Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Girlfriends Cyber Circuit Presents Jennifer Banash

It's Mardi Gras, so here's a handful of virtual beads (and no, you don't have to do anything to "earn" them. Please!), and maybe I ought to dig out my Dixieland CDs for the day. I was actually in New Orleans for Mardi Gras one year, but the week before Fat Tuesday, which I suppose means that I technically was there during the Carnival season, not Mardi Gras, since Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday." Anyway, there was a trade show that week, and my hotel was on Canal Street, so I saw one parade from the safety of the hotel doorway with the doorman nearby (those crowds were kind of crazy). It was one of the lesser krewes (I guess as you're more prominent, you get later parades), so the floats were really lame and the costumes consisted of robes and plain masks, but the marching bands were cool. The New Orleans high school bands must stay busy at this time of year. To be traditional, I should probably make pancakes for dinner, but since I'm still sniffly and have a slight cough I may make Bev Hale's cure-all chicken soup instead.

I have another Girlfriends Cyber Circuit guest today, but first I'll give you a little background on the circuit, since I know new people are showing up around here all the time. The Circuit started back in 2005 as a way for women authors to support each other. Very few authors get real book tours, and newspaper book review sections tend to focus more on male authors (whether intentionally or through a selection bias where men are more likely to write the kind of stuff that newspaper book editors tend to focus on). So, we could create a virtual "tour" for the authors in the group by hosting each other on our blogs and exposing more readers to our work. The group was successful enough that a couple of years ago we split into two groups, one primarily for adult books and one that's young-adult friendly (either YA books or books that might be suitable for younger readers). I went with the YA group because the adult group was tending more toward literary fiction or book club type books and I thought my books would be of more interest to the readership of the YA group, and the books promoted in the YA group would be of more interest to my readers. We can feature the books/authors however we want, as long as we tell something about the book. I generally do interviews. So, there you have it.

This week's guest is Jennifer Banish, author of In Too Deep, the latest book in The Elite, a series about a Midwestern girl who gets transplanted to Manhattan's Upper East Side -- think Pretty in Pink meets Gossip Girl.

The Bramford building’s newest resident and small-town transplant Casey McCloy is adapting to life in the Big Apple and loving it. She’s got the look, the attitude, and a delish new boyfriend, Drew Van Allen. But she’s starting to have second thoughts as to whether the “New York” Casey is the real Casey. And she’s not so sure she likes herself much anymore. She’s not the only one.

Madison Macallister has always had her Manolo Blahniks firmly planted on the top rung of the social ladder—until that corn-fed cow Casey stole Drew away from her and made her look the fool. So what if Madison wasn’t exactly dating Drew at the time? She wanted him. And everyone knows that Madison gets what she wants, like Drew—and a little revenge.

And now the interview:
Was there any particular inspiration behind this book?
Reality TV! I'm obsessed with it, and since the girls end up getting their own reality TV series in this book, I wanted to structure the plot as much like a reality series as possible.

What, if anything, do you have in common with your heroine?
I can be really shy and unsure of myself. I tend to second guess every move I make, and I worry way too much about things that probably don't really matter in the grad scheme of things.

You went to high school on the Upper East Side. How would you compare your real-life experiences with what happens in your books (or on Gossip Girl and stories like that)?
There were certainly kids that came to school in limos or who had drivers! But the kids I knew had real problems, despite the fact they were wealthy, and I wanted my books to reflect that idea, while also somehow still functioning as an escape for readers.

How does having ridiculous amounts of money or living in New York affect the usual things teenagers go through with friends, boyfriends, school, etc.?
It doesn't make then any easier to deal with, that's for sure. What money can buy you is time, and freedom--it can't help you get a guy to give you the time of day, and it certainly can't mend a broken heart.

Now that you live on the other coast, how do you stay current with that New York world for your books?
I read a lot of blogs, and I have friends in NY that I talk to regularly.

What are you working on now?
I'm working on a new YA series about a girl who's family moves from Malibu California to a huge dilapidated castle in Romania. I can't really tell you more than that though, because the series isn't sold yet.

(Oh, but doesn't that sound absolutely delicious? I love castles!)

Is there anything else you'd like to say about this book or the process of writing it?
If you like drama and scandal tempered by doses of reality, you will love IN TOO DEEP. The third volume in THE ELITE series, SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE, hits shelves in July!!

For more info, check out Jennifer's blog. You can also buy the book from Amazon

And now since I do have some direction and a strategy on what I should work on now, I will be huddling under a blanket with a spiral notebook to do some serious work on The Nagging Idea.

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