It’s been a while since we’ve featured an author interview, so we’re excited to be joined today by Marni Bates, author of Awkward, as part of her blog tour this month. We reviewed Awkward yesterday, so check it out if you haven’t already!
[Booksellers Without Borders]: Why should anybody buy your book?
[Marni Bates]: Erm . . . this is hard to answer without sounding like a pompous jerk. But I think that Awkward is a real fun book with loveable characters that will make you laugh and groan and (hopefully) swoon. Have I mentioned that there’s a really hot guy? Because I think Logan alone is worth reading the book . . .
[BwoB]: AWKWARD is about one of those moments you wish you could forget ever happened that instead gets captured on camera and seen by the world. Is there a real-life awkward moment that you’re glad nobody caught on camera?
[MB]: Oh my god, yes! So many. But if I have to pick just one: I was at my first concert in Portland watching my favorite band (The Kooks) rocking out in the Crystal Ballroom. I had made it through the crushing mass of people all the way up to the front. All that separated me from really hot British boys was a metal railing. It was perfect!
And then the front clasp of my bra popped open.
I wish I were kidding right now.
Trying to refasten your bra while crouching behind a loud, obnoxious Kooks fan . . .not easy. Now every time I hear their song, “Do You Wanna (Make Love Tonight)” I remember awkwardly sticking my hand up my shirt while the lead singer looked down at the crowd.
(Marni sinks lower.)
So yeah, I’m glad that never hit YouTube!
[BwoB]: How has the prevalence of YouTube and smartphones changed the high school experience? For better or worse?
[MB]: I think now it’s probably easier for people to spread vicious rumors and to circulate awful, unflattering photos. But honestly? Bullies throughout the ages have always found ways to make their victims feel crappy. I don’t think we can blame new technology just because jerks have found new ways to torment others.
I’m going to make a sweeping generalization when I say that the Internet is a very good place. But it’s true! It provides so many creative outlets and resources and ways to connect with people and organizations that are bursting with sheer awesomeness! And if you can find a place within a community where you feel valued and respected (Which is totally out there for everyone. It just might take some time to find.) I think that eases the isolation that most kids feel in high school.
At least, that’s how I felt in high school.
So . . . I’m definitely pro-Internet.
[BwoB]: Has one of your characters ever done anything that surprised you?
[MB]: All the fricking time. I’m definitely one of those writers who has a very loose conception of a book when I begin the project. I have maybe the first thirty pages more or less planned out. Of course by the time I get there everything is completely different from what I had originally planned so I just kind of go with it and see where I end up.
Specific moments? Logan and Mackenzie get rather erm, intimate in a Victoria’s Secret and I definitely didn’t see it coming. It’s also one of my favorite scenes because I was laughing out loud the entire time.
Almost everything that Mackenzie says to Logan the night of Spencer’s party surprised me. She was just so wonderfully blunt and honest that it was an absolute pleasure writing it all down.
[BwoB]: Your first book was an autobiography focusing on the compulsion to pull hair (also known as trichotillomania). What made you decide to write YA fiction next?
[MB]: I never intended to write my autobiography. In fact, I think it would’ve been kind of weird if at nineteen I had decided to make a career out of writing about myself. Going into the project I knew it was an incredible opportunity to be honest with myself and I’ve never regretted it. I think that writing candidly about what I saw as my most shameful secret (my hair-pulling) helped me tremendously with my fiction. See, I realized that there was more to me than an addiction to hair-pulling. And once I figured that out, I knew that Mackenzie was way more than an awkward geek who stumbled into fame. So I wanted to tell her story, with all the nuances that made her feel so real to me.
Here’s the funny part: even though I thought I was completely finished with autobiographical stuff, I find that there’s always some aspect of my main characters that I connect with on a deep emotional level. Even Chelsea and when I initially wrote Awkward I absolutely despised her.
But even though Chelsea is my total opposite, I find myself sharing her concerns and fears. So maybe I didn’t leave behind my memoir past as much as I thought!
[BwoB]: Thanks for joining us on your blog tour!