To start off this month full of author interviews, I had the pleasure of introducing Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author (from Connecticut!) of many books for children, teens, and young adults. Her most recent young adult novel is Crazy Beautiful, a modern adaptation of Beauty & the Beast (I posted my review yesterday). For more about Lauren Baratz-Logsted and her writing, check out her website.
Me: As an accomplished author, can you tell us a little bit about your road to publishing?
LBL: A little bit? I'd need to write a whole book to tell that story! Short version? I left my day job in 1994 to take a chance on myself as a writer. It took me nearly eight years and seven books written before I sold the sixth, an adult novel called THE THIN PINK LINE. I've since sold a total of 20 books to various publishers in various genres and for various age groups.
Me: How did you decide to retell the story of Beauty and the Beast?
LBL: I'd just seen the stage version on Broadway and I got to thinking about how out of all the Disney-fied fairy tales, it makes for the most successful stage and screen adaptations. I started wondering why that would be and decided it's the only one where the male is more than just window dressing for the female. And then I got to thinking how much fun it would be to do a contemporary version where, like the Beast, the male's otherness is a result of his own tragic mistakes and then find a way for him to redeem himself.
Me: Have you considered writing a modern adaptation of any other fairy tales?
LBL: Finally! A question I can give a short answer to! Yes.
Me: Yay! I can’t wait. So, names are important to any story. How did you decide on Lucius for the Beast and Aurora for Beauty?
LBL: Lucius Wolfe - both elements of his name are variations on wolf. Aurora Belle - Aurora is the goddess of the dawn in Roman mythology and Belle of course is beautiful.
Me: The cover of Crazy Beautiful certainly catches the eye. What role did you play in its design?
LBL: Zero! I had absolutely no say in the cover although I did mention I'd like to see something resembling a hook on it. I absolutely love the cover that the artistic design team at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt came up with.
Me: What is the most exciting part of the writing process for you?
LBL: I love it all, but I guess if I had to pick the most exciting it'd be the moment an idea comes and I realize the idea is so big and fresh, at least to me, it can fill a whole book. Wait. Can I pick two most exciting parts? If so, the other would be when I complete the book and realize I've gone the distance in telling the story I wanted to tell in the way I wanted to tell it.
Me: As you write books for all ages, how is writing for teenagers/young adults different than writing for children or adults?
LBL: Teens these days have more demands on their time and distractions than any teens in recent memory. As a result, an author needs to really be on her best game in terms of holding the reader's interest. You need to write tighter. The other big difference I find is the sense of responsibility. I give my readers credit for being intelligent but I still am very careful not to send the wrong messages through my work. I'd hate it if anyone ever jumped off a bridge just because they thought I told them to.
Me: Are you working on anything right now that you can tell us about?
LBL: I'm always working on something! I have two more YA novels scheduled for 2010. THE EDUCATION OF BET, due out in spring 2010, is about a 16-year-old girl in Victorian England who impersonates a boy in order to get a proper education. THE TWIN'S DAUGHTER, also set in Victorian England and due out in fall 2010, is about a teen whose life is changed forever when she discovers her wealthy mother has an identical twin who grew up in the poorhouse. Oh, and 2010 will also see the publication of Books 5 and 6 in THE SISTERS 8, the series for young readers that I've created with my YA novelist husband Greg Logsted - http://www.greglogsted.com/ - and our nine-year-old daughter Jackie. Phew!
Me: Now for a couple of random questions. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, can you tell us a few songs that show up on your playlist most frequently?
LBL: I almost never listen to music when I'm writing although I do listen to "General Hospital" on television every afternoon from three to four. The one exception to the no-music-while-writing rule would be the adult novel VERTIGO which I wrote while repeatedly listening to the sountrack from The Piano.
Me: Now one that seems to be on everyone’s mind: how DO you pronounce your last name?
LBL: HA! Baratz is like Barrett would sound if you made it plural and Logsted is exactly as it looks although for some reason people are always trying to insert the letter 'a' into it. Thanks for having me!
Me: Thanks for joining us!
Lauren Baratz-Logsted's Crazy Beautiful will be released September 7th. Don't miss out!