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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Story Secrets: LANGUAGE OF LOVE by Deborah Reber + giveaway!

I'm very pleased to welcome author friend Deborah Reber to the blog today to chat about her first YA novel, LANGUAGE OF LOVE!

But Debbie is no stranger to writing for teens: she's written a bunch of fabulous books to empower teen girls and help them connect to their purpose and passions,
like IN HER SHOES, CHILL, and she compiled and edited the amazing teen-authored memoir series Louder Than Words (you might be familiar with titles ALEXIS, RAE, and HANNAH).

Welcome, Deborah!


LANGUAGE OF LOVE is about a shy girl named Janna whose “bad influence best friend” convinces her to impersonate a Hungarian exchange student in order to keep the interest of Julian, a cute boy from another school. At first she thought her prank was harmless - Janna didn’t expect to like her outgoing alter ego so much, and she certainly didn’t realize that Julian was “the one” for her until she’s in way too deep. That’s when things really get complicated…

I’m soooo excited about LANGUAGE OF LOVE because it’s my first stab at writing YA fiction. The book is part of Simon Pulse’s Romantic Comedies series, which they’ve just rebranded by packaging two novels in one book. So Language of Love is actually paired with Caroline Goode’s Cupidity in a new book called Love, Love, Love.

Holly Cupala: Great title, too! So where did the idea come from?

Deborah Reber: How many of us wish we could be someone else every now and then – try on a more interesting persona and see what happens? I wanted to play with that idea, and thought back to an episode of the original Beverly Hills 90210 where Brenda is spending the summer in France with Donna and fools an American boy into thinking she’s French. And the story just evolved from there.

Holly: Hmm...I was just watching a 90210 rerun...one of those collective unconscious things! How did you go from writing nonfiction to YA fiction?
Deborah: I’d written two nonfiction books for Simon Pulse – IN THEIR SHOES and CHILL – and I loved the group of editors there. Over lunch with my Chill editor, Anica Rissi, we were talking about what might be next for me. She asked if I’d ever considered writing fiction (which I had) and suggested I pitch an idea to her for the Ro Com line. It probably took me 9 months or so before I did so (the idea of writing fiction was very intimidating to me), but I finally sent in my idea and we went from there.

Holly: You are very passionate about helping girls find there way in life. What has inspired that?

Deborah: I have many inspirations, but one of my biggest is my own teen years, which were hard, embarrassing, confusing, misguided…(you get the point). I like to write books that can play some role in improving the life of teen girls today, whether it’s giving them practical strategies like in my nonfiction books or silly escapism (laughter’s good for the soul!).

Holly: Do you share your ideas or keep them under wraps?

Deborah: I let two key people in on my writing process – my sister and my husband. My sister is a fantastic storyteller and a great sounding board, so when I get stuck on something, she helps me think about how to move forward in a way that makes sense for the project. And because it helps me to read my writing aloud, my husband is my audience of one when I’m writing. For this book, every night I’d catch him up with the writing I’d done during the day. For him it was kind of like listening to a radio soap opera, and he’d have keep tuning in to find out what happened next.

Holly: I love radio dramas! Great idea. How have your life experiences helped you get to the heart of your story?

When I was in high school, I always felt like I was the goofy, slightly strange “sidekick” to my close girlfriends. I was the one no one took seriously, which was often okay with me since I loved getting a good laugh. But deep down I always thought there was so much more to me that no one knew about or cared to uncover. At her core, Janna is very much like me in that she expects to be overlooked and not seen for who she is, and she acts like she’s okay with it, even though deep down it leaves her feeling bummed out and insecure.

Holly: Any secrets you might be willing to share?

Here’s a few: I pilfer candy from my son’s Halloween / birthday party stash, taking care that I only grab things he has more than one of so he won’t miss it; while I believe running is a very individual sport, I’m actually very competitive and love to blow past runners with my kick in the last half-mile of a race; I am jealous of women who can wear knee high boots over their jeans, since my big calves make this an impossibility for me.

Holly: What’s up next?

I’m the editorial director for a new girl-focused website launching next year aimed at teens with an interest in entrepreneurism and social activism, and I’m juggling three different book projects at the moment (2 nonfiction and 1 middle grade novel). Oh yeah, and I’m getting my certification to be a life coach for teens and young women, which I will start doing next summer!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Debbie!

You know the drill. Until Monday at midnight, you can comment here and answer one of the following for a chance to win a copy of Deborah's LANGUAGE OF LOVE. Mais oui, bien sûr!
  1. Have you ever fantasized about posing as a girl from another land?
  2. Do you think, if you had the chance, you would act on it?
  3. Why are you dying to read LANGUAGE OF LOVE?

Tell us in the comments!


  1. I'm dying to read Language of Love because it sounds like a really good book and i'm really curious to see how she gets out of that mess :)

    jessica b

  2. A couple of years ago, I was on a plane on my way to Paris (sadly not a pleasure trip--I ended up seeing very few of the attractions) sitting between two guys. I had just taken a drink when they sat down next to me, so I just smiled when they said hello instead of saying anything. They were both students, one from Austria and the other from Italy. With me sitting between them, they carried on a conversation of how annoying they found American girls. I started turning very, very red (a combination of acute embarrassment and outrage) when one of them turned to me and asked me if I was American. I stuttered out a denial in a bad Australian accent. Why I picked Australia of my "country of origin" I have no clue. It was a very poor choice for several reasons: 1) I am quite pale with dark hair and eyes. Not exactly your stereotypical Aussie. 2) I watch a lot of BBC shows--I could possibly carry off a British accent for a short period of time. Whereas, in comparison, my exposure to Australian accents are limited to... the guy who plays Chase on House. 3) I know absolutely nothing about Australia, outside of what I've read from novels by Melina Marchetta and Jaclyn Moriarty. The two guys asked me a lot of questions, very few of which I knew the actual answers to. It was horrible, I was tempted to get up and go to the bathroom... and then spend the rest of the plane ride there. Eventually I just said something along the lines of "G'night, mate" and feigned sleep. Lesson learned? If you're going to lie, do it either a) about a topic with which you are familiar b) when you do not have to be in their presence for a length of time c) if several escape routes are available. Or, you know, don't lie. That works too.
    melodiousrevelry (at) gmail (dot) com

  3. I would love to read THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE because:

    a) it's from Simon Pulse's Romantic Comedies that publishes book I've always enjoyed. plus cover = love! THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE sounds like a fun wholesome read :D

    b) I agree with Deborah's mantra that laughter's good for the soul :D I also like her inspiration for THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE. Awesome author = awesome book :)

    c) I've always wanted to be someone I'm not lol


  4. You know why I'd love to read The Language of Love? Cos, the title's rad, the premise is something I can't have enough of and oh..I just want it.

    I haven't ever thought about pretending to be someone from another country, though I bet it'll be cool playing someone else for a while :D

    And book projects, editorial director, life coach? Deborah is officially living my dream.


  5. I have totally fantasized about being a girl from a foreign area. I always wonder if I move to france or somewhere farther away, what people would want to know about me. I think it would be fun. This book sounds awesome.

  6. I am dieing to read this books because I had read a book by Deborah Reber from before. I love her website. It was amazing. She is an inspiring writing. I want to be like her :)
    Email: basma.aal@gmail.com

  7. I am disappointed in the Hungarian book markets. You show a lot of books. In Hungary, no one is available. I read your blog envy. It is a lot of interviews. Normal book reviews. We offer you the most popular online bookstore (www.konyv-konyvek.hu) you can not find a book, you will not be anywhere.