Thanks for checking out my new blog column that I like to call “Fabu Interviews”. Here’s the deal: each month I interview a totally, fabulously cool lady about her career and how she got to do what she does. I’m hoping that you’ll get inspired by these super women—I know I am!
For my very first Fabu Interview, I talked to Lauren Myracle—author extraordinaire. I’m sure you’ve read one of Lauren’s many New York Times bestselling books for tweens and teens. If not, you gotta check ‘em out. There’s TWELVE, ttyl, ttfn, and l8r, g8r and her newest book (which is coming out as I type) called THIRTEEN. I got a sneak peak, and let me tell you, it’s sooooo amaaaazing! You might want to do a 100 yard dash to the bookstore so you can get one of the first copies to hit the shelves!!! In the mean time, read my interview with her and you’ll learn all about how Lauren became the superstar writer that she is…
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
I knew I wanted to be a writer since I was seven and first fell in love with Beverly Cleary's "Ramona" books. (Have y'all read them? Sooooo fun!) I love books more than anything (except people) and I always knew I wanted books to be part of my life in a big way. I feel really lucky to get to do what I love.
What did you actually do to become a professional writer?
Well, I started writing seriously when I was 22. I'd written on and off before then--mainly in journals--but at 22, I thought, "Well, babe, do it or don't. And if you don't, then resign yourself to having a job you aren't passionate about." And I could NOT resign myself to that. So, I started writing for an hour a day, and after a year, I had a novel written. Which was BAD. In fact, I went on to write five more novels that will never be published, because they were terrible, though I didn't know it at the time. Then I wrote Kissing Kate. It got accepted for publication when I was 30, and it came out when I was 32. (10 years after I started! Whoa, dudes.)
What was the first thing you got published? How did this happen?
It was my novel Kissing Kate, and it happened after my editor, the wonderful Susan Van Metre, made me rewrite the entire thing FIVE FRICKIN' TIMES. That's right, five. And that whole process took TWO YEARS. And all that time, I never knew if it would actually get published or not. Then, one day, I took my son Al to the park--he was just a baby at that point--and I came home to a message from Susan saying to give her a call because she had good news. My heart started pounding, but it was after 5:00 Eastern Time, and I was worried that Susan would no longer be in her office. I called, expecting to get her answering machine, but she was still there, and she did in fact offer me a contract for Kissing Kate. Yahootie! I remember exactly what I said to her, which was, "Oh, that's wonderful! If I were the screaming type, I'd scream with joy." Later I cursed myself for saying something so incredibly dorky.
I wish I could say that I'd done something wonderful and creative to celebrate, like buy myself a silver charm shaped like a book or indulge in a new, leather-bound journal. But no, I just kind of sat there quietly and grinned. Ack. I did take my family out for ice cream, though. Yay!
What was the single hardest thing you ever had happen to you in your career? And what did you learn from it?
This is probably not the answer you expect, but: about four years ago, I was working on a novel called Rhymes with Witches. I was pregnant at the time, and my baby died in utero, when I was six months along. It was awful and devastating and so so sad (and not just for me, but for my whole family). Anyway, after a while, I got back to writing--but the joy was gone. And one of my friends pointed that out to me, very gently, saying, "Lauren, you've got to find the joy. Otherwise, why keep writing?" And he was absolutely right. So, I had to learn to give myself time to grieve when I needed to, but also to not let that grief permeate my whole existence forever and ever. I had to learn to have FUN writing (and to be deliberate about having fun) rather than ever letting myself slog through a book just to get it done.
What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you in your career?
Ha! Just a couple of months ago, I gave a speech in NY about writing, and the elastic in my thigh-highs went totally kaput and BOTH stockings dribbled down my legs as I was up there in front of two hundred people. They just sat there, pooled around my ankles like black ghosties. It was horrid and hilarious.
Can you tell me what was the funniest/meanest/weirdest or nicest rejection letter you ever got?
When I was just starting to try to get published, I sent a manuscript out, and it was returned to me with SLUSH written across the first page in bright red letters. No note, no letter, nothing. Just SLUSH. It made me feel slushy, all right!
Are you a "sock" person?
OH yeah. In the summer, I'm barefoot all the way, baby. But in the other months, I love socks, and I especially love un-boring socks. In fact, I refuse to wear boring socks. Here is a picture of my favorite pair of socks--which I bought WAY before you asked if you could interview me! Yay, fun socks!
Are you fabulous, marvelous, kooky or zany?
Can't I be all four? Actually, I'm not zany. So we can cross that off. I'm definitely kooky, though. But I really WANT to be fabulous. Can I be fabulously kooky? ;)
Tell me a quote you love that I can hang up on my wall ‘o quotes in my bedroom?
"Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind!" -- Henri-Frederic Amiel