Author Claire LaZebnik is stopping by PTB today to answer a few questions about her new book The Trouble with Flirting.
Your latest YA book is called The Trouble with Flirting. Why? What’s wrong with flirting?
Nothing at all! I love flirting. I mean, I love the idea of flirting—the actuality is a lot less comfortable for me. Flirting should be light-hearted, so the more you think you like someone, the harder it is. I’ve had the most fun flirting with male friends who are gay and I’ve felt my most awkward and stupid trying to flirt with someone I really like. Hey, maybe that’s the trouble with flirting: it only works when you’re not invested in it.
You used to write novels for adults but now you write for young adults. Why the switch?
It started out of curiosity: I just wanted to see if I could write for a different audience. And then I kind of loved doing it. And my first YA novel, Epic Fail, did well—no one had high expectations for it because it was realistic fiction and everything else on the shelves was paranormal, and nothing’s better for an author than low expectations because you can actually meet them! It was a very satisfying experience, and one I was eager to repeat.
Books are long. Lots of people start writing them but finishing them is another story. How do you get to the end of a 300-page manuscript?
One page at a time. You have to look at the trees, not the forest. If you sit down to write that first page thinking, “I have to write at least three hundred more of these,” you’ll paralyze yourself. But if you think, “Let’s see what I can get down on paper now, at this moment, in this half hour,” you free yourself up. The other trick is not to overthink anything in that first draft. Just keep moving forward. Does the dialogue seem clunky? Tell yourself you’ll fix it later. The plot’s slowing down? You’ll fix it later. The characters lack dimension? You’ll fix them later. You get the point. You want to keep the momentum going. And you will fix it later. Trust me: there will be revisions. And revisions. And revisions.
Along those lines . . . what advice would you give a young writer?
Depends a little bit how young. If you’re still a student, I’d say read the best, most entertaining, most fascinating, most spellbinding books you can find. That’s how you learn. Books are great teachers. Plus . . . why NOT read the best books you can? That’s just fun.
If you’re an adult but just starting off as a writer, my advice is to keep churning out material: start a new project the day you finish the previous one. There’s lots of waiting in the writing business and also a lot of rejection—and both are easier to deal with if you’re emotionally invested in more than one project.
Okay, enough heavy stuff. What’s the best food for writing?
Anything that goes well with coffee, like muffins and donuts. Brain food. If you like your brain slow and doughy.
The best outfit for writing?
Sweatpants, a cozy sweater, and fuzzy socks.
The best location for writing?
I assume that a pretty little cottage by the ocean would be the best place to write a novel, but since no one’s offering me one of those, I’ll settle for either my kitchen or the nearest Starbucks. I’m flexible.
The best company when you’re writing?
A small tuxedo kitten who purrs whenever you look at her.
Franny’s supposed to be working this summer, not flirting. But you can’t blame her when guys like Alex and Harry are around. . . .
Franny Pearson never dreamed she’d be attending the prestigious Mansfield Summer Theater Program. And she’s not, exactly. She’s working for her aunt, the resident costume designer. But sewing her fingers to the bone does give her an opportunity to spend time with her crush, Alex Braverman. If only he were as taken with the girl hemming his trousers as he is with his new leading lady.
When Harry Cartwright, a notorious flirt, shows more than a friendly interest in Franny, she figures it can’t hurt to have a little fun. But as their breezy romance grows more complicated, can Franny keep pretending that Harry is just a carefree fling? And why is Alex suddenly giving her those deep, meaningful looks? In this charming tale of mixed messages and romantic near-misses, one thing is clear: Flirting might be more trouble than Franny ever expected
About the Author:
Claire LaZebnik is the author of Epic Fail and The Trouble with Flirting, both from HarperTeen. She has also written several novels for adults, including Knitting Under the Influence and The Smart One and the Pretty One. With Dr. Lynn Kern Koegel, she co-authored Overcoming Autism and Growing Up on the Spectrum.
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