Jennifer Banash, author of new teen novel The Elite, which was released earlier this month, graciously agreed to answer some of our questions, and give away a copy of The Elite while she was at it. Welcome, Jennifer!
First off, what do you like most about the YA genre?
I love the readers most of all—they’re so honest and opinionated and I really appreciate that. But besides readers, what I like the most about YA is that I get to relive (or re-do) my adolescence in some small way every time I sit down to write. It can be very satisfying—or terribly humiliating, depending on what kind of a chapter I’m writing.
What do you want readers to take away from reading The Elite?
Above all, I want them to take away the idea that, although some of these characters undoubtedly live fabulous lives, that there IS a price to be paid for all that glamour—it comes at a cost. Although the girls might be dressed in Prada and Posen, their personal lives are often less than ideal. Money doesn’t magically make everything the picture of perfection.
You co-founded Impetus Press...what has that been like, and what exactly does it involve?
I’m co-publisher and executive editor, which means that not only do I help take care of the day-to-day operations of the press, but that I also edit manuscripts and work closely with authors, weighting in on everything from cover design to layout, to back cover copy. Impetus Press was created to champion authors whose work can’t be pigeonholed easily, and only publishes serious literary fiction with a pop edge. It’s a lot of fun—and a lot of work. I don’t sleep much and basically function in a haze of caffeine-induced nervous breakdowns. Story of my life . . .
If you had an autobiography, what would it be called?
Running in Stilettos: The Kindergarten Years.
What's one of your pet peeves?
I have a love/hate relationship with technology—for example, my computer has recently made a habit of turning itself off whenever it damn well pleases. Good times. It’s probably possessed by Satan.
What do you think would be the coolest job ever--besides writing!
Being a celebrity. But it would most likely be the best AND the worst job on the entire planet—in equal amounts.
Do you have a favorite quote, word, poem, or piece of literature?
No, but I have a LEAST favorite word—it’s a tie between two words actually—“blogesphere”—which I think is one of the ugliest words on the entire planet, and the word “moist,” which is just hands-down disgusting. “Lotion” comes in at a distant third . . .
“If you want the girl next store, go next store.”
And literature is just impossible to answer—I can’t choose! Some of my favorite authors of all time would be everyone from Oscar Wilde to Bret Easton Ellis to Virginia Woolf.
It's required reading season for many teens out there, and one book that I've made my summer project is The Count of Monte Cristo--which is really quite easy to read, and I am liking way more than I thought I would. Is there one book that you were required to read that surprised you?
Catcher in the Rye. I first read it in eighth grade, and it had a boring cover, and seemed like a “boy book” to my inexperienced eyes, so I was totally less than excited. But, of course, I ended up loving it—how could I NOT? I remember cracking up at the line “He had a beautiful telephone voice—he should’ve carried a goddamn telephone around with him.” Of course, this was before cell phones completely took over the planet—which is what made the line so totally funny. Now, it goes without saying that the joke is kind of spoiled . . .
So I hear that you are writing a supernatural book (which sounds quite intriguing, I must say!). What makes yours unique?
BITTEN is like a cross between GOSSIP GIRL and DRACULA. What makes it special is that it’s a contemporary update of the Dracula legend—seen through the eyes of two identical twin socialites whose parents have bought Dracula’s castle in the midst of a mid-life crisis, and who then, of course, move the family to Romania.
Why vampires, as opposed to the many paranormal beings out there?
When I was around thirteen, I was completely OBSESSED with Anne Rice’s Vampire Trilogy—before she became a born-again Christian! I thought the Lestat books were some of the most compelling and imaginative fiction ever penned about Vampires (sorry TWILIGHT fans!). Ever since then, I’ve always loved vampires. Actually, I wouldn’t mind being bitten—their lives—no matter who’s writing—are always so glamorous and dark—and I have a dark side roughly the size of Australia . . .
What's next for Casey, Drew, Madison, and the rest of the gang in In Too Deep?
Ahhh . . . now that would be telling! All I CAN say is that it somehow involves reality television and a fabulous party. But that’s all you’re getting out of me. if you want to know if Casey and Drew are still together, you’ll just have to wait and see!
Is there anything I didn't ask that you wish I had?
Yeah. You could ask me to lunch, as I’m kinda hungry. That would’ve been epic . . .
Thank you, Jennifer! Best of luck to you in all of your future endeavors, and I can't wait to see what you will do!
And now for the WIN part of this post: In case you missed my Elite giveaway, here's your second chance: send your name, address, and email address with THE ELITE in the subject heading to firstname.lastname@example.org by this Friday, June 20th, and you'll be entered to win! Also, go befriend Jennifer on MySpace...not only is her page totally awesome, but she's also giving away The Elite.....TWO chances to win!