Archive for December, 2010

Her and Me and Lauren Strasnick

December 22nd, 2010 by Terra | 1 Comment | Filed in Talking with Other Authors

Looking back on 2010, there are a lot of things for me to be grateful for. A. LOT. Two of them, of course, are new books and new friends (and old books and old friends, for that matter–which I guess makes four), and these favorites came together perfectly when I finally got to meet Lauren Strasnick, author of Nothing Like You and, more recently, Her and Me and You. Lauren and I share the same editor at Simon Pulse, and after a few email exchanges, I’m hoping we’ll be sharing a lot more (Including those sweater dresses?) in 2011!

Here’s how our conversation went:

TEM:     I think the thing I love most about your writing (in both Nothing Like You and Her and Me and You) is how sparse, and yet full and exactly right, it is. Can you talk about how you accomplish this?

LS: Such sweet words, TEM!  I don’t know    how/why I write the way I write.  Super dialogue and gesture-heavy – and I’m, like, incapable of spending more than three seconds describing a room, a girl, a loaf of bread.  I compulsively edit while I write.  I see stories as a succession of quick scenes. Snapshots.  Important but small moments.  Dialogue is what comes easiest to me, and character is what interests me most – so my books end up reading like weird, minimalist relationship studies.  That sparseness  – it’s my writerly weakness and strength.  Sometimes it’s great – being able to say so much in so few words.  But mostly I frustrate myself.  How I long to generate pages and pages of description and internal monologue!

TEM: So in Her and Me and You, the weird twin thing, eh?

LS: Ha, yes.

TEM: Alex’s friendship with Evie (and the strain it goes through when a boy comes along) in Her and Me and You is incredibly relatable to me. Relatable to you, personally, as well?

LS: Oh, absolutely.  It’s probably the most personal thread in the book.  I’ve lived Alex & Evie’s story & from each girl’s perspective a few times over.  In my teens and early twenties, especially, when friendship is top priority and so insular and obsessive.

TEM:  I am sure you get this a lot, but what gave you the idea for the complicated   love triangle in Nothing Like You? It is so perfect!

LS: So glad you like!  It was a combination of things.  I thought it would be interesting to write from the perspective of the other women – to write a girl who’s lovable and relatable but misguided and a bit broken.  I really like writing destructive behavior.  I wanted to explore some of the love and funny fixation that can creep up around two girls who want the same boy…. and from there, Holly, Saskia, & Paul all fell neatly into place.

TEM:  I also really love the friendship between Holly and Nils in Nothing Like You. Was that a hard connection for you to get right? Or did it flow naturally?

LS:  No.  Weirdly, Holly & Nils’ relationship just sort of instantly solidified in my head.  So much of writing for me is getting to experience stuff on the page that I don’t have access to in actual life.  Puppies, shacks, cute best boy friends who live next door…

TEM: Ambiguous endings are my favorite: when things are semi-wrapped up for the character, and you know she’s going to ultimately be okay, but there isn’t a big tidy bow on anything. Can you talk about your endings, and why you leave them the way you do?

LS: It’s funny, the bulk of mail I get is from readers who are completely unsatisfied with my endings.  But ending a book on an open and ambiguous note seems so reasonable to me and reflective of real life.  The story I’m interested in telling is done, but the characters live on, their stories continuing.  I mean, with YA lit – you’re dealing with teens on the brink: big transformation looms – college, new places, new faces.  Ending a book with some solid and definitive moment would feel so false to me.  I like my endings honest, and maybe a bit fuzzy, for sure, but upbeat too!

TEM: You’ve been writing or doing something creative for pretty much your whole life. How has that affected your novels, do you think?

LS:  Oh wow, I’m not sure.  It’s the only thing I know.  My perspective is probably so skewed!  All I’ve ever wanted is to write or dance or take pictures or dress myself or dress my friends or obsess over movies and music… I really don’t have many practical skills!  How does that translate to my books?  I don’t know, TEM!  I just don’t know.

TEM:  MFAs: How do they make a difference? (I have one too, so this is not a judging question.)

LS:  I think it depends on the program and the person.  You have to want the experience more than you want the degree, don’t you think?  I wrote a ton of short fiction before grad school, and being in school gave me an excuse to write something long-form (my first book!).  I found a tremendous community of writers.  Made incredible friends.  I’m in debt up to my eyeballs, but it was a fantastic, dramatic, fun two years.

TEM:  I love your blog (http://www.laurenstrasnick.com/blog/) because it is so visual. What has inspired you to go about blogging that way, and how is that process for you?

LS:  Thanks, Terra!  Honestly, I dragged my heels with blogging for a long while… I’m not super comfortable with essay-ish or confessional writing, so it took me a bit of time to figure out how to make blogging work for me.  Once I realized I could, quite literally, be myself – my attitude changed dramatically.  I could post pictures or videos or songs!  I didn’t have to write about personal stuff!  I could write about other people’s art!  Of course, I still struggle with guest posts & group blogs… and I’m fairly certain my only followers are my friends, ha, but it’s fun, so who cares!

TEM: So, aside from writing amazing novels, living this incredible-looking, colorful life in LA, and in general being awesome . . . What is Lauren Strasnick all about?

LS:  What am I about?!  Well, my life lately: friends, my kitten, my book deadline, this lousy head cold, nighttime walks, rain, Tana French novels, ballet movies, peppermint tea, soba noodle salad, Buffy reruns, dancy pop music, and sweater dresses.  The end.

Writing Classes for Winter 2011!

December 15th, 2010 by Terra | No Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

Starting in January, I’ll be offering TWO writing classes at Little Shop of Stories, my best, most-favorite bookstore in Decatur, GA.

Concentrating: A Short Story Workshop

Mondays, January 10th -February 21st
(We will be skipping the week of Feb. 14-18 because of Winter Break)
4:00-5:15 PM
Cost: $200
Equipment You Need: One writing notebook

Hey middle school writers: Want to be able to focus more on how to write a good fiction story, from start to finish? Sign up for this workshop, and by the end of the six-week course you will have one solid story to add to your portfolio. We will cover all of the basics of story writing, including generating ideas, character development, working out the arc of a plot, finding the most important details, finishing with finesse, and incorporating feedback in your revisions. This will be a classroom-style environment (one that involves a healthy snack), that will include one-on-one attention from me.

Poetry for Young People*

Thursdays, January 13th-February 24th
(We will be skipping the week of Feb 14-18 because of Winter Break)
4:00-5:15 PM
Cost: $200
Equipment You Need: One writing notebook

Hey language lovers out there, ages 9 and up: Want an opportunity to exercise your poetic muscles and build your metaphoric strengths? Sign up for this workshop, and by the end of the six-week course you will have learned about (and written) all kinds of poetic forms, including haiku, abcderians, centos, Whitneys and many others. More than just learning form, however, each week we will also be exploring how to express our thoughts, feelings, and the world around us through poetic language and imaginative word play. This will be a classroom-style environment (one that involves a healthy snack), that will include one-on-one attention from me.

There are only ten spot for each class, so sign up at Little Shop of Stories (404-373-6300) soon!