Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Authors Are Rockstars Tour: Claire LaZebnik Interview + Giveaway

Today I have the absolute honor of hosting an awesome author on my blog!  Her name, if you didn't catch it in the title, is Claire LaZebnik and she writes both adult and young adult fiction!  Now, if you also didn't notice that this is about authors who are rockstars (really, you need to get your eyes checked if you didn't) then let me tell you Claire is a ROCKSTAR!!!  Now I'm sure you may be asking "why Grace, is Claire a rockstar? She's just an author."  And if you say that you are WRONG!  I got an ARC of Claire's first book, I sat down with it, and finished it in a DAY! There are very few authors who have claimed the title of "I finished their book in one day". And on top of that Claire is SO nice!  She also writes her YA books based on classics, and if you're like me and really don't like classic literature (I find it dull and stuffy) then reading a book that's based on classic lit. and enjoying it is even MORE impressive!  So that's why I think Claire is a rockstar!  And because Claire is SO awesome she has answered some interview questions for me AND her publisher has offered to give away one of her books!  How cool is that!?

About Claire

She grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, went to Harvard and moved to LA. (Her name was Claire Scovell for a large part of all that.)  She's written five novels for adults, Same as It Never Was, Knitting under the Influence, The Smart One and the Pretty One, If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now, and Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts.  She's also published two YA novels with Harper Collins: Epic Fail and The Trouble with Flirting (due out in winter, 2012/3). With Lynn Koegel (who’s absolutely brilliant), she co-wrote Overcoming Autism: Finding the Answers, Strategies and Hope That Can Transform a Child’s Life and Growing up on the Spectrum: A guide to life, love and learning for young adults with autism and Asperger’s.  She contributed to an anthology play called Motherhood Out Loud, and has been published in The New York Times, Self, Vogue and other magazines.
She live in the Pacific Palisades with her husband Rob (who writes for “The Simpsons”), her four kids (Max, Johnny, Annie and Will) and too many pets to keep track of.

Find Claire on Twitter/Facebook/Blog

The Interview

Let’s start off with the basics.  You write YA but you also write books for adults.  Why did you decide to start writing YA fiction?
For a few reasons. The first is that I realized that a YA book--THE HUNGER GAMES--was my favorite novel of the previous decade and I found that inspiring.  The second was that my daughter (who was then about thirteen) was having trouble finding the kind of YA books she liked to read--ones that were funny and sweet and romantic, with intelligent, relatable main characters. I figured if I started writing books like that, then she'd have something to read.  But mostly I just like trying my hand at different things. I've written non-fiction books, novels, magazine articles, newspaper columns, screenplays, essays, even a theatrical monologue--life's just more interesting when you keep shaking things up.
Was there one book that made you want to write YA fiction or was it just a slow realization? 
Oops, I jumped ahead on that one.  See my reference to THE HUNGER GAMES above.  That trilogy is fiction at its best: exciting, thoughtful, moving, mindblowing . . .  It proves that YA can take on adult fiction and sometimes even leave it in the dust.  
Your YA books are also somewhat based on classic literature, is there any specific reason for that or did you just find it easier to write them that way?
The fun thing about basing your book on a classic is that it forces you to think about which human behaviors are timeless and universal, and which ones aren't.  For example: parents have been embarrassing their kids for centuries and that isn't ever going to change. But obviously the way we spend our time has changed and so have a lot of society's rules, so it's an enjoyable challenge to find a way to capture the universal truths while making the story fresh for a new audience. 
Do you have a favorite book that is in the classical literature genre?
I have many--I was an English literature major in college, specializing in 19th century British fiction, so I'm a total nerd when it comes to this stuff.  I wrote my thesis on JANE EYRE, and that might still be my favorite of all, but EMMA and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE are two of the most perfect novels ever written.  Then there's Dickens--I adore both OUR MUTUAL FRIEND and LITTLE DORRIT. 
If you could pick one classic book to base a novel on what would it be?
I think I already picked one: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE!  (That's what EPIC FAIL is based on.)  

Your new YA book comes out next year, could you give us a little snippet of it to tide us over?
The book cover copy says it best:

Franny Pearson never dreamed she'd be attending the prestigious Mansfield Summer Theater Program. And she's not, exactly. She's working for her aunt, the drama department's costume designer. But sewing her fingers to the bone does give her an opportunity to spend time with her longtime crush, Alex. If only he was as taken with the girl hemming his trousers as he is with his new leading lady. When Harry, a notorious flirt, shows more than a friendly interest in Franny, she figures it can't hurt to have a little fun. But why is Alex suddenly giving her those deep, meaningful looks?

