Friday, December 28, 2018

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton, author of Pretty in Punxsutawney

Book Summary
A mashup of Groundhog Day and Pretty in Pink, the book stars a senior who is forced to relive the first day at her new school in an endless loop. Andie is convinced she needs true love's kiss to break the curse, but instead discovers how a high school filled with cliques and misfits can find common ground despite everyone's differences.

Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton
Tell me about writing Pretty in Punxsutawney. How did you come up with the idea?
I had this idea to write a story about a girl who loved ‘80s movies. I had the character in mind already, and I even pictured her parents. I pictured her being close with her mom, with that feel of Pretty in Pink.The way that Molly Ringwald had her mentor sort of person? I envisioned the mom in that role. 

I loved the idea of starting over at a new school, and how difficult that would be. And then I arrived at this character that I already had in mind. I wanted to stretch myself and try writing a person starting each day over and over, and the two married together perfectly.  What could be more difficult to relive over and over than the first day at a new high school? 

Can you talk a little bit about the social commentary in the story?
When I’m writing from a particular point of view, I also like to make observations through that character. When I was channeling Andie in particular, [there was] the issue of the eating disorder that Kaiahas. That happens to be an issue that is really near and dear to my heart. It is something that is certainly a problem. A lot of kids wrestle with it, and it continues to be an issue. Andie realized that the girl wasn’t her enemy. They weren’t in competition with each other. The girl on girl aggression? That’s not real, it’s all constructed. She needed to break that down to be rooting for Kaia in that specific space. I did that with intention. I love Kaia and I wanted her to find help and to recognize that she deserves to eat.

What is your favorite ‘80s movie?
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off! The water bottle I carry around says Save Ferris on it. No matter what mood you’re in, it’s like, “Alright, I’m going to go out and seize the day! How much fun can I pack into one day?” It’s silly and over the top, but so many people respond to that because it’s a great, classic, feel-good kind of movie.

Read more with Laurie after the page break.

What was your high school experience like? If you were at Punx High, which group would you have been in?
I grew up in western Pennsylvania in a town called Butler. Butler is not that far from Punxsutawney, and it was in rural area similar to Punx High. I joke all the time that my high school experience was so bad that I’m still writing about it. Now I know I’m an introvert, but at the time I just thought I was weird. I can still feel the awkwardness wash over me thinking about where I was going to sit during lunch time. Back then you couldn’t pull out your cell phone and pretend to talk to a friend, or even just stare at it. You had to sit there and be awkward, and pretend to say hi to someone across the room who didn’t exist.

I did actually do the drill team my 9th, 10th, and 11thgrade years. I was aspiring to be preppy, kind of. I wasn’t. I ended up with a mish mosh of styles. I didn’t know how to dress. It was so bad! I felt so awkward through the whole thing. From the outside, I seemed fine, like a perfectly functioning individual. I expressed myself in writing. I had my own internal world where I was daydreaming, journaling down things. I had a few friends, not a ton. It was not Pretty in Butler!

I was intrigued with the scenes at the nursing home. Can you talk a bit about how you came up with the idea to include that as one of the settings in the story?
I thought it was interesting this idea of memories, of hanging on to memories and building memories. To have Andie interacting with people who most likely are struggling to remember things, and hanging on to the memories they had developed. Meanwhile, Andie was living in a place where all the people around her, all the other students, had no recollection the following day what happened. She couldn’t feel she could build a world, a life for herself. I liked the juxtaposition of these people holding on to their memories, their most treasured possessions. 

What day of yours would you do over, if you had the opportunity?
I did love the day I sold my first novel. I was so anxious because I knew they were going to an acquisitions meeting. It was so stressful waiting for my agent to call me and tell me they bought my first two books (it was a two-book deal). I wouldn’t want to relive it over and over. But that over-the-moon excitement -- that was a really special day. 

What message/takeaway do you want readers to get from Pretty in Punxsutawney?
We have this hashtag #todayiswhatyoumakeit. I like to come up with a cute thing to sign my book with, and I came up with #todayiswhatyoumakeit on the spot at ALA. It encapsulates the whole point of the book. Andie’s choices and attitude toward each day affect the outcomes of the day. She gets wildly varying results because of her attitude and choices she makes each day. That’s a great reminder that the day we are handed, we can do with it or not do with it as we choose. lt resonates with me. For example: do I hit the ground running? Do I do something exciting and challenging today? Do I do something with someone I love today? That attitude drastically changes the type of day I have. In the book, there’s one morning it looks more overcast to Andie – it’s the same day, but she perceives it differently. The way we perceive things and what we do with that effects the day and how it goes.

Do you have any special plans for release day of Pretty in Punxsutawney, January 22nd?
I am in the process of making plans to have a launch party. I thought it would be fun to have it on Groundhog Day! On release day itself, I will probably visit the bookstore and sign copies there. But having an online party, that’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to that! 

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