Lisa Papademetriou needs no introduction in the world of Children’s Literature. And that is exactly why I didn’t write one.
I discovered you, personally, with the marvelous book The Wizard, The Witch and Two Girls from Jersey, which I’ve described as part Ella Enchanted, part The Lord of the Rings, and part Mean Girls. In reviewing the book for MotherReader, I said that it was perfect for a movie and, in fact, made some casting suggestions. My question is: Has a movie option been arranged and do I get a producer credit if Vanessa Anne Hudgens is chosen for the lead, as I suggested?
Yes, the book has been optioned by Paramount Pictures! I don’t know if they’ll actually make the movie or who they’ll cast... but I’ll pass your suggestion along. I’m not sure I can arrange a producer credit, though how would you feel about gaffer?
It seems like every time I pick up a book, it has your name on it, but even I was surprised to find that you’ve written more than thirty children’s books. For such a prolific author, I see you as flying under the radar in children’s literature. How do you see yourself as an author and how does it work for or against you?
Well, first let me just clarify that book number. I began my career as an author writing books in series such as Sweet Valley and Lizzie McGuire, and I still adapt a number of movies for Pixar and Disney under a pen name. (A lot of writers, including R.L. Stine and Ann M. Martin, have started as series writers.) So that accounts for the majority of my published work. I suppose I am flying under the radar. I prefer to think of it as “on the verge of rocking the world.” Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of control over whether or not I become a household name. I just try to concentrate on the kids who write to me and tell me that they love my books. To them, I’m as famous as any other author. And, of course, my mom thinks I’m incredibly famous.
You mentioned Sweet Valley and Lizzie McGuire, but you’ve also authored many titles in the Candy Apple and Disney Fairies series. How does your writing process differ when writing for a series versus writing your own books, and do you have a preference for which kind you like to write?
I love paperback. The process is fast and you’re writing directly to the kids. For me, the writing process is pretty much the same it’s just that hardcover tends to make me more neurotic because I’m stressing over the reviews even before I write the first sentence.
In Chasing Normal, M or F? and Sixth Grade Glommers, Norks, and Me, you really capture the insecurity of the teen years with humor and sensitivity. How are these books reflective of your own life experience? In other words and with all due respect do you have an inner dork?
Inner dork? Believe me, I’m a dork through and through. You’ve read The Wizard, the Witch, and Two Girls from Jersey, so you can probably tell that I’ve read every fantasy book out there about ten times. The three books you mention are all very reflective of my own life experience except, hopefully, funnier.
Your new book, Drop, is a real departure from your set comfort zone. Why did you want to branch out with this particular book?
There were a lot of nuggets for that book. I wanted to write something about fate and chance, and I wanted to write something about the eeriness of Las Vegas, and I wanted to write something about being a first-generation American. I guess I could have tried to play it for laughs, but it just didn’t come out that way. And thank you for phrasing it as “a real departure from my set comfort zone.” It really was. Writing that book was like swimming through concrete for me. I have no idea what people will think of it.
You used to blog through Bookburger, but are you blogging anywhere else these days?
No. I also used to have a blog on Amazon, which I loved. Unfortunately, when you blog, people can write mean things back to you, and on Amazon, they can even vote on whether or not they liked your post. It was too much like having people vote on whether or not they approved of my thoughts I started to feel inhibited and defensive, which isn’t a good thing. I don’t know how you do it!
[Lightning round through the other “Ws.”]
When did you start writing?
I started my first novel when I was in fourth grade. I wrote three pages and gave up. It turned out that writing a book was much harder than I thought it would be.
Where do you do your best thinking?
I do my best thinking while on a long walk with my husband. I’ll say something like, “I want the heroine to play some kind of sport.” And Ali will either come up with something brilliant, or he’ll say something like, “How about cricket?” And then I’ll try to think of something better. That usually works.
Who inspires your personally or professionally?
The readers inspire me. Also, the need to pay my mortgage is a real fire-lighter. Beyond that, I never know what will make the wheels in my head start to turn. I take little pieces from everywhere.
What’s next for you?
I just had a baby this year, so that’s been a big project for me! Professionally, I’m working on the last book in a four-book series (Accidentally Fabulous). It’s under the Candy Apple line, and I’m having a ball writing it. After that, I’m working on a creepy mermaid tale. Then we’ll see!
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