Tina and I met at an SCBWI midwinter conference in NYC. She recognized me on the spot...as someone who'd won her book TOP TEN USES FOR AN UNWORN PROM DRESS from YA Fresh, the blog she co-helms with fellow YA author Kelly Parra (I wrote about the white tulle with glow-in-the-dark dots I wished I'd made after one of the most disastrous co-dates in history...).
I'm especially excited for Tina because today's book was featured on Amazon's Great Gifts for Teens list - and it just made YALSA's Best Books for Young Adults List! So if you still have holiday dollars, Tina's book is the perfect way to spend them.
When I first started taking about my third Random House novel, The ABC’s of Kissing Boys, I really wasn’t sure what to say. The plot sounded ridiculous, even to my own ear: in order to get promoted to varsity soccer with the rest of her team, 16 year-old Parker has to learn to kiss the socks off last year’s prom king. And she finds help in the unlikeliest of places: the freshman guy across the street.
I mean, say what?
But thankfully, reviewers provided cleverer and more succinct versions.
Here’s YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association), when nominating it for Best YA Book of 2009: "Learning to kiss from her father's archenemy's son (a freshman) can lead to consequences Parker never imagined. A funny, poignant, and sweet Romeo and Juliet.”
Booklist calls it: “...a mashup of Bend It Like Beckham, Mean Girls, and Can’t Buy Me Love, and will find a happy audience in fans of the same.”
So at the risk of appearing unoriginal with my own original project--what they said!
How did you come up with the idea for the do-or-die kiss scenario?
For me, it was a crash-boom-bam of ideas.
- I had been thinking about a girl who doesn’t make varsity with her teammates, and how awful it would be to get left behind.
- I loved the idea of a title that started “The ABC’s of...”
- I thought it would be fun to research kissing.
Did you know the Romeo and Juliet story would become a significant part of the plot?
The whole Romeo and Juliet father-feud happened during the writing process, and the more it emerged, the more I liked it. So I found myself going back and heightening some previous areas, and setting the scene for more drama along the line. So the fact YALSA chose that to highlight completely delights me!
Do you talk with anyone about your ideas as you are writing, or do you keep them top secret?
Both! I often tell my critique partner, author Kelly Parra, what I am planning. But sometimes I’m unsure about an element, or I want her “cold” reaction to something I’m trying, so I’ll keep it quiet to gauge her reaction.
Any secrets you might be willing to share?
I now know totally random and ridiculous information about kissing. You don’t want to be on the opposing team in Trivial Pursuit if a kissing question comes up!
Mid-way through the book, Parker and Tristan attempt something called The Steam Kiss. I had planned to try it out with my husband to see if one kisser with hot water in his mouth and one kisser with icy cold water could really make steam when kissing-- but got busy and forgot. Suddenly, I was writing that scene and I didn’t know what to do. Then I realized the thing to do was to have the kissing experiment rushed and therefore fail. So it wasn’t a real and true answer, but something they swear they’re going to “get back to.” To this day, I haven’t tried it and don’t know if it works!
I'm sure everyone could use some kissing research (if anyone tries the Steam Kiss, I'd be very curious about the results). Thanks for sharing your secrets, Tina!
So here's The Great Kissing Giveaway:
Tina has generously offered to send one winner a copy of THE ABC's OF KISSING. For a chance to win, leave a comment - your best or worst kiss ever - and some way to contact you, and we'll choose one winner to receive the book by Monday at 5pm PST. May the best kiss win!