Thursday, July 21, 2011

Author Post: Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Today we have a very special guest. Lauren Baratz-Logsted has generously agreed to create a guest post for my blog, Smitten With Books. I hope you enjoy it:

MY UNLIKELY CAREER AS A YA AUTHOR

by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
I never set out to be a YA author – not that there’s anything wrong with that! It’s just that when I initially left my day job of 11 years back in 1994 to start writing seriously, the YA market was nowhere near the vibrant field we have today, plus I’d set my sights on writing the Great American Novel. Well, that didn’t work out so good, since my first efforts were all comedies and if the Great American Novel is anything, it’s never a comedy. But eventually I did start selling some books. In 2002, I sold the sixth of seven novels I’d written, a dark comedy called The Thin Pink Line, about a woman who fakes an entire pregnancy. Before long, I’d sold a total of five adult comedies.

Then in 2005, I got an idea for a new book. It was a serious book about a teen on the fast track for Yale who, on the eve of her senior year in high school and in an act she doesn’t even clearly remember afterward, loses her virginity and winds up pregnant all in one go. The book would be in diary format, mirroring the 40 weeks of a pregnancy, and would be about the character coming to terms with what has happened and trying to make the choice that is right for her. I was sure that it was another novel for the adult market, those being the only kinds of books I’d ever written, perhaps a coming-of-age story this time. But by the time I reached the 100-page mark, I realized something strange was going on. Previously, I’d always written in past tense but without even thinking about it, I was writing this book in present tense. The story, as a result, was so immediate. This wasn’t an adult reflecting back on something that had happened to her in the past. This was an authentic teen voice telling her story in real time. It was a YA novel, it was called
Angel’s Choice, and it was published as a YA novel by Simon & Schuster in 2006.

There’s some current publishing wisdom that goes along the lines of that you shouldn’t try to sell meat in your fish market. The idea is that everyone should establish a brand and that you should give readers a steady diet of more of the same so they know what to expect. If I’d followed that wisdom, then if I wanted to firmly establish myself in the YA market, I should have followed
Angel’s Choice with another earnest novel, right? There’s just one problem: I seem to be genetically incapable of writing books just because it’s the career-expedient thing to do. Rather, ideas come to me that excite me and I follow those ideas. So the next YA novel I wrote after Angel’s Choice was not a logical follow-up. Instead, it was a serio-comedic sort-of mystery called Secrets of My Suburban Life about a teen who, after her novelist mother is crushed to death by a stack of Harry Potter books, becomes involved in catching an online sexual predator. Did I follow that with another serio-comedic sort-of mystery? I did not.

In fact, no two of my YA novels are alike. I’ve done a contemporary re-visioning of the fairy-tale classic Beauty & the Beast called
Crazy Beautiful, told in he-said/she-said fashion about a boy with hooks for hands and a gorgeous girl who meet on their first day at a new school; a serio-comedic novel, The Education of Bet, about a 16-year-old orphan girl in Victorian England who decides to impersonate a boy in order to get the exclusive education she desperately desires; and a dark suspense novel, The Twin’s Daughter, also set in Victorian England, about a teen who discovers that her gorgeous society mother has an identical twin who was raised in the poorhouse – murder and romance ensue.

Oh, and for my next meat-in-my-fish-market feat?

On November 8,
Little Women and Me will be published. It’s about a contemporary teen, Emily March, who time travels into the 1860s opening of the classic Louisa May Alcott novel Little Women. Once there she discovers herself to be the fifth March sister, her age placing her right at the center of the other four March sisters in terms of birth order. Before long, Emily realizes that her purpose there is to do one of two things: keep Beth from dying or change the romantic outcome of the story so that the boy next door finally ends up with the right March sister.

I originally got the idea for
Little Women and Me about a year and a half ago when my then 10-year-old daughter and her best friend were reading the original Alcott book for the first time. We were all talking about how sad it is when Beth dies and how crazy-making it is that Laurie winds up with Amy instead of Jo. That’s when the thought occurred to me: Hmm…what would happen if…? And that’s how Little Women and Me was born. I’m very excited about this book and I hope you will be too.

And now I’m off to work on another book that probably doesn’t make sense career-wise but that I will love writing and hopefully at least a few of you will love reading.

Thanks for having me, Morgan!
     


Thank you so much Lauren for the wonderful guest post. 

You can view and buy Lauren Baratz-Logsted's books on Amazon.com HERE 

   

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I enjoyed reading this as I have really enjoyed Ms. Baratz-Logsted's books in the past. I am really looking forward to her new release as Little Women is one of my favourites and I am excited to see what she will do with it.