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Little Willow

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Interview: Aimee Friedman

Published author Aimee Friedman has tackled romantic comedies and teen dramas. She has more of each on the horizon, as well as short stories and graphic novels. What will she think of next?

I recently talked to Aimee about books: books-within-books, favorite books, and her forthcoming books.

A NOVEL IDEA is the perfect title for your book. Who came up with it?

My editor at Simon & Schuster, Bethany Buck, did. It's funny because, for a long while, I was hesitant about it. I wanted to call the book "stranger than fiction," but Bethany kept trying to convince that "a novel idea" was a more fun, appealing title. Eventually, I came around, and I’m so glad I did. I agree it's just the right fit for Norah Bloom's story.

How did you get involved with Simon Pulse?

The very same Bethany Buck (who is editorial director of Simon Pulse) was my very first boss in publishing (I also work as an editor) and she knew I loved to write, so she approached me with the idea for a novel about a teen book group. I fell in love with the general concept, and was off and running from there.

SOUTH BEACH was your first novel for teens. What inspired that story?

I had just come back from a trip to South Beach, Miami with my sister. As sisters often do, we spent a good deal of the trip bickering, but we also had a blast going out dancing and lying on the beach and visiting Little Havana. In a funny coincidence (or a twist of fate, perhaps?), when I returned, my editor had this brainstorm that south beach was turning into a hot place for teens and we should capitalize on that. It all came together so naturally -- the experiences I'd had with my sister became the story of Holly and Alexa: girls who were like sisters, who'd grown apart, but despite all their bickering, learned how to have fun in the end. Writing that novel was truly one of the best experiences of my life.

What encouraged the sequels - the readers, the publisher, or you?

A combination of all three, actually. I wrote "South Beach" intending it as a single title, but when it was finished I couldn't help feeling that I missed Alexa and Holly very much, and wanted to continue their stories. Meanwhile, the book was selling nicely, and readers were writing in asking about sequels, so my publisher decided to sign up two more, which became French Kiss and the forthcoming Hollywood Hills!

Does the series have an official name?

No. Most of my readers just refer to them as "South Beach books."

You contributed a short story to the upcoming anthology MISTLETOE. What is your story entitled?

Mistletoe is intended as a teen book, with definite crossover appeal to adults. The stories are all about teenagers and their funny, sweet, sad, mixed-up holiday romances. It's a great read, if I do say so myself! :)

My story in the collection is called "Working in a Winter Wonderland." It's about a New York City girl who, while home from college on winter break, decides to get a job in a super-ritzy department store. I don't want to say too much to give away the many surprises in the story, but let's just say that lots of humorous situations, and several romantic ones, follow!

Tell us more about BREAKING UP. Was it planned to be a graphic novel from the get-go?

Yes! This was one of my most exciting projects. The idea for this came from the notion that, besides traditional manga, there weren't really any graphic novels geared specifically toward girls. I wanted to try putting a juicy YA story – a South-Beach-type novel -- in a graphic novel format. The premise of breaking up is: four best friends are starting their junior year of high school. Though the girls aren't popular, neither are they utterly unpopular--they fall into a happy medium. But things go awry, when our heroine, the artistic, dreamy Chloe, falls for the boy in the wrong social crowd! Will Chloe be able to reconcile her friendships and her first boyfriend?

This book has amazing illustrations done by the fashionable, fabulous Christine Norrie. It's a delicious, readable package that I truly hope teens will want to devour.

What are your favorite romantic comedies?

Wow! This is an extremely difficult question for me because -- surprise! -- I adore romantic comedies. Okay, here are a few:

Annie Hall (movie)
Pride and Prejudice (book and the BBC mini-series)
Bridget Jones's Diary (book and movie)
Kissing Jessica Stein (movie)
When Harry Met Sally...(movie)
How to Be Popular (book by Meg Cabot)
and so many, many more...

What are your top ten books of all time?

Another near-impossible question! Okay,here goes, but just know that these are randomly chosen from the thousands of books I love, and the choices will probably change by next week!

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
The Norton Anthology of Poetry (I love poetry, and this covers most of the greats)
Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
True Believer by Virginia Euwer Wolff
Light in August by William Faulkner
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

Tags: books, interviews, scholastic, simon pulse

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