Fangirls Unleashed: Exclusive Interview with Nina LaCour

Hello Bookworms! Welcome to Part 2 of our exclusive interviews with various Young Adult authors.  Recently, we were invited to attend a Bay Area Bloggers and Authors event at the new Books Inc. store in Santa Clara. The event was hosted by the Not Your Mother’s Book Club which isn’t really a club, but rather Book’s Inc. Young Adult author Salon. It is a group of enthusiastic readers who hang out with some authors whose names you’re definitely going to fangirl over. It’s a book lover’s dream, with it being a brand new book store.  We immediately beelined for the massive Young Adult section, and traded book recommendations with other bloggers, and no one left empty-handed.  In addition, they also have books for children and adults. Previously you’ve read Addie’s interview with Traci Chee on her debut novel The Reader, and today we’re entering the world of Young Adult contemporary author Nina LaCour.

Nina LaCour is a critically acclaimed author of Hold Still, The Disenchantments, and Everything Leads to You.  I interviewed her on her newest book, You Know Me Well, which according to the San Jose Public Library catalog is a story of Mark and Kate who sit next to each other in school but are barely acquainted until they meet at a San Francisco club during Pride Week and connect over each one's forbidden love. I honestly loved every single thing about this book, from the diverse LGBTQ characters, to the local setting, and the beautiful writing.  One of my favorite quotes from the book was “He’s just a date, and you’re the calendar”.  If that quote caught your attention, then let’s delve deeper between the pages of You Know Me Well.


How was it collaborating with another author (David Levithan)?

It was wonderful to work with David. I’ve been a huge fan of his work for a long time. I read Boy Meets Boy, which was his first novel, when I was in grad school in my YA Literature class, and I was figuring out whether I wanted to write YA.  I really loved that book, and so it was really cool to work with someone who was such an influence in my own career. David was the one who approached me and asked me to write with him, which was a huge honor.  He had written with so many authors, so he knew what the process was like, and how to do it.  He told me “ Let’s come up with the premise and just alternate chapters”.  We never discussed the book or the timeline or what happened, so it was this really fun game of going back and forth and getting to see what he would have the characters do and try to come up with the next fun chapter.

If you were to collaborate again on a novel, who would you choose and why?

That’s a good question.  The answer always changes and there are a lot of YA authors that I love.  I mean, Jandy Nelson is one of my favorites and a friend, so that would be really fun.  But I think both of our writing process is very quirky, so I don’t know if we’ll be able to pull anything off.

You Know Me Well highlights queer characters.  Do you think that queer characters are represented correctly in YA literature, and if not, what would you like to clarify?

I think that over the last couple years, representations of queer teenagers have kind of exploded in a great way, and there are so many more books that feature them than there used to be.  I think that there used to be that a queer character was a sidekick or a friend, never really central to their own story.  Now, that’s definitely not the case.  There’s also been a shift where in the beginning books that feature queer teens were usually tragic stories.  Someone usually died in the stories, and now there’s much more of an affirming happy story, which is great.  Not that there shouldn’t be sad stories, because sadness is a part of life for everybody, but it seemed like in the past the teen queer books were kind of disproportionately sad, and now they have all sorts of great experiences in their stories.  So it was really fun to work with David and this book, where basically all the characters were queer teenagers, which I haven’t really seen before.  That was really fun to be able to have them not be compared in relation to their straight peers and have them be the “different” character, and instead have this whole group of friends who all shared that identity, and were just able to work through their individual problems and crushes and heartbreak.

If you could make any of your books into a movie, which one would you choose and why?

I would choose the one that’s coming out in February, which is We Are Okay.  I would choose it because I really love quiet movies, where you can focus on the small gestures and actions and this book is very much that.  It has very limited locations, the majority of it takes place in a dorm, and I think that it would be kind of a nice character study, just like snow falling in the old classic buildings, snow, and flashbacks to San Francisco and sun and ocean. I think that it would be visually beautiful.

If David did not reach out to you to write this book, would this book have existed?

No. I think that’s just the magic of working with somebody.  Both of us wrote a book that wouldn’t had existed without the other person.

We work for the San Jose Public Library. What were some of your earliest/ favorite memory of going to the library, and what books did you read?

I loved going to the library as a kid, and I remember just kind of kneeling down in the picture book section and getting to pick a few books to check out.  I feel like the library was this warm, cozy, safe, nurturing place and I feel like I checked out a lot of Shel Silverstein collections of poetry.  I feel like I found the most obscure books and checked them out.  Now I have so much fun because I have a 3-year-old, so now the library has become a really fun adventure activity that we can do together and go find a bunch of books and sit on the little kid’s couch and read them and choose what to check out, which is really fun.

So that wraps up my interview with Nina LaCour.  Have you read You Know Me Well or any other books by Nina? Comment below your favorite book.  Keep an eye out next month where we’ll be revealing our Top 5 Lip Tricks just in time for Valentine’s Day.  Until next time, happy readings!

Want to read more interviews of other YA authors in attendance? Check out our new friends’ blogs:

Fun Fact

Did you know that you can travel back in time up to 1985 to view all of San Jose Mercury News stories? I don’t have a Delorean, but we do have San Jose Mercury News Newsbank! The Newsbank is a collection of news articles from present day all the way back to 1985.  You can find it under 'Newspapers & Magazines' on our eResources page. You will need to input your name, card number, and pin in order to access the database.  From there you can find any news article from previous years.  For example, I chose the year I was born, 1989, since I was curious about what was trending at the time.  It turns out that back then Bay Area Scientists were able to photograph DNA, which was exciting since genetics is my all-time favorite branch of science.  Coincidence? I think not.

This blog has been a collaboration between Adilene Rogers and Alyssa Mendoza.

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