Thursday, May 7, 2009

Book Review, Author Interview and Giveaway: Cycler by Lauren McLaughlin

What if when you turned 13, instead of just getting your period, you got a cycle each month where you endured a painful physical transformation into a boy for four days? Well, that's Jill's fate in this edgy, high concept novel. Jill finds out it's not easy sharing a body with her alter ego Jack. According to Jack, Jill is a “lame goody-goody” and according to Jill, Jack is a porn-loving annoyance.

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
OR
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.

74 comments:

Carol(ina) said...

My guy name would be Andres. I don't know why... :)

Belle said...

Mine is Marcus. :)

Iryna said...

I have always loved the name Quentin so I guess that would be my guy name.

This contest is on my sidebar!

blackink.creampaper@gmail.com

Sadako said...

I'd start the trend of pants that end at the knee but for only one leg. (What? You know that the hipsters will be like white on rice on as soon as they read this post.)

Elizabeth said...

I want to bring back the side ponytail.

Come on, you KNOW you want to follow me in this...

Elizabeth said...

Also, Sadako: I'm sorry to tell you that I have totally seen hipsters in Brooklyn beat you to this trend (although they accomplished it with selective pants leg rolling, not actual cropping). Lamer than a one-legged puppy, is all I can say.

KLo said...

I'd like to start a fashion trend where books are carried like purses or on belt buckles a la Blackberries. Wait, here me out ... if everyone had a book with them at all times, think about the great conversations that could transpire. The grocery store would be ablaze with literary conversation, teenagers would be reading whatever their heroes might be checking out an any given moment based on the book that's always with them, and children can aspire to have "bigger" books as a status symbol.

I can dream, right lol?

leonore said...

Mine would also be Leonardo! He was my favorite Ninja turtle because our names were so similar.

MJ said...

My gut name would be Alexander. I've always liked it - even tho I have 2 sons and neither are named that!!

mj.coward[at]gmail.com

susan said...

My alter ego would be Oronde (O-ron-day). I'm not sure of the spelling. It's my friend's son's name.

I'd start a trend with shoes that are both attractive and comfortable for the wide and flat-footed.

ReaderGirl said...

Mine is Daniel ;P I loved this books so much but I got it from the library so a signed copy would please me muchly! ^^

ReaderGirl said...

That's an awsome idea KLo!

purplg8r said...

My boy know would be Andy...easy enough for me to recognize my name!

purplg8r@aol.com

purplg8r said...

And I blogged about the contest here

Ashley said...

Since my name is Ashley, I think my boy name would be Anthony. I just think they sound good together.

booksobsession(at)gmail(dot)com

Ashley said...

+1 I posted this contest on my sidebar.

Thanks!

Readingjunky said...

Hmmm... the name of my alter-ego would most likely be something nerdy like Howard or Gerald. (Oops, sorry if there are any Howards or Geralds out there who aren't nerdy. Apology for the stereotyping.)

Betty and Boo's Mommy said...

I'm as far removed from a fashionista as you can get, but since this book sounds so original and I'd love to win a copy, I'll play along. Since I tend to come home from work and put on my PJs immediately (or at least my pajama pants), I'd start a fashion trend that would make it acceptable to wear one's PJs in public. To the grocery store, to kids' sporting events, you name it. I think the world would be a much kinder place if we could wear our pajamas everywhere, don't you think?

That's the only fashion trend I could come up with ....

Amelia said...

Mine would be... Bob. And he would be weird (coughlikemecough) and he'd be something like an accountant or a statistician... Or a mortician

MichieBee said...

Well, my name's Michelle, so my guy-counterpart would be called Mitchell, or Mike. :)

intoyourlungs@gmail.com

MichieBee said...

+1 entry
I put up a link to your contest on my sidebar. :)

http://michiebee.blogspot.com

Valorie said...

I'd like to start a fashion trend of post-apocalyptic clothing. :D It would be like underground gothic/industrial club meets Mad Max.


Valorie
morbidromantic@gmail.com

Valorie said...

Blogged:
http://www.morbid-romantic.net/2009/05/04/book-giveaways-0504-0510/


Valorie
morbidromantic@gmail.com

AmandaSue said...

Sounds like an intresting book! My guy name would be Andy or Aaron.
unforgetable_dreamer_always(at)hotmail.com

Amy said...

This sounds like such a different book.

My alter ego would be Amos.

Steph Su said...

Mine would be Stephen. When I was younger I actually had an imaginary best friend whose name was Stephen. He was my age and did EVERYTHING I wanted to do, while challenging me as well. (I think I kind of have a crush on him.) Never mind the fact that I have a brother named Steven and I would've been named Steven had I been a boy... :)

stephxsu at gmail dot com

Steph Su said...

I've linked to this contest in my sidebar!

blackroze37yahoo.com said...

tony, lol though i should be a tommy, since im tami
but always liked the name tony

Dawn M. said...

Probably something easy to remember like, Don. LOL!

Thanks!
librarygrinch at gmail dot com

mindy said...

my alter ego would be named michael thanks for the giveaway

Jenna said...

My male alter ego would probably be named Hayden.

This books sounds so unique. I hadn't actually heard of it before now.

Jenna

jennapomme@yahoo.com

Nora said...

I would love to bring back jellie sandals. So awesome. and I posted here: http://noraatnow.blogspot.com/2009/05/book-contests.html

Nora
wishonstars13@hotmail.com

Emily said...

I would bring back the 90s trend of thumb-holes in the cuffs of sweatshirt sleeves. I tend to wind up poking my own anyway, but I wind up with pretty ratty-looking sweatshirts.

writemeg said...

