Friday, January 23, 2009

Girlfriends Cyber Circuit Presents Teri Brown

I had my regular ballet teacher back last night, and I felt like much less of an idiot in class, but today I'm very, very stiff and sore. Ouch. While I sit around and moan, I've got a Girlfriends Cyber Circuit guest. Teri Brown has one of the most clever concepts I've seen in the novel Read My Lips.

Serena just wants to fly under the radar at her new school. But Serena is deaf, and she can read lips really well—even across the busy cafeteria. So when the popular girls discover her talent, there’s no turning back.

From skater chick to cookie-cutter prep, Serena’s identity has done a 180…almost. She still wants to date Miller, the school rebel, and she’s not ready to trade her hoodies for pink tees just yet. But she is rising through the ranks in the school’s most exclusive clique.

With each new secret she uncovers, Serena feels pressure to find out more. Reading lips has always been her greatest talent, but now Serena just feels like a gigantic snoop….

And now the interview:

Was there anything in particular that inspired this book?
My niece is profoundly deaf and after she was diagnosed, my mother-in-law became very active in deaf advocacy. She used me as a sounding board for her ideas and the seeds of Read my Lips were planted during that time.

Do you read lips, yourself?
No, I don’t read lips, but my niece does, very well. My launch party was at the Washington School of the Deaf and those kids were fabulous at lip reading, as well. And I would love to be able to do that! As a writer, I love to listen to people talk in coffee shops and restaurants. Some people call it eavesdropping, but I call it research!

(I had some hearing issues as a kid, so I kind of read lips, but I generally also need auditory cues. I have a habit of watching people's mouths when they talk, and I can put that together with what I hear to figure out what they said. I can't usually just read lips without the sound, but it drives me nuts when the sound and picture aren't perfectly in sync on TV, and I'm really bad about not making eye contact with people who are talking to me because I'm more focused on watching their mouths. My hearing is fine now, but it's a habit. It also comes in handy at noisy parties when it's hard to make out what people are saying).

Something that could be seen as a weakness ends up being the key to your character's rise in popularity. How do you think that could apply to something less extreme than deafness for other kids?
I think it’s all about viewing your talents and weaknesses differently. In accepting them all as part of your unique self.

What, if anything, do you have in common with your main character?
Like Serena, I’ve always felt like a fish out of water , especially in high school where I was both too smart and too rebellious to be successful at it.

Do you have any odd writing habits or quirks?
If leaving everything to the last minute is an odd writing habit or quirk, then I have them in spades! Other than that, not really.

What are you working on now?
I have several proposals started but at the moment, I’m working on a book that’s very different and very special. I don’t think I’m going to say anything about it right now except that it is really stretching me as a writer. Which is a good thing…sometimes.

Is there anything else you'd like to say about this book or the process of writing it?
This book was a labor of love. My Mother-in-law, who is partially responsible for the newborn hearing screening law here in Oregon, died of cancer before the book was finished and sold. I dedicated the book to her, but it wasn’t the same as having her here to see it.

For more info, check out Teri's web site. Or you can buy the book from Amazon.

And now my house is driving me nuts, so I think today is a housework day. If I can make my body move.

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