Monday, April 27, 2009

Interview with Lisa Greenwald

It's our first Slushbuster interview ... and do we have a nice one!

Lisa Greenwald is a member of the Class of 2K9. Her debut novel, My Life in Pink and Green, is already getting great reviews: 

"Greenwald deftly blends eco-facts and makeup tips, friendship and family dynamics, and spot-on middle-school politics into a warm, uplifting debut." ~ Booklist

"Greenwald clearly takes preteens seriously, emphasizing their ardent concern for the environment and desire for change. This refreshing novel successfully delivers an authentic and endearing portrait of the not-quite-teen experience." ~ Kirkus, starred

"Greenwald has created a smart, spunky heroine with ingenuity and budding femininity. A natural beauty or business tip introduces each chapter. These helpful hints are age appropriate and environmentally current. Readers will enjoy the realistic portrayal of middle school friendships, crushes, and coming-of-age beauty concerns." ~ Library School Journal

Here's a quick synopsis (shamelessly lifted from her website):

Twelve-year-old Lucy Desberg is a natural problem solver. After the local homecoming queen shows up at her family's struggling drugstore with a beauty disaster that Lucy helps to fix, Lucy has a long line of makeover customers for every school dance and bat mitzvah. But all the makeup tips in the world won't help save the pharmacy. If only she could find a way to make the pharmacy the center of town again—a place where people want to spend time, like in the old days. Lucy dreams up a solution that could resuscitate the family business and help the environment, too. But will Lucy's family stop fighting long enough to listen to a seventh-grader?

Let's begin this interview, shall we?

What is one of your favorite portions in My Life in Pink and Green? Why do you like it, and how did it come to you? 

This is such a small moment but I really like the scene at Sunny's birthday party when she kisses the TV when her crush comes on during an old school-play video. It's been in the book since the first draft and I think it's just something that someone that age would do. It's so simple but says so much, I think. It makes me smile when I think about it.

You’ve said that Tuck Everlasting is your favorite book. Do you read it differently now as a writer and adult- or is it the same? 

When I read it as a kid, I was overwhelmed but in a good way. I've read it so many times since then and I am still overwhelmed by how good it is. But the thing is, I'm still absorbed in the story every time I read it. It is just so beautiful and well-written.

What’s it like working at The Birch Wathen Lenox School’s library? Have you ever gotten feedback from the children there?  

I really like working at BWL's library. It's a great way to keep up with new books and I love recommending books to the students. So far I've only gotten positive feedback on the book from the children but I tell them that I'm open to criticism too. :)

What’s the most helpful advice/ feedback you’ve been given? 

It's a simple quote. I don't know who said it but I got it from Meg Cabot's website about four years ago.  "You're not a $100 bill. Not everyone is going to like you...or your book." I tend to be sensitive and this simple statement helps me to remember that everyone has an opinion and my book won't appeal to everyone.

When do you work alone and when do you rely on the help of others, the community of writers? How do you balance the two?  

I mostly work alone but sometimes I have writing dates with friends. I like to be a part of the community of writers but it's definitely difficult balancing work-time and socializing-time. I try to make sure that I have time to actually write and don't spend all of my free time hanging out with writers and talking about writing even though that's so much fun too. 

Any insights on the mechanics of writing? Are there one or two techniques that you find helpful when dealing with POV, description, world building, or dialog? 

I don't think I have any advice on technique really. The simple "show don't tell" is always helpful. Also, reading your work aloud makes a tremendous difference in how you see/hear your own writing.

Any favorite writing blogs? (Besides The Longstockings, of course!) 

My new favorite blog is jacketwhys. I really love talking about what jackets I like and why and this blog is fascinating, smart and very well-done.

There you have it, gentle readers. (Sorry. I'm channeling Miss Manners at the moment.) This is when you run out and buy a copy of My Life in Pink and Green for yourselves.  Or, if you're running a little low on funds like some of us Slushbusters, ask your library to buy a copy. Our copy of My Life in Pink and Green just came in and we're already sorting out who gets to read it when. There may be violence at our meeting this Tuesday.

Can I just add that Lisa has been lovely during this interview? Being a newbie interviewer, I sent her the questions on a document (Big no-no. Imagine re-typing the entire interview into the blog.) Lisa sent her answers in the body of an e-mail with nary a comment about clueless interviewers. 

All of us Slushbusters wish her the best of luck with My Life in Pink and Green


Michelle said...

Thanks, Sarah, for doing the interview. I started reading My Life in Pink and Green this morning, and I'm about a third of the way through. Lucy is a great and unique character, and I can't wait to find out if her family can save their pharmacy.

Sarah said...

I had a great time. Lisa was lovely- how could it not go well?

I was horribly worried, though, that I'd mess the interview up somehow: mess up names, misspell the title ('Pink' is confusing if you look at it long enough!), or develop an entirely new brand of interview faux pas.