Thursday, June 9, 2011

YA Contemporary Month: The Lipstick Laws

So last week's winner

of The Secret Year



Guess you'll get to read that boy narrative after all. Email me your address and I'll get that sent to you.

Today's Contemporary YA giveaway is The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder.

Amy's been kind enough to join us today. Hi Amy. Welcome to Talk Back Thursdays and thank you for agreeing to have a chat with us.

Thanks so much for having me! I love your blog!

Wow! I'm blushing.
Tell us, Amy, where did you get the idea for The Lipstick Laws?

The idea for The Lipstick Laws started with the main character, April. I knew I wanted to write a fun story about the ups and downs of high school, and April’s quirky, self-deprecating, teen angst voice is the first part of the story that came to me. The whole plot evolved while free-writing in her voice and putting her character into what-if scenarios.

The book is very “Mean Girls”, a genre that if not done well, tends to lean into very stereotypical portrayals. How did you keep from crossing the line?

I don’t necessarily think that I avoided stereotypical portrayals within the story. In fact, I purposely played off of stereotypes at times to create some of the humor and over-the-top situations in the book. However, I tried to make the characters well-rounded and three-dimensional by giving them backstories, real teen insecurities, and quirky personalities to bring more depth and interest to their characters and the story. My intention was to push the envelope on playing with stereotypes for entertainment purposes while avoiding the cliché that can be a result of stereotypical portrayals. I hope I achieved that.

Yes, the book is full of insecurities. April, for example is a bra-stuffer. Why did you choose this as her issue? (I’ve never had that particular problem, but I think that most –if not all- teenage girls have something they’re wildly insecure about.)

To be honest, I’ve never had that problem either… and I think that’s part of what inspired me to pick that insecurity for April. It was an insecurity that didn’t hit too close to home for me so I could write about it very candidly without crying into a pillow. It’s also something I think many girls and women can relate to, even if it’s not something they’re dealing with directly.

We all have things that we don’t like about ourselves. Since dealing with insecurities is usually a big part of adolescence, I wanted to give April a relatively common female body image hang-up. I had a very good friend in high school who lamented over her flat chest frequently, so I secretly borrowed that quirk from her (but if I want to stay alive, I will forever keep her name anonymous). The bra-stuffing was just a natural way for April to conceal her insecurity… and it allowed me to add a lot of boobicle cubicle humor to the plot.

Tell us a bit about your publication journey. How did you match up with Sarah Davies?
My path to publication was extremely unconventional! I did things a little backwards… I got published first and found my agent after that. I had every intention of querying agents after writing the manuscript draft of The Lipstick Laws. However, around that same time I happened to make a networking connection at HMH who was willing to pass my manuscript on (and avoid the dreaded slush pile). I delayed querying agents to submit the manuscript directly to the publisher on a whim with my fingers crossed; never imagining anything would come from it. I was surprised and ecstatic when I found out a few weeks later that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt wanted to publish it! I’m still so grateful to say that The Lipstick Laws was never rejected!

As far as how I matched up with Sarah Davies, once I received adaptation interest from a Hollywood producer, I knew I was out of my league and that I needed to find an agent who knows the business and could help guide my career ASAP. I did a lot of research before querying agents and was very impressed with Sarah! She’s been working in the publishing field for 20+ years, she has fabulous international connections, her clients speak very highly of her, and she’s a great person with a fantastic sense of humor (which is very important to me). After she read some of my work, we hit it off on the phone and I was thrilled to accept representation from her. Sarah also introduced me to my film agent, Jerry Kalajian (who is amazing as well)! I feel very lucky to have both of them in my corner.

Speaking of Hollywood, congrats on The Lipstick Laws recently being optioned! Can't wait to see it on screen!

Many of my readers are aspiring writers. Any advice for those of us still in the trenches?

My tips are to practice your writing craft daily, read the genre you want to write, study the publishing market, never give up, and network your tail off (the more people you know in the industry, the better your chances will be to avoid the slush pile). I also think it’s important to be careful not to stifle your own writing by comparing it to other writers’ successes or failures. Always avoid a creative comparison coma by celebrating the uniqueness of your individual writing style and journey.

Thanks for joining us today, Amy. Good luck with The Lipstick Laws!

Thanks again for having me here!! Good luck with your own writing journey!


To win, answer this: April was a bra-stuffer, what was/is your biggest insecurity in your teen years?
Contest open internationally to followers and non-followers.
Ends Wednesday at 11.59pm EST


Spav said...

I have permanent dark circles under my eyes and when I was younger I used to put make up to cover them up. I don't care as much anymore.


YA Reader said...

My hair. I have naturally curly red hair. It was everywhere! It was also the 80s and 90s, so it blended in with the bigger is better theme of the decade, but I was insecure about it.
Now, I've embraced it. (And found the right products to help!)


Sidrah said...

I used to be Fat, until 15 when I miraculously lost weight. Am still very conscious. I guess that's enough =p

Marsha Sigman said...

Love the interview! I would have to say weight because I felt like I could never be skinny enough.

I got over it. Just like I did Tommy

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great interview. I loved The Lipstick Laws. Don't enter me in the contest because I have a copy and plan to interview Amy and give it away on my blog.

Aleeza said...

'boobicle cubicle'...LOL.

i have the book on netgalley (and plan on reading it very soon!), so i won't enter the contest. though my answer would probably be weight, i think. :)

Sana Castellano said...

my insecurity? not being one of those popular glamorous social butterfly. Well, but now I've found my niche which is a very good balance between the social butterfly and the shy introvert. Just me. =D

Tracy Michelle said...

My biggest insecurity is my height. Even though I'm in my later teen years I'm still under five feet. It makes every day things a bit difficult sometimes and I'm always being mistaken for a ten year old.

Bee said...

I've always been naturally super-skinny all my life and I hated it. While everyone else got to look like 18 year olds, I still got asked for my I.D. all the time.

At twenty, I'm yet to get over it.

Diana said...

My biggest insecurity was my breast in my teen years. I believed it was too big but now I love my breast.
Thanks for the giveaway!

Brooke said...

Mine was definitely acne. I had a lot of problems with it. No one at school ever teased me, but my siblings made fun of me relentlessly.