Welcome back to Students Want to Know! Popular is her debut novel and my students and I are definitely looking forward to reading it. Thank you for doing this with my students 😀
Summary of Popular (From Goodreads): Meet the clique that rules Fidelity High: Olivia, Zelda, Nordica, and Shelly, each one handpicked by über-popular Hamilton Best. You know you’re “in” when you make the guest list for one of Hamilton’s parties. And in the thralls of senior year, everyone wants to get noticed by Hamilton.
But Hamilton’s elite entourage is coming apart at the seams. Olivia fantasizes about finally having a boyfriend, Zelda dreams of ditching high school, Nordica wants to be alone with her photography, and Shelly’s plotting to dethrone Hamilton. Lies and secrets are ripping away the careful ties that have kept them together for years. But Hamilton has the biggest secret of all, one that only her boyfriend Alex knows. If the truth got out, it would shock everyone and destroy Hamilton’s fragile world—and she’ll do anything to protect her secret and keep her clique together.
- Were you one of the “popular” girls in this story?
I wouldn’t say that any of the characters are based on me as a teen. I was probably most like Nordica because I was pretty quiet and wasn’t involved in much outside of sports.
- What makes humiliation so popular?
I wish I had an answer to that. I think the more insecure someone is the more they enjoy the humiliation of others.
- Why do all the girls have secrets? Why aren’t they happy?
I think in real life everyone has a secret or two, though some are bigger than others. As for happiness, I think you can’t really be happy unless you know who you are and being true to yourself, which is a bit of a problem for the members of this clique.
- Who was your favorite childhood author? Who is your favorite author now?
Some of my favorite authors when I was younger were Louise Fithugh, Ellen Raskin and Madeleine L’Engle. I definitely can’t pick a single favorite author right now a few authors whose books always wind up on my to-read list include Kelly Link, Connie Willis, Libba Bray and Michael Flynn.
- Do you have a favorite book series?
The only problem with a series is that I feel like I have to read every book in the series, which isn’t a problem if I really, really like the series. That’s the case with Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicholson series, Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series and Peter Abrahams’ Echo Falls Mystery series.
- Is your book told from all four perspectives? If so, was it difficult to write that way?
Yes, my book is told from the perspective of Hamilton and the four clique member. Also, Hamilton’s boyfriend Alex gets a few words in. Some perspectives were definitely easier to write from than others. A lot of my early revisions involved going back and getting the “voice” right for some of the different characters.
- Have you started any other books?
I’m always working on a book, I would go crazy if I wasn’t! My next book Ferocity Summer, will be out next year from Flux.
- Did any books inspire yours?
I think everything I’ve ever read inspired me in some way, but I don’t think there’s any one particular book that inspired Popular. The closest thing I can think of is The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. The Chocolate War is an awesome book, and I read it a few times as a teenager because I liked it so much. Popular isn’t really anything like The Chocolate War, but I wanted to write something that was a bit different than what was already out there.
- What hobbies do you have?
Other than reading and writing I like to spend time outside. I enjoy going for walks and bike rides. When there’s snow on the ground, I like to go cross country skiing.
- What kind of music do you like?
My father’s really into music, and thanks to him I’ve inherited pretty eclectic taste in music. So, while in general I would say anything rock and pop tends to be more my speed, my iPod has a little bit of everything on it. Like me my music library tends to be a bit quirky and weird.