Roz and Eva are sisters, close friends, and fierce rivals. Roz fantasizes about snagging the lead in the school play and landing sexy skate god Bryan as her boyfriend. Sadly, a few obstacles stand between her and her dreams. For one, Eva is the more talented actress. And Bryan happens to be Eva’s boyfriend. But is Eva having a secret love affair with a girl? Enquiring minds need to know.
Roz prides herself on random acts of insanity. In one such act, she invents a girlfriend of her own to encourage Eva to open up. The plan backfires, and Roz finds herself neck deep in her invented life. When Roz meets a mercurial boy with a big problem, she begins to understand the complex feelings beneath the labels. And she gets a second chance to earn Eva’s trust.
MY INVENTED LIFE is set in small California high school during the rehearsals for a Shakespeare comedy.
Lauren Bjorkman grew up on a sailboat, sharing the tiny forecastle with her sister and the sail bags. They are still friends, and she still likes to travel to exotic corners of the world. She now live in Taos, New Mexico with her husband, two sons, a cat that thinks he’s a dog, and another cat that thinks he’s a rabbit. Thankfully, she’s settled down long enough to answer a few questions about her debut novel, My Invented Life, coming out in 2009.
Hi, Lauren. Congrats on your debut novel, My Invented Life. I can’t wait to see it on shelves! But can you give us a little statistical rundown on how long it took you to get to this point? How many books? How many rejections? How many days, months, or years?
Too long. When I had my first kid, I quit my job and started writing novels. Now he’s in the fifth grade! Thankfully I had no idea how long it would take me, nor how many rejection letters would accumulate in my file (40, maybe?) I began as a novice with a crazy belief in myself and a passion for reading, minus a degree in English. Now I’ve written three and a third novels. MY INVENTED LIFE is my second. It’s been a long, long road. But worth every mile.
Which “Call” thrilled you more? The call in which you landed an agent or the call in which you landed your book deal? Can you describe to us what it felt like?
Speaking of which…congrats on YOUR call!!! What a thrill when I read about it in your blog.
For me, the first call excited and disoriented me the most. I’d queried a few agents and received matching rejections. Then my instructor at a novel writing workshop recommended me to his agent. After two months passed, my hopes deflated. One day, though, he emailed me to say his agent had tried to reach me. I emailed her immediately, and less than 30 seconds after hitting the send button, my phone rang! And it was her!! And she offered to represent me!!!
As you know, you’re supposed to interview an agent before accepting. But I was too busy hyperventilating, pacing the house, and babbling like an idiot. I had finally stepped into a parallel universe, one that respects writers. Besides, I’d already Googled the heck out of her, and knew she’d be perfect for me. So I accepted on the spot. Luckily, she didn’t change her mind after my lame conversation over the phone.
Awww, thanks, Lauren!!
Throughout your journey as a writer, what resources have you found most valuable to your success? Websites? Books? Conferences?
Excellent critique from other writers has helped me the most. A few of my critique partners are published, but most are not. When it comes to critique, I’ve learned to listen to my head and my heart to separate the gems from the rot.
Books on writing such as The Writer’s Journey, Bird by Bird, and Writing Down the Bones have helped, too. So have writing workshops. Conferences are a good way to meet other writers.
I’ve always envied writers with fabulous critique groups. That’s a real gift to have and I know they must be so proud of you! We all know that writers go through hard times on their way to success. How have you handled rejection in the past?
You mean what do I do after I’ve finished crying, fuming, and stewing? I eat a lot of chocolate. If it’s really bad, I read over one of my “love letters.” Yes, I keep a file of letters and emails from people who rave about my writing. After that, I pick myself up and keep going. More writing is always the best antidote.
This is Fumbling with Fiction, so I have to ask, in your writing career have you ever had a big “Oops!” moment?
*blushes and cringes simultaneously* I’ve had a few. When I sent a rewrite of MY INVENTED LIFE to an interested agent, he took forever to look at it. After waiting longer than I could stand, I wrote him an email with “patience is a…” in the subject line. I got the mss back in two days with a terse rejection letter.
One time at an SCBWI conference, I had a consultation with an editor from a small local press. She LOVED my book, but didn’t publish YA. Afterwards, I told a friend (rather loudly) what an “ego boost” that had been. The editor was sitting right behind me!
Oh dear. Well, at least you’re the wiser for it! Now that you are a soon-to-be-published author, seeing the view from the other side, what has been your favorite moment in the publishing process so far? What part of the process has most surprised you?
For pure bliss–my agent saying, “You’re book is very funny. I forced myself to slow down when I was reading it to savor the humor.” That pretty much balanced out the editor at an SCBWI conference who told me I had NO VOICE.
What an awesome compliment from your agent! She must have been a fantastic advocate for your work! Tell us a little about receiving your first editorial letter. What was yours like? How did you feel when you received it?
My editor told me, “This is your book. You get to decide which changes to make.” Still, I obsessed about it. So when it came in at three paragraphs, I was hugely relieved.
I have a funny story about my editorial letter. I desperately wanted to get it before I left on a backpack-style trip to Malaysia with my family. But my editor didn’t finish writing it in time. She ended up mailing it with my marked-up mss to an airport hotel in LA where we spent the first night of our trip. After I read her comments, I couldn’t mail the mss home from the airport hotel nor the airport. So I lugged the thing on my back for five weeks. It’s a very well traveled manuscript.
Maybe that bodes well for foreign rights sales!!??? Finally, if you could have written one book previously published by another author, which book would it be?
The current crop of YA books blow my mind. I wish I’d written ALL of them. Since I have to choose one book, I’ll say Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It’s funny, romantic, serious, and political all rolled into one.
Thanks so much for interviewing me, Chandler. And good luck with YOUR book!
Thank you, Lauren! And readers, just to leave you hangin’, I’ll send you off with a tantalizing snippet of My Invented Life…
The first thing I see is Eva’s journal. I’m not tempted. It rests seductively at the center of her night table, and the latch appears to be broken. Still I won’t touch it. Even though I know she’ll never find out. And even if it might reveal why she deleted me from her life.
OK then, one little peek.