Books To Watch For In 2015: An Interview With Sarah Darer Littman

1)  Which character do you identify with most?
Of my books, probably Justine in my first book, CONFESSIONS OF A CLOSET CATHOLIC. Spiritually searching, obsessed with chocolate, and frizzy haired. I’m seriously frizzy haired, but I get mine straightened. : )
2)  Your two most recent books deal with the dark side of the internet.  Have you done research into this? If so, what kind?

For WANT TO GO PRIVATE? I worked with the FBI in New Haven and my local police department – and read a lot of books and studies about Internet predators. I didn’t sleep very well while researching and writing that book, and I honestly don’t know how the law enforcement officials who investigate these cases do it day after day. Just doing the research gave me nightmares and anxiety.

BACKLASH was slightly less traumatic. I still did a lot of reading, and interviewed people in many different walks of life (police, emergency room MD, EMS chief) pertinent to the book, but it didn’t trigger the same anxiety responses as WTGP did for me.

3)  Do you think anything can be done about cyberbullying?  (And how glad are you that this wasn’t an issue when you were in school? Because I am absolutely delighted.)
I talk about this with my peers  – and my mom! – often. I made so many stupid mistakes as a teenager that I often wonder how I survived to adulthood. The thought of making those mistakes in today’s online world is utterly terrifying. It’s one of the things I wanted to explore in BACKLASH – both from the bullied person’s perspective and from the bully’s. The consequences for everyone are just SO. MUCH. BIGGER.
Like any tool, the Internet has its pros and cons. I love that it has made the world a smaller place, allowed us to keep in touch with people far away, to get feeds from on the ground in live situations as opposed to just through the lens of the media. But I have first hand experience, both as an author and particularly as a political columnist how cruel people can be – it’s like they forget that there is a living, breathing human being with emotions and a family at the other end of what they are typing on the keyboard.
As far as what can be done, as a parent I felt my job was to have conversations with my kids, and to ensure that if they behaved in a way that wasn’t consistent with how I brought them up to behave, there were consequences. I made the rules of the house clear in advance, and then made sure that they were applied consistently. And if they rules had to be applied, we talked about why.
As with so much in parenting, I think it’s all about the conversations. Books can be a great way to start those conversations. So can watching movies together or reading an article or listening to a radio program in the car.
4)  What are you reading now?
I just finished reading a wonderful book for Greenwich Reads Together (our annual town read) called OUTCASTS UNITED: An American Town, A Refugee Team, and One Woman’s Quest to Make a Difference, by Warren St. John   Really inspiring!
Having just read two non-fiction books (the other Greenwich Reads book was THE BOYS IN THE BOAT by Daniel James Brown) I’m looking for a good fiction read right now.
5)  What are your five favorite books? (You can do authors, if that’s easier)
AAAAAH! So hard!
The Book Thief, and then go to authors: Laurie Halse Anderson, Judy Blume, George Orwell, JK Rowling
6)  What book would you make mandatory?
I wouldn’t make a book mandatory, but I’d love to make George Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language” mandatory reading prior to leaving high school, both for the purpose of clear writing and civics.
7)  What books are you looking forward to in 2015?
Any time there’s a new book by AS King, who I admire as a writer and a person, is a cause for celebration. Her 2015 book is called I CRAWL THROUGH IT
Also looking forward to the 3rd book in Rick Yancey’s Fifth Wave series.

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