Interview: Lauren Myracle
Current Mood: thirsty
Current Song: Ace Reject by Sugababes
Lauren Myracle cracks me up. Considering the title of her newest book, Peace, Love & Baby Ducks, perhaps I should say she quacks me up. Last year, after we finally met face-to-face, she dubbed me "Li'l Dub." (Note: She is the only person permitted to call me this.) We get along famously - or at least I'd like to think so! - and, due to her writing versatility, I recommend her vast variety of books to various audiences and ages.
Rub a dub dub, three ducks in a tub - rather, two ducks, many books, and a whole lot of questions.
You've said that it took a good ten years from the time you really focused on writing to the time your first novel was published.
Yes, but not by choice. Just sayin'...
What do you know now about the publishing industry that you wish you knew then?
That editors really *are* just people. That they don't always wear black, a la hip and intimidating New Yorkers, but that some of them should break out the pastels more than they do. That wishing and hoping won't make it so, but it's not a bad strategy in terms of keeping yourself focused. That yes, books are products (blech, hate "products"!), but that the fab editors -- meaning the ones I'm lucky enough to work with -- do what they do because books are made not for money, but for love.
What do you know now about your own writing style that you wish you knew then?
That "parents" are easier to write once you become one. That setting still sucks. That my brain has gotten more nimble, which I say that not to be braggy, but as a way of rejoicing in the fact that using the same circuits again and again and firing the same set of neurons again and again does strengthen all of those passage ways. I mean, that's so cool, right? That you do something and do it and do it some more...and you do get better? I guess what I'm saying is that writing, at least for me, is NOT about the gift from the sky of plain raw talent. It's about work. And oddly, that makes me so happy! It's lovely to be a human and to have the potential to GET BETTER at whatever it is you do, that's all.
You have written for various audiences and genres, ranging from elementary and middle school readers to teens, from realistic fiction to horror, from story stories to collaborative novels. What, if anything, do you think all of your stories have in common?
I know exactly what they have in common: a focus on friendship. I didn't set out to have friendship be my thing, but whaddaya know? It is.
Have you experienced any resistance to publication or attempts at censorship when you've dared to have girls kiss girls (Kissing Kate) or talk frankly about their bodies and lives (the Winnie series for kids, the TTYL series for teens) or commit horrible acts (Bliss)?
"Commit horrible acts." Oh, you slay me. (Heh heh heh, little jokey there, eh? You slay me?)
But as for resistance and censorship, that would be a big fat (and often slitty-eyed) YES. In 2007, my ttyl series ranked #7 on the American Library Association's top 10 list of most frequently challenged books. This past year, they jumped to #3. Uh...wh-hoo? I cannot think of one single book I've written that hasn't made some grown-up or other upset/uncomfortable/afraid. It kind of sucks, but I'm not going to let that resistance push me down. The thing is? Really? The characters in my books (well, not counting the ones that, ya know, commit horrible acts) have strong moral compasses; it's just that the situations they put themselves in are "real" and un-prettied-up by fake adult perspective. The girls I write about make bad decisions sometimes, sure, but for the most part, they learn from them.
GO YOU! Will there be any more TTYL or Winnie books in the future?
Why, yes! How lovely of you to ask! :) BFF comes out in September; it's a new TTYL book. FOURTEEN comes out...well, after I finish it, I suppose, and after my editor has her way with it.
I know you have something else up your sleeve...
The first installment of a brand spankin' new series called Luv Ya Bunches comes out in October. I am so excited! It's an instant messaging book(ish), but more for the tween crowd and less for the teen crowd. Like, instead of "should I have sex" drama, there's bobble-head turtle drama. In fact, quite dramatic bobble-head turtle drama...
Is it a mock turtle? Sorry, Alice in Wonderland reference. I had to make it!
From turtles to alligators, from bunches of love to stacks of pancakes: How to Be Bad was a collaborative effort with E. Lockhart and Sarah Mlynowski, one comprehensive novel told from three different viewpoints, while Let It Snow with Maureen Johnson and John Green was a collection of three individual stories which were loosely connected. Would you be interested in writing in either format and/or as a member of a trio again?
If the same threesomes were proposed? HECK yeah. Me lub threesomes, as long as they involve E. and Sarah and Maureen and John. Ooo, maybe we should write a...fivesome? A fivesome! John and Maureen and I have tried to persuade our editor to let us write The Vampire Panties of Doom; I reckon E. and Sarah would have much to contribute to such a tale, don't you? It. Would. Be. EPIC!!!!!
Make it six and count me in! Are your cats literate enough to read your books?
Hahahahaha. *does a rapidfire switch to a straight and sober expression* No. I wish. They aren't even literate enough to clean out their litter box.
Have your kids read any of your books, or will they, when they are old enough?
