My sister and I were very close growing up, and still are. Which is why I wrote a YA novel about sisters, and love reading other novels on the topic. Recently, I read JANE IN BLOOM by Deborah Lytton. I so loved this book about a girl living in her sister’s shadow, that I had to feature it here. And interview Deborah.
Check out how to win a signed copy of JANE IN BLOOM at the end of this post!
Your premise for Jane in Bloom is compelling–a girl who goes unnoticed in her family because of her perfect, yet no so perfect, anorexic sister. What made you write about this?
Years ago, I saw a piece on a news program about forgotten siblings. They were the invisible kids in a family focused on one problem child—and because they had no problems, they were virtually ignored. I wanted to tell their story—and that turned into Jane’s story. I do not have any personal experience with anorexia, but I wanted to reach out to girls and hopefully empower them to look at who they are on the inside, and not the outside.
Do you have a sister?
I do—only I am the older one. We are three years apart, and we are best friends—the thing about sisters is that no one else really knows all your secrets and that makes it a very powerful and very comforting relationship. I found that I could write about Jane’s journey of grief by imagining how I would feel in the same situation. To me, the love and the bond between sisters is completely unique and unlike any other relationship. It’s complex and dynamic and at the heart is a connection that is unbreakable. That is the relationship I created for Jane and Lizzie.
As the story progresses, the interactions between Jane and her father evolve into something wonderful. Why did you highlight the father in your story?
I don’t know that I actually ever made that decision consciously. The characters took on lives of their own, and I just told their stories. But in my research, I read a number of stories about girls with anorexia, and the families seemed to fall into a pattern. I used that pattern to form Jane’s family, but the only way for this family to survive was by the father learning to evolve. If he couldn’t change, the family would disappear without its preoccupation with Lizzie.
You have had a busy acting career. Has this influenced your writing?
I believe my acting background has helped my writing tremendously. In acting, you have to learn to accept rejection—because you lose more roles than you book. As writers, rejection is the biggest hurdle we must overcome. I think being able to separate myself from the work helps me to move past the rejections and keep writing (after consuming copious amounts of chocolate!). Also, to be a successful working actor, you have to take direction well—as a writer, being able to accept editing suggestions with an open mind is one of my greatest strengths.
Are you working on another book? Please do tell
I can’t tell too much because I am superstitious, but I will tell you that I am working on a ya novel about an unlikely romance. It’s a slightly older protagonist than Jane, but it has some of the same dramatic elements. I hope it will make people cry at least once. Jane in Bloom has a young romance, but the book is really about the family dynamics and how they impact Jane. This new novel is centered on the romantic relationship, and I’m having a great time writing it.
I can’t wait to read it.
Thank you Lauren! I am such a big fan of your work, it has been an honor to be interviewed by you.
And now, how to win a copy of JANE IN BLOOM!
Within the week, I will unveil a contest where you can win a gift certificates to your favorite bookstore, signed copies of some of the best contemporary YA debut fiction of 2009–books you should definitely read, but may have overlooked–, delicious ARCs, and more. Stay tuned.