As you all know, when I LURVE a book, I give it a Gold Star Review here. Well, to liven up the blog a little, I'm going to (try to) interview the author of each book that receives a coveted Gold Star! I hope you'll enjoy these quick, little interviews. :D
Today I'm excited to have Barbara Dee here to talk about my latest GOLD STAR review book, THE (ALMOST) PERFECT GUIDE TO IMPERFECT BOYS! You can find my Gold Star Review from yesterday here.
|Photograph by Randy Matusow|
1. How long did it take you, from first spark of idea to final proofs to write your newest book, The (Almost) Perfect Guide to Imperfect Boys?
This book has a funny history, actually. I wrote the first fifty pages of IMPERFECT BOYS in a couple of months, liked what I had, but was stuck. Then a friend who used to be an editor urged me to try writing a series. Since I had writers' block anyway, I thought I'd give it a shot. I worked for several months, but developing a plot that would span a number of books was harder than I'd imagined, and I could tell my writing was forced. Unfunny. Uninspired.
Finally I met my agent for lunch. She asked me what I was working on, and when I told her about the series, she just nibbled her salad. "Working on anything else?" she asked politely. I told her about those first fifty pages of IMPERFECT BOYS, and her eyes lit up. "That's your book," she said. But I was stuck, I protested. We agreed I'd scribble some ideas, and then brainstorm together. And maybe because I felt I was just "scribbling," I sat down and wrote the rest of the draft in about 5 weeks.
Two lessons from this experience. One: If you're stuck, let your manuscript breathe. Turn to another project, and then circle back to it when you're ready. Taking a break is NOT an admission of defeat.
Two: It's good to stretch, but don't feel pressure to write something that doesn't feel right, or that isn't fun for you. Maybe I'll try writing series fiction some day, but right now, it's not for me. And that's okay.
2. I really like the way that you were able to take a concept like the difference between boys and girls at the middle school age and seemingly encapsulate it within a scientific theory. It's both charming and makes the girls seem smart...and a little precocious. How did you come up with that idea?
It came to me one day when I was attending my daughter's eighth grade chorus concert. The girls sounded great, but the boys--well, let's just say they were a mixed bag of sopranos, tenors, basses and croaks. And I thought: how tough for these boys to be onstage, under a glaring spotlight, at such an awkward stage of development! They seemed like tadpoles developing frog legs right in front of your eyes! How could any girl "like" these half-tadpole/half-frog creatures? I started thinking about how I felt when I was in eighth grade, how I looked down on my silly, immature male classmates-- until I realized I hadn't figured them out as well as I'd thought. And that's what started me on the road to IMPERFECT BOYS.
3. If you could write a book under a pseudonym that no one would ever connect to you, are there any genres you would love to secretly explore?
I'd love to write a really juicy, gossipy novel about my small town. But yes, I'd need that pseudonym, or I'd have to move!
4. If you could cross one thing off your bucket list tomorrow, what would it be?
To learn how to play the piano.
5. Quick picks list:
Favorite vacation destination - Italy
Favorite childhood book - Harriet the Spy
Favorite writing snack food - Cookies and fruit. It's fall now, so apples!
Favorite clothing item - A pair of cashmere socks I splurged on a few years ago. They're pretty worn now, but still warm and comfy. If you want to treat yourself, I highly recommend cashmere socks--great for walking your dog in cold weather!