Monday, 25 April 2011

Interview: Lauren Bjorkman (My Invented Life)

So today I have Lauren Bjorkman here at Writing from the Tub, talking about her life as a writer and her newest novel, My Invented Life. Without further ado, on with the interview!

In case any readers haven’t read the book yet, can you tell me a little bit about My Invented Life?

My Invented Life is a comedy of errors with mistaken identities, ambiguous sexuality, skate Gods, stage geeks and true love. It’s about two sisters who simultaneously adore and sabotage each other in ways that only sisters can. It’s also a romp through the theater geek crowd and a loose retelling of Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

In young adult fiction in particular, it’s important that readers bond with the characters - what do you think is the most important thing to get right when you're creating a character?

Most importantly, the reader must care about the character. Care about what happens to her. Since I prefer writing about complex characters that are seriously flawed, this can pose a challenge! The best ways is to show my character's beautiful traits to balance out the less lovely ones. We are all a mixed bag of good and bad in real life. If my readers like my character despite her shortcomings, and root for her to succeed, then I've done my job.

Do you own a Kindle or other e-reader? What’s your opinion on them?

I don't own an e-reader. My main reason is simple. Though I absolutely adore my computer, I spend too much time in front of the screen writing, blogging, emailing, Facebooking, etc. Besides, I love to read a book while curled up in bed with my cat on my stomach. The idea of saving trees appeals to me, though.

What reading for pleasure do you prefer to read standalones or series? Why?

I read stand alones more often. My face genre, contemporary fiction, rarely comes in series form. I don't know why, exactly. I do read fantasy and dystopian, too. In middle school, I so went crazy over The Wizard of Earthsea, that I named my hermit crabs Ursula and LeGuin. Most recently I consumed The Hunger Games series in a single bite. Paranormal romances, which are incredibly popular right now, don't grab me as much.

The YA book market is a competitive place, what do you think sets My Invented Life apart from the pack?

It's funny! And fast-paced compared to a lot of contemporary fiction, but it still has depth. At least, that's what the reviewers say. There are other YA novels set among the theater geek crowd, but not many. Also, very few YA LGBT novels address bisexuality.

Some writers relate take great inspiration from music while they’re writing. Do you listen to music while you’re writing? If so, what artists/bands do you like to listen to while you write?

I love music. The feelings expressed in certain songs inspire me to write. In fact, I want to structure a book around a certain Tom Petty album some day. But I don't listen while writing.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you always been this way?

A pantser all the way. If I plot in great of detail, I lose interest in my story. The problem with pantsing, though? I end up spending twice as long revising as I do writing in the first place. I've tried some rough plotting methods that work for me. Like creating an outline of heart clutching moments, then connecting these together with the rest of the story.

How important do you think social media (i.e. Twitter/Facebook/blogging) is in today’s market for a writer?

Important but not crucial. I hope! I have a website and blog, but don't blog often, and tweet rarely. I have done a lot of interviews and guest posts, though. In a world where most new books get about three months inside a bookstore, it's great way to keep your book in the public eye. Also, I enjoy meeting bloggers, librarians, and other writers online. Some of these exchanges are amazing!

Do you think your teenage years have influenced you as a writer? If so, how?

Absolutely. The intensity of that time stayed with me--the pain, the excitement, the hopefulness, and the playfulness. I hope to never lose it.

There is a lot of argument within the young adult market as to what is appropriate for teens to read. Where do you stand on this matter? Do you think teens should be protected from reading about taboo subjects or do you think they should have the freedom to choose their own reads?

No one censors real life for teens. They get exposed to all kinds of difficult situations--an abusive parent, friends and parents that use drugs, mental illness, homelessness, war. Stories give teens a safe place from which to view their own lives. I believe novels help teens cope with difficult situations, and make them feel less alone. Not to mention develop empathy for others.
Still, it's goof for readers to filter their choices based on their own sensitivities. For instance, I don't watch horror movies because they give me nightmares. Pick your books carefully.

What books do you think we should be looking out for in 2011?

So many! For simplicity, I will limit my list to stand alones. I'm especially looking forward to Allen Zadoff's My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies. His first novel was absolutely hilarious. Other contemporary novels I'm dying to read include I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler, Crush Control by Jennifer Jabaley, and The Implosion of Aggie Winchester by Lara Zielin. In fantasy/paranormal, I can't wait for The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell, Huntress by Malinda Lo, and Misfit by John Skovron.

Thank you so much for your time, Lauren. Before you go, could you tell me about any projects you have in the pipeline we can look out for?

Right now I'm in the throes of revising my next YA, Miss Fortune Cookie--a story about girl living in SF Chinatown with her single mother, and her complicated friendships. She starts an advice blog called Miss Fortune Cookie, which is fun, until someone actually takes her advice. It will come out in 2012.

I'm also writing a humorous YA dystopian with a hopeful ending.

Thank you for asking me these most excellent questions!


So, have any of you guys read My Invented Life, what did you think? It was great to speak to Lauren and I'd like to say a big thanks to her for stopping by :).


  1. Thanks for such an awesome Author interview, and for letting me know about this author! My Invented Life sounds really cool and I have now got it added to my wish list! :D x

  2. Thank you Carly for having me!


Thank you kindly for the comment, you sweet thing.