BP: Do you have a teenager that you use as a sounding board?Then be around them MORE, Lurlene. I mean, okay, I know there are lots of people who write Y.A. lit who don't exactly spend their entire lives with teens, but I think it's especially important the further you get out of that age bracket to really prioritize that. I know the amazing Judy Blume won't write Y.A. anymore because she doesn't think she has anything left to say to teens. While that saddens me, knowing how many lives she touches with her Y.A. catalog, I really respect her for knowing that. Understand teens and be relevant to them, or stick with another genre. It's just essential.
LM: Oh, I wish. Sean had a brother, Eric, who's a youth pastor in Alabama. I can be around kids if I need to be.
BP: Do you write with an audience or gender in mind?"Realistic", seriously? I mean, I will not deny the popularity of these books, but the dialogue is so crazily inaccurate; I genuinely don't know any kids who talk like they do in the Lurleneverse. Even when she nails the emotions, she rarely nails anything further.
LM: I have always been amazed guys read these books and seem to enjoy them. Because I've raised boys, I like to think I can get inside a guy's mind. I try and make the boys talk like guys, sound like guys and react like guys. [Characters] say, "Well, you know, she's got cystic fibrosis, and that grosses me out." You've got to be realistic.
BP: A poll taken by Book magazine lists both female and male teens' favorite authors. Your name was fourth for females and fifth for males. This must be immensely gratifying.Listen, I am the last person to rattle on about gender differences, but even taking the position that most have to do with societal constructs, it sort of shocks me that dudes would list Lurlene as a favorite author. Right?
LM: That blew me away. I am very privileged and honored when someone chooses to read a book, especially a book of mine.
She talks a bit about Six Months to Live, but that's the next book I'm recapping, so I'll save my comments on that for the forthcoming recap.
Lurlene goes off on a tangent about teen suicide:
BP: Great. You know, many consider your works inspirational.Do you guys think the one in four statistic is accurate? I know that, sadly, lots of kids DO kill themselves, but one in four? I only have one distant relative who did, and given that I've known hundreds of kids over my lifetime, I either have a statistically abnormally happy group of acquaintances, or Lurlene's full of crap.
LM: Well, thank you. That's the goal I go for. You know not every book has to have a happy ending, but it has to have a satisfying ending. I like to tell young people -- you know one in four children die by their own hands -- no matter how bad things seem, just wait a day, wait a week. Life will turn around. I have known some magnificent young people who died very young but had wonderful lives and inspired many people by their short existence.
(That said, her advice is pretty good.)
Interesting that Lurlene battled breast cancer; she's lucky she doesn't live in her own universe, because she is still alive today! That never, ever would have happened if she wrote a book about herself!