The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

March 7th, 2013
Authors everywhere are playing tag. Someone came up with this idea to have a “blog hop”–a writer answers a bunch of questions about her work, then tags two other authors in her post, and then they post and tag two other people and so on.  Last week I was tagged by GVR Corcillo, who (to put it in her own wonderful words) writes humorous women’s fiction about characters who try not to trip as they valiantly march to their own bongo beat. Please check out her website and her wonderful books!
And stayed tuned for the two terrific YA authors I’ll be tagging at the end of this post. Not only do I love their work, but I admire them both hugely as people: they’re supportive of other writers and of good causes.
Now the point of The Next Big Thing Blog Hop is not to talk about the books you’ve already published but about the one you’re working on. I’ve been working hard to promote The Trouble with Flirting, which just came out last week, so it’s a pleasure to talk about something else for a while.
1: What is the working title of your work in progress?
The Last Best Kiss.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

Like my previous two YA novels, this one was inspired by a Jane Austen novel; in this case it’s Persuasion. I’ve always thought the story of Persuasion (a young woman is pressured to reject the man she loves and not only regrets it but several years later has to watch from the sidelines as he courts her friends) would lend itself well to the world of high school romance and peer pressure.

3: What genre does your book come under?

Contemporary YA fiction. You could also probably call it romantic. And humorous. And realistic. I don’t know where genre ends and description begins!

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Chloe Moretz for the narrator and Nicholas Hoult for the boy she did something unforgivable to back in ninth grade and who’s come back in twelfth more appealing than ever. (If Hoult can still play a teenager–he may be too old now.)

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The best thing that ever happened to Anna Eliot in ninth grade was meeting and falling in love with Finn Westbrook–and the worst thing was losing him through her own bad behavior.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
I have an agent and the book will be published by HarperTeen.
7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I have so much trouble answering this question. What even counts as a first draft? The horrible, messy, practically incoherent blueprint of pages I get down first and then wrestle into decent shape? Or what I hand in a month or two later to my editor? And do the days that my kids are on vacation and I barely work at all count toward the tally? How about when I’m working on another project for a few weeks in the middle of writing the book? See what I mean? Impossible to calculate.
8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
My first YA novel, Epic Fail. Polly Shulman’s Enthusiasm. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My editor gave me a two-book deal. That was excellent inspiration. Jane Austen, of course. And finally watching my teenage daughter navigating the social world of a west side high schooler–there’s a lot of rich and, yes, inspiring material there.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The Last Best Kiss is about regret and redemption: if you do one stupid, thoughtless, even cruel thing, can you make it up? How do you make it up? How do you square that one bad decision with the fact that you’re basically a decent person who wishes she could undo the wrong she’s done?  This makes it sound more serious than it is–it’s still a romantic novel with a lot of comedic elements. But there is a wistfulness there.

Now on to the two authors I’m tagging:
May-lee Chai. I had the very good fortune to sit next to May-lee a couple of years ago at a publishing event, where I arrived terrified because I didn’t know anyone. I had so much fun at dinner with May-lee and a couple of other terrific authors that when the time came for us to go “work” (meet the publishers and bookstore owners who were there to hear about our books), I wanted to grab onto our table and refuse to let go. I went home and instantly read May-lee’s novel Dragon Chica and thought, “This is what YA books should be.” It’s thoughtful, moving, fascinating and entrancing.
C. Leigh Purtill. Leigh is one of the kindest writers I know–the kind who’ll show up at book readings and panels just to lend support and a friendly smile. Her heroines don’t necessarily fit the classic mold and that’s why they’re so meaningful to young women. Check out Fat Girls in LA and Love, Meg.

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