Author Interviews

Chatting it up on World Talk Radio

Cynthia Brian will interview me tomorrow for her program StarStyle on World Talk Radio.

You can catch us live at 3 pm Pacific Standard Time (California) and  6pm EST ( East Coast). Just click on the link at the bottom.

starstyle

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Miss Fortune Cookie by Lauren Bjorkman is an uplifting story about the struggle between being true to yourself, fitting in, and considering the needs and desires of the people you love, told through a teen’s funny observations as a secret advice columnist. It deals with the moment all young people must face: choosing the kind of adult they will become.

When the Saudi royal family vacationed in Los Angeles, they hired Jayne Amelia Larson, an actress struggling to make ends meet, to be their personal chauffeur. Her book, Driving the Saudis is a story about the corruption that nearly infinite wealth causes, and about what we all do for money.

The Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, the Oscars, and Emmys? What do they all have in common besides glamour, glitz, and garb? They influence the movies and TV shows we watch, support, and mimic. SAG-AFTRA members Cynthia Brian and Heather Brittany go behind the scenes to bring you the gab.

Be sure to tune into Be the Star You Are with Cynthia Brian and Heather Brittany every Thur 3 PM PT on World Talk RadioLog on to Listen:
http://www.worldtalkradio.com

 If you miss us, you can catch the podcast later.

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Ultimate YA rocks!

This November The Ultimate YA Reading Group featured Miss Fortune Cookie on Tumblr. The interview questions they wrote for me were some of the best I’ve answered in a long time!

Ultimate YA describes themselves as an organization that promotes young adult (YA) literature and reading. But they are so much more than that. Between book posts, they post hilarious, inspirational, and touching videos, photos, and quotes about writing.

Like this one. It totally cracks me up.

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Jane in Bloom–the shadow sister

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.

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Take Romeo and Juliet. Add The Outsiders. Mix thoroughly.

I’m the newest fan of Jennifer R. Hubbard and her debut YA novel, THE SECRET YEAR. If you’re not familiar with the book, here’s the synopsis on Amazon:

Colt and Julia were secretly together for an entire year, and no one—not even Julia’s boyfriend— knew. They had nothing in common, with Julia in her country club world on Black Mountain and Colt from down on the flats, but it never mattered. Until Julia dies in a car accident, and Colt learns the price of secrecy. He can’t mourn Julia openly, and he’s tormented that he might have played a part in her death. When Julia’s journal ends up in his hands, Colt relives their year together at the same time that he’s desperately trying to forget her. But how do you get over someone who was never yours in the first place?

And the cover:

When I first read the flap copy, I was a little worried. The story sounded terribly tragic and possibly melodramatic. But not so in Jennifer’s capable hands. Instead, it’s an intriguing look at how divisions in society affect people at the personal level. The characters are beautifully drawn. And the fascinating situations had me turning the pages so fast, that I read the book in a single day.

Jennifer has mad writing skills. It’s no coincidence that her blog, writerjenn, focuses on craft.

So I caught up with her to ask her how this exquisite, gritty, heart-felt  novel came into being.

When you started writing The Secret Year, did you begin with a character, a premise, a setting, or the plot?

I started with the opening situation: a secret relationship, a sudden death, a notebook left behind. I had Colt’s voice and an inkling of Julia’s personality. I wrote to find out what happened next.

The setting for The Secret Year dovetails into the plot, and the details give the story authenticity. Is the setting based on a real place?

The river is a composite of several rivers and streams I’ve lived near–probably about half a dozen of them. Black Mountain is a composite of several mountains and hills. The town is a composite of real places I’ve visited. Essentially, I put reality in a blender and then scoop out a portion of it and shape it to my needs. I like fictional places because I can pop in any landmark or building that’s necessary to the plot, without worrying about whether it actually exists.

The premise  is both melancholy and seemingly predestined. Yet you keep the novel tense. Can you share some of the techniques you used while plotting?

I started with some plot ideas, but certain things changed as I went along or during revision. I mostly think in terms of threads. Example of my thoughts: “Which thread haven’t I picked up in a while? Oh, Black Mountain and Austin–so they should appear in this next scene. And something has to happen. What would naturally happen here? How is the tension growing; how is it playing out?”

SPOILER ALERTS:  I knew Colt would get entangled with Syd at some point, but that it wouldn’t work out. As I wrote the first draft, I actually thought he would end up with Kirby at the end, but they both rebelled. Then I thought he would end up with Syd. Of course, you can see how all that turned out!

Thank you, Jennifer, for taking the time to answer my questions.

And everyone … read this book!! And if you’re a writer, check out Jennifer’s blog for helpful discussions on craft.

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Are you always good?

Jennifer Hubbard, deep thinker and the talented author of  THE SECRET YEAR recently asked me a most excellent question: What’s your philosophy on good and evil in character development?

I love hard questions! Hmmmm.  After much pondering I figured out a few things.