I would totally be a Scott -- and I'd probably go by Scotty, too. I've always liked that name! In fact, my parents told me I was going to be Scott if I were a boy :) But Megan works for me!

Thanks for the chance! I was going to leave a comment about how interesting I think this book's premise is, and then I saw the giveaway. Yay!

writing.meg [at] gmail.com

Kelly said...

I think my opposite sex alter-ego would have to be Christopher. Guys with that name seem to keep popping up in my life, so there's got to be a reason... right? :)

krtrumpet [at] aol [dot] com

liane66 said...

I would like to bring Leggings back into vogue!
Thanks for the giveaway!
Kimspam66(at)yahoo(dot)com

Insert Book Title said...

Great interview!

Valerie said...

Oo! I want this book, interesting plot
alter ego: Lucas
KawaiiNeko2008 at aol dot com

Erika Lynn said...

my alter ego would be named Salvatore since that is what I would have been named if I was a boy

MOMFOREVERANDEVER said...

andy

Belinda said...

My opposite sex alter ego would be named Bo.
Thanks!
1bmore @ gmail . com

VioletReads said...

I would totally be named Nick. I spend enough time with transguys and drag queens that this has come up before.

Kristi said...

My guy name would be Tristan - long story. . .

I love a book that makes me laugh - please enter me in the drawing!

kherbrand at comcast dot net

Indigo said...

The oppisite sex name of me would be Raven. I'm Native American and have had "Raven" (the bird) as a spirit guide for years. It makes sense the male part of me would take on that name.

Thanks for the opportunity! Indigo

ravensquietscreams@gmail.com

Staci said...

I've thought about reading this a few times but thought the premise sounded weird. Now after reading your review I can see that I missed out on a good read. I hope to change that!!

My name would be: Tristan

Amelia said...

My guy name would be "Amelio" and he would be Italian

I've never heard of this before, but I'm glad I have now. Thanks!

Lady Roxi said...

Love to have this. Mine would be
Christopher.

Thanks,

darkfyre1(at)gmail(dot)com

Karla said...

I'd love to start the 24/7 Sweatpants are Cool trend...

RockCity said...

I'd start the barefeet to work trend :-)

Juicebox.mom said...

My guy name would be KARL with a K

wdebo said...

I would like Brent idk why I like that name

Wdebo :)

electricalbookcafe@yahoo.com

wdebo said...

I also added this contest to my sidebar

http://www.theelectricalbookcafe.blogspot.com/

Wdebo :)

electricalbookcafe@yahoo.com

Ozaira said...

My guy name would be Brad.I would like to start a trend which would be to wear scarves with every dress.
helenwalsh.1991@gmail.com

Belinda M said...

If I was a guy I would like to have the name Devon. I think it is a great name

"Canadian Contests, Freebies, Coupons, Deals, Games and Fun:
CoolCanucks.ca"

Belinda M said...

I posted this contest on a contest site I belong to

http://coolcanucks.ca/9691-presenting-lenore-cycler-lauren-mclaughlin-may21-canada

gaby317 said...

My guy name would be Toshiro in honor of Toshiro Mifune from Seven Samurai

pls count me in!


gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

Carrie said...

My Dad wanted a boy, and he was all prepared to name that boy Patrick. We are a wee bit irish. However, I was born a girl. Poor Dad, oh well.

poptart675@att.net

♔ jessica.marie said...

Hmmmm i think my male name would be ... Sir Fredrick :D

lovejessicamarie [@] gmail [.] com

Laina said...

My guy name would be Mac. I love that name ^^ and I'd be an awesome Mac.

Laina said...

I put a link here: http://bookcontestlinks.blogspot.com/2009/05/may-7th-2009.html

Laina1312@gmail.com

Ben Ostrowsky said...

Bethany's my other side.

Llehn said...

For some reason I like the name Keith.

lesly7ch(at)yahoo(dot)com

Debbie said...

Hi! I'm new here! Love your blog! I would love to win a book. So... I guess my guy name would be Roarke (after Eve & Roarke in the In Death series by JD Robb, the best series ever!!)

Thanks!
Debbie

Wanda said...

A fashion trend? Maybe bring back maxi dresses. Those were great!
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

clenna said...

A fashion trend - let's go back to dressing business like instead of the casual dress.

Ok - my alter ego and opposite sex name: Maximillian!

clenna@aol.com

Mrs. Wishard said...

Mine would be D'arcy because that is actually the boy version of my own name!

SarahChristine said...

i think mine would be Fredrick since i have always thought that would be a cool name :D

sarahchristine

pinktooth2(at)yahoo(dot)com

SarahChristine said...

oh i tweeted it

http://twitter.com/simply16

pinktooth2(at)yahoo(dot)com

Elizabeth McKenzie said...

I'm Elizabeth, or Liz. As a guy, I'd be Eli, Ed, Leo, Lenard. The book sounds good.

Aspen said...

My guy name would probably be Logan.

lovinfitch@aol.com

Carolsue said...

Hmmmm...Alexander, maybe. Sounds regal.
digicat{AT}sbcglobal{DOT}net

Paradox said...

1. Describe a fashion trend you'd like to start

Hmm... Maybe something strange and futuristic. Techno-fashion, like clothes that change color with your mood or has video screens, or something like that. If not that, then maybe rainbow contacts, if that counts as fashion.

paradoxrevealed (at) aim (dot) com

Lenore said...

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED! Thank you for entering. Winners announced shortly.

Anonymous said...

Uhmmm... Actually I seriously just got finished reading the book less than 5 minutes ago. Jill got her period at 14, not 13.