Posts Tagged With: Lauren Bjorkman

Why write about sexuality if you’re not gay?

My debut YA, My Invented Life, centers around big SECRET that drives a wedge between sisters that used to be close. The secret has to do with sexual identity. When the book hit the stores, interviewers often asked me what inspired me to write it.

This question always made me squirm. The easy answer would’ve been, “I wish that funny, uplifting stories with lesbian an bi girls existed back when I was a teen.” Unfortunately that would’ve been a lie. I am not lesbian or bi. I don’t have any LGBT family members. Nor LGBT friends in HS. The challenges of growing up gay did not occur to me until much later. I’m that lame.

In fact, my biggest post-pub fear went something like this: LGBT readers and authors would scoff at my lack of “credentials,” laugh in my face, call me a fraud, or much worse. (False alarm, btw. I learned later that people like me are called allies. I felt very appreciated by the LGBT community.)

Luckily, the interviews were written, so I had time to develop cogent answers.

Reason A: I was inspired by events around my high school reunion. A number of my classmates came out around then. I asked a few about their experience in HS, and was somewhat horrified by their answers.


Reason B: I wanted to write an uplifting story that focused on a friendship between sisters, and how a secret can ruin a friendship. I didn’t want the “coming out” itself to be traumatic.

Also true.

However, the biggest reason didn’t occur to me until after the book got published. Here it is: I can identify with the pain of LGBT teens that hide their true selves from friends because I grew up in the same situation.

Only different.

My mom died when I was five. She didn’t die in a car wreck, of cancer, or in any tragic, yet socially acceptable way. She killed herself. My Dad insisted that my sister and I keep it a secret. I mostly did. But the secret made me feel ashamed. Dark. Dishonest. Disconnected. Fringe.

And that is why I believe in telling the truth, even if it makes others uncomfortable. Some day, I hope to live in a world where we aren’t afraid that others might judge us for who we really are.

Categories: My Invented Life, Real Life, the love of writing | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

tempted by revenge

Dear Miss Fortune Cookie,

My best friend stole my boyfriend. Now she’s going to prom with him. Is it wrong to give her mono by drinking from her soda can at lunch?


Dear Tempted,

Can you really give someone mono that way? I wish they taught us useful things like that in bio. Seriously though …

Confucius said: Before embarking on a path of revenge, first dig two graves. Are you still friends with her? If so, tell her how you feel. If you are no longer friends, revenge won’t make anything better.

Miss Fortune Cookie

Excerpted from MISS FORTUNE COOKIE (Henry Holt, 2012)

Categories: Miss Fortune Cookie, Miss Fortune Cookie letters | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

My book has a cover!

Meet Erin. Smart student, great daughter, better friend. Secretly the mastermind behind the popular advice blog Miss Fortune Cookie. Totally unaware that her carefully constructed life is about to get crazy.

It all begins when her ex-best friend sends a letter to her blog—and then acts on her advice. Erin’s efforts to undo the mess will plunge her into adventure, minor felonies, and possibly her very first romance.

What’s a likely fortune for someone no longer completely in control of her fate? Hopefully nothing like: You will become a crispy noodle in the salad of life.

Categories: Miss Fortune Cookie | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Bad boys vs. Nice guys (please vote)

One day, I was eavesdropping in the courtyard of a little hotel in Bangkok where I stayed for a month while my sexy-geek husband studied parasites at a local hospital.

girl 1: He’s not too nice if you know what I mean.

girl 2: That’s the way I like them. Bad boys. Ha ha.

me: ????

Which brings me to confession–as usual, I feel out of step with popular culture. I actually like nice guys. And I’d rather not save my man from himself.

Yes, I found Jordan in My-So-Called Life swoon-worthy. But his behavior eventually wore on my one last nerve. In the last episode, I got furious with Angela for jumping in his car after Brian admitted writing the love letter, the most beautiful love letter of all time, imo.

