Interview with Luisa Plaja

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Luisa Plaja is the author of Split by a Kiss and Extreme Kissing . I reviewed both books here (read my Split by a Kiss review, and my Extreme Kissing review) and they're both great - hilarious and chick-litty, but also with a bit of substance to them.

You can find out more about Luisa and her books on her website, and you should follow her on Twitter (she also blogs at Chicklish - a great site for for reviews, interviews and giveaways of UK teen fiction).

1. Is there anything in particular that drives you to write, and to write for teens?
That's a great question. I don't really know the answer! I love reading fiction about teenagers and I always have, and writing it feels natural. I think it's a fascinating time in life to read/write about.

2. I love the concept behind Split by a Kiss! Did the idea just pop into your head, or did you want to explore that whole Sliding Doors idea, but on a teenaged level, and the story originated from there?
I definitely didn't set out to write a "Sliding Doors" story. I wanted to write about the culture shock of a British teenager moving to the States. The 'split' happened as I was writing, and thinking about the effects of a move like that. I think it can sometimes feel as if you adopt a new persona when you live in a different country and are seen differently. When I reached the scene with Jo and Jake in the cupboard, I couldn't make up my mind how Jo would react, given the change in people's attitudes to her, and how this was changing the way she saw herself. I decided to explore two different reactions, and the split was born! I love examining issues of identity and self.
And this is the point where I worry that I've made the book sound heavy, when it really isn't, as you know. It's very light, and it's a romance. Though a lovely person I know recently disagreed with me on this. "It's a contemporary analysis of Jungian philosophy!" she told me. So, you know. Perhaps the book itself has a bit of a split identity. ;)

3. In Extreme Kissing, Bethany and Carlota go Extreme Travelling in London. Have you ever tried out Extreme Travel yourself? (I think the 'silent rave' bit would be especially fun!)
Yes, in a way, although Bets and Lots had a far more exciting time than I did with my friends! We'd end up going round in circles on the Circle Line or standing in the middle of a traffic-filled roundabout going, "Ohhh-kay. Let's go home now."
The silent rave was based on this one, which took place near the one Carlota starts:

4. What was the road to publication like for you?
Very smooth and absolutely wonderful. I know I was lucky. For years beforehand, though, I'd convinced myself that I could never be a published novelist because it was an impossible dream. Now I regularly metaphorically pinch myself.

5. What advice would you like to give your teenaged self, or yourself as a younger writer?
Dear mid-teenage me: you want to be a writer but you already think that having a novel published is an impossible dream. You read "how to write" books all the time, and you spend every spare minute writing letters to people you've never met, and occasionally to authors you love. By night, you fill notebook after notebook with angsty tales of your life so far. By day, you write comedy love stories and photo story scripts, and you sell them to your fave magazines. (You say "fave". You might not grow out of that.) Then you worry that you are wasting your time and/or are a complete geek/nerd/whatever-you-kids-used-to-say-back-then. You think when you grow up you'll need a proper job and/or to get a life.

My advice from the future is as follows: Don't worry. You'll muddle through and make a ton of mistakes of all shapes and sizes, but you'll always be OK in the end (so far), and you'll always be a writer (so far). In fact, you'll probably always be a writer whether you write or not, and throughout all those proper jobs you'll do. (And they'll be ace and you'll meet fabulous people and travel the country, and bits of the world, and you'll even meet some of those strangers you wrote letters to, who are now friends.) And the geekiness? You'll embrace it, eventually. Also, 'getting a life'? Is a totally spurious concept. Best of all, amazingly, teenage girls will write to YOU, the same way you now write to your "fave" authors. Well, not exactly the same, because you hand-write all your letters and post them and, in the future, girls like you will have personal computers with internet connections. Can you imagine? You'd never be off it! Oh wait - Future You never are.

6. Complete this sentence: My life outside of writing is...
Busy and child-filled.

7. Complete this sentence: My teenage years were...
Angsty and book-filled.

8. Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you reveal a little something about it, or is it super secret?
I'm putting the finishing touches on a sequel to Split by a Kiss. It's called Swapped by a Kiss and it's a body swap story, with Rachel as the main character. I had more to say about Rachel than I could fit into Split by a Kiss, and I'm very happy I've now had the chance to write her story too. Swapped by a Kiss will be out in April 2010.

Thank you very much for interviewing me!

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