Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Q&A with author Lauren Baratz-Logsted

In 1994, Lauren Baratz-Logsted took a gamble – and it paid off. With her passion for the pen, she set out to focus on her career as a writer. While success didn’t come knocking on her door the very next morning, it didn’t take long for Lauren to make her fiction debut. The Thin Pink Line was released in 2002 and since then Lauren has proven to be prolific with a collection of adult and teen novels to her credit, as well as a great series for children.

I recently chatted with Lauren about her latest release, Crazy Beautiful, and I’m pleased to share the conversation with you here. Please join me in welcoming author Lauren Baratz-Logsted.

Hi Lauren. Can you tell us about Crazy Beautiful?
Lauren: It's a contemporary re-visioning of Beauty & the Beast told in he-said/she-said fashion about a boy with hooks for hands and a gorgeous girl who meet on their first day at a new school.

But what’s it really about?
Lauren: HA! Good question! It's about how the world often reacts to people so much based on physical characteristics alone. And since Lucius is modeled after the Beast, it's about how we are often the authors of our own tragic conditions. Oh, and redemption and forgiveness - it's about that too.

What were some of the challenges in writing in the he-said/she-said style?
Lauren: I wish I could tell you some horror stories, about how hard I had to struggle, but that simply wasn't the case. Lucius Wolfe and Aurora Belle are so distinctly different from one another, it was exciting to create their voices.

What are/were some of your favorite fairy tales?
Lauren: Beauty & the Beast, of course! I also have a fondness for Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Rumpelstiltskin.

You’ve written for teens and for adults. How do you balance your writing life?
Lauren: I balance it by writing pretty much 365 days a year, so when you think about it, my life is kind of unbalanced.

Tell us a bit about your journey as an author.
Lauren: I'd need to write a whole book for that! I left my day job in 1994 to take a chance on myself as a writer. I made my first sale eight years later. That book was The Thin Pink Line, a comedic novel for adults. I've since had four comedic novels published, one Victorian suspense, two YA, one tween, and the first four volumes of The Sisters 8 series for young readers which I created with my YA novelist husband Greg Logsted (Something Happened, Alibi Junior High) and our nine-year-old daughter Jackie. I also edited an anthology of stories called This Is Chick-Lit, and have had several stories and essays published. That all makes it sound easier than it is. It has been a long journey and it goes on being a journey, every day.

What have been some of the challenges in your career as a writer? How did you overcome these?
Lauren: I guess the biggest is that we live in the era of branding. A lot of people - many of them publishing professionals - expect a writer to be one thing: write one kind of book and stick to it. But for me, that'd be like eating the same wonderful menu at every meal until I got sick of it. Even within a genre like YA, it's tough to pigeonhole my stuff: Angel's Choice and Crazy Beautiful are serious, Secrets of My Suburban Life is comedic, and I have two different books coming out next year that are set in the Victorian era, one a coming-of-age story while the other is more suspense/mystery. So how did I overcome the industry's desire to pigeonhole? I'm bullheaded! I just barreled my way through!

You’ve been at this business for some time. How do you explain your staying power?
Lauren: I believe in myself. Please don't take that as cockiness, because it's not. It's just that I believe in my ability to come up with ideas that appeal to others and further believe in my ability to execute those ideas in such a way that enough people get some sort of enjoyment. It helps to flat-out love what you're doing, which I do.

How would you say the industry has changed since you debuted with The Thin Pink Line?
Lauren: The rise of social media. Every year we become more connected to everyone else. This can be a wonderful thing for authors because there are so many new ways to promote our work without relying strictly on in-house publicists. It can also be a problem, though, for authors who talk without thinking first.

How has social media and technology enabled you to connect with readers?
Lauren: Being interviewed here, for one! And sometimes serendipitous things happen, particularly through Twitter right now. There's been a lot of pre-pub buzz for Crazy Beautiful - more so than for any other book I've written - and nearly all of it can be traced back to Twitter. It also helped that Mashable named me one of 100+ authors worth following on Twitter, an honor they gave out to writers not based on book sales, but rather for writers who do more than simply promote-promote-promote on there, endlessly talking about me-me-me.

What advice do you have for writers starting out?
Lauren: I say the same thing every time: 1) read, read, read - read everything you can get your hands on, in and out of your area of interest, and recognize you can learn just as much if not more from a lousy book as you can from a good book; and 2) always remember, the only person who can ever really take you out of the game is you.

What’s up next for you? What can readers look forward to?
Lauren: Well, you already know about Crazy Beautiful, which is due out September 7. And due to your strong journalistic skills, you even wormed out of me what it's really about! In terms of 2010, I have four books coming out:

The Education of Bet (spring, from Houghton Mifflin), a YA novel set in the Victorian era about a 16-year-old girl who impersonates a boy in order to get a proper education.

The Twin's Daughter (fall, Bloomsbury), a YA suspense novel set in the Victorian era about a teen whose life is irrevocably changed when she discovers her society mother has an identical twin who grew up in the poorhouse.

Marcia's Madness and Petal's Problems (April and Sept, respectively, Houghton Mifflin), Books 5 & 6 in The Sisters 8 series for young readers.

How can readers learn more about you and your books?
Lauren: Just go to!

Thanks, Lauren! I appreciate you taking the time to talk about Crazy Beautiful and your latest news.
Lauren: Thank you so much, Lori, for having me!


Be sure to visit Lauren’s site to learn even more about her journey as an author. You can also pre-order Crazy Beautiful here.

And don’t forget, there are more amazing authors on the Q&A schedule. You don’t want to miss authors like Erica Orloff, Kyra Davis, or Daphne Uviller do you? Then don’t forget to “follow this blog” (on the menu to the right) and you’ll also be entered in the contest for a signed copy of one of my books! By following this blog, you'll be able to stay up to date with what's happening, what guests are coming up, book reviews and so much more.

Until next time… happy reading!

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