Me: So how do you choose the books you want to read?
Liesl: When I go to the library I look at the spine first to see the title. If that looks cool then I pull it out and look at the cover. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by the cover but I totally do.
Portia: I was awful yesterday at the library. There was this book that looked pretty good but I pulled it out and the font was awful so I put it back. I was like ‘Oh, nevermind’. It wasn’t a new book though.
Me :That is the kind of thing that stops the heart of most authors.
Liesl: Well now that I know that authors don’t choose the fonts or the covers I might look a little more closely.
Me :Do you ever open up a book and read the first page to see if you like it?
Liesl: I open to the middle.
Portia: I read the inside jacket or the blurb. If that looks interesting, then I open to the middle and read a paragraph.
Liesl: Sometimes I’ll read a book and the beginning is really slow so I’ll flip to the end and see if it’s worth pushing through.
Me: That doesn’t spoil it for you?
Liesl : No. I don’t mind. I like chick lit books and romance and stuff and if they break up in the book I get so worked up that I’ll flip to the end just to make sure they get back together.
Me : You know, they pretty much always get back together.
Portia: No! You know, I just read (title redacted) and the end wasn’t like that. Nothing got resolved. She didn’t end up with anybody. I hated it.
Me: Let's see. What else would writers like to know? How real living breathing teens feel? I guess we want to know why you like that book over this book, what makes a book great. Why do you like a book like Shiver for example? Was it different from the Dark Divine?
Portia: Oh I like them both! Shiver was more cute than the Dark Divine.
Liesl: Well duh. It’s Dark.
Portia: They made the cover of Dark Divine purple, but I’m a big vibe person and the whole book was like purple because of that. But it wouldn’t have been purple if I hadn’t seen the cover. It didn’t ruin it, but I kept thinking this was a very purple book.
Me : Sometimes I don’t think the cover artists get to read the whole book.
Liesl: I was reading a book about a girl who played sports and the number of her jersey on the front wasn’t the number on her jersey in the book.
Me : So you noticed that?
L : Yeah, it totally bugged me the whole time.
Me: I think they often just get a blurb to read.
Liesl: Sometimes I’ll read a book and then go back and read the blurb and it’s nothing like the book I just read.
Me: Okay, there’s a good question. Have you ever read a book based on what we call ‘blurbs’, the quote on the cover from another author who liked the book?
Liesl: You mean those reviews on the book jacket? Yeah, I will.
Portia: Or if it’s an author whose book I didn’t like then I’ll think that maybe I don’t want to read it after all. If it’s an author who writes kind of chicky books then I’ll think it’s another chicky book.
Me: So they better make sure they get someone from the same genre.
Portia: Yeah. Exactly.
Me: So if I can get Cate Tiernan to blurb my next book I should?
Portia: Oh you totally should. That would make me pick it up. I loved Immortal Beloved.
I liked that she got to be immortal and not just the guy.
Liesl: Yeah. Why is it the guy that always gets to be immortal?
Portia: I liked that she was talking about a long time ago in Northern Europe – you don’t ever get books about that.
Liesl: I like how different authors write totally different books about the same topic. That’s why you can’t just say the book is about ‘that’ because it’s probably totally different from another book.
Me: Does it matter to you whether there’s a boy or a girl narrator? Like in Flash Burnout the narrator was a boy but the book was still pretty much one that girls are going to read.
Portia:I loved Flash Burnout. Liesl loved Flash Burnout because of that and because she loved it I read it and it actually was really really good.
Liesl: See? See?
Portia: It was good to see how guys think. But then because it’s written by a girl, how do I know that it’s accurate?
Me: That’s actually a big question among writers – about girly-men. Too many YA boys are really girly.(This interview was done well before yesterday's blog post.)
Portia: But there are guys who write as girls and they’re relatable enough. (A discussion ensued about how all of the boys they know don’t read.)
A big thanks to the Lit Chicks for talking to us. I have it on good authority that they've picked their first review books and will be ready for next week. They haven't told me what books they're doing, so I guess we'll find out together!
On this date: In 1977, Elvis Costello's debut album is released.