The basic plot, Jill wants a date to the prom and hopes Jack doesn’t mess it up for her, seems a bit tame for such an innovative premise. And the parents are pretty one note – the yoga-loving, basement dwelling father and the “prison warden” mother could have been more fleshed out considering how much face time they get. But the VOICE! It’s amazing and it makes this book. Jill’s sections are just so much fun to read. She’s really hilariously clueless in a lot of things and she had me ROTFL more than a few times, especially in her misguided attempts to capture the attention of the new, mysterious hottie in town. Jack’s sections are completely different in tone – creepy, crass, and yet also utterly fascinating. And it all seems so effortless.
And because I think you too should give this novel a chance, I’m pleased to welcome Author Lauren McLaughlin to my blog for a Q & A as well as to host a giveaway for 5 signed hardcover copies!
In Cycler, the two sides of your main character are named Jack and Jill, just like the nursery rhyme. Is there a particular symbolic reason for this?
I did like the sound of the names Jack and Jill. There's a nice rhythm to it. But also, if you recall the words to that nursery rhyme, Jack and Jill do not quite make it over that hill with their dignity intact. There's a bit of slapstick and some bruises. That made it seem all the more appropriate for Cycler.
Jill's BFF Ramie is really into fashion, constantly trying to start new trends such as "Chubby Chic". Your husband is a fashion photographer (who shot the excellent cover for Cycler). Any connections there?
I've learned so much about the fashion industry from my husband. Though I've always loved clothes, my understanding of the industry itself has given me a new appreciation for the mystery and complexity of it all. In particular, I love the whole feedback loop cycle of it, the way people take what comes off the runway and mix and mash it up. Then designers will take inspiration from what "the street" is doing and use that to create new designs. And on and on. Also, I really wanted Ramie to be one step ahead of Jill and the rest of her peers. I wanted her to be the kind of high school senior who's mentally already graduated, already begun her career. The only careers I felt qualified to write about were film (which is my background) and fashion (which is my husband's).
Cycler has been out in hardcover since August 2008 and is coming out in paperback this August, at the same time as the sequel, (Re)Cycler. How has your experience with the published book been? Any fun anecdotes come to mind that you'd like to share?
It's been a fascinating adventure since the hardcover came out. Reading reviews and emails from fans (and non-fans) has given me a whole new perspective on the experience of reading. I've always been an avid reader, but it's been a solitary experience. Once your own book is out there in the world, you read all the reviews, all the feedback, and you realize that one book will resonate in a thousand different ways for different readers. There have been readers who deftly picked up on every social critique I layered into the novel, as well as readers who believed I was endorsing a sexist paradigm of rigid gender differences. There have even been readers who uncovered layers of psychological complexity that somehow snuck in there purely via my own subconscious. I think my favorite reaction was from a gay teenage boy who thanked me for creating a positive bisexual character. He was anxious to share the novel with his friends. That really warmed my heart.
As someone else with a foot on both sides of the pond (Wichita, KS and Frankfurt, Germany), I am fascinated that you live in both NYC and London. How does that work for you? What do you like most/least about the arrangement?
Wichita and Frankfurt? That sounds like fun. I really enjoy straddling the pond. My husband and I have apartments in both London and New York, along with a full complement of friends in each city, so we feel at home in either place. Since I'm a full time writer, all I need is my laptop and some wifi. When my husband is called to London or Paris on assignment, we pack up and go. I write in hotels, cafes, wherever. Sometimes, when I wake up, it takes a minute to figure out where I am, but I don't mind. If I've been in one city for more than a month, I find myself looking up at planes flying overhead and thinking, hmm, this is boring, let's move.
On other days, I dream about having a single home with a garden, and a greater sense of permanence.
I've been asking a bunch of YA authors (Julia Hoban, Jennifer Banash, Susane Colasanti) for NYC tips since I am making my first ever trip there this summer. What are your NYC recommendations?
Oh boy. That's a tough one. I've lived in New York since 1990 so it's hard sometimes to step back and look at it through the eyes of a first time visitor. Other than the obvious landmarks, I would suggest venturing out to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Take the L train to Bedford Avenue and check out the cafes, bars, and boutiques. If you like vintage clothing, Beacon's Closet on North 11th Street between Berry and Wythe is a must see (and also a key setting for (Re)Cycler). If you're looking to splurge on state of the art molecular cuisine (and if money's no object) WD50 is amazing. For excellent cheap pizza, try Rosario's in the Lower East Side and, if you're into meat, you can't beat Katz's deli. Central Park is lovely, but the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens are spectacular in the spring and summer. And if you're here on a Saturday, don't miss the Union Square Farmer's market. Amazing food and great people watching
Thanks Lauren! And now onto the big giveaway...
To enter to win one of 5 signed hardcovers of CYCLER, simply answer one of the following questions in the comments:
1. Describe a fashion trend you'd like to start
2. What would your opposite sex alter ego be named if you had one? Mine would be named Leonard0 ;)
+1 entry for posting a link to this contest on your blog or social media site and telling me so in a separate comment.
You have until May 21st at 11:59 CST, and since I have 5 copies, I am going to offer up one of them to the first person with a mailing address in the US or Canada who responds. (If you've had an INSTANT WIN before, you are ineligible, and I know who you are!) Sorry that none of my current contests are international, but I'll have one soon to make up for it.