Love author Lisi Harrison for her best-sellers, The Clique and Monster High? We caught up her just in time to talk about her newest book, PRETENDERS…..
Three girls, two guys, five secret journals.
The five most popular students at Noble High have secrets to hide; secrets they wrote down in their journals. Now one of their own exposes the private entries…
I am leaking these because I’m tired and I know you are too. The success bar is too high and pretending has become the only way to reach it. Instagrams are filtered, Facebook profiles are embellished, photos are shopped, reality TV is scripted, body parts get upgraded like software, and even professional athletes are cheating. The things we believe in aren’t real.
We are pretenders.
Wow! Love that book summary. What was it like to start a new series?
IT’S EXCITING AND TERRIFYING.
THIS IS WHAT WENT ON INSIDE MY HEAD:
YAY I GET TO CREATE NEW CHARACTERS/WHAT IF I CAN’T CREATE NEW CHARACTERS? YAY I GET TO WRITE FROM A BOY’S POINT OF VIEW/WHAT IF I CAN’T WRITE FROM A BOY’S POINT OF VIEW? YAY I LOVE MY NEW SERIES/WHAT IF EVERYONE HATES MY NEW SERIES?
IT’S A CONSTANT BATTLE BETWEEN PURE EXCITEMENT AND UTTER FEAR. THEN YOU TAKE IT DAY BY DAY…A LITTLE AT A TIME. YOU DO YOUR BEST TO TELL THE SELF-DOUBT AND THE TICKING CLOCK TO BE QUIET SO YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU LOVE. SOME DAYS IT WORKS, OTHERS IT DOESN’T.
Well, we LOVED Pretenders! What inspired you to write it?
THE BAR HAS BEEN RAISED FOