Thursday, August 17, 2006

Welcome to a Secret Society Girl~Diana Peterfreund!

Hello, blogland! I have been doing that thing lately where you staple your ass to a chair and put yourself in a soundproof room and... oh, WRITE a little? So I haven't been around lately. I'm 125 pages into a new book and have taken the time to go back and rework some things based on some new historical information I've found about the subject. And that's all I'm sayin!

However, let me introduce you to exciting new author, Diana Peterfreund. Diana is the author of the brand new novel SECRET SOCIETY GIRL, which is getting all kinds of buzz. Here's a snippet about the book itself:


Secret Society Girl takes us into the heart of the Ivy League’s ultra-exclusive secret societies when a young woman is invited to join as one of their first female members.

Elite Eli University junior Amy Haskel never expected to be tapped into Rose & Grave, the country’s most powerful–and notorious–secret society. She isn’t rich, politically connected, or…well, male.

So when Amy receives the distinctive black-lined invitation with the Rose & Grave seal, she’s blown away. Could they really mean her?

Whisked off into an initiation rite that’s a blend of Harry Potter and Alfred Hitchcock, Amy awakens the next day to a new reality and a whole new set of “friends”–from the gorgeous son of a conservative governor to an Afrocentric lesbian activist whose society name is Thorndike. And that’s when Amy starts to discover the truth about getting what you wish for. Because Rose & Grave is quickly taking her away from her familiar world of classes and keggers, fueling a feud, and undermining a very promising friendship with benefits. And that’s before Amy finds out that her first duty as a member of Rose & Grave is to take on a conspiracy of money and power that could, quite possibly, ruin her whole life.

A smart, sexy introduction to the life and times of a young woman in way over her head, Secret Society Girl is a charming and witty debut from a writer who knows her turf–and isn’t afraid to tell all....


Diana Peterfreund has been a costume designer, a cover model, and a food critic. Her travels have taken her from the cloud forests of Costa Rica to the underground caverns of New Zealand (and as far as she's concerned, she's just getting started). Diana graduated from Yale University in 2001 with dual degrees in Literature and Geology, which her family claimed would only come in handy if she wrote books about rocks. Now, this Florida girl lives in Washington D.C., and writes books that rock. Her first novel, Secret Society Girl, is a hardcover debut from in July 2006. The second book in the Secret Society Girl series will be published by Bantam Dell in 2007.

"Ms. Peterfreund’s descriptions of the ambitious Amy Haskel’s collegial life are both vivid and amusing ... Amy's story is both witty and endearing, peppered as it is with rhetorical questions and moments when she emphatically addresses the reader as “dude.” As she discusses her
dorm-room drama, her study sessions at the library, and the awkward interactions she shares at the lit-mag office with her “friend with bennies,” Amy proves herself a rather appealing girl. To top it off, Amy knows about Said and Lévi-Strauss."
- The New York Observer

"Amy Haskel is a studious junior at elite Eli University (read Yale)
when she's tapped for Rose & Grave (read Skull & Bones) and finds
herself anointed as one of the social elite -- a frothy summer read for
anyone interested in the collegiate antics of the secret rulers of the
- Edward Nawotka, Bloomberg News

"Peterfreund leaves some loose ends to entice readers to pick up her next installment...the story to read--full of quirky characters and situations. It's bound to appeal to readers looking for entertaining escape and college humor."
- Booklist

" Absolutely captivating, Secret Society Girl takes us into the mysterious, rarified, and delicious world of an Ivy League secret society--but even more, into the life of a fascinating and dauntless young woman. Diana Peterfreund has such a bright, original voice, and she has written an unforgettable novel."
- New York Times Bestelling Author Luanne Rice

"A warning label should be put on the cover of this book: Get comfortable, because once you pick it up, you won't be able to put it down. Secret Society Girl has it all: razor-sharp wit, nail-biting suspense, and pitch-perfect storytelling that will leave you begging for more... The Ivy League has never been this fun."
- Cara Lockwood, bestselling author of I Do (But I Don't)

"Chick lit heads off to the Ivy League in Diana Peterfreund’s superfun, supercool debut novel, Secret Society Girl. Of course, I’d like to tell you all the reasons why I loved it, but then I’d have to kill you...”
- Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author of The Thin Pink Line

Q:How did you get this idea for this book? Please describe how the book grew from a glimmer of an idea into a whole novel.

