Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Author Interview- Michele Jaffe

1) Rosebush is a complete departure from your fun YA mysteries, and adult contemporary and historical romance novels. How did you get the idea for it? Did you set out to write a darker YA novel, or was it a complete surprise to you seeing how it turned out?

I totally did not want to write a book like this. I am The Worst Person to write this book.

You know that old toothpaste slogan "Put your money where your mouth is" (it was a toothpaste slogan, right? If it wasn't, it totally should be. Because hello, that is a very good slogan. Why am I talking about toothcare? It's super important. Your number one accessory is your mischievous smil--what? Oh yes, that's right, Rosebush)? So anyway, there are a lot of darker YAs out there now, and I found myself admiring some and becoming, er, impatient with others (if that means "hurling them across the room and making a face and going eeeeeeeew now I have to wash my brain!"), but I felt I had no right to Talk if I couldn't do the Walk which translated means I didn't think I should criticize the books unless I'd tried writing one. So I did.


Joking. I am not much of a smack talker anymore.

I realized that what I had a problem with in some books was the way they fetishize the dark parts of growing up, the pain. Those things are true and real but what is so much more interesting is what we learn from them. Bad Things happen to everyone; they totally happened to me. So do we let them define us (for example, I was date raped by two guys when I was 16) or do we grow from them (and it was awful but through it, I learned to value and prize myself and never let anyone else define me). Realistically we do both, but hopefully, we can find ways to let the growth predominate.

Which makes me a lousy person to write a dark YA. Because I'm never going to write a book where someone kills themselves because they were date raped or molested; I believe in and relish the capacity in people to digest and get stronger through those things far too much. So as much as I want to be dark, it's always going to be in a "light at the end of the tunnel" way. I JUST CANT STOP MYSELF.

Its like a curse.

To me, Jane Freeman's situation in Rosebush (in a hospital bed paralyzed as a killer circles ever closer) is almost a metaphor for the process we all go through in trying to figure out who we are. It's scary and vulnerable and we're always appraising other people's reactions to us. But if we do it right--like Jane does--pay close attention, listen well, and ultimately work to be honest with ourselves, we'll make it through and be in a better place than where we started. SEE? THERE IS NO END TO MY OPTIMISM! MAKE IT STOPPPPPPPP--(mouth plugged with taco).

2) What book(s) are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about them?

I'm working on another darker YA and a thriller that's somewhere between YA and adult (kind of like the Power Rangers meets Da Vinci Code) (Ish) (which is totally a thing) and a middle school historical mystery. I think. If you ask me tomorrow, I might tell you three different books though. I have the attention span of a gna--what were we talking about?

3) I absolutely love your Bad Kitty series and they're part of my short re-readable book list. The last book was published in Summer 2008 and the manga trilogy around the same time. Are there plans for a third book in the future? (PLEASE SAY YES!)

Yes totally! But for now, unfortunately, only in my head.

As Virginia Woolf said, to be an independent person you need


(actually she just specified "a room of your own" but didn't mention the corpse)

--and she was right. I love writing the Bad Kitty books more than I love

but not enough people wanted to buy them so no one will pay me to make more right now.(ALSO TRUE). Either we need to convince more people to buy them using some kind of hypnosis ray (@@@@BUY BAD KITTY@@@@) or I need to become Mayor of Funkytown and then I can issue them as official documents (according to a fortune teller, this should be happening very shortly).

4) What's your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor (or flavors, if you're so inclined)?

Watermelon because it is two colors! Red inside, green outside--how do they DO it?!?

5) You're best friends with Meg Cabot, and frequently did advice columns and videos with her a few years back. How did you two first meet?


6) What book(s) are you reading now, or are about to start?

When I am writing, I mostly only read books that are by dead people because reading people who are alive makes me feel super insecure, but sometimes, like now, I can read living people if they write non-fiction. So right now, I'm reading Fatal System Error by Joseph Menn (alive) which is a nonfiction book about cyber crime, "Sex in and out of Intimacy" by Laura Rosenbury and Jennifer Rothman (both alive) in the Emory Law Journal which is a feminist legal theory piece, and The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie (dead).

7) Having met you at BEA and seen your advice vlogs with Meg as well as a bit of a focus on fashion in your books, I can tell that you are quite the fashion lover and have some amazing clothes that you put to good use (your BEA outfit was fabulous!). Where does this love of fashion come from, and can you give out some fashion tips to my readers that have worked for you?

BLUSHING. Oh how I *wish* that were true! Mostly the way I get dressed is to look at things and say "Does this make me feel like I am going to have a fun day?" and if the answer is "yes!" I'm in. Last night I wore a sequin mini dress and a t-shirt that says "I AM NOT WITH STUPID ANYMORE" (current most prized possession) and thigh high fur boots. I was cozy and warm and chic all the way both to and from the supermarket. Kidding. I also went to the bike store.

It helps to have very understanding friends.

Seriously though (everyone put on fake mustache and serious expression please), the best way to get dressed is to have fun with it. Why look like someone else, or wear what someone else says to wear when you can put the ME in Fresh-n-Awesome? It is also a good way to make friends because people will stop you on the street to tell you that you look nice (or sometimes to growl at you, but I choose to assume that is some kind of compliment on their home planet). That is my #1 clothing tip. My #2 clothing tip is to try on everything inside out or backward. I am totally not kidding. Not everything works with this but more stuff than you'd think and you'd be surprised how rad things can look when flipped around. It is like getting a whole new wardrobe...for free. Which means: more money for tacos!

XOXOXO+airkisses by the dozen,

1 comment:

  1. Hi! Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed reading this interview! Michele seems like such a funny and genuine person :)