I meet the most interesting people by asking, “What do you write?” A perfect example is the wonderful Jennifer Echols. I first met her at one conference and then ran into her at another. She told me about her upcoming YA book “Major Crush.” From her description alone, I knew it would be a great read. I was right. :-)
I asked Jenn to chat with us here on the blog, and here’s what she had to say:
1. I have a son who was a Drum Major, and you have to
tell me how you came up with this idea?
I remembered that you have a son who’s a drum major! I was the first female drum major of my high school marching band, so I’m just writing from my teen experience. You would not believe all the drum majors I’ve met in person and online in the last month, not to mention all the other people in band! But I tried to write the book so that people who have never played an instrument could understand and enjoy it.
2. Tell us about “Major Crush.”
Sick of the East-Central Alabama pageant circuit, Virginia the Beauty Queen pierces her nose, stops wearing shoes, and tries out for drum major of the high school marching band. She wins, but she has to share the title with one of the Morrow boys, who have the position tied up like the Mafia. Virginia figures the next shoes she wears may be cement. Until Drew Morrow shows her what it’s like to make out on a tractor.
Virginia already has a boyfriend wanna-be. And Drew is dating one of the Evil Twins–he’s just not sure which one. It takes an explosive new band director, scarlet fever on the eve of the S.A.T., bad blue eyeliner, and a pageant trophy the size of a refrigerator for Drew and Virginia to realize they make a very good team.
3. Now tell us about you. I read that your alter-ego is a freelance editor for scientific publications. How
did you end up in the world of YA’s?
I wrote my first novel when I was 20 and my second when I was 22. I got an agent for that second novel. He marketed it as an adult novel, but when it didn’t sell, he suggested that it might be better suited as a YA. Since then, I’ve been writing (and reading!) both YA and adult novels. Sometimes the two run together.
MAJOR CRUSH is my tenth novel. Along my road to publication, I’ve worked as a freelance writer, as a college English teacher, and as a editor for some very strange stuff (advertorials for ball-bearings factories, anyone?). I love my current job editing medical journal articles. I think it’s the best job in the world, besides writing novels. Of course, I do so much of both each day that my characters tend to end up with interesting medical conditions. *cough*
4. The YA industry is huge these days. Can you tell us
where you fall on the sex/violence/language
controversy with your book?
Generally, my attitude is that characters can do anything in a book–adult or YA–as long as they are sympathetic and properly motivated. Teen readers understand this as well as adult readers. Except for some language (there was more, but my editor cut it out ), MAJOR CRUSH is pretty uncontroversial in this regard, because that’s where the characters happen to be in their lives. They don’t have sex, so I tried to make every touch count.
5. What’s coming up next for you?
My next romantic comedy with Simon Pulse is scheduled for release in Summer 2007. My agent is also shopping an adult romantic comedy.
6. What would you like fans to know?
I want to hear from them! I am not a distant persona. I am me, online, and I would love to know what they think of the book. I am totally wired: http://www.jennifer-echols.com, http://jenniferechols.livejournal.com, http://www.myspace.com/jenniferechols. Come give me a shout out!