Author Interview: Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Books (for teens):
  • Angel's Choice
  • Secrets of my Suburban Life
  • Me, In Between
  • Crazy Beautiful

In an explosion of his own making, Lucius blew his arms off. Now he has hooks. He chose hooks because they were cheaper. He chose hooks because he wouldn’t outgrow them so quickly. He chose hooks so that everyone would know he was different, so he would scare even himself.

Then he meets Aurora. The hooks don’t scare her. They don’t keep her away. In fact, they don’t make any difference at all to her.

But to Lucius, they mean everything. They remind him of the beast he is inside. Perhaps Aurora is his Beauty, destined to set his soul free from its suffering.

Or maybe she’s just a girl who needs love just like he does.

How did the idea for Crazy Beautiful come to you?

Beauty & the Beast has always been a favorite fairy tale of mine. I'd just seen it on Broadway and I got to thinking why, of all the Disney-fied fairy tales, it's the one that's been most successfully translated to stage and screen. I decided it's because it's the only one where the male lead is as fully fleshed out as the female lead, even more so than she is, as opposed to all the other fairy tales where the male functions as mere window dressing to make the female look better. I decided I wanted to do my own comtemporary version, showing, among other things, how we are sometimes the architects of our own tragic circumstances and how to find the path to redemption.

Why did you choose to write about a guy with hooks for hands?

I could just as easily ask: Why not hooks? :) I've known all sorts of people in my life, with all sorts of different defining physical features. But I've only known one person well who had hooks for hands. It's such a visual thing and it has such a visual impact on people when they first meet you. I wanted Lucius to have something like that, something that would set him off as unique the minute he stepped into his new school.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be?

I have always loved to write so I'd say that from a young age, in the back of my mind, I always somewhat imagined ending up where I am now. But when I was younger I wanted to be a psychologist for a long time or possibly a lead singer in a band. I made the mistake of confessing the latter to my family at a holiday dinner one time and of course they all burst into loud laughter, causing me to realize that maybe that was not in the cards.

What are some of your all time favorite books?

Favorite book by a dead author: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Favorite book by a live author: Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I love all sorts of different books, both classic and contemporary, but I have a particular love for so many YA books that are coming out now. YA has become so fresh, so vibrant - there's really nothing else quite like it.

What advice can you give for aspiring writers?

Read, read, read - read widely and read everything you can get your hands on because you can't be a good writer if you're not a good reader. And always remember, the only person who can ever really take you out of the game is you.

What are you working on now?

I've got four new books coming out in 2010. Two more YA: The Education of Bet, due out in April, is set in the Victorian era and is about a 16-year-old girl who impersonates a boy in order to get a proper education; and The Twin's Daughter, due out in the fall and also set in the Victorian era, about a girl whose life is changed forever when she discovers that her gorgeous and wealthy mother has an identical twin who was raised in the poorhouse. The other two books are Books 5 and 6 from The Sisters 8 series for young readers which I created with my novelist husband Greg Logsted and our nine-year-old daughter Jackie. Phew!

Anything else you would like to share?

Only that I am eternally grateful to you and all the other bloggers who expended so much time, energy and intelligence in shedding light on all the wonderful books being written these days. The pessimists like to whine about how no one reads anymore. But I look at people like you and it makes me want to say to the Debbie Downers of the world: "Are you kidding me???"

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this.

My pleasure and my privilege.

For more information about Lauren Baratz-Logsted, visit her website here.

Also you can read my review for Crazy Beautiful here.


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