Today's Muse: Susan McBride, author of The Debs (Delacorte Press, 2008)
Starring in: An interview! (see below)
Bookworm: Who is your favorite character in The Debs?
Susan: You know, when I started writing, Mac was my favorite because she has a lot of my sarcasm and cynicism in her. She's tough on the outside but a marshmallow on the inside. The more I got into the book, the more Laura took over. She's a size 14 in a sea of size zero girls, and she doesn't care that she looks different (aka, she's not a lollipop!). Laura's not afraid to dream big and to go after what she wants. She has guts, and I admire that, especially at a time in most people's lives when they're afraid to take chances for fear of making fools of themselves. I also have to say that it's very fun writing about Jo Lynn, the former beauty queen whose mother has basically taught her to win at all costs. She's like Debutante Barbie, but on the inside she's more insecure than anyone knows. She's definitely a formidable foe for Laura, so look out for plenty of catfights to come!
Bookworm: Were you yourself ever a debutante?
Susan: I grew up in the area of Houston that I describe in The Debs (it was called "The Bubble"for a reason), and I definitely incorporate personal memories in the plot. But, no, I was never a debutante. I did have plenty of friends and acquaintances in Texas who debuted and who invited me to their parties, so I'm pretty well-versed on the whole scene. Besides, it's fiction, and the fun part of writing fiction is making things up!
Bookworm: If The Debs were made into a movie, who would you want to play each character?
Susan: Wow, I haven't even thought of that. Hmm, Ellen Page might make a good Mac. Emma Stone has the right coloring to play Ginger. I would love for Blake Lively to be Laura. She's the right height and so pretty, but she's too thin! Amanda Seyfried might be a good Jo Lynn, but she already played a similar part in Mean Girls, so I'm not sure. I'd love to hear what you think!
Bookworm: How many books are you planning to write in The Debs series?
Susan: Right now, I'm just thinking of one book at a time. I'm in the middle of writing Book Three, and we'll see what happens after that. A lot depends on how The Debs does and then Love, Lies, and Texas Dips after that. So I'm crossing my fingers and toes and trying not to hold my breath too much...because it's so hard to write if I'm passed out on the keyboard.
Bookworm: Will you give us a sneak preview of the next Debs book, Love, Lies and Texas Dips?
Susan: Love, Lies, and Texas Dips will be out June 9 , and it's even juicier than The Debs (I know, that hardly seems possible). If you thought Jo Lynn was nasty before, she gets even nastier in LLATD, as she thinks Laura Bell is messing around with her boyfriend. Not only do Jo Lynn's evil plans nearly get Laura kicked off the debs list, but they almost ruin her life as well. Mac realizes she's falling for her best guy friend, only it may be too late. Ginger has another potentially disastrous encounter with a guy with a shady past. That's all I'll spill so I don't ruin any secrets!
Bookworm: What is your advice for young adults who want to become authors?
Susan: Read as much as possible in a variety of genres. Write as much as you can, whether it's short stories, novels, or journaling. Play the observer and pay attention to people around you: how they speak, what their gestures and clothes tell you about them. Learn about the publishing business and how it works by attending author events and asking questions. Email writers whose books you enjoy and find out how they became published. And don't ever give up if it's what you want to do. It's not an easy path, but so worth it if words are your passion and you can't imagine doing anything else.
Bookworm: What do you like most about writing YA novels?
Susan: It seems like there are fewer boundaries in YA fiction, and I love that. YA books tackle so many subjects, from really fluffy to topical and disturbing. I like to mix things up in my novels, doing whatever it takes to tell my story the best way possible. When I wrote mysteries, it felt like there were so many rules to follow (and I'm not great at following rules!). With The Debs series, I feel free to be both fluffy and topical, and I get into the nitty-gritty of my characters' lives without someone saying, "You can't do that in YA!"
Thanks, Susan! And don't forget to check out The Debs official site to enter the contest sponsered by Random House and Lilly pulitzer to win a trip for four to NYC and a shopping spree at the Lilly store on Madison Avenue! The deadline is October 27, and it's for girls ages 12-18 as of August 26, 2008. Good luck!
Click here for a review of The Debs, and watch out for Love, Lies, and Texas Dips, debuting in June 2009.