Today's muse (on a Tuesday): Libby Schmais
Author of: The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein (review here)
Bookworm: Bienvenue, Libby (that's "welcome" to you non-French speakers)! Let's begin with the classic starter--what was the inspiration for The Pillow Book?
Libby: I had discovered The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, which is a Japanese diary book written over a thousand years ago, which has all these wonderful lists, like infuriating things or things that make you feel nostalgic. I thought it would be cool to have a young girl in Brooklyn write he own Pillow Book entries, as Lotus does for her English class. I was also inspired by a biography I had recently read about the relationship between Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, which was quite complicated, and I wondered how it would be to date an existentialist who believed in free love.
Bookworm: Have you ever been to France? What are your favorite memories there?
Libby: I actually spent a semester abroad when I was in college, in Brittany, on the coast of France. Some of my favorite memories from that time are definitely of food, because they make these delicious buckwheat crepes there, and these amazing butter cookies, and, of course, I remember falling in love.
Bookworm: Do you consider yourself to be an existentialist like Lotus?
Libby: I don't consider myself an existentialist but I do have my moment where everything does seem kind of meaningless. I think I'm probably too cynical to follow any one philosophy or religion. Which reminds me of one of my favorite quotes of Jean Paul Sartre which kind of sums up my belief system: "She believed in noting; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist."
Bookworm: How are you and Lotus alike, and how are you different?
Lotus: Lotus and I are both a little offbeat, and speak our minds, but she has much more confidence than I do. We both love food and fashion, although she wears much wilder outfits that I would ever dare to.
Bookworm: Do you keep a diary?
Lotus: I don't actually keep a diary at the moment, although I used to. I am always buying beautiful journals and notebooks and thinking I'm going to write in them and then I find all these sad unfinished books years later. I'll probably be buying another notebook any day now.
Bookworm: Do you like to travel? If so, what places have you visited?
Libby: I like being in a place, but I actually hate traveling. I hate packing and flying and worrying about getting somewhere, but once I'm in another country or city, I'm happy. I've been to Europe several time and I love Venice, which is a magical city, and Paris, bien sur. I've been to the Caribbean several times. I love islands--I also love Block Island, Tulum, Mexico, and Montreal. Right now, I'd love to get out of New York and go somewhere warm but I'm not sure it's going to happen.
Bookworm: Are you going to continue writing for the YA genre?
Libby: Well, just this week, I finished my second YA novel, which is about a teen obsessed with Tudor England, so as of now, I'm still writing YA. As far as what comes after this book, I honestly have no idea. It's kind of a scary feeling for a writer to be between projects, but also really exciting, because it could go in any number of different directions.
Sounds awesome--I can't wait to check it out! (:
Thanks so much for stopping by, Libby! Visit Libby (and Lotus) online at their awesome website here
The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein was released by Delacorte on December 8, 2009. It's available on Amazon here