Today, I have the author of Nice and Mean, Jessica Leader! Nice and Mean is her debut novel, which will be released on June 8, 2010. This means that it's exactly 3 more months until it's release day!
How does it feel to be a 2010 debut author?
Grateful! Excited! In good company!
What makes you write Middle-Grade and Young Adult?
I have really clear memories of middle and high school, and I’m still drawn to thinking about what I dealt with then. Friendship, popularity, your identity in school—these issues are just as interesting to me now as they were when I was younger, and that’s what I want to write about.
Plus, I’d just rather spend time in a kid’s head. With adults, it’s blah blah my job; blah blah my spouse/house/baby. Freaking out because your friend DID NOT JUST BECOME FRIENDS WITH THAT GUY ON FACEBOOK is way more fun for me to think about.
How are you and Marina and/or Sachi alike? How are you different?
Marina, one of the two narrators in Nice and Mean, has a snarky and judgmental side, but I am not like that at all. Snarky judgmental people are totally lame and need to buy themselves lives, preferably not at a discount.
Ooh. Did I say that out loud?
Yeah. So that’s how I’m like Marina. I’m similar to Sachi, the other narrator, in that we’re kind of both worrywarts. But we’re fun, we’re nice, and really, the worrywart thing is not that big of a deal—truly!
What was the hardest aspect of writing Nice and Mean?
Perfecting the first chapter for each character. First chapters are just the death of me; it’s so hard to balance back-story and action. Not that I want to predict my obituary, but if it read, “Author Found Strangled by Chapter One,” I would not be surprised.
What do you want readers to take from Nice and Mean?
A really good time!
I’d like readers to think about the ways people get what they want, and how too much meanness or too much niceness can get in the way. And if readers thought a bit about what makes something popular, I wouldn’t mind that, either.
Do you have a specific schedule of when you write?
Every weekday, first thing in the morning after a basic email check, unless I’m teaching, in which case I write first thing after I get home. (I work for a theatre and visit schools to teach playwriting.) I find that if I do too many non-writing things before attacking the novel, it’s hard to focus.
Lastly, is there anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks, Mavie, for hosting me! Mavie has great taste in books (not just mine) and asks questions that are fun to answer.
I hope you are excited to enter the contest and learn more about Nice and Mean. I’d like to think that if Marina could read it, she’d say it’s hot, hot, hot…that is, if she’s not off finding ways to humiliate Rachel in her video. (Marina, step away from the video camera. Oh, jeez…)
*Bangles are pictured here.
*Bangles are pictured here.
Grand winner: (5) signed bookmarks; (1) 3-pack Dr. Pepper Lip Gloss; Bangle Bracelets
(2) Runners-up: (2) signed Nice and Mean bookmarks each.
*Thanks to Jessica for donating and the interview!
Winners: Lisa R, Liz, Vidisha.