Today, we get to know a little about YA author Amy Holder and her charming contemporary debut, THE LIPSTICK LAWS. As Reader's Dialogue says, "This is Mean Girls, only better - much better!" Having read it myself, I’d say it’s like Mean Girls with a heart. And that heart is its heroine—the tissue-stuffing, self-deprecating, highly relatable, flawed but sympathetic April. The book, while fast-paced and funny, explores some serious issues like body image, self-esteem, friendship, loyalty, revenge, and redemption—but all with a light touch. Here’s a summary:
At Penford High School, Britney Taylor is queen bee. She dates whomever she likes, rules over her inner circle of friends like Genghis Khan, and can ruin anyone's life as easily as snapping her perfectly manicured fingers. Just ask the unfortunate few who have crossed her.
For April Bowers, Britney is also the answer to her prayers. With zero friends and nothing close to a boyfriend, April is so unpopular, kids don't know she exists. That is, until Britney notices her. One lunch spent at Britney's table, and April is basking in the glow of popularity.
But Britney's friendship comes with a price tag.
How much is April willing to pay?
Let’s see what Amy has to say about her inspiration for the book and her take on YA Lit in general:
Eve Marie Mont: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Amy Holder: I’ve known for as long as I can remember! I started writing when I was six, and I wrote my first chapter book in third grade. Apart from before I could hold a pencil, there really wasn’t a time in my life when I didn’t write… but I didn’t try to pursue it professionally until after college.
EM: What inspired you to write THE LIPSTICK LAWS?
AH: I really wanted to write a fun take on the ups and downs of social hierarchies in high school. April’s quirky voice was the first part of the story to come to me, so her character really inspired the whole plot to evolve.
EM: I was impressed that you weren’t afraid to make April a little unlikeable at times. What was your intention in doing so?
AH: It’s funny you ask this! This was actually a source of frustration for me during the editorial process, because it was tricky balancing her flaws with enough likable qualities to make sure readers would root for her. To answer your question, though, I felt that in order for April to be susceptible to Britney’s manipulation, following the Lipstick Laws, and being sucked in by the lure of popularity at all costs, she would have to have character flaws. A perfect, sweet angel is not going to fall for any of that. I also wanted to give her character room to grow, and if she always made the right choices, her character wouldn’t have much growth potential. Plus, everyone makes mistakes…how you right the wrongs of your mistakes is what’s important in the end.
EM: Why do you like writing YA literature?
AH: I love writing YA literature because it’s so super fun to retreat into my inner teen voice. I never lost it, and now it has the opportunity to come out and play again. Also, the YA community is amazing! I love the wonderful readers, bloggers, and other YA writers!
EM: What author, dead or alive, would you like to have lunch with?
AH: This is so hard! Can I have a banquet dinner with a bunch of authors instead? If I had to choose one right now, I’d probably pick J.K. Rowling. I am endlessly inspired by and in awe of her incredible imagination and story (fictional and personal).
EM: What’s on deck for you next? Any sequel to THE LIPSTICK LAWS in the works?
AH: I’m working on several projects right now, but the one that is closest to being done is another young adult novel with a paranormal twist. As for a sequel to The Lipstick Laws, I have ideas…and I’m hoping they’ll translate to paper sometime soon. We’ll see…
EM: And, a special Apocalypsies pair of questions: Which fictional character would you want to have with you during the apocalypse? And if all the world were destroyed but for a tiny island off the coast of Brazil, which fictional character would you want to spend the rest of your life on the beach with?
AH: Okay, can I say a fictional character from TV for these? Charles Brandon (Henry Cavill) from the Tudors would be my pick…for both! Not only is he more than nice to look at, his accent would make everything better. I wouldn’t even know that the world is falling down around me.
However, if I had to choose literary characters for both of these, I’d choose Percy Jackson for the apocalypse…because a demigod is going to be able to control some of the catastrophe. And I’d choose Harry Potter for the desert island because he could summon food, water…and broomsticks… to sweep up sand…lots and lots of sand. “Accio Broomstick!”
Some fun trivia about Amy (as cribbed from her website): She’s a fan of pop culture, the creative arts, laughing, chick lit, and adopting shelter animals. She’s not a fan of mean people, socks with sandals, grammar crimes, pimentos in olives, or tomatoes. You can learn more about her on her website: http://www.amyholder.com/