FLIRTING is definitely in the same vein as EPIC FAIL--it's also loosely based on an Austen novel, and it's a light, romantic read. I'm hopeful fans of EF will find and like this one too.

Which book has been your favorite to write?
My first novel--SAME AS IT NEVER WAS.  At that point in my life, I was such a mom--I had four small children and the youngest was only about six months old.  I spent my days driving and feeding the kids and taking care of them, but then I suddenly got this urge to write, so whenever I had some free time, I'd jump onto my computer and start typing away like crazy.  Sometimes when I'd be rocking a kid to sleep, I'd plot a whole scene in my head and as soon as I could put my child down, I'd race back to my laptop. It was joyful and exciting and creative--I was doing it for ME, not because I had a deadline.  It was lovely.
Do you think you’ll keep writing YA books along with your adult books?
Absolutely!  I'm already working on the next one, and I have one planned after that.  The bigger question is whether I keep writing adult fiction--I'd like to, but I'm putting more energy into YA right now. I'm also hoping to do another project with my co-author on my non-fiction autism books (Dr. Lynn Koegel).  We love working together and are trying to figure out what's next for us as a team.

And last but not least, why do you write?  Why did you decide to become a writer in the first place? And is it everything you hoped it would be?

I write because I like to read and because writing is fun for me--and because I'm not good at anything else.  I always had my nose in a book as a kid, so it just made sense to me that my future life would revolve around books. And I didn't have any natural talent that would have driven me in some other direction.  Maybe if I'd taken tap dancing lessons, things would have turned out differently. :)

Your last question is a really tough one to answer. I feel like it's ungrateful of me to say, "No, it's not everything I hoped it would be" because I'm so unbelievably lucky to be a published author and to get to keep writing books, and I'm truly wildly grateful that I'm where I am now. But I dreamed of being on the NY Times bestselling list and that hasn't happened yet. So . . . something to keep striving for, right? 

Bonus question; There was a recent episode of BONES on TNT that featured your husband’s name as the name of the murder victim.  Can you tell us a little bit about that, just for fun?

Not only is the dead man named Rob LaZebnik, if you look at the credits for the episode, you'll see that his widow's name is Claire LaZebnik!  One of our oldest and dearest friends--a terrific TV writer named Jonathan Collier--wrote that episode and used our names, just to be mischievous. I love it--we can't watch the episode without cracking up. Especially because Rob LaZebnik is so evil and hated.
 About the book
 At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you. Cast in point:

- As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school - not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his loyal subjects.
- As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn't exactly on everyone's must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.

When Elise's beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince's best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus. Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long

Find Epic Fail at B&N/Amazon/Goodreads

The Giveaway

Harper Collins has agreed to send a copy of Clarie's first YA book, Epic Fail, to one winner who has a US mailing address. All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Claire sounds like a great author. I love reading Pride and Prejudice remakes and Epic Fail fits the picture.

  2. Love this interview! Did not realize the dead man was named Rob LaZebnik or that a widows was credited in that episode. Love that! :)

    And loved EPIC FAIL. Cannot wait to check out FLIRTING when it releases!

    Thank you so much for participating in the tour. This stop was so much fun!

  3. I think they're cute and awesome reads. :D

  4. Claire sounds amazing and her books sound great. I have been wanting to read Epic Fail. Thanks for a great stop.

  5. I have not yet read any of Ms. LaZebnik's books but I'm really looking forward to it. :)

    Great Q&A!! So happy to have you board!!


  6. Love the interview! I really want to read EPIC FAIL. I heard that it's a really cute read. (Not to mention that the title describes me perfectly).

  7. Great interview. Love the cover and the story line sounds great for Epic Fail. And I love that she grew up in Massachusetts. That's where I grew up.

  8. Great interview. Epic Fail is on my TBR list and it just got bumped up a little! Thanks for the awesome giveaway Grace/Harper Collins! <3

  9. I haven't read one yet, but I am a sucker for YA books that are re-tellings. It's always fun !

  10. I have read Epic Fail and liked it.(I read it in one day) At the time of reading it I thought it sounded a lot like Pride and Prejudice but more readable. I love that movie and could finally understand what all the hype was about when I watched the movie so I got the book but could not read it!! So thank you Claire for a very entertaining book..

  11. Epic Fail sounds really sweet!

  12. Haha the TV show thing is great! And I'd love to read this book! I've heard great things about it :)

  13. I haven't read any of her books yet, but Epic Fail sounds like a cute book. Something I would have enjoyed this past summer. But hey it's still warm out :).


  14. Epic Fail sounds like a pretty good book. It's definitely going onto my to-read shelf :)

  15. Her book sounds amazing. I love books based on Jane Austen's work