Of Frogs and Boyfriends (Or Are They the Same?)
The Boyfriend List, and wow! I haven't had that much fun with YA fiction since Judy Blume! Don't you love books with lists, footnotes, and other nifty stuff? E's used a lot of cool stuff like that in her book, which I talk about below. But first, some buzz about her wonderful book.
Ruby Oliver is fifteen and has a shrink. She knows it's unusual, but give her a break -- she's had a rough ten days. In the past ten days she:
-lost her boyfriend (#13 on the list)
-lost her best friend (Kim)
-lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket)
-did something suspicious with a boy (#10)
-did something advanced with a boy (#15)
-had an argument with a boy (#14)
-drank her first beer (someone handed it to her)
-got caught by her mom (ag!)
-had a panic attack (scary)
-lost a lacrosse game (she's the goalie)
-failed a math test (she'll make it up)
-hurt Meghan's feelings (even though they aren't really friends)
-became a social outcast (no one to sit with at lunch)
-had graffiti written about her in the girls' bathroom (who knows what was in the boys' !?!)
But don't worry-- Ruby lives to tell the tale. And make more lists.
SOME QUOTES on The Boyfriend List:
"Ruby's exploits are agonizingly funny as she learns there is life
outside her high school universe."
-- Girls Life
"The book is spectacular, with a well-constructed story and deep,
-- Romantic Times
"Spot-on dialogue and details make this a painfully recognizable and
-- Publishers Weekly, starred review
"The Boyfriend List" is a wonderful comic exploration of:
-the maddening (but hilarious) world of mothers and fathers,
-the gut-wrenching politics (and excitement) of multiple crushes,
-and the complications (and kinship) of friendship.
Ruby Oliver is a winning girl (even if she doesn't realize it), whom we'd all befriend in a heartbeat (as long as she doesn't have eyes on our guy). A whole lot of fun.
-- Jill Davis, author of Girls' Poker Night
MO'C: As I was reading the novel it struck me how much the girls in tnovel reminded me of myself as a teen, or people I knew back then. It's really quite remarkable. How were you able to nail the teenaged voice like that? Do you spend a lot of time with teens~are you a teacher? Or what?
EL: It's all in my brain. My probably immature brain. I have a teenage sister, and I love her madly, but she tells me nothing.
MO'C: Although my own book isn't a YA book, the teenaged girls in the story record a lot of their lives in a notebook. When it's found, it wreaks havoc on all of them. In YOUR novel, Roo's Boyfriend List is discovered in the trash, and disaster ensues. This got me wondering ~ what is it about teenaged girls and the need to write things down, even though it may get them into trouble later? Any thoughts?
EL: I can't wait to read The Bitch Posse. I am frothing at the mouth. (Me again~well, THANKS, E.! I swear I didn't put her up to that!)
EL (ctd): Truthfully, all my teenage writing (when I was an actual teenage girl) was in the form of notes passed in class. I never kept a journal or wrote poetry. I always wrote for the entertainment of other people -- for an audience.
But I do remember this cassette tape my friends and I made, drinking wine coolers one night senior year. We recorded all this cruel gossip and catty opinions of our fellow classmates, and told stories of all our exploits we worried we might someday forget.
Then we had the nerve to bury the cassette in the class "time capsule" -- and spent the next fifteen years fearing that it would be dug up at some reunion with none of us present to get hold of it and destroy it. But then it turned out that our class president forgot where the time
capsule was buried, and so it is lost forever.
I think we did something so thoughtless and potentially cruel because we could feel college and adulthood looming before us. Life as we knew it would disappear, soon. We wanted to capture ourselves as we were, somehow.
MO'C: Where did you get the idea to include footnotes, i.e., Roo's running commentary on her life?
EL: I fell in love with footnotes when I was in graduate school for English lit -- but it's also a shameless imitation of David Foster Wallace, whose essays I love dearly. At first, I hesitated to imitate him -- but then I thought: this is a natural way to convey the workings of a teenage mind, the way they go off on tangents, they way they can carry on more than one conversation at a time. My sister (14) checks her email, sends instant messages, browses the web, talks on the phone and watches Gilmore Girls -- all at once. Footnotes are like a natural extension of how her brain operates. And once I got started, writing them was highly addictive. I probably cut half of them out, for the final draft of The Boyfriend List.
MO'C: How difficult is it to market one novel while writing another? (I'm still trying to master this feat myself, so any advice is appreciated!
EL: What I am doing now: answering your questions, which is quite fun and diverting.
What I should be doing: writing the sequel.
MO'C: Can you give us any buzz about the sequel, The Boy Book? How about your standalone novel?
EL: Fly on the Wall is my next book and comes out January 2006. It's the story of a girl who literally gets transformed into a fly on the wall of the boys' locker room. And she sees everything. And I do mean EVERYTHING. There's a lot of really goofy slang. I wanted the subtitle to be "how I learned the mysteries of the gherkin" -- but my publisher wasn't having it. Then comes the sequel to The Boyfriend List, which is called The Boy Book, and comes out in Fall 2006. I can tell you this: there's a lot of Noel. And Kim's on an exchange program in Tokyo, so Jackson is up to some tricks.
MOC: What has been the most exciting moment in this publication journey?
EL: Seeing the cover. I just saw the cover of Fly on the Wall three days ago, and had this rush of joy, like I had really written a book. Hurrah!
I felt that with The Boyfriend List, too. My editor at Random House actually had a collection of ceramic frogs, by pure coincidence. (Ceramic frogs feature in the novel). So that's her personal frog they photographed for the cover! Isn't it saucy?
I've also liked that people are sending their own boyfriend lists in to my blog. It has been so fun to see how witty and romantic and bitter they are -- and how many variations on the concept people come up with.
Thanks for having me on your blog! I can't wait to read your book.
MO'C: Well, thank YOU, E.!
You can buy E.'s addictive novel at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Booksense (my personal fave because by buying at Booksense, you're supporting your local independent bookseller). And check out her site, especially the Readers' Boyfriend Lists .