A: I was watching the movie THE SKULLS on TV and thought it was about time that someone wrote a secret society story that described them the way they really were. From there, it was a matter of finding the right facet of the long collegiate secret society history to use as a framework for the story. It was very important for me to make the story as accurate as possible, which is why most of the events in the story are based on things that happened in real life. So the tricky part was finding a story that accurately portrayed society life without being too boring to write about.

I usually write a few chapters of a book before I tell anyone about it, just to make sure there's "there" there. As soon as Amy came to life for me, I realized that I had a character that could support the weight of a novel or two on her back.

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

A: Write a whole book. Don't worry about the industry until you have a full manuscript. None of that stuff means anything until you have a huge pile of paper with Chapter One on top and The End at the bottom. Once you have done this, learn everything you can about the industry, agents, editors, everything. But write a book first.

My favorite advice that others have given me: "Love the book, not the scene." "Get in late, get out early." "Don't write the parts people skip." "Once you have the right project, getting an agent and a publisher is pretty straightforward, so don't worry about tricks to get in. Just concentrate on writing your best book."

Q: What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting organized?

A: Yes, if you have some tips, I'd really appreciate it. My days are an endless struggle to avoid distractions and get BICHOK (butt in chair, hands on keyboard). (From Martha--Oh, a variation on the staple your ass to the chair thing!)

As far as organizing my writing (as opposed ot my writing time) I'm a very intense plotter, so I do have several techniques to keep my story in line. When I first plot, I write a sort of free-form outline,w hich I later bang into shape as a synopsis. I refer to it throughout the writing of the book. I also have an excel file that tracks word count per chapter and turning point so I can track my pacing and make sure the book doesn't drag. Finally, I have a large plotting board covered in post it notes (one square for each scene) that are color coded according to plot thread so that I can make sure I haven't dropped any.

Q: What's been the most exciting thing about publishing? The most frustrating?

A: Everything about publishing my first book has been exciting! Meeting my edtior, having professional input on my edits, seeing my cover, seeing my books on shelves, hearing from people who have it, doing the publicity... I love it all. The most frustrating thing, perhaps, has been coming into contact with people who don't "get" what I'm trying to say with my book. I knew that would happen, since I used to enter writing contests and saw the range of reaction from judges, but it's still difficult. Whenever you write comedy, there's going to be a certain population whose humor doesn't match yours.

Q: Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not, what else is in the works?

A: I'm working on a sequel to Secret Society Girl now. It takes place during the first semester in Amy's senior year, and deals with the responsibilities that come with being the caretaker of a centuries-long tradition like Rose & Grave.

Q: What was your favorite scene to write in this book?

A: Probably the scene at the library. (I know, I'm supposed to say "the initiation" but that was probably one of the trickier scenes since there was so much true-to-life detail that I had to make sure I was following.) Since I do so much planning ahead of time, it's always interesting to see characters I've invented come to life. I knew that Malcolm and Clarissa were going to be important characters in the book, but I was nervous to see how their chemistry worked with Amy on the page. And they instantly clicked. I think it was then that I knew I had a whole book on my hands.

Q: Are you Amy?

A: I get this question a lot. NO, this book is a work of fiction. Amy and I actually have very little in common, other than the obvious educational similarities. We also each have a smart mouth, but every character I've ever written shares that trait with me. Amy is a pretty serious student, with a focused plan for her future. That would not have described me in college.

Q: Your book touches on issues of feminism. Do you think that it's an important issue in this day and age?

A: Ironically, it wasn't something I spent a lot of time thinking of when I was in college, because I was surrounded by feminists. But as soon as we exited our ivory tower and got out in the real world I realized that this was an ongoing battle. Right now, it's a battle that is raging on college campuses, as certain academics have stated that women have less aptitude for hard sciences, and we've seen a recent upswing in the "MRS" myth. I think that the way women's rights become an issue for the characters is a very realistic one. It's not women who are campaigning to be let INTO this all-male's society. It's a few men in the society who, believing in equality, choose to tap a few qualified women, and others object. The real battle in the book is a defensive one; the female characters are defending the right of their male forebears to choose women as well as men.

Thanks so much, Martha!

Thank YOU, Diana, for visiting us! You can buy Diana's book at any good local indy (the bestest choice), or at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.