Friday, September 3, 2010

Feature: The Aristobrats by Jennifer Solow!

Book Details:
Title: Aristobrats
Author: Jennifer Solow
Release Date: 9/7/2010
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
ISBN-10: 1402242581
ISBN-13: 978-1402242588
Get your copy at Amazon!

About the Book:
Parker Bell has been waiting her whole life for Eighth Grade – she’s finally at the very top of the populadder at Wallingford Academy and her Facebook Friend count has never been higher. A second generation Wally (what most people call an “Aristobrat”), Parker is determined to use her status to champion the underpopular. But when Parker and her three best friends are mysteriously assigned to produce the highly academic (and seriously bleh) webcast, she watches in horror as their spot on the populadder plummets.

The girls will do whatever it takes to save their reputations, even if it means masterminding a plan to get kicked off the project. But when their predicament gets even worse, they just might realize that true friendship means more than status.

FAQ About Jennifer:
Where are you from?
I’m from Pittsburgh, PA. My parents still live there. I went to a girls’ private school, Winchester-Thurston. I began writing this story there (and when I say “began writing” I mean four notebooks of emo scribble-babble started and abandoned when I was in high school).

When and why did you begin writing?
I was running an advertising agency in San Francisco. I had flown to New York and was sitting in a business meeting in downtown Manhattan on the morning of 9/11 (the 9/11). I’d always made excuses for why I didn’t write: I’ll wait until I have an office in my house. I’ll wait until the kids are older. I’ll wait until I retire. By the end of that day, in the ashes of the World Trade Center, I truly understood why I couldn’t wait to make my life everything I imagined it could be. In less than a month, I had left my job (and my paycheck) behind and enrolled in my first writing class. An assignment I began in that class went on to become a national bestseller.

What inspired you to write your first book?
Perfume. Namely, Vetiver Parfum by Annick Goutal. I imagined a girl who might wear that perfume: what she might be like, what she might think, what her dark secrets might be. Three years (and a lot of pots of coffee) later, I had a novel.

How did you come up with the names of your characters? Do they carry any significance?
I spent a lot of time studying my favorite fictional group of friends: the Sex and the City girls. “Parker” is named after Sarah Jessica Parker so I’d always remember what I was trying to aspire to. I’d named a character “Ikea” in an earlier work that was never published. I just thought it was really funny and wouldn’t quite let it go. Plum gets some of her cues from a character I adore: Violet in The Incredibles. Kiki is just “Kiki”. She already had her name when she walked through my door. 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Mostly I wanted a book that I would be proud to have my own daughter read. There are lots of messages layered into the book about not being afraid to make mistakes, about living life to the fullest because our time here is short. But I think the most important message is that is doesn’t matter how many Facebook Friends you have – it’s the real friends who count. These are lessons for me more than anyone – the important things I need to remember.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Ikea is based on an amalgamation of a few of the African American girls I went to school with. I always imagined how hard it must have been to go to a school where 95% of the students were white. Ikea is an homage to those old friends. There are a number of scenes nearly lifted from my time in eighth grade. It was fun to relive them without actually having to be there. Or blow dry my hair.

If you had to choose one book to read the rest of your life, and nothing else, what book would it be and why?
It’s actually a play, but I’d read Hamlet. I think there are so many ways of reading that story so that it’s completely different every time. I’d never get bored – I’d just imagine new settings, new actors, and new interpretations each time I read it. 

Do you have a muse? 
Starbucks, my local library, my son, Griffin, and my daughter, Tallulah, my husband, Tommy, the butcher at Mill Valley Market, Madonna, Taylor Swift, Soho, Paris, perfume stores, Christian Laboutin, Jacob’s Pillow, pick-up/drop-off zone at Mill Valley Middle School, Winchester-Thurston, my friend, Sharon, my friend, Juditta, my mother, Nan, her mother Adelaide.

Visit Jennifer Solow at her website!

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