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I have had the pleasure of interviewing author Lisa Burstein. This YA author is someone to definitely watch out for. Pick up her debut novel, Pretty Amy, today!
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I am a Contemporary Young Adult Author. My debut novel Pretty Amy came out in May from Entangled Publishing. I have been accused of actually being a seventeen year-old-girl in reviews, but I am definitely old, married, and no longer in high school.
What is Pretty Amy about?
Pretty Amy is the story of Amy Fleishman, “one of the legions of middle-class white girls who search malls for jeans to make them look thinner, who search drugstores for makeup to wear as second-skin, who are as sexy and exotic as blueberry muffins.” But that all changes when she is arrested on prom night. Her life is altered overnight, and she is forced to navigate unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents in order to stay out of jail. Amy struggles to decide if it’s worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy and finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
That is a very hard question to answer. I would say all writers. One thing I’ve learned since I’ve been published is that authors and writers are an incredibly supportive and hardworking bunch.
What do you like best about writing YA fiction?
That I get to go back and say all the things I didn’t get to say while I was in high school. High school was not easy for me. Freshman year, I tried my hardest to fit in with the popular kids—girls who seemed like they had no problems, looked perfect, acted perfect, smelled perfect. I kept feeling like I was just a body, taking up space around people who actually belonged there. I cried in my room at night about why I wasn’t wanted. These experiences are what helped me write Pretty Amy. I wanted to write a contemporary young adult book that was about what real teens go through.
What book are you reading now?
Everyday by, David Levithan
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here are the first few paragraphs of Pretty Amy:
“Unfortunately, I am only myself. I am only Amy Fleishman.
I am one of the legions of middle-class white girls who search malls for jeans that make them look thinner, who search drugstores for makeup to wear as a second skin, who are as sexy and exotic as blueberry muffins.
I am a walking, talking True Life episode. Your high-school guidance counselor’s wet dream, and one of the only girls I know to get arrested on prom night.
When my mother dropped me off at Lila’s, rather than running like hell the way I usually did, I sat next to her in our minivan and waited for a speech. The speech mothers give to their only daughters on nights when those daughters are all dressed up and the mothers look all wistful and teary.
I assumed she was building up to it, was working through exactly what she was going to say so it would be perfect. I knew from TV that she must have practiced in the mirror, but maybe, faced with having to say all those things to me, she’d frozen up. I could understand that.
When I saw Lila peek out to see who was sitting in her driveway, and then felt my phone vibrate with a text that I knew must say, WTF R U DOIN?, I figured I had waited long enough.”
What is the Pretty Amy Project?
I wanted to provide a safe place where teens who had read Pretty Amy could share their feelings about the book and how they feel it relates to their lives and their experiences. I am asking them to tell me how they’ve felt like Amy. How they got over it. How they are getting over it. How they are embracing it. I am inviting them to tell anything they’ve been too afraid to tell before. I will be creating a blog to showcase the stories, and teens can decide whether they want to be anonymous and or have their names listed. I am hoping it will let teen girls know they are not alone. That a lot of people feel what they feel: the desire to belong, to fit in, to have people who understand them. I was a lot like Amy. Just like her, I had such a desire to belong, to fit in, to have people who understood me. I wanted that so badly and I guess I never felt like adults understood that. It was most of the reason I wrote Pretty Amy. If I’d had it when I was in high school, I feel like I would have been able to understand my feelings better. I wouldn’t have felt so alone. That feeling was something I never admitted to anyone, not even my friends and I wanted to let teens know it’s okay to feel lonely even surrounded by friends and family.
Where can we find you?
My website, lisaburstein.com, has all my links and contact info.