But I can’t write a love interest that doesn’t appeal to me, leaving me only one option. Roll with it. That’s why Roz’s love interest in My Invented Life has bangs half covering his face, stammers, and flirts by throwing pillows. But he also cut a picture of Roz from the newspaper and tacked it up in his room. Romantic? I think so.

I adore geeks, and one of the two love interests in my latest novel Miss Fortune Cookie (fall 2012) totally fits into the category. When I describe him as a Filipino-American Legolas, the copy-editor wrote a note in the margin, “Is he supposed to be attractive?”

Um. Yes?

In my current WIP, I am experimenting with a bad boy love interest. He shop-lifts, cuts school, and has a chip on his shoulder the size of Texas because of his dead-beat dad. But guess what? he’s turning out to be NICE underneath. Arrrgh!

So I need to know if there is a fervent minority like me.


Or him?

Please vote in the comments.

Categories: Miss Fortune Cookie | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Thanksgiving never ends for me

I am
grateful for
heat from the sun
the  way my cat’s tail curls,
cool, clean water from the faucet
a car that hasn’t broken down yet
family, friends, generous people
my son performing in a play
clawfoot bathtubs
mountain air
and fun
Categories: Real Life, the love of writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Librarian superhero unleashed

Welcome to LIBRARIAN SUPERHEROES–modest defenders of books
Meet Rebecca Donnelly, Youth Services Librarian in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
I caught up with Rebecca minutes after she completed a dangerous mission, and asked her a few questions.
Flying vs. Invisibility?
Invisibility–I would be a klutzy fly girl.
Can you share a story of a librarian encounter from your childhood?
I have always hoped no one would ever ask me this question, because I don’t have any. I was a keep-to-myself kind of reader, and the greatest influence on my book choices was probably my grandmother. But I vividly remember the children’s room (house, really) at my childhood library. They had bought the house next door to the Carnegie library building and turned it into the children’s area, and a raised hallway was constructed to connect the two buildings. So going from children’s to adult was literally a passage. Not that I thought that poetically back then.
What is the best part of being a librarian?
Best part of the invisible side of the job = collection development. I love buying books for the library! There is great satisfaction in building a really good collection and seeing it get used. Best part of the public side of the job = reader’s advisory. Giving a child or teen the right book is a very special thing.
The worst?
The bureaucracy and inflexibility that comes with any government job.
What is on your TBR right now?
It’s a nice stack of middle-grade mysteries (Seventh Level by Jody Feldman; The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett; The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder) and a book about mystery writing; Talking about Detective Fiction by P.D. James. Also a book on alchemists; Perdido Street Station by China Mieville; Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (which I’m halfway through), and Geraldine McCaughrean’s The Glorious Adventures of the Sunshine Queen (about a fifth of the way through). I’m also listening to The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai.
If you could say one thing to your patrons, what would it be?
You have more time to read than you think you do!
What books, in your opinion, still need to be written?
This is a tough one. I mean, there is almost every kind of book you could think of in YA right now. Jewish lesbian hip-hop in suburban Minnesota? Check. (Sister Mischief by Laura Goode.) Talll tales of Filipino-British basketball players? Check. (Tall Story by Candy Gourlay.) Stories of transgender teens (I am J by Cris Beam), hard-hitting stories about eating disorders, drug abuse, abusive families–these are the things we tend to think of when we consider what needs to be written. We all want books that speak to readers who are often ignored in mainstream culture, or who want a book that says that they’re not alone. This stuff is there, and I think the real challenge is getting it to the readers. Kids don’t come up to me and say, I want a book about one-legged jerks, bullying, self-hatred, and maybe a swim team, and at the end of it I want to cry. I have that book: Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher.
What is flying off the teen shelves of your library right now?
In addition to the things you’d expect to be popular (the Maximum Ride series, the House of Night series, Alyson Noel’s The Immortals series), I’ve seen D.M. Cornish’s The Foundling’s Take (formerly Monster Blood Tattoo) series go out often, and Eva Ibbotson’s recently repackaged-for-teens historical novels, like The Reluctant Heiress. And manga, lots of manga. Chibi Vampire, Vampire Knight, Fruits Basket, Antique Bakery.   
I definitely want to check out a lot of these books.
Thanks for appearing on my blog, Rebecca!
Categories: Librarian Superheroes | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Teens spread love in the face of hate at Taos Pride

I wish I’d brought my camera with me.