1. I believe that everyone on the planet is capable of good, and everyone is capable of evil.

2. I love reading about flawed characters who (at least somewhat) overcome their glaring imperfection to fulfill a dream.

3. If a character is too perfect, I assume he or she is hiding something.

4. The road to hell is paved with good intentions stupid proverbs. Good intentions are worth a lot!

5. Writing complex characters doesn’t mean you’re providing bad role models. Readers learn just as much from anti-heros as from heros.

6. When a flawed character succeeds, it gives hope to the rest of us.

You can read my answer to Jenn’s question here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

Categories: Author Interviews, My Invented Life, the love of writing | Leave a comment

Ask My Sister (#11)

Dear Roz,

Brace yourself because this one is a doozey. See, my dad is kind of (well, more than kind of—he is) the devil. Yep. That’s right. Lucifer himself. But that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that I inherited his powers, and I can’t control them. They tend to go off at the worst possible moments. Like when the cutest guy in the whole school was about to kiss me.

So I’ve been avoiding this guy. A-because I don’t want him to know my secret. He’ll think I’m a mega freak. B-I don’t want my powers to go off again.

But now he thinks I’m not interested in him. And the school dance is coming up! How do I avoid him and still get him to ask me to be his date at same time?

Help,

The Daughter of the Devil

Dear Devilish Daughter,

My dad sometimes annoys me because he has a tendency to wear under-sized shirts with over-aged rock stars on them. And cooked Mad-Cow-Disease loaf for dinner after I became a vegetarian. But your dad is the devil himself? That must be crazy.

Can we trade?

I mean, he must give you awesome birthday presents.

Seriously, this kissing problem sounds severe, though. I’d love to have secret powers, but not if they interfered with my love life. Boys can be soooo picky about the freak thing.

Try calling, texting, and IMing your love interest before the dance. That way he’ll know you still like him. But don’t overdo it. Sixty texts a day kind of freaks the guys out.

The thing is, your guy will want to kiss you at the dance. If you make it to that point, can you think about something totally different when that happens? Something like the amazing differences between parabolas and ellipses?

The course of true love never did run smooth, especially when your dad is the devil himself.

Good luck!

Roz

P.S. I’m dying to know what happened when your guy kissed you. Did his eyebrows catch on fire? Did something explode? Did a cow suddenly appear in the room? What?

Letter courtesy of Shani Petroff, author of THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY DRESS (Book 2 of her Bedeviled series).

I totally laughed aloud reading the first book of Shani’s series, DADDY’S LITTLE ANGEL. Here’s the cover of book 2.

I can’t wait to read it just to find out what happened when she kissed her boyfriend!

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Ask My Sister (#10)

Dear Stupid Cupid,
You wouldn’t believe the size of my problem. I have the hots for this boy who’s so beautiful it hurts to look at him. But he’s my sister’s boyfriend. Except I saw him first. Yelling dibs doesn’t work when you’re sixteen, I guess.

He kind of notices me and kind of ignores me, at the same time. Sadly, the other boy–the one crushing on *me*–has forgotten how to talk. He might have nice eyes. It’s hard to tell because his bangs cover them.

And then there’s this girl that’s all waify and mysterious. She seems to like me. Like like. And maybe I like like her back. Just a little.

Tell me what to do!
Roz

Dear Roz,

Wow. What a pickle you’ve got yourself in! But my boss always tells me that’s how love is–it’s messy and crazy and worth all the fuss.

Here are my thoughts. As far as the hottie, I hate to say this, but friends have to come first…and that includes your sister. I know it sucks when you feel so strongly about someone, but trust me–no guy is worth ruining your friendship or sisterhood over. That’s something my best friends and I have vowed never to do.

As far as the nice-eyed quiet guy, I’d recommend you study him closely. Maybe follow him around, or probe his friends (er, so to speak, haha) for answers about him. What’s he into? Are you into any of the same things? Maybe those can serve as launching pads for convos with him. I recommend being careful if you follow him around–getting busted for that kind of thing sucks and is suuuuper embarrassing. Um, not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

Aaaanyway, onto the girl–do the same thing! Love doesn’t have boundaries, yanno? When it hits ya, it hits. So take some time to try to break through that mysterioso personality and see who she is on the inside. Maybe she’s awesome. Maybe she’d be great to date–or just have a friend. But you won’t know unless you try.

Sounds like you have some great options available for you. GOOD LUCK, and I’ll be watching you closely! *wink*

Sincerely,
Stupid Cupid

Advice provided by Rhonda Stapleton, author of the amazing STUPID CUPID

Send your ASK MY SISTER letters to lauren@laurenbjorkman.com and receive a free signed bookmark

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ASK MY SISTER (#9)

Dear Roz,

You’re a girl after my own heart, so I’m just gonna lay it on the line for you. There’s this guy that I’ve had a major crush on for forever, but we’ve been best friends for so long that I don’t even think he consider me a girl anymore. I’m worried that if I tell him, he’s going to be totally grossed out and then it’s going to screw up our friendship.

