Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Bookanistas + WriteOnCon + THE IVY = Awesome

This week (in between WriteOnCon fun - have you guys had the chance to look at all the incredible posts and transcripts from the past couple of days? Check them all out here! ) we're welcoming authors of THE IVY, Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur.

Here's what the cover has to say:
Congratulations! You have been admitted to the most prestigious university in the world. Now what are you going to do?

Callie Andrews may not have money or connections or the right clothes, and she may have way too many complications in her love life, what with—

the guy she loves to hate

the guy she'd love to forget

the guy she'd love to love

and Matt
the guy she really should love

—all vying for her attention.

But she has three fantastic roommates (best friends or her worst nightmare?) and a wholesome California-girl reputation (oops) and brains and beauty and big, big dreams.

Will it be enough to help her survive freshman year at Harvard?

LiLa's Take: Do you like Gossip Girl? If yes, then you will enjoy THE IVY. The first book in a series I felt like reading this novel was a little bit like watching a Gossip Girl marathon, complete with a cliffhanger ending that will have you dying for the next book.

Lucky for us the gorgeous (and talented) authors of this fun new book decided to drop by for a quick interview. Of course we couldn't help but feel a tiny bit jealous of these co-authors. We mentioned that they're young, gorgeous and went to Harvard right?:

1. How did you guys decide to write a book together?

The idea of writing a book together started brewing during our sophomore year at Harvard when we were discussing a YA novel written by a fellow classmate that was almost very successful. We started thinking that it couldn’t be that hard (false assumption) and that it’d be a very fun thing to do together (true assumption!).

Over our junior year, we talked a lot about the concept, and how it should be set during freshman year at Harvard. We wanted to provide a look into the real life behind the ivy-covered walls, but we also wanted to portray the universal college experience of a young adult. Harvard is competitive and serious, but it’s still similar to any other college in terms of the social side, which, as you can tell from The Ivy is rife with drama, scandal and tons of fun!

However, we didn’t get serious about the book until the end of our senior year, when we were ready to graduate and go off into thereal world. We had most of our brainstorming down on paper in the form of an extensive outline, and feedback from an editor on the first couple of chapters, so Lauren took a part-time job that summer to give writing a shot. Come August, she had written enough to feel confident that she could finish, and decided to defer a Masters program at The University of Oxford to give The Ivy a real shot. Rina had returned to Turkey and temporarily moved to London to work a full-time finance job, and receiving new chapters from Lauren was undoubtedly the highlight of her week!

[Editorial note: WAY more glamourous to read new chapters in London and Turkey. Point one for the gorgeous Harvard writers.]

2. How much of the book is based on your real-life experiences at Harvard? Did you base any characters on yourselves or people you knew?
We’d basically have to kill you if we told you. We pinky swore not to tell anything--EVER.

[Editorial note: Um pinky swears? Have you girls tried arm wrestling? This point goes to LiLa for sure.]

3. What is your writing process like? How do you guys collaborate on projects?
We do our brainstorming together, and then Lauren does the actual writing (she was the English major, after all!). In terms of the day to day, we email constantly about the tiniest little details--both book-related or otherwise. We're kind of codependent that way.

[Editorial note: Codependency for the win! Let's call this one a tie, shall we?]

4. What was your road to publication like?
In the middle of our senior year at Harvard, Lauren attended a talk for English majors given by the VP of a major publishing company. After the meeting, she somehow tricked him into giving her his email address. We pitched him the idea via email and he seemed very interested. The problem was, we hadn’t written anything yet!

Lauren scrambled to write the first three chapters of the book in the next few days--with Rina yelling frantically over her shoulder--and sent it off. Then... there was a LONG period of silence. Just nothing. Finally we received a rejection letter citing the sample chapters as "too YA." (Up until this point, it wasn't exactly clear to us who our audience was, but when we saw that it was like--duh! Teens have so much more fun.) Anyway, we thought it was over until we received another email several months later, this time from an editor working at the YA division of the same company. We were actually in the Bahamas for our senior year spring break and had to turn Rina's blackberry on to data roaming, because it clearly was an emergency. We nearly broke the phone (or more like broke the bank) while trying to send off those chapters.

Then we waited... and again, there was a LONG period of silence. Finally weeks before graduation, we cracked and emailed the editor to give her a nudge. She responded back with some great advice that made us (more like Lauren) believe that there was hope in The Ivy after all. Lauren spent the entire summer writing and sending off chapters to Rina as Rina rejoiced, cheered, pep-talked and gave back feedback.

After Lauren was finished with the manuscript, we got into the whole ordeal of finding an agent. We realized the book must have been somewhat readable and entertaining (to people other than just us!), because we received an overwhelmingly positive interest from the agents we contacted. We signed with Rosemary Stimola and after a few months of editing (Lauren ended up cutting about 25% of the original manuscript), Rosemary negotiated a four book deal with Greenwillow!

[Editorial note: Harvard? Bahamas? VPs of Publishing houses? Crap. I think we almost need to give the gorgeous Harvard gals two points for this one.]

5. And now for the most important question of all...Twizzlers or M&Ms? 
Hmmm, hello? M&Ms! OF COURSE! We are unanimous on this front.

[Editorial note: Um, sorry girls the correct answer was Twizzlers. Duh. Point goes to LiLa.]

Well, we're sorry to say that Lauren and Rina totally beat us 3 to 2, but, hey, at least it was close. And the good news is that everyone wins when they pre-order a copy of this dishy new book. Now if we could just convince them to send us the manuscript for Book 2 in the series....

Here's what the other Bookanistas are up to this week:

Christine Fonseca - PARANORMALCY
Kirsten Hubbard - GIRL, STOLEN
Carolina Valdez Miller - THE DUFF
Bethany Wiggins - TELL ME A SECRET
The Plot This Belles - THE DUFF


Matthew Rush said...

Yay for the Matts of the world! Awesome interview, thanks ladies. BTW LiLa that cover graphic is cutting off some text, looks like just one word, in my browser. I'm using Firefox.

Christine Fonseca said...

Fab interview. I have heard about this book recently and can not wait to read it!

storyqueen said...

I haven't read this book yet, but what I love about it already is that is is set in college. When I was in highschool, I would have loved dishy books about college. I think it's a shame there aren't more YA books with protags in this range. It seems 16 is the cut-off...

Yay for Greenwillow for taking a chance!


Tere Kirkland said...

I couldn't agree with you more, storyqueen. Hopefully this means YA imprints will be more open to older protags.

Thanks for sharing your experience, Lauren, Rina! Four book deal?! Sounds like you're in good hands with Rosemary Stimola and Greenwillow. Congratulations!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Ohhh, sounds like a fun book! Great interview, but I'm torn on the M&Ms answer. If only they'd said the peanut butter kind at least...hmmm.

Still, how amazing that after years of talking about the book, they still wrote it! So often things like that end up fizzling out, especially when you go your separate ways.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Sounds really good! I think it's more cool these ladies are actually Harvard girls! Love the interview and how The Ivy came about!

Elana Johnson said...

I must read this! I have it, I will start today!

Tahereh said...

nice!! the book sounds awesome :D

Katie said...

Oh I totally in there. This IS such a Lila book and the fact that it's *maybe* based on real life has me intrigued. Can't wait to read it!

Carolyn V. said...

Oh awesome! It sounds so great! I can't wait to read it.

You guys are doing a great job on the writeoncon! =)

ali said...

Awesome fun interview! Thanks girls!

Icy Roses said...

Sorry, I have to admit, I have a giant bag of M&M's on my writing desk and I consume copious amounts of them while I type. I hope we can still be friends.

This book looks AWESOME! Time to check it out. I can live vicariously through them and see what it's really like at Harvard. :D Yes, I feel like I would get a lot more writing done if I lived in a glamorous place like London, but the truth is, I'd probably be too busy running around like a lunatic tourist to even crack open a document.

Cat said...

Thank you so much for all the work you put into this website and the WriteOnCon. You're awesome!

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