My ten-year-old has read them all, that good boy! My eight-year-old loves the Winnie books and listens to them as audiobooks every night for twenty minutes. "Twenty Winnie," he calls it. And my four-year-old likes looking at the covers. She is enthralled by the Luv Ya Bunches girls, who are adorable (and stylish!)
Which, if any, of your stories were inspired by your own kids, your siblings, or your childhood?
Well, Bliss? That one about the girls who commit horrible acts? Let's just say...hrm. No, far better to zip our lips, methinks...
Describe Peace, Love, & Baby Ducks, your brand-spankin' new book, solely in song titles. I'm kidding! (But if you can, do! I dare you!)
Tell ya what, smartie pants. I'll give the song titles -- YOU supply the artists! Ready? On three...two...one...
"Sunshine and Summertime"
"Midnight Train to Georgia"
"You're All Grown Up Now"
"The Good Times Are Killing Me"
"Prayer Without Words"
"Good-Bye Little Rock and Roller"
"Such Great Heights"
"Where Is the Love"
"I'll Stand by You"
"Bridge Over Troubled Water"
"What a Wonderful World"
Hey, that was fun!
When this interview was first posted, Lauren and I challenged readers to list the artists in the comments below. Thanks to everyone who participated! One random commenter, Jenna, was selected to receive a signed copy of Peace, Love, & Baby Ducks.
Here's the full playlist with artists included. Now, back to the interview...
Now, Lauren, tell me about the sisters in PLBD.
Well, first there's Carly, who's fifteen, and who is one of those blessed individuals who happens to be right about everything. Okay, not really -- but she does have opinions. Lots of them. And many have to do with her firm belief that ONE SHOULD NOT BE FAKE. She lives in a super wealthy Atlanta neighborhood, see, and attends a ritzy prep school, and to her eye, fakeness abounds...and it's depressing and makes her feel smushed and stifled and just knotted up inside. So she rebels by being different...
...and for most of her life, she's had her fourteen-year-old sister, Anna, cheering her on from the wings. Carly would tell Anna what to believe, and Anna would nod obediently and say, "Whatever you say, big sis." A lot of Carly's philosophy revolves around not being pretty-plastic-perfect, but then over the course of one summer...
...Anna grows boobs. Big boobs. And suddenly she's gorgeous, and the pretty-plastic-perfects start crooning to her, saying, "Come, my precioussss! Slip into this pink Ann Taylor dressss, my preciousssss!"
Dun dun dunnnn.
And it's just HARD -- for both sisters. And they both have to learn to be "Carly" and "Anna," instead of "Carly-and-Anna-who-are-sisters-and-who-m
I feel for them. I do.
If you could have an unlimited amount of peace, love, OR baby ducks, which would you pick and why?
*fluffs hair and dons sparkly blue beauty pageant gown WELL. I would choose unlimited LOVE, of course, because then I could sprinkle it over the world like fairy dust -
Fairy dust! Yay! Sorry. Please continue.
- and peace would naturally follow. Peace for humans and baby ducks...and also llamas and flies and clouds and dirt and just, ya know, EVERYTHING.
If you had a nickel for every time someone mispronounced your last name, how rich would you be, and how would you have invested that money?
Ha. Not that rich, as it takes a lot of nickels to add up to...well...more than a pile of nickels. But I'll invest 'em anyway. I'll...hmmm...ooo, I know! I'll give them to that Three Cups of Tea dude to help him keep building schools in Pakistan. DON'T LAUGH.
In all seriousness, that is a noble cause. Name your ten all-time favorite books.
All right, well, I refuse to over-think. I'm just gonna spew. Here goes:
Ramona the Brave
A Little Princess
To Kill a Mockingbird
Rite of Passage
Catcher in the Rye
Flannery O'Connor's Collected Short Stories
The Great Gilly Hopkins
And guess what? I'm stopping there, because tons of others come to mind, but none of them pack the wallop of yes, forever and ever, amen. And the seven above do.
Anything else you care to share?
Nah, I'm good...but what awesome questions!!!! Thanks for having me, toots!
You're welcome, and thank you, mighty Myracle!
Visit Lauren's website.
Drop by her blog.
Check out the Peace, Love, & Baby Ducks Ning network.
Related Posts at Bildungsroman:
Book Review: Peace, Love & Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle
Book Reviews: The Winnie Books (Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen) by Lauren Myracle
Book Review: How to Be Bad by Lauren Myracle, E. Lockhart, and Sarah Mlynowski
Author Interview: Lauren Myracle, E. Lockhart, and Sarah Mlynowski
Jenny Davidson at Chasing Ray
Rebecca Stead at Fuse #8
Ryan Mecum at Writing and Ruminating
Lauren Myracle at Bildungsroman
Kristin Cashore at HipWriterMama
Rachel Caine at The YA YA YAs
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