Plus, he’s really into this snotty, rich girl who, I kid you not, looks like she just stepped out of Twlight, or True Blood, or one of those other sexy goth shows. Not that she would give him the time of day. She’s way to shallow to ever appreciate him or his talent. But every time he starts mooning over her, I want to punch him in the mouth.

So what do you think? Should I:
a.) tell him
b.) punch him in the mouth
c.) punch her in the mouth
d.) all of the above

Fiver

Dear Fiver,

Rule number one. There is no point trying to understand boys (or girls for that matter). When it comes love, they’re incomprehensible. Rule number two. I’m all for punching people who are annoying or oblivious. But it rarely works out well.

Eva would tell you to talk to him. Talking can be a good thing. In my experience, though, it doesn’t always work out. The last time I told a boy how I felt, he kept his girlfriend and tried to have me on the side. Of course, your crush might be nobler than my crush. Nah. I doubt it.

Have you tried more subtle hints—dressing girly when he’s around? Doing something special with your hair? You can mention some guy that’s interested in you. Jealousy is an excellent motivator. Just don’t go overboard. You don’t want to end up like poor Desdemona in Othello. Slain.

Good luck!
Roz

Letter courtesy of Jon Skovron, author of STRUTS AND FRETS.

Send ASK MY SISTER letters to lauren@laurenbjorkman.com and receive a signed My Invented Life book mark.

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ASK MY SISTER (#8)

Dear Eva,

I’ve never had a girlfriend before, and I think I might be doin’ it wrong.

Let’s call my girl Miss Taken. (Get it? She’s my girlfriend, so she’s taken.) Anyway, Miss Taken is really cool and funny and pretty in a quiet-but-hot way, and she has this great belly laugh. I LOVE to make her laugh. On the other hand … do not make her mad! I forgot to call her one time after I said I would, and whoa. Not good. So my first question is: how often am I supposed to call/text my girlfriend? I mean, yeah, she’s awesome, but sometimes I need to spend time with my boys.

Also? I have this friend who’s a girl. Let’s call her Miss Demeanor. (I don’t know why. It’s just the first thing that came to me.) She’s really sweet and smart and fun, and we have a lot in common. Unfortunately, she’s got kind of a messed up home situation. You can see where this is going, right? So my second question is: how can I be a friend to Miss Demeanor without causing Miss Taken to MISCONSTRUE?

Please respond ASAP!

Sincerely,
Boyfriend/Boy-Friend

Dear Boyfriend/Boy-Friend,

Forget of both of them and set your sites on Miss Construe. (Joke. Sorry) Honestly, I’m worried about you. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to be in a ginormous mess, and by that I mean an angry girlfriend.

Let me explain a little bit about Girl Think. Not calling when you’re supposed to call? Big mistake. Miss Taken will take that as a signal that something’s wrong with your relationship. And soon after? She’ll draw the conclusion that it has something to do with Miss Demeanor.

So, first off, call and text Miss Taken a lot more often, and it might just be enough. Next, cool it with Miss Demeanor. If Miss Taken blows her top, she will take it out on your friend.

Sadly, I think you’ll have to choose between your girls in the end. Girl Friend vs. girlfriend. They both sound great.

How sharper than a serpent’s tooth is your dilemma. Be strong.

Eva

Letter courtesy of L.K. Madigan, author of FLASH BURNOUT, a critically acclaimed YA novel.

* send ASK MY SISTER letters to lauren@laurenbjorkman.com


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ASK MY SISTER (#6)

Dear Cass,

My sister Eva is driving me crazy! She’s older than me, and we used to be so close. Now she treats me like so much air. Air tainted by an unpleasant odor, that is.

She could be mad because I (occasionally) go after her ex-boyfriends. But I haven’t done that for at least three months. I think it’s something else. Do you think I should spy on her?

Roz

Dear Roz,

I think there must be some older sister code that requires that they suddenly start seeing their younger sister as the lowest form of life on the planet. Believe me, I’ve been there. Maybe it has something to do with the boyfriend thing, but really, it could have nothing to do with you.

You can learn a lot by spying, but usually not the stuff you really want to know. My advice? Ignore her right back. I’d bet she still cares about you somewhere under that front, and once she notices you’re pulling away, her big sister instincts will kick back in and she’ll start worrying about you.

Just don’t overdo it. You could end up with way more attention than you actually want.

Good luck!

Cass

Letter courtesy of Megan Crewe, author of Give Up the Ghost, a YA paranormal.

* send ASK MY SISTER letters to lauren@laurenbjorkman.com

P.S. If you send in an ASK MY SISTER letter by midnight on October 20th, you will be entered to win a pair of sister necklaces.

Categories: Ask My Sister, Author Interviews | 1 Comment

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