Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Women Who Rock Wednesday: Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Welcome to Women Who Rock Wednesday, the day that is all about celebrating women who are rocking the world with their creativity in some manner and learning about new books, music, film, and art to check out! Oh and there are usually prizes too!

This week I have two winners to announce. The winner of April Mosqus contest (for a Before We Get to Seattle tote bag and a copy of the film when it comes out on DVD) is.... lovelessangel93 from Live Journal. The winner of the contest for my zine is... Steph Bowe from blogger. If you ladies could send your mailing addresses to stephanie at stephaniekuehnert dot com I'll make sure your stuff gets out to you!

Now, onward to today's guest, an author I love whose new book, CRAZY BEAUTIFUL, I'm very excited about. Let's meet Lauren Baratz-Logsted!!!!

Q: Please tell us about the crazy-good sounding premise of your new book CRAZY BEAUTIFUL. Also can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write it? I love new takes on classic tales. I have a myth of my own I'm really connected to that I want to do a version of (Persephone). What was your connection to the Beauty and the Beast story? What did you set about to do differently or was there a certain part of the classic tale you really wanted to focus on or add to?

Lauren: Thanks for having me, Stephanie! Crazy Beautiful is a contemporary re-visioning of Beauty & the Beast, told in he-said/she-said fashion, about a boy with hooks for hands and a gorgeous girl who meet on their first day at a new school. I've always liked Beauty & the Beast best of all the Disney-fied fairy tales and, after seeing it on Broadway, concluded the reason it's so successful is that it's the only one where the male lead is more than just mere window dressing to make the female look good; if anything, he's by far the more compelling character. So I decided I wanted to do my own version, focusing on how surface values - Aurora's beauty, distinctive physical features like Lucius's hooks, even rumors - affect how others perceive and treat us, thereby affecting how we perceive and treat the world in return. Oh, and I hope you do write your Persephone story!

Q: Can you share some of the songs that would be on a CRAZY BEAUTIFUL soundtrack and how they relate to the story?

Lauren: Ack! Now you're expecting me to be musically smarter than I am! Let's see...definitely Rob Thomas's "Lonely No More" - I love the moody sound of it - and "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol. I'd also add Howie Day's "Collide" and "Listen to Your Heart" by Dht. How am I doing? Do I sound musically smart yet or do I just sound like an idiot?

Q: You have written a TON of books. What I think is super cool is that you also write a series with your husband and daughter. Can you tell us a bit about what that collaborative process is like?

Lauren: Well, it's just a little bit crazy, at least for me. Greg (, Jackie (who's nine now) and I originally came up with the idea for The Sisters 8 series for young readers when we were stranded in Colorado by a blizzard back in 2006. Basically the way it works is we all brainstorm a book together, then I sit down to write. After each chapter, I read it aloud to them and they tell me what's good, what's bad and what they think should happen next. I'd never written by committee before doing this series. The one good part of being the person who does the actual grunt work of writing out the ideas is that I get final veto power. Really, they let me have it because I'm the only one willing to keep straight what will eventually be over 1000 pages worth of story, but I'll greedily seize power wherever I can find it. I'm pathetic that way.

Q: Where did your journey to being a writer begin? Did it start when you were young or later in life? And who were some of your inspirations (other authors, characters in books, other artists, parents or teachers)? We especially like to hear about other women on Women Who Rock Wednesday, but men are cool too!

Lauren: Well, I'm afraid it was a man who started it all. In eighth grade I was twelve years old. My English teacher, a man, gave an assignment where we had to connect three seemingly disparate items - a priest, a nurse and a camel - into a short story. He liked mine so much he made the class listen to it three days running, at the end of which time I realized maybe I had a little of something called talent, for want of a more modest word. From then on it just seemed like whenever I had a class that required some sort of creative writing, teachers would get that glassy-eyed look in their eyes like they were suddenly reminded why they'd got into teaching in the first place. Of course it's entirely possible that I had no talent, probably still don't, and that I'd merely happened to run across a string of sentimental English teachers who'd had the bad fortune to always have even worse students than me. I suppose we can also blame Little Women's Jo March for me becoming a writer. Really, we could probably go ahead and blame every book I've ever read, since as a lifelong reader I've pretty much lived my life in books, making me want to create them as well.

Q: Of course all the readers who have or are about to gobble up CRAZY BEAUTIFUL are gonna want to know... what's next?

Lauren: 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 we discussed earier and which I created with my novelist husband Greg Logsted and our nine-year-old daughter Jackie. Phew!

Q: I have two questions that I always ask my Women Who Rock, the first is a two-parter. What was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge, we like to see the roots of our women who rock!

Lauren: I believe the first recording I used my own money for was a cassette of The Hollies' Distant Light when I was ten, and I know my first concert was Jethro Tull at the New Haven Coliseum, also when I was ten.

Q: Tell us about your biggest rock star moment, perhaps it's a moment of real success in your career, a time when you met someone super cool and had that Wayne's World "I'm not worthy" moment, or just a time where you felt like you got the rock star treatment. I get a huge variety of answers for the questions, so it's pretty much whatever "rock star moment" means to you!

Lauren: Bummer. At first I thought you meant meeting actual rock stars, to which I'd have replied with something about the time after a Muddy Waters concert we chased all over the little motels in Storrs and Willimantic CT hoping to meet Muddy. Let's see...I guess maybe the time one of my editors told me she was going to lunch with Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, who was thinking of doing a book for her, and how the editor was bringing the duchess a copy of my debut novel The Thin Pink Line as a present. That felt pretty rock-starrish all around. But really, in some ways I feel like a rock star every day because I get to do what I love: write.

Today's Contest:

Lauren has been nice enough to offer up a copy of CRAZY BEAUTIFUL to one lucky winner of this week's contest. As usual to enter all you have to do is leave a comment about anything Lauren's interview or her book inspires you to comment on.

You can earn additional entries the following ways:

+1 for tweeting/blogging about today's Women Who Rock Wednesday feature & contest

+1 for tweeting/blogging about Lauren and her new book, Crazy Beautiful

Just note your additional entries in your comment and it is easier if you leave me an email address so I can track you down if necessary if you win.

I will announce the winner next Wednesday when I talk about another woman who inspired me in some way!


Melanie said...

Sisters 8 definitely sounds like an interesting way to right a novel. I bet your daughter absolutely loves being able to give input. I know I would. Crazy, Beautiful sounds like a great book!

Anonymous said...

I was able to see Beauty and the Beast when I was in NYC one Christmas.. so I am excited that Lauren B-L. used it to inspire Crazy Beautiful. mpdh591atyahoodotcom.
Thanks for the interview

Penny said...

I also RT about the contest.
TKS mpdh591atyahoodotcom

little miss gnomide said...

Wow, this sounds like a great book. I love to read fairytales old and new and rewritten. My favorite rewritten myth so far is "Til We Have Faces." Also, a great interview. Stephanie, you have to write about Persephone. Seriously. I love WWRW!!! Off, to twitter about it.

SJEI said...

I've read one of your books (lord help me, and I hate to admit it, but the title completely escapes me. I even reviewed it! Argh) and loved it; I'll have to check out the new release and also Sisters 8 for my 8 year old.

marina said...

i really like the book picture except it also kinda reminds me of how everyone loves vampires now and their version of vampires sparkle in the sun or do something stupid so i start to get irritated but it also reminds me of the album art for the newest green day album. haha.


Llehn said...

I've seen this book around blogs and I am looking forward to reading it.


Lori T said...

I love the Beauty and the Beast story and I have wanted to read Crazy Beautiful for awhile. I have heard such great buzz about it. It has a great cover as an added bonus!!

throuthehaze said...

I really like the cover of the book
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

WordVore Prod said...

Loved the interview. And I agree with Melanie--definitely a good idea.
Tweeted about WWRW +1
and the book +1

Anonymous said...

Sounds cool!

WordVore Prod said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aly said...

That was great! I love this weekly feature--keep it up.
I tweeted about the book and the feature.

Anonymous said...

Good one:)

Anonymous said...

Cool interview!

Brodie said...

I'm a new reader of your blog, but I love this WWRW feature! The Sister 8 method of writing is such a cool idea - doing what she loves and sharing it with who she loves: win! Ohh and I love Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol, nice song choice ;)

I'd love, love, love to be entered for a copy (Only enter me though if it's open internationally!). I read the excerpt online and have heard many good things about this. I really want to read Crazy Beautiful!