Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Enchanting Reviews: Lisa Barham Interview

1. How long have you been writing?

1. That's a great question. Looking back, I think I've been writing ever since I could hold a pencil. Of course, I didn't know I was writing when I was doodling away stream of consciously––plunging the depths of my early pre-adolescent emotions, and drawing and developing characters in my notebooks. (Ahh, If only I had those precious notebooks today!!) Later, as an editor at a fashion forecasting company, I had to write. And subsequently, I worked in the entertainment industry, developing material for motion pictures and television. I'd also written a couple of screenplays, which helped me hone my writing skills. But it wasn't until A GIRL LIKE MOI, that I actually felt like a writer.

2. Why Young Adult?

2. It's interesting because YAs are, without question, the most sophisticated, diverse, global and brand–savvy audience in history. I felt Imogene and her circle of friends reflected this. But when the first rumblings of Imogene tumbled out of my imagination, I envisioned her older—in her early 20's—just out of college and beginning her career. It wasn't until an early creative meeting with a publisher and my agent, when it was pointed out that the experiences and the emotions I expressed for Imogene were younger. The things Imogene and her friends were struggling with––romantic infatuation, obsession, swirling hormones, confusion about the one's life path–– were some of the things more befitting high school girls. Also Evie and Imogene have a strong, inescapable bond of best friendship. That kind of bond generally peaks in high school. So all in all, the YA genre just followed suit.

3. What sparked the idea for A Girl Like Moi?

3. The initial spark was irony. There is just something that strikes me funny about real life fifteen year olds who seriously covet and will do anything in their power to purchase a $2,000 Chanel bag.. Girls today are faced with so much temptation, so plugged in and are such voracious consumers of everything from designer clothing to computers, communication, travel, electronics, music and entertainment. All this while straddling two worlds – the world of high school and childhood, and that of the grown up workaday world yet to come, and the struggle for how to keep true to ones self amid all the pressure and noise out there. Mix into that a yearning for fame, stardom, notoriety or whatever you want to call it. To me, that was all such a good backdrop for conflict and storytelling. It was so easy for me to see characters dropped into that crazy life.

4. I loved the character names in the book. Imogene. Spring Sommer. Winter Tan. How did you come up with them?

4. There are four shipping, or, selling seasons that the fashion industry revolves around: Autumn/Winter, Holiday, Resort, and Spring/Summer. Naming Imogene's boss, the head of Hautelaw, Spring Sommer, was a natural spoof on that. Regarding Winter Tan, sometimes things just jump out at you. I was on an airplane, reading a brochure from a shoe manufacturer, whose sales contact was in fact someone by the name of Winter Tan. Really! Winter being the opposite of spring… well, I almost died laughing, because it was so perfect. I couldn't have thought of that myself.

5. What's your favorite thing about Imogene?

5. My favorite thing about Imogene is her positive attitude. I think one of the things to keep in mind, is that life sometimes hands you lemons, which are usually challenges to be overcome. The trick is realizing that a challenge can be an opportunity to tap into something deeper within ourselves, and ultimately, when brought out, makes us better people. So, like Imogene, we have to all strive to make lemonade

6. Can you describe the book in three words?

6. The quick answer is: ambition, love, being true to yourself, fate. But scattered throughout A GIRL LIKE MOI are Imogene's affirmations. There is one affirmation at the beginning of the epilogue, which may sum it up best: A Coeur vaillant, rien d'impossible! Which translates: With a brave heart, nothing is impossible. (Oops, that's seven words!)

7. What was your favorite scene to write?

7. It's hard to distinguish one scene over another because I loved writing the entire book. But if I had to choose just one, it might be when Imogene meets Paolo for the first time––how insecure she was, her embarrassing tongue-ties, her butterflies, and ultimately how unprepared she was to meet anyone whom she could possibly fall in love with, and would lead to the conflict between her heart and her head.

8. Do you have any writing rituals?

8. No rituals in a bizarre sense. What I do is try to clear the decks of any distractions before I begin writing. I return email, read then newspapers (I am a voracious news junkie!). Sometimes I'll zip though my iPod to find some great music to get my molecules racing. Once I'm in the 'zone' I turn everything off--he phone, email, music, everything. And I'm gone. Sometimes for five hours or more. That's always my goal when I begin writing. For me, that's when my writing is the best.

9. What's next for you?

9. I just finished editing "Accidentally Fabulous," the third book in the Imogene series, so what I'm hoping for next is a vacation! Ha! But seriously, I've got three or four books rumbling around inside my brain, so I'm watching carefully which one of them will win the fight to be next. ?

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