Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Girlfriends Cyber Circuit Presents Lauren Barnholdt

We're getting hit with a freak cold snap today, which means the high will only be 104, down a whole degree from yesterday (now, where did I put my parka?).

Last night, I wrote something I never thought I'd ever write: a car chase. I didn't even realize I would be writing it until I was in the middle of it, which made it even weirder. I have actually been in the middle of a high-speed car chase, of the type that involves dozens of police cars. No, I wasn't the one being chased. It was in my TV news days, and I was out in the news truck with a photographer doing the round of fluffy weekend festival stories with lots of shots of cute kids when word of a high-speed chase came over the scanner. It was approaching the area where we were, so we pulled off the highway, turned onto the next street, and next thing we knew, we were in the middle of dozens of police cars with sirens blaring. The chase came to a stop a few blocks later and the police held us back because the guy they were chasing had a car full of guns. My photographer happened to have a bullet-proof vest in the truck (a gift from his wife), so they sent me back to the truck to get it, and as soon as I did, one of the cops pushed me down on the ground behind a police car, but our photographer was able to be in the middle of the action when they pulled the guy out of the car (I watched it between the tires on the car). Later, I got to interview the police. It was my first (and really only) TV news exclusive.

The car chase I wrote last night is a lot funnier (I hope). It involves gargoyles, which improve any car chase scene.

I'm about to go for an eye exam (and good timing because I tore my last contact lens last night), so it's a good time for a Girlfriends Cyber Circuit entry. Today's guest is Lauren Barnholdt, author of the young adult novel Reality Chick.

About the book
Going away to college means total independence and freedom. Unless of course your freshman year is taped and televised for all the world to watch. On uncensored cable.

Sweet and normal Ally Cavanaugh is one of five freshpeople shacking up on In the House, a reality show filmed on her college campus. (As if school isn't panic-inducing enough!) The cameras stalk her like paparazzi, but they also capture the fun that is new friends, old crushes, and learning to live on your own. Sure, the camera adds ten pounds, but with the freshman fifteen a given anyway, who cares? Ally's got bigger issues -- like how her long-distance bf can watch her loopy late-night "episode" with a certain housemate...

And now the interview:
What inspired you to write this book?
I tried out for THE REAL WORLD once. (I know, I'm a dork.) I didn't make it, and all of my friends were like, "It's because you're too normal!" And I was like, "That's why they should have picked me!" I thought it would be cool to see how a "normal" person reacts to living in a crazy environment like that. So I decided to write a book about it.

Describe your creative process.
I don't really plot. I find it's easier for me to figure out how things are going to go when I'm actually writing. I try to revise a bit as I go along, but sometimes it helps me to just get the draft down and finished before going back to revise.

Do you have any writing habits or rituals?
I work best in the mornings, and I have to have Diet Coke with Lime. And for some really strange reason, I tend to write better when Dr. Phil's on TV. I know, weird.

(Hey, I find Dr. Phil to be a wonderful characterization resource.)

How much, if anything, do you have in common with your heroine?
Ally tends to overanalyze things, which I definitely do.

What do you see as the appeal of reality TV?
I think there's something fascinating about knowing that the things going on have actually happened -- the drama isn't made up.

(Hmm, still doesn't do it for me, but I'm one of the weirdos who wants my TV as UNreal as possible -- spaceships, vampires, other planets ...)

If you were going to participate in a reality TV show, which one would it be, or is there a concept they haven't used yet that you'd like to do?
I'd like to be on THE REAL WORLD, just because I'm lazy. They get to live in a fab house, have a fab job, and they don't really have to do anything except create scandals.

Chocolate: dark or milk?

(I really need to tabulate these results someday, but that will be after this book is done.)

What are you working on now?
Right now I'm working on a tween novel called DEVON DELANEY'S SECRET IDENTITY which will be out in May of 2007. It's about a thirteen-year-old girl who goes away for the summer and lies to the local girls about how popular she is, only to be left scrambling to recreate her "secret identity" when one of them shows up at her school. My second YA novel, ROAD TRIP, about a girl who gets stuck driving cross country with the boy who just broke her heart, will be out in June of next year.

For more info, visit Lauren's web site or her blog.

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