I’m thrilled to be touring Jennifer O’Connell and her book EVERYTHING I NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT BEING A GIRL I LEARNED FROM JUDY BLUME. It’s edited by Jennifer and the contributors include: Megan Cabot, Megan McCafferty, Cara Lockwood, Melissa Senate, Laura Caldwell, Stacey Ballis, Shanna Swendson and 17 other acclaimed women writers.
Whether laughing to tears reading Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great or clamoring for more unmistakable “me too!” moments in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, girls all over the world have been touched by Judy Blume’s poignant coming-of-age stories. Now, in this anthology of essays, twenty-four notable female authors write straight from the heart about the unforgettable novels that left an indelible mark on their childhoods and still influence them today. Drawing on their own experiences of feeling like a Fourth Grade Nothing before growing up to become Smart Women themselves, these writers pay tribute, through their reflections and most cherished memories, to one of the most beloved authors of all time.
So, here are my questions for Jennifer:
What inspired the plot for your book?
I was about to begin writing my first teen book, PLAN B, and I sat at the computer and thought to myself, “Everything I needed to know about being a girl I learned from Judy Blume.” And so the idea for the collection of essays was born. Because I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt like that.
Why did you decide to write in this genre?
I thought that this should be non-fiction because it sounded fun to have other writers remember what it was like when they read Judy Blume. I thought about having them write short stories, but then I decided that the “real life” stories they could tell would be even better.
What is your writing process like?
Pretty straightforward. I don’t write sequentially, so in any one sitting I’m writing the third chapter, the 17th chapter, the final chapter. I just write what I feel like writing that day.
What are you working on now?
A new teen book. I’m not terribly far yet, but I have it all in my head. That doesn’t help much when you need it on paper!
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I have a “real job” in advertising.
Who do you like to read?
Sarah Dessen, John Green, Sonya Sones, I’m not a big fan of fantasy or paranormal, I just like reading about ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives.
“Fun tributes to a beloved role model.” —People
“Wry pieces… make this more than a nostalgia trip.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Each writer is fearlessly honest… it’s emotional reading.” —Chicago Sun-Times
“Funny, poignant, honest, and reverential, these stories will resonate strongly with the legions of readers who, like the authors, are grateful and lifelong Blume devotees.” —Booklist
“From bittersweet to laugh-out-loud hilarious, the essays in this collection all sparkle with charm, style, and wit. No doubt about it, if you grew up reading Judy Blume, you will love this book.” —Sarah Mlynowski, author of Spells & Sleeping Bags and Me vs. Me
“Writing in the spirit of Blume, these women present their experiences as a series of personal truths: ‘girl moments. Woman moments. Human moments.’” —Publishers Weekly
“Judy Blume’s adolescent books have left such an indelible mark that two dozen of today’s female writers of young adult fiction wrote essays about the impression her novels left on them. . . . This is the gift we Judy Blume-raised mothers can give our daughters now: the voice that told us everything we were feeling was normal.” —The Record (Bergen County, NJ)
“By turns funny and poignant, this essay collection captures the essence of Judy Blume’s appeal.” —Library Journal
“These stories are intensely personal recollections that offer an insight into the influence that Judy Blume’s works have had on everyone who reads them.” —Teens Read Too
Jennifer O’Connell is the author of ten books, the most recent of which are her two teen novels Local Girls and Rich Boys. She received her BA from Smith College and her MBA from the University of Chicago. Visit her website at www.jenniferoconnell.com and www.jennyoconnell.com.