Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Debut Author of the Month:
Libby Schm

Je suis heureux de vous informer that starting today, I'm reviving le Debut Author du mois feature on mon blog. (Those of you who contacted me for First Books: You may be hearing from in months to come.)

January's DAotM is Libby Schmais, whose YA debut is The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein, released from Delacorte en Décembre. Says Kirkus: "readers of any age will savor Lotus’s panache...Chick lit par excellence." You can read a délicieuse excerpt here.

Describe your debut YA novel,
The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein.

The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein
is a diary book by a teenager living in Brooklyn who is obsessed with all things French. Lotus feels stifled by her life in Park Slope, Brooklyn and fancies herself an existentialist, although her real knowledge of that philosophy and actual French words is a little sketchy. She and her best friend Joni end up both liking the same guy, another Sartre aficionado, and things come to a head during a school trip to Montreal, challenging both her friendship and her freethinking ideas.

You’d published a couple of books for adults—what made you write for a YA audience?

I didn’t consciously set out to write a YA book. The character of Lotus appeared to me one day, and the voice was a teenage one, so I just kind of went with it. I think if I had decided to write a modern-day YA novel from the beginning, I would have been intimidated, because it was out of my comfort zone.

Why did you choose diary format? Have you kept journals at some point?

Well, Lotus is studying The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagan in school, a famous Japanese diary book so that’s part of the reason I chose the diary format. The other reason is that I’ve always wanted to write a diary book. So many of my favorite books are diary books, like I Capture the Castle, Bridget Jones’ Diary, The Diary of Adrian Mole, etc. And in answer to your question, I have tried to write in many journals over the years and have a stack of half-filled notebooks that are impossible to read because my handwriting is so terrible.

Like your title character Brooklynite Lotus Lowenstein, are you a Francophile and/or an existentialist?

I’m definitely a Francophile. I love French food, speaking French badly, and I have recurring fantasy about moving to the South of France, preferably near a field of lavender and an outdoor café. I’m also a bit of an existentialist, particularly on Mondays, when life seems très meaningless.

How did you end up at Delacorte? Do you have an agent?

I do have an agentthe fabulous Stephen Barbara of Foundry Media, who hooked me up with Delacorte. I actually have a two-book deal, so I will have another YA book coming out in approximately a year or so, with a totally different character, although equally quirky and misguided.

You’ve recently completed the My-Life-Is-Merde-but-Have-a-Bonnes-Fêtes-Anyway Blog Tourapalooza, you’ve got a fan page on facebook, and you blog and tweet as your main character. Did I miss anything? How are your book promotion efforts going?

Wow, it sounds so exhausting when you put it like that. Yes, that covers it, except for maybe Goodreads, which is a great site for authors. I have to say all the YA bloggers are a very encouraging and enthusiastic bunch, and they’ve been very positive about the book, so I’d say the online promotion is going well, although I always feel that I could be doing more.

Can you offer some advice to first-time YA authors?

Advice. Hmmm. Probably the same advice I give myselftry not to be too influenced by what everyone else is doing and write the story that you need to write. And don’t be so hard on yourself. Writing is not easy.


Unknown said...

The excerpt left this existentialist grinning. I can think of a number of people, including myself, who need to read this book.

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Quelle belle interview! C'est et une bonne suprise, et J'ai beaucoup appris.
(okay, but now I'm curious - how can an author use GoodReads to promote their book?)
Thanks and Namaste,

Bethany Wiggins said...

Thanks for posting this awesome interview. I love reading the many different pathways to publication.

writergirlnyc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lotus said...

Hi everyone,

thanks for your tres gentile comments and for lee, what I was talkinga bout was that goodreads has a great author program where you can post info about your book, linke your blog, do giveaways, etc. here's the link: http://www.goodreads.com/author/program


Sandra Rose Hughes said...

I love her advice.

Great job on the new 2010 edition, by the way. I look forward to my new copy coming soon.