Sometimes, you meet an author — whether by email or in person — who is just so incredibly cool that you know that hanging out with them would be incredibly fun. Lauren Mechling is one of those authors. I want to go to New York City and just hang out with her for a day. I suppose it helps that I liked her two books, Dream Girl and Dream Life, too. At any rate, I was tickled that she agreed to answer my 10 questions.
MF: So, I’m curious: what was the initial inspiration for Claire and the Dream books?
LM:The inspiration came when I went with a very dear friend to visit her grandmother. She’s a former socialite who now lives in a hotel with a lot of other former socialites, and she has an opinion on every little thing. Her granddaughter is the apple of her eye and I was so amused watching the two of them relate to each other I wanted to play around with this relationship. I also wanted to write a series that was action-packed and funny. Not enough of those these days, in my humble opinion.
MF:I’ve only been to NYC once and didn’t explore much, so I couldn’t help but wondering: how much of Claire’s physical world is real and how much is made up?
LM: It’s entirely real! The only made-up part is how quickly she can get around.
MF: Seriously? You ought to give Claire Voyante tours. I’d sign up for one! Fashion plays a big part in Claire’s life, from Kiki’s vintage clothing (love that!) to current trends… is that something you came up solely for the character or the book, or is fashion something you personally are interested in? (I’m not sure that’s the best way to phrase this question, but hopefully you get what I’m trying to say….)
LM: I DO get what you’re trying to say. And yes, guilty as charged: I’m a sucker for clothes. I especially like the way Claire and the other girls use clothes–not to dress up for boys or to show the world how cool they are because they have 56 pairs of Juicy sweatpants. They use clothes as a way to stand out and be unique and, in Claire’s case, to connect to her family history. By wearing her grandmother’s old frocks, she’s closer to her grandmother. And speaking of her grandmother, one of the things Kiki teaches Claire is it’s worth it to make the effort, even when the same old T-shirt-and-yoga-pants combo seems tempting. I think it affects your mood and the mood of those around you. Walking out of the house in a vintage dress and fun pair of flats is a small way of saying, “Hello, world! I care!”
MF: I totally loved Ian in this book: I actually felt bad that he and Claire are just friends. (I suppose I just have a soft spot for the geeky guys.) Do you have a favorite character or scene?
LM: Oh, that’s so funny that you heart Ian. I have to say, I’m a little in love with Louis Ibbits, the latchkey kid who’s Claire’s old best friend and whose wit is even drier than Claire’s. Plus I love his tortoiseshell glasses.
MF: If you had a magic dream-inhancing necklace, what would you want to see?
LM: I’d want to see all the good and bad things the people I know are up to. I just wouldn’t want to hear them talking about me. That would be too much to bear.
MF: What are the differences between co-writing a book, and solo-writing? Pros/cons?
LM: Writing a book on your own is harder and the ultimate feeling of accomplishment is bigger. That said, I LOVE co-writing. Laura [my 10th Grade Social Climber series co-writer] and I are actually in the middle of a collaboration and it’s so fun. I love having a personal trainer to praise you when you hit a good note and to breathe down your neck and make you write every morning.
MF: You’ve written for newspapers, magazines and novels… do you have a favorite format to write in?
LM: Oh, it’s all really fun and it all fits together. Writing a book is a MAJOR undertaking. And writing an article, be it for a newspaper or a magazine, is so fast and short in comparison. Sometimes you need the instant gratification. and sometimes you want to be playful and expansive or you just don’t want to have to worry about being “accurate.” I can honestly say that doing each makes me appreciate all the upsides of the other format.
MF: Who or what inspires you to write?
LM: Me. I get very unhappy when I don’t write.
MF: Are there five books you think everyone should read?
LM: How about five authors I adore: Barbara Pym, Laurie Colwin, Dorothy Parker, Kate Atkinson and Sarah Waters. I realize these are not YA authors, so I’ll toss in: Norma Klein.
MF: I’m remiss: I’ve only heard of Dorothy Parker. Something to rectify in the future. If you don’t mind telling us, what’s up next for you? (More Claire?)
LM: Well, I’m working on that above mentioned project with Laura. And yes, I’d really like to write a third Claire book. Se’s really come into her own — she’s so much wiser and less insecure than she was in her first book. I’m dying to know how she’s holding up!