E Lockhart: lockart (Lockhart is actually her middle name - and she likes it so much she uses it on her books)
E Lockhart discusses The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Are you a prankster? Could you have pulled off Frankie's pranks?
I am not and have never been much of a prankster, though in college I was a big sneaker-arounder. (That is not a word, I know, but The Disreputable History is partly a book about making up words, so I'm using it anyway. It's my prerogative as an author.)
Okay, back to college. My friends and I snuck into the chapel late at night, got on the roof of the film center (for romance) and the dance studio (for tanning)and yes, we had parties on the golf course. There was a fair amount of streaking as well! But we weren't engaging in social or institutional critique in any systematic way, the way Frankie is. To write Frankie's pranks I had to do some significant research and really push my imagination.
Did you, like Frankie, struggle with other people's assumptions about your skills or abilities?
I certainly did as a teenager and young adult. I think a big part of why I got a doctorate in English literature was that I wanted concrete evidence of my intellectual worth. I often felt that neither my boyfriends nor my professors really saw me as serious, and that my boyfriends didn't see me as equal.
That's not to say I had a whole slew of sexist boyfriends who wanted me to stay home and cook (which I quite enjoy doing, actually) rather than work or study. Not at all: they were nice guys and all for equal opportunity and equal pay. It's to say that they did not really rate me as a contender for the kinds of aspirations they themselves had. They did not seek to learn anything from me, but rather to have me learn from themto share in their interests.
And the professors?
One of my professors in grad school used to pat me on the head. That university English department was definitely an Old Boys Club, and it was hard for the women there to break through and succeed. This feeling of being underestimated was really the start of The Disreputable History. I try to begin a book by considering what I am angry about. And I am still angry about thatand angry when it happens to me today. Although it happens much less often. Now I am comfortable enough with my place in the world and my relationships to write comedies instead of dissertations.
What's the best part of writing for young adults? What's the most difficult?
The best part of writing for young adults, in terms of my daily life, is the community of fellow writers. When I have written for adults or very young children, I haven't had a supportive community, but the YA writers in New York convene together for writing days, talk shop, share advice (and horror stories) and generally support one another. Sometimes, we even make dance videos. Much of The Disreputable History was written in a coffee shop alongside the three authors who have been my most regular writing companionsScott Westerfeld, John Green, and Maureen Johnsonand I've learned so much from just seeing their discipline, listening to their jokes, and watching them procrastinate.
Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.
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