Interviewing Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn was nice enough to stop by today and talk about her new book, Firsts (out Jan. 5).

What is the Twitter pitch for Firsts?

Oooh, great question! I happen to think writing a good Twitter pitch is even harder than writing a whole book. Here’s one I just came up with for FIRSTS:

Mercedes gives virgin classmates the chance to get their awkward first times over with- but what happens in her bedroom doesn’t stay there.

If Firsts were a movie, which would it be?

FIRSTS has been compared to Easy A, which absolutely thrills me, because I love that movie! There are similar themes of reputation and rumors and sexual agency, and a girl who thinks she is doing something good for people… only to have her plans blow up in her face and make her question everything.

What was the inspiration for Firsts?

Honestly, I have no idea where the idea came from! I had been writing an NA contemporary and suddenly got struck with the idea for FIRSTS. I knew I had to write it as soon as possible. I didn’t plot or outline or even think much about it—I just wrote. It was a much different writing process than the two NA contemporaries I previously wrote and queried. With FIRSTS, I didn’t give myself the luxury of stewing over plot points or
character arcs. I poured everything in my head down on the pages. As I wrote, I thought more and more about the double-standard that exists for teenage girls when it comes to sex, and how often labels get tossed around. I wanted to write something that rips into the unfair shaming that goes on and hopefully turns it inside out.

Can you share the first sentence/paragraph?

I’d love to! I’ll leave you with the first line (which never changed at all from the first draft)!

“Tonight, I’m doing Evan Brown’s girlfriend a favor. An awkward, sweaty, fumbling favor.”

If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be and why?

Hmmm… there are so many books I’d like to make mandatory! I think everyone should read LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott. Such a classic, with timeless themes about what it’s like to be a girl: a sister, a daughter, a mother, a friend, a lover, an artist, writer, a dreamer. I remember being a little girl and wanting very badly to be Jo March’s partner in crime. (Okay, I still do.)

What are your five favorite books?

This is such a tough question! I love so many books… to make it more manageable, I’ll narrow it down to my five all-time favorite YA contemporary books.

TEASE by Amanda Maciel: An incredibly powerful, gut-wrenching book that looks at bullying and slut-shaming from an unlikely perspective: the girl doing the bullying. So, so insightful and raw and important.

THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE by Jennifer Mathieu: A totally engrossing look at how damaging rumors can be, and how they change shape and become increasingly dangerous as they get passed around. I love how this book is from the perspectives of the people around Alice: friends, enemies, acquaintances.

SEX & VIOLENCE by Carrie Mesrobian: A fearless, intense look at the aftermath of a brutally violent attack—and the connection between sex and violence for the main character, Evan. I don’t think anyone does boy POV as well as Carrie Mesrobian. Her writing completely enraptures me.

SOME GIRLS ARE by Courtney Summers: I love anything by Courtney Summers, but this one is my all-time favorite (although I’m reading ALL THE RAGE right now and that title may be eclipsed). SOME GIRLS ARE is such a probing look into girl friendships and rumors and lies and trust and betrayal.

BEAUTIFUL by Amy Reed: Heartbreaking and stunningly written. This book is such an unflinching account of how far girls will go to fit in and feel loved, and how damaging friendships can be to self-image.

What 2016 releases are you excited for?

ALL of them! Seriously, I cannot wait to read ALL of the debuts. My CP, Emily Martin, wrote a book called THE YEAR WE FELL APART that everyone needs to read. It’s gorgeous and swoony and funny and deep and everything else you could ever want in a book. Two contemporary debuts I’m eagerly coveting are The GIRL WHO FELL by Shannon M. Parker and SUFFER LOVE by Ashley Blake. I have a feeling I’ll be spending a good chunk of 2016 with my nose in a book, and I couldn’t be happier about that!

Thanks, Laurie!

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