Gay Pride in Taos in KCP was a colorful event–dogs in bright sweaters, a drag queen with a full length rainbow boa, and happy dancers on the grass. I went to catch up with friends and listen to the music. My son’s didn’t really want to go with me until they found out there would be extreme religious protesters present. Maybe they could do a sneak attack with squirt guns? My husband suggested water balloons with rainbow paint inside.


When we got to the event, though, the reality of the protesters was way too intimidating. They had congregated at one end of the park, wearing matching hats and T-shirts, yelling disgusting and hostile things through their mega-phones. Police were present. Anyone coming in or out of the park had to walk right by them.


That’s when I noticed three teen boys holding up hand-made signs, welcoming people who dared to cross the line of hate. I don’t remember what the signs said (and didn’t have my camera!), but the messages were all about love and acceptance. Inspired by this, my sons went home with their friends to create a sign of their own–Jesus Proclaimeth That Hate Achieves Nothing.

Categories: My Invented Life, Real Life | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

How to alienate your family

Have you ever wondered what happens when a writer models a character in her bestselling novel on a family member? I’d imagine it goes something like this:

Yeah, Dad, you’re right. The dad in my book flies model airplanes like you do, has a mustache that twirls up at the ends like yours, and trekked across Tibet in his youth like you did, but my fictional dad is a jerk, which you are NOT. He totally isn’t you, okay?

I wrote about this today at YA Outside the Lines. You can read the whole post here.

Categories: My Invented Life, the love of writing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

YALSA Conference: 350+ cool librarians celebrate diversity

Friday before last, I spoke on a panel at the National YALSA Conference about trends in LGBT teen lit. I had a fab time meeting librarians that have passion around diverse books.

I did a guest post about the experience at Lee Wind’s blog–I’M HERE. I’M QUEER. WHAT THE HELL DO I READ? Go there to read all the fun details.

One of the best parts was meeting up with other authors I know only from conferences or online. We could (and did) talk and laugh for hours!


Back L to R: Neesha Meminger, Kirstin Cronn-Mills, Malinda Lo, Megan Frazer. Front L to R: Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Cynthea Liu, Me

Cynthea bought a bottle of wine for us all to share, but we never managed to get it open with our cheap corkscrew. Oh well. We look so sad, right?

Categories: My Invented Life, Real Life, the love of writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bisexuality in teen lit

I wrote this for the GLBT Challenge 2010:

Bisexual characters, especially bi protagonists are unusual in teen lit. A visit to Lee Wind’s website—I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?—makes this clear. Only eight out of 200+ GLBT titles there have bisexual characters or themes. Until recently, the in-betweens hovered on the fringe of the literary rainbow world. For instance, the Lambda Literary Award only began recognizing bisexual lit in 2006, though the award started in 1988. Here are a few of the myths bis have had to overcome–

They go for everything that moves.

They’re not as committed to the gay movement “real” gays.

They prefer to date the opposite sex so they can “pass” as straight.

They’re going through a transition on their way to becoming gay.

They’re confused and indecisive.

Here’s the cool part! Two weeks ago, I bought a stack of bi teen novels and read them all from cover to cover. They were universally excellent, deep, and heart-warming.

To read the rest … and for a list of fun, heart-warming, and amazing bi books, please view the original post at GLBT Challenge  2010.

Categories: My Invented Life, the love of writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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