I reviewed Lauren Bjorkman's debut novel, My Invented Life, here yesterday, and if you haven't checked it out yet, you really should! It's a perfect blend of entertainment and, er, thought-provoking-ness, and I was lucky enough to have Lauren answer a few of my questions to share with you. Hope you enjoy learning about Lauren and her book in this interview!
1. Hello, Lauren! Can you tell us your motivation behind writing this book?
There was drama around my high school reunion when many of my classmates came out. Afterwards, certain stories kept haunting me, until I realized I had to write about sexual identity.
And I have a sister, so I know how intense and wonderful that can be :D
2. Roz is snarky yet vulnerable, open-minded but unknowingly naive and blind. How much of yourself do you see in Roz?
I love how you describe Roz! I was way shy in high school and probably too considerate and understanding. So it was satisfying to write Roz’s snarky comments. I can think snarky thoughts, of course, but I rarely express them. Everyone is vulnerable, in my opinion. Some people just hide it better than others. I was definitely naïve in my teen years, but not so much anymore. I enjoyed writing Roz’s obliviousness.
It’s hard for me to analyze my own work in that way. Instead I’ll tell you some of the authors I especially admire—John Green, Carolyn Mackler, and Ellen Wittlinger. I don’t believe I write like them, but they have definitely influenced me. A recent review in Publisher’s Weekly said my story evoked David Levithan and E. Lockhart. David Levithan’s novel Boy Meets Boy showed me that a book with “issues” can be a romp. And E. Lockhart. EEEEEEEEEEE!
4. Oh, wow, those are worthy comparisons! What was your relationship with your sister like when you were Roz's age?
My sister, Jolene, is three years older than me. I totally worshipped her like Roz worships Eva. The single year we overlapped in high school, we barely talked to each other, after being close for many years. The reasons were different than those for Roz and Eva. But the sadness I felt about the distance between us inspired me to write My Invented Life. We’re close now, btw.
5. I'm very glad to hear that! :) So what is your favorite Shakespeare play?
I’m terrible at choosing favorites. I really love his romantic comedies, Much Ado About Nothing in particular. In the tragedies department, I’ll go with King Lear because it was the first Shakespeare play to really grip me, although I have a thing for Othello, too. Told you I can’t decide.
6. Hehe, it's okay. Personally I'm a fan of Othello. Now, what is your favorite part about being a published author?
Imagining people reading my book—and they’re laughing or crying.
7. Got any favorite autumn/Halloween traditions?
Dressing up is so much fun. Last year I was struck-by-lightning-girl. I also like to pick apples for cider and applesauce.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. He takes on a hard subject (belonging) and brings so much humor and tenderness to it. He made me laugh and cry on the same page. And his sensibilities as a slam poet show through, too.
9. Favorite joke?
Whatever just made me laugh! What was that, again? Seriously, my mind is like a sieve when it comes to jokes. Though practical jokes stick in my mind for much longer.
Recently, a friend of mine disguised his voice when he called me on the phone, masquerading as a deliveryman. He told me he was about to dump 4000 pounds of cow manure in my yard. Where exactly did I want it? I had a mini-heart attack before I realized.
10. Can you share with us any news about future writing projects?
My contract with Holt is for two young adult novels. I’m revising book 2 right now—Miss Fortune Cookie. It’s set in San Francisco Chinatown, and features a difficult friendship triangle with a Mini Cooper, fake IDs, and teen pregnancy. My agent is calling it a Chinese-American Juno.
Oh, I'm looking forward to Miss Fortune Cookie SO MUCH now! Thanks, Lauren, for answering my questions and stopping by today! I hope that this interview and my review of My Invented Life will encourage you to pick Lauren's debut novel up. It's a fantastic read!