Author Crush Friday: Lisa Selin Davis
We love asking questions and we love the answers from some of our favorite authors. Today we’re talking to Lisa Selin Davis, journalist and author of Lost Stars (October 4, 2016; HMH Books for Young Readers). Thank you for talking to us today, Lisa! We’re honored!
GLITTER: How did you come up with the plot for Lost Stars?
LISA: There’s a two-part answer. Or maybe more parts. I wrote an essay for The New York Times’ Modern Love column about a misadventure from when I was 16. I was a pretty, um…unruly kid, let’s say, and my dad and step-mom said if I wanted to stay with them for the summer I had to take this job doing sort of light construction in the state park. They thought it would be good for me. I had to ride my bike around town with a hard hat and work boots and I was mortified. But this boy I had had a crush on for a zillion years started seeing me on my bike with the hard hat and work boots and that made him notice me. So it became my summer of first love.
Then I VERY heavily fictionalized the story. It became about a girl, grieving for her sister and waiting for the comet she’s studied all her life to pass by, and waiting for her first love, and trying to put her life back together after her family fell apart.
GLITTER: What one question sparked the whole plot?
LISA: Can someone love you for what shames you most? Or, as an alternative: can disco and punk rock peacefully co-exist?
GLITTER: How would you describe your writing to someone who may have not discovered you yet?
LISA: Is it bad to say “emotional?” I have a habit of using run-on sentences when a character is really excited or really sad. The words run together, they go quickly, to mirror the way the blood might be pumping through her veins or the way her heart beats faster. I’m trying to sink the emotion into the prose, infuse it with it. This probably sounds really pretentious. And yet I really hope the writing is unpretentious. I hope it’s moving and relatable and good.
GLITTER: How has being a journalist also helped shape your writing today?
LISA: It’s been a real privilege to write articles for a living. You think of an idea (or get an assignment). Then you get to look stuff up (one of my favorite activities), talk to fascinating people, put the pieces of the article together like a puzzle. (I’m eliminating all the hard stuff, like figuring out how to get the assignment or actually make enough money to pay the rent from it).
The really interesting part about writing, and especially writing fiction, is that when you start typing, things come out that you didn’t realize you knew, or may have forgotten. I have written about so many random things—a guy who insists on using every single piece of garbage for sculpture, or the struggle to get more Latinas in the entertainment industry, or ridiculous luxury real estate—and every once in a while something from an article appears in a chapter.
I also think articles are great practice. Each time I sit down to write one, I can’t imagine how I’m going to shape it, to finish it. And each time I do. I have to remember that when I sit down to write entire books.
GLITTER: If you could have one of your books turned into a movie, which one would you choose and why?
LISA: Well, I’ve only got two books so far! I really hope there will be more. I would love to see Lost Stars in film. Just think of the soundtrack! And what cute boy would play Dean? That’s fun to think about.
GLITTER: What character do you relate most to?
LISA: Well, Carrie is VERY LOOSELY based on me. That is, when she does something bad—misbehaving, smoking too much, losing her temper—I’m drawing from my own life. When she does something good—calculating the path of a comet, or playing guitar solos—she is, sadly, not drawn from me.
What one YA novel do you wish you had when you were a teen?
I really related to Eleanor & Park. Partly because it, too, was set in the 80s (like Lost Stars), but partly because Eleanor was so ashamed of her circumstances, and so uncomfortable in her body. She was so sure she was unlovable, and that she was unable to love. And, man, did I feel that way.
GLITTER: Tell us one random fact that your fans still might not know about you.
LISA: I worked at the Nickelodeon show Blue’s Clues for four years. I made Steve’s notebooks and crayons and other sparkly striped props.
GLITTER: What are you currently working on?
LISA: Fingers crossed that you’ll see what I’m working on in print soon!
Lisa Selin Davis is the author of the adult novel Belly and the YA novel LOST STARS and has written articles for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, and many other publications. Originally from Saratoga Springs, New York, she now lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two kids. Learn more at www.lisaselindavis.com.