Lotus Lowenstein's life is merde. She dreams of moving to Paris and becoming an existentialist. Yet here she is trapped in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with a New-Agey mom, an out-of-work dad, and a chess champion brother who dreams of being a rock star. Merci à Dieu for Lotus’s best friend, Joni, who loves French culture enough to cofound their high school’s first French Club with Lotus. At the first meeting, the cutest boy in the world walks in. His name is Sean, and he too loves French culture and worships Jean-Paul Sartre.
At first, Lotus thinks Sean is the best thing to happen to her in years. He’s smart, cultured, and adorable. Unfortunately, though, Joni feels the same way. And having an existentialist view of love, Sean sees nothing wrong with enjoying both girls’ affections. Things come to a head when all three depart for Montreal with their teacher, Ms. G, on the French Club’s first official field trip. Will Sean choose Joni over Lotus? And will Lotus and Joni’s friendship ever recover?
And last but not least here's my fab interview with Libby!
1) First off, I’m going to give you a couple of categories and I would like you to list your favorite.
Book: It’s impossible for me too pick one book or even ten, so I’m going to limit this to my favorite diary books: I Capture the Castle, the Diary of Anne Frank, all the Diaries of Adrian Mole, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and, of course The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon.. Author(s): Again, an impossible question, so I’m taking the liberty of changing it slightly: Here are some favorite authors I’ve been influenced by: Barbara Pym, Dorothy Parker, Jane Austen. Movie: My favorite movie of all time is probably The Women, the original version, with Norma Shearer, where all the men are offstage. Season: Summer Food: Fromage (and of course, pasta & chocolate) – what else is there?
2) Can you describe The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein, your newest novel, in five words or less?
Brooklyn, Romance, Existentialism and Poutine.
3) Are you similar to Lotus in any ways?
Probably more than I’d care to admit. We’re both pretty rebellious, and say things that sometimes we shouldn’t, and we both don’t care all that much what everyone thinks (although to be honest, I’m still working on that one). 4) How did the title The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein come to be?
I had just discovered the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagan, a wonderful diary book written by a lady in waiting at the Imperial Court of Japan. My character, Lotus Lowenstein, is studying the book in school, and writing her own diary book, so the title just kind of evolved naturally.
5) Do you have a particular favorite scene or line from the book that you would like to share?
I think my favorite scene is when Lotus orders a box of cupcakes which are supposed to be inscribed with the famous Sartre quote “Hell is Other People,” but the woman at the bakery decides that’s offensive and changes it to “Hello Other People.”
6) How did you celebrate the release of The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein? Did you do anything special?
I took the day off of work, because I didn’t think I’d be able to focus, and then I went out for dinner in my neighborhood (Prospect Heights, Brooklyn) with a few close friends. I’ve had book parties in the past, but this time I just wanted to do something really low-key.
7) Some readers may not know this, but all of your previous works have been labeled as the adult genre. So, what inspired you to break in to YA? Also, is there any big changes that you’ve noticed when writing for teens instead of adults?
A long time ago, someone told me that I should be writing for teens, but I didn’t take it seriously. When I started writing The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein, I was between adult books, and had a desire to write something completely different, so I started writing a story about a girl who lived in Brooklyn who was obsessed with France and Jean Paul Sartre. I didn’t consciously set out to write a young adult novel, but once I started writing, it was clear that I was writing from the viewpoint of a teen.
8) What other activities do you enjoy besides writing?
I love reading (I probably read 3-4 books a week), lounging, eating (French food, bien sur), travel, hanging out with friends, movies, drinking lots of coffee, yoga, walking in the park, shopping.
9) What’s up next for you book-wise?
I have a few projects in various stages. Another young adult book that’s near completion, a half-finished middle grade book, and various other unformed ideas for adult books.
10) Lastly, what’s the French Word du Jour? Today’s French Word du Jour is à bientôt (which means "see you soon"). If you collect all the French words du jour on the Blog Tourapalooza, you can enter a contest to win fabulous prizes (a $25 Sephora gift card and a personally autographed Pillow Book!). Once you’ve visited all the blog tour stops and collected all the words, email the complete list of words to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “French Word du Jour Contest.” All e-mail entries must be received by midnight (EST) on December 21, 2009. The winner will be selected at random on December 22, 2009. Be sure to include your name, e-mail address, and daytime phone number with your entry (If you're under age 13, give your parent's contact info). The complete My-Life-Is-Merde-but-Have-a-Bonnes-Fêtes-Anyway Blog Tourapalooza schedule can be found at lotuslowenstein.com. Thank you, mes amis!
Thanks Libby! Also, look out for a review of this book coming soon! :)