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Q & A with Julie Buxbaum
Your previous novels, After You and The Opposite of Love were written for adults. Why did you transition to Young Adult?
Ironically, I transitioned into writing for young adults when I finally felt like a grown up, which I’ll admit happened a bit later than I care to admit. But one day I woke up and realized I was married, with two kids, a writing career and a mortgage, and so all of those big life questions I’d had for years—who was I going to be?–were fixed. I had grown into my future, if that makes sense, which is a terrifying thing to realize. And so of course, I desperately missed the magic of being a teenager, when everything is still an open question and unanswered. I figured it was finally time to revisit those years in fiction.
What is your favorite part of writing and the most difficult part?
I love those rare quiet moments when you nail that perfect sentence. It doesn’t happen often. There are whole days, weeks even, when I don’t love what I’ve put down on the page, but when I think I’ve gotten it right, there really is no better feeling in the world. The most difficult part for me is when I’m in-between projects. I always look forward to this time, since I use it as an opportunity to catch up on reading and movies and television—to basically refill my creative well—which sounds fun in theory. In practice, I always end up feeling unmoored when I’m not writing.
Did you find it difficult to find your “teenage” voice? Why or why not?
Surprisingly, not at all. It felt strangely natural for me. Clearly, I’m really just a sixteen year old trapped in a 38 year old’s body. I’m living Freaky Friday.
What was your favorite scene or character to write?
I loved writing the messages between SN and Jessie. They are fun and silly at first and slowly morph over time to show a real connection between these two strangers. I love how our words on paper (or I guess the screen) can really reveal who we are, even sometimes when we don’t want them to.
Why do you think so many adults are reading Young Adult literature now?
Honestly, I think it’s because some of the best, sharpest, cutting edge writing is coming out of the YA world these days. Why would anyone want to miss out?
What is your best advice for hopeful YA writers?
Read widely. Seriously, read everything you can get your hands on. And then sit your butt down and write. And then write some more. Let yourself be bad at it. Everyone is at first.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I enjoy nothing more than a good Taylor Swift pajama dance party with my kids.
What are you working on now?
I just sent my editor a rough draft of my next YA novel. So really, I’m just sitting around waiting to hear what she thinks. It’s terrifying. And I’ll probably get carpel tunnel syndrome hitting refresh on my email. My iphone is like: “what part of ‘updated just now’ do you not understand?!?”
About the Book
What if the person you need the most is someone you’ve never met?
Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel whose characters will come to feel like friends. Tell Me Three Things will appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell, Jennifer Niven, and E. Lockhart.
Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?
The thing is, Jessie does need help. It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.
In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?
12/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
TELL ME THREE THINGS by Julie Buxbaum. Delacorte Press (April 5, 2016). ISBN 978-0553535648. 336p.