Interview: Jennifer Echols
Current Mood: optimistic
Current Song: Hello, Mary Lou by Ricky Nelson
Jennifer Echols marches to the beat of her own drum. In fact, she was once a drum major, and she has combined that experience with her love of music and her sassy sense of humor to create MAJOR CRUSH, a truly funny story about a feisty high school junior. This book made me laugh out loud.
Like Virginia in MAJOR CRUSH, you were the first female drum major of the high school marching band. How much of the book came straight out of your teen diary? How many of Virginia's experiences were your own?
Pretty much nothing in the book actually happened to me, aside from the basic experience of being drum major with very big (boy-sized) shoes to fill.
Before she was a drum major, Virginia was a pageant winner. Were you a beauty queen?
Oh HAHAHAHAHAHA no. That, Little Willow, is the magic of fiction.
How much did you loathe your band uniform?
Our band bought new uniforms every 10 years, and when I was in 9th and 10th grade, we were on years 9 and 10. Toreadors must have been the fashion when they were first ordered. Maroon bell-bottom pants, maroon vest, a white puffy shirt with maroon insets in the puffy sleeves, sombrero de l'espanol. We got new uniforms when I was in 11th grade. They were military and dorky, but no one was complaining. Ole!
What was the most important thing being a drum major taught you?
Take off your hat during rainstorms. My maroon feather plume leaked red dye on my blonde hair on homecoming night.
What instruments do you play?
At the moment, nothing, but in the past I've played piano, trumpet, oboe, drums, and alto sax. I will go back to the sax eventually.
Was your book written before or after you landed the book deal? Did the publisher approach you to be a part of this line?
I finished it in December 2004, and my agent sold it in July 2005.
Who gave your book its title?
I came up with the title QUEEN GEEK while writing the story. By the time we sold it, there was another book coming out called QUEEN GEEK--great minds think alike! A chick in my publisher's marketing department, Elke Villa, thought of the title MAJOR CRUSH, which I love because it reflects the story better. My editor asked me to change the name of one of the characters in the book to Elke Villa as a thank-you. You can find Elke on page 58. I thought it would be funny to give her a boyfriend named Gator.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on another book for the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies series, THE BOYS NEXT DOOR, which will be released in Summer 2007. Working the summer at a marina near her lakeside home, a high school junior pretends to date the boy next door to catch his older brother, her childhood crush.
You have an impressive resume. What has been your more rewarding job? Your least? What is your dream job?
My most rewarding job and my dream job are writing novels. But I've had a lot of really interesting jobs. I've been a newspaper editor, and I've taught college writing. Anything having to do with words is lots of fun, and most of the time I can't believe people are actually paying me to do my jobs, because I would do them for free. (This is why I have an agent.)
Tell us about the essay that garnered you the Whatley Award.
It compares the movies THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT (which inspired the TV show THE WEST WING) and AIR FORCE ONE as two versions of the President we wish Bill Clinton had been.
What are your favorite romantic comedies?
Films: THE SURE THING, FRENCH KISS, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY
Books: My favorite romantic comedy authors are Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Lani Diane Rich, and the late great Jane Austen.
What are your top ten books of all time?
1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
2. Emma, Jane Austen
3. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
4. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner
5. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
6. A Passage to India, E. M. Forster
7. The Professor's House, Willa Cather
8. Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov
9. The Beginning Place, Ursula K. Le Guin
10. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Judy Blume
Little Willow's favorite line in MAJOR CRUSH:
"She's easier to get along with when she's blurry." - Page 152
Jennifer's favorite line in MAJOR CRUSH:
"Whoops-a-daisy. You're a lot lighter than my grandma." - Page 66
Visit Jennifer at her official website and drop by her LiveJournal. Also, in an example of extremely good timing, Jennifer launched a blog for the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies the day that I posted this interview.
If you like Major Crush by Jennifer Echols, you will like Band Geek Love by Josie Bloss.