Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Women Who Rock Wednesday: Sarah Quigley

I'm back and so is Women Who Rock Wednesday! The winner of Red: Teenage Girls in America Write On What Fires Up Their Lives Today is lovelessangel93 from LiveJournal! Ritsuka, since you've been a multiple WWRW winner, I have your address and will have the book shipped out to you from Amazon ASAP!

Now to introduce this week's Woman Who Rocks: Sarah Quigley, author of the novel TMI, which comes out tomorrow!!! 

I met Sarah in San Francisco last summer when I was reading as part of Not Your Mother's Book Club at Books Inc. Sarah handed me a bookmark for TMI then and I've been waiting for it's release since. I was lucky enough to get an early copy and can tell you it's a great relaxing vacation read. I'll let Sarah tell you about the book and more herself though! And of course if you comment after reading the interview you will be entered to win a copy of TMI!

Q: Tell us about TMI. What is it about and what inspired you to write it?

Sarah: TMI is about fifteen-year-old Becca, a.k.a. the Overshare Queen. Becca can’t stop herself from telling everyone more than they want to hear, and it finally blows up in her face when her first boyfriend dumps her for kissing and telling. Becca tries to curb her TMI habit by starting a blog.

TMI wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for my blog, Sure Thing, Babs ( I wrote about my own life in the third person, calling myself Babs. Babs was me, but with the volume turned up. She was a bit funnier, smarter, and sexier, always ready with a witty retort or scathing comeback.

A few years ago, an editor at Dutton Children’s Books randomly came across my blog and fell in love with Babs. She thought my writing style would work well in a young adult novel and suggested that my heroine create an alter ego on a blog, much the way I did with Babs.

Q: Please list five songs that would be on the soundtrack to TMI and tell us the reason behind them?

Sarah: 1. “Blue Orchid” by The White Stripes
TMI begins with a quote from this song: “We all need to do something/Try to keep the truth from showing up.” This encapsulates Becca’s struggle throughout the book as she attempts to stifle her motor mouth.

2. “Hopelessly Devoted to You” from the Grease soundtrack
Becca and her friends are involved in the school production of Grease. There’s plenty of drama offstage as Becca gets dirty looks from her ex-boyfriend in the lighting booth and shares the spotlight with her crush. The song is about a girl pining after a boy she can’t have, and Becca relates only too well.

3. “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” by Pearl Jam
I couldn’t get this song out of my head while I was writing TMI. The story is set in fictional Pine Prairie, Minnesota, which bears a strong resemblance to my hometown. Becca feels trapped in Pine Prairie and can’t wait to get out. “I changed by not changing at all/Small town predicts my fate” sums up my feelings about growing up in a small town. People think that they know each other, but this familiarity is wrapped up tightly in preconceived ideas. Becca transforms over the course of TMI, but not everyone sees it.

4. “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel
Becca refers to this song in one of her blog posts in which she fantasizes about a romance with Matt. This song is also prominent in the film Say Anything, a favorite movie of Becca and her friends.

5. “Price I Pay” by Jane’s Addiction
I was obsessed with Jane’s Addiction in high school although this song is off the Strays album, which came out almost ten years after I graduated. When I listen to Jane’s Addiction, I am sixteen again, and all the uncertainties and excitement of that time come flooding back. This song is a fitting anthem for the last part of the novel in which Becca’s mistakes catch up with her. “I always do the wrong thing but for a very good reason…So forgive me now and forgive me later.”

Q: How did you get into writing? Is it something you've loved since you were a kid? Who are some of your influences, especially the women since it is Women Who Rock Wednesday?

Sarah: I wrote my first book when I was six. It was called Rocker and Roller Mary, and I illustrated and bound it in cardboard covered with wrapping paper. I made a series out of it, and my mom still has all the books packed away somewhere.

When I was nine, my aunt gave me my first diary, and I wrote in that regularly until I began blogging when I was twenty-five. Throughout that time, I wrote a bunch of short stories, a novel about a girl who could fly, and some truly heinous poetry.

I have a friend who is a children’s librarian, and she sent me a copy of Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries a few years ago with a note attached saying, “I bet you could write something like this.” The thought hadn’t occurred to me before, but reading that book definitely lit a spark in me. I soon became a huge fan of Meg’s and started exploring other YA authors. I adore E. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle, Laurie Halse Anderson, and John Green (not a woman, but an author who seriously rocks).

Q: Aside from writing, what are some of your other interests, hobbies, and favorite things to do?

Sarah: Right after college, I was living in Minneapolis, going to grad school, taking belly-dancing classes, and going to live shows whenever I had a chance. I never missed a chance to see the Red Elvises, a Siberian surf rock band based in L.A. The Elvises have a song called “I Wanna See You Bellydance,” and they like to pull women onstage to fulfill the song’s request when they perform. I always stayed close to the stage so that I could jump up as soon as Igor, the lead singer and guitarist, shouted, “We wanna see you belly dance.” The Elvises are always touring, and when I moved to San Francisco, I kept going to their shows and gyrating for the crowd.

In between Minneapolis and San Francisco, I lived in New York for a couple of years. I became a regular at Hot Box Burlesque nights at the Slipper Room on the Lower East Side. The weekend would come, and I’d say to my husband, “Let’s go catch the burlesque show.” He always rolled his eyes and “complained” that I was dragging him out to watch girls take off their clothes. (He was also extremely upset when I made him go to an exhibit of nude photos of Marilyn Monroe at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.) Later, I had a chance to attend a burlesque workshop, where I learned the finer points of a good glove peel and pasty twirling. I have yet to perform, but my burlesque name is Ginny Tanqueray.

Q: I know TMI just came out, but what's next for you?

Sarah: I do have a new book in the works, but it’s coming along slowly, as many projects do for new mamas (my daughter, Charlotte, is fourteen months old). I’m hoping to pick up the pace this summer. The story is loosely based on my experiences waitressing at a resort in northern Wisconsin when I was in college. I spent two summers living with sorority girls, slinging prime rib, and making out with camp counselors. When I wasn’t dealing with bitchy customers and coworkers, I was having a blast.

Q: Now for my standard Women Who Rock Wednesday questions. The first is a two parter. What is the first album you bought and concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge!

Sarah: My dad is a musician, and he began buying me music when I was very young: Billy Joel, Prince, The Police. Good stuff. I honestly can’t remember the first album I bought with my own money, but it was probably something by Madonna or Whitney Houston.

I popped my concert cherry with Nirvana on their In Utero tour in 1993. I was seventeen and was not yet allowed to travel to the Twin Cities by myself (I grew up in a tiny town 70 miles away), so my mom dropped off me and my boyfriend at the St. Paul Civic Center. We found our nosebleed seats as Shonen Knife played their opening set, and I could hardly see the band because we were so high up and far off to the side. The Breeders played next, and they were fantastic.

During the intermission, I went to the bathroom and ran into my mom! She told me that one of the security guys had let her in without a ticket. I complained about our lousy seats, and she said, "Let's go find better ones. It's not like everyone stays in their assigned seats." I went back and got my boyfriend and we were able to score some kick-ass seats right in the center balcony. The show was brilliant, but I think I was even more in awe of my mom that night.

Q: Please dish about the moment where you felt most like a rock star. Maybe it was a moment of big success in your career, an "I'm Not Worthy!" Wayne's World type moment where you met someone cool, or a time where you just got the rock star treatment.

Sarah: 1. The first time I belly danced at a Red Elvises show was a great rock star moment. People even came up to me afterward and complimented my belly-dancing skills.

2. My wedding day also measured high on the rock-o-meter. My friend Nick was the DJ, and he surprised me by playing “Polyester Bride” by Liz Phair. That was awesome.

3. The day I found out I was going to get a contract for TMI was amazing. I had the day off, and I had just gotten a massage when my editor called to tell me the news. I immediately phoned my husband and my mom, and they were ecstatic. I treated myself to a manicure and pedicure, and then my husband and I went out for a dinner that still makes me moan a little when I think about how good the food was (for inquiring minds, it was at a place called August in Greenwich Village). Rock star day all the way.

Okay, how cool is Sarah? First of all, she had my dream first concert experience (so jealous you saw Nirvana *pouts*) and she's into bellydancing and burlesque? Super cool! So comment away on Sarah's interview and how much you want to read her book and you'll be entered to win a signed copy of TMI from Sarah herself. I'll draw the winner next Wednesday when I feature Christine Ely, frontwoman of the band She Craves!


Steph Su said...

I've heard a lot of things about TMI and look forward to reading it. That's quite an unusual road to publication, but hey, if it works for you, good job! Congrats on your book release, Sarah!

Anonymous said...

Great interview and can't wait to read TMI. Congrats on your book coming out!!!!!

Sarah said...

I am just thrilled that this book is finally out. This Minneapolis hip shaker loves to see someone as amazing as Sarah getting her stuff out there to be read.


girl jordyn said...

Ahhh I can't wait to read this book - I've heard such awesomeness about it and what a crazy publication story, Sarah! Nice!

Senfaye said...

Awesome interview! TMI looks absolutely amazing and fabulous and I want to read it more than anyone!!!!!! I can't wait to read it!

-Senfaye :)

Diana Dang said...

I am curious to read about a book involving an active blogging protagonist! =D

Llehn said...

I've seen this book making it's way around blogs and am definitely intrigued by it. I mean, who wouldn't want to read about other people's little secrets?


Lalaland said...

I love Liz Phair. Her sounds are more different then what I'm usually listening to.

Erika Lynn said...

TMI sounds so amazing and I am so jealous you saw Nirvana. that just isn't fair.