I was really excited when I got a private message from Jeff asking me to do an interview with Julie Anne Peters. Originally I declined because I was too nervous and scared; after all I'm 15 year old who has no experience at doing any kind of interview. Eventually I asked Jeff if the offer was still good, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up on.
I can still remember the day I picked up Keeping You a Secret; it was Saturday August 5, 2006. KYAS (as many people refer to it) is the one GLBT themed book that has made the greatest impact on my life. To this day it is STILL my favourite book even a year later and after reading about 20 other GLBT themed books.
Julie has written 5 teen/young adult books: Keeping You a Secret, Luna, Between Mom and Jo, Far From Xanadu, and Define Normal. All of which are pretty great. My dog liked Define Normal the best; he ate all the corners of it.
The interview was done via e-mail, which wasn't bad because it meant I could take time, think of questions, consult my friends at lunch and consult Jeff.
Even though it was done via e-mail, her personality still managed to come out. She would e-mail me to let me know the answers were coming soon, and best of all actually, spell my name properly which is always a bonus when you spell a normal name a weird way.
For those Oasians and other people out there who don't know you have a book coming out in the fall called grl2grl: short fictions. What is it about?
grl2grl is a collection of short fictions that I've been working on for the last five years. After Keeping You a Secret was published, I received, and continue to receive, hundreds of letters from young readers who share their stories with me. Stories of coming out, falling in love, breaking up, discovering self, exploring sexuality and gender. I began a list of themes, thinking that if I ever ran out of ideas for novels, I'd have a deep well of relevant material to draw on. My list looked something like this:
* Religious intolerance/reconciling hypocrisy/personalizing faith
* Bisexuality. How do people define it? When girls use it as an excuse to date both sexes at the same time, is that cheating?
* The sexual nature of physical contact sports
* Female-to-male transition/gender fluidity
* Online/long-distance relationships
* GSAs-finding community
When the list reached 25 topics, it was obvious mortality would prevent me from ever writing that many books. I worked my way down the list and wrote short pieces; not necessarily fully formed short stories because I wanted to experiment with fiction; grab the essence, the core. How short can you write and still get the reader engaged in a character? Ten of the stories made the final cut for the book.
In your books you cover many different topics getting teased, divorce, pressure (both peer and parental), sibling relationships and many more. Not that there weren't these issues when you were a preteen and a teen but you make your novels so up to date. How do you get into the brain of a teen growing up in the 21st century?
That's a great question. I ask myself the same thing all the time. Why do I seem to have this authentic young voice? I'm not young anymore, but I feel the pressures of living in today's world. I understand intensity and passion.
Part of the answer is that I love pop culture. (I watch waaaay too much TV.) Since I have a Master's Degree in Information Systems, I'm into the techno revolution. When I'm writing, though, it's as if I'm transporting through time and space. I take on the personae of my characters; I live out their stories. I don't understand it, and I'm not sure I want to. Creativity and connectivity to everything that makes us human are divine mysteries.
You say you watch way too much TV, I know this to be true from my stalker-like research and just random information I've found that you LOVE reality TV shows but which ones are your favorites? Which ones would you rather die then give up?
At the threat of death, I suppose I could give them all up. Let's hope it doesn't come to that. I watch:
The Amazing Race
So You Think You Can Dance
Beauty and the Geek
Project Runway (When is PR coming back? I feel deprived.)
Dancing with the Stars
I'm looking forward to On the Lot. Okay, wow. This is a not-so-magnificent obsession. But I rationalize it by convincing myself these shows are illuminating studies in psychology and sociology. (Yeah, right.)
This question is for my friend. We were sitting down at lunch discussing what I could ask you and she came up with a ton of ideas but the one question she kept repeating was "If you could pick a song for each book you've written what song would you pick?" So Julie, if you could pick a song for each book you've written what song would you pick?
This is hard. Okay, for KYAS, maybe Corinne Bailey Rae's Like a Star: "Just like a star across my sky...You have appeared to my life/Feel like I'll never be the same..."
For LUNA, Wind Beneath my Wings
For FFX, You Done Stomped on My Heart. (And Smashed that Sucker Flat) That's for you, Xanadu.
For GRL2GRL, Coming Home: "I'm Coming Home, to the place where I belong..." That's for me finding my way home to writing about what's closest to my heart.