou shalt seek to understand and to send out warm vibes of supportive-ness, but judgment doesn’t really get us anywhere, does it? (By the way? I *so* need to work on following that last rule!!!! It is a
constant struggle!!!!)

7. Peyton–as both Carly’s and her younger sister Anna’s friend–is one of my favorite characters. What do you like about her, and what did she help you understand about both Anna and Carly?

You liked Peyton? Yay! My dad did, too. He was like, “Lauren, you need to give Peyton a break. You’re a little hard on her at the end.” But she cracked me up! I had to give her a little bit (a big bit?) of a hard time! She did get some beauty lines, though, didn’t she? Hey, I know, let’s have a little Peyton love, shall we? Instead of answering your question, I think I’ll just paste in the scene in which Peyton announces her desire to get extensions, heh heh heh:

I fish my cell phone out of my backpack and punch in Peyton’s number. Peyton is always good for distraction therapy.She answers by saying, “Hey, babe, one sec, ’kay? I’m trying something I read about called ‘hair plopping.’ One sec.”
“Hair plopping?” I say, but she’s gone.
When she returns, she says, “And now we wait.”
“For what?”
“If all goes according to plan, I will have smooth, lustrous curls in thirty short minutes.”
“Hair plopping,” I say again.
“That’s right,” Peyton af?rms.
It’s working already, the distraction bit. I sit on my bed. “And hair plopping would be . . . ?”
“I read about it on the Internet,” she says. But then, typical Peyton, she doesn’t explain the plopping at all. She blabbers about hair extensions instead.
“I want them so bad,” she says.
“Why?” I ask. “Your hair is already halfway down your back.”
“But if I got extensions, I could actually sit on my hair.”“But it wouldn’t be your hair. It would be someone else’s.”
“It would be mine once I paid for it.”
She asks if I knew that not all hair extensions are made of human hair, and I say, “Gross. No.”
I lean against my pillow, and she tells me all I want to know and more about how the best hair extensions come from India, because it’s a tradition in India for women to go on a pilgrimage and have their heads shaved to demonstrate that they’re not corrupted by vanity.
“And then American women buy that hair to show that they are corrupted by vanity?” I say.
“Exactly!” Peyton crows. “The monks at the temple sell the hair to American salons. It’s a win-win situation.”
“Go, monks!”
“But for now I’m holding off, because I read a post from a woman whose extensions, like, ruined her life. She got into a bar brawl—”
“A bar brawl?”“And this other woman ripped out huge chunks of her hair.
Since the extensions were glued to the woman’s real hair, her real hair came out, too, along with pieces of her scalp. Isn’t that nasty?”
“Are you thinking you might get into a bar brawl?” I cross my bare feet on my comforter.
“Hey,” Peyton says, like this is no joking matter. “You never know.”

8. Have you ever had that experience yourself, where you went away for a summer or a semester, and you came back and suddenly everything (or at least one major thing) was really different?

Yeah. The summer between my freshman and sophomore years in high school, I did a month-long trail-building program, must like Carly did. My parents thought I was nuts. I volunteered for the Student Conservation Association, and I was sent to Harrison, Arkansas to built trails. It was HARD WORK. Omigosh. And yes, I slept in a tent for a month and didn’t take a shower for a month and didn’t see myself in a mirror for a month. There were lots of times I thought it was too hard—why had I done this to myself? Could I get out of it? Why was I such a wimp? But I persevered, and it turned out to be…pretty cool. Still frickin’ hard, but pretty cool, nonetheless. And, like Carly, I came home feeling tough. Heck, I was tough. I could handle a pickaxe like nobody’s business! I also came home with “new eyes,” if that makes sense. Had Atlanta changed? No. But I had changed, and so the lens I looked at the world through had changed. And that made all the difference.

9. What do you think would happen if Carly, Anna, Vonzelle and Peyton went out on a girls’ night date with Cara, Naeomi, Morgan, Tabitha and Priah?

Oh, man. I love this question!!!! Carly and Tabitha would be wary of each other at first—maybe nervous—but once they got a chance to talk, and to listen, and to feel out what the other was like…it would be a lifelong soul-sister friendship, I think. And I think Tab would totally dig Vonzelle, too, don’t you? Peyton and Morgan would bond over girly stuff, though I doubt they’d choose to get together on their own again. Priah would be up for anything, but again, I think she’s pretty content with her life situation (at least once she gets together with Sprockett), so I bet she’d mainly be rah-rah-smile-smile omigah we have got to do this again, but then she wouldn’t really mind if they didn’t. Naeomi? She’s awesome, and so is Cara. I’m not sure they have the same sense of goofiness that Carly has—and that I sense Morgan has—so, it might be more a situation where there’s mutual respect between Carly and Vonzelle and Cara and Naeomi, rather than a friendship YES bond. But, again. Carly and Tabitha? I just KNOW they would hit it off.
(Terra’s note: this is exactly right I think.)
Like, take this bit of internal processing that Tabitha does, when she’s trying to come to terms with Morgan’s vision of truth-with-a-capital-T:

“It’s still nagging me, how easy it all was for her, rejecting Cara. Rejecting me. Choosing sides. How she’s still choosing them. How there’s an ocean of things between us that we haven’t talked about, and I’m not sure how we ever can. How I’m stuck between a place where I want to forgive her, and I still can’t.”

If Carly were there, she would listen and nod and say, “Oh, man, I so hear you. I so hear you. Life is complicated, isn’t it?” But Carly and Tabitha, they’re both in it for the long haul. They’re both willing to take on the struggle to live authentically. I’m so proud of them!!!!
10. I know you are into a ton of music. What’s in your shuffle right now?

Ah, yes. I *love* music. Right now, I’ve been listening to a hippie-dippie playlist I made called Carly’s Mix—oh, and guess what? I’m doing this thing on a Peace, Love and Baby Ducks site I set up where anyone who’s read the book can take a silly quiz about it, and if they get a high enough score, I send them one of the songs from Carly’s Mix! Oh, how I love spreading the 60’s vibe… So tell your peeps to go check out the site, eh? Read the book! Get a song! YEAH!
Anyway, here’s what’s on Carly’s Mix. I bet you recognize ‘em all…am I right? ?
Mwah!
(To take the quiz visit peacelovebabyducks.ning.com)
Thanks so much Lauren! Looking forward to talking to you lots more about lots more!  To learn more about Lauren and her books go to laurenmyracle.com.

Talking SEA CHANGE with Aimee Friedman!

June 8th, 2009 by admin | 1 Comment | Filed in Talking with Other Authors

I was fortunate to become pals with NYTimes bestselling author Aimee Friedman way back before her first book South Beach hit the shelves, back when we were both working together in publishing in New York. Since then, I’ve had the delicious pleasure of toasting each terrific title of hers, and admiring her amazing ability to balance a regular work life and a healthy writing life, too. We always love dishing about books and boys both, and her newest novel Sea Change gave us a great opportunity for that and then some!

1. Sea Change is a novel that takes place in the South, whereas you yourself are a Northerner. What was it like writing about a different area of the country, and what kind of research did you have to do to bring Selkie Island to life?

I am a born and bred New Yorker (just like Miranda in Sea Change), but I have always been fascinated by the South. This may be due to the fact that my mother let me watch Gone with the Wind when I was about five, and I fell in love with all the romance and allure and rich history of Dixie (the same thing happened all over again when I read the book at fourteen!). When I got the idea for Sea Change, there was no doubt in my mind that it would take place on an island off the coast of Georgia; the heat and lushness and mystery of the South all seemed to lend themselves to the feel of the story I wanted to tell. Before I started writing, I took an amazing trip to Savannah, and to beautiful Tybee Island. Those places helped me enormously in my creation of the fictional Selkie Island. (In fact, the Discovery Center in Sea Change is based on a similar place on Tybee Island). I am also lucky enough to have good friends who hail from the South, and my editor has family in the South, so as I wrote, I would often email them questions and get their expertise.

2. Miranda’s grandmother plays an important role in this book. Can you talk a little about grandmothers and how they influence us, both positively and negatively?

My maternal grandmother, Margaret, was one of the great influences in my life, and we were incredibly close. She actually passed away a few months ago, at the ripe old age of 95, and it has been very difficult for me, dealing with her loss— and a small part of that is knowing how much she would have enjoyed Sea Change. She liked all my books, no matter how racy! My paternal grandmother, Civia, is—knock on wood— still very vital, but I do not get see her as often, since she lives overseas. But I cherish the fact that I was and am fortunate enough to know my grandmothers, to hear their stories and take in their wisdom. To me, grandmothers are about stories — about the tales and legends and histories that make up your family, that make up who you are. They are a link to the past, to what has passed and is now intangible. Grandmothers are also about the complicated bond that exists between women, and I wanted to explore all these themes in Sea Change. It was for this reason that I dedicated the book to my two grandmothers.

3. Sea Change is a bit of a departure for you, genre-wise. How was it writing a slightly-fantastical book compared to your other novels (The Year My Sister Got Lucky, South Beach) that are grounded more in real life?

The idea for Sea Change came to me pretty fully-formed; I love mermaid stories—from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy-tale to the movie Splash— and I liked the notion of switching up the gender roles. So I knew the book would have a touch of magic, and the challenge therein excited me. It was definitely tough in parts, conveying those fantastical elements in the story. I have the utmost respect for fantasy authors, and I do not fancy myself one! To me, Sea Change is ultimately a love story, and the magical aspects are almost incidental…but read it for yourself and see!

4. You work in publishing as an editor, but are also a writer. Can you talk a little about how you balance these two aspects of your life?

I don’t sleep very much! And I have very, very understanding friends. Juggling what are essentially two different careers means making a lot of sacrifices, whether it’s the gym (sigh), seeing friends, sometimes even, well, sanity. But overall, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think being a writer has actually made me a better, more sensitive editor; many of my authors tell me they appreciate that I know what it’s like to be on the “other side” of things. However, I think that when my editor brain creeps into my writing, that can be a little troubling. Yes, I’ll often catch things and make tweaks that improve the story. But self-editing while you write is a surefire way to slow down the process and suck you into a whirlpool of self-doubt. Not. Fun.

5. There’s a lot of great references to mermaid mythology and lore sprinkled throughout Sea Change. What’s some of your favorite mermaid stuff you learned while writing this book?

I had a lot of fun researching Sea Change. Just when I’d decided to write the book, the Museum of Natural History (which plays a small role in the book!) opened their exhibit on Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids. So that exhibit was my first stop in terms of research, and I took lots of notes on mermaid lore that existed around the world. Probably my favorite mermaid myth that I discovered was the tale of Glaucus, a Greek sea-god. Glaucus was a fisherman who was transformed into a merman, and he fell in love with a beautiful nymph. I liked the Glaucus story so much that I managed to work his name into Sea Change.

6. Were there any surprises for you in writing this book?

I was surprised to discover, in my writing, that I wanted to leave the ending of the book open-ended. I won’t spoil it too much for those who haven’t read it, but Sea Change leaves a lot of room for interpretation (which I know has driven some readers crazy!). I think a lot of that had to do with my decision to maybe expand the book into a sequel; I fell in love with the characters as I wrote them and realized that I didn’t want to close out their story just yet. So we’ll see!

7. Miranda is on the cusp of a lot of change in her life in this book. Some of it we see, and some of it is only hinted at. What do you hope Miranda will be like in five years?

I hope Miranda becomes someone who is still passionate about science and math —the science world needs more women!— but yet remains open to the possibilities of magic and mystery. I won’t say much more than that since I hope to write a sequel one day! (see above).

8. There are some interesting upper-class-versus-working-class dynamics in Sea Change. What do you think can be gained by hanging with the ritzy kids? What about those with callused hands?

I definitely wanted Sea Change to touch on class divisions. It was important to me that the ritzy kids not come off as necessarily the “bad kids”— vapid Gossip Girl types—but to also have redeeming qualities. The thing is, you really never know where you will find a true friend, whether it’s in the upper-class realm into which you may have been thrust unwilling, or the working-class realm you may feel more at home in. Everybody is going to have their flaws, and I think growing up is in many ways about being open to possibilities, regardless of society’s divisions.

9. There are also some smoky kisses in Sea Change, and also some duds. What do you think it takes to make a kiss one of mythic proportions?

Wow! I love ending the Q&A on such a romantic note! I think a kiss has everything to do with—as Miranda herself might say—chemistry. If you have chemistry with someone: if there’s an emotional click and spark, if you “get” each other and have great conversation, it’s USUALLY a pretty surefire bet that the kisses you share will be magical. On the other hand, if you lack that intense connection, that missing spark can come across in a kiss as well. Then again, kisses and chemistry are as unpredictable as love itself. There’s certainly no scientific formula for falling in love, and I hope readers of Sea Change will find that idea in the book’s pages.

Thanks so much, Aimee, for a great conversation, for being such a great pal, and for writing this great book–absolutely perfect for your next read by the beach (or the pool)! You can learn more about Aimee and her other books at aimeefriedmanbooks.com

I’m Feeling a Little Faint!

June 2nd, 2009 by admin | No Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

And if you need another summer scorcher this month, Nina Malkin’s new paranormal bad-boy romance Swoon will definitely crank up the heat for you. As part of the launch for this not-for-the-faint-of-heart novel, Nina (who, unlike her main character Sin, is incredibly nice) was kind enough to invite me to participate in her “My First Swoon” blogathon (along with Amanda Marrone, Gayle Forman, Melissa Walker, and other sensational YA authors), and today my own personal first swoon makes an appearance! Leave a comment on her blog about your own first swoon by June 30th, and you’ll find yourself with your own signed copy of Swoon in your hot little hands!

ninamalkin.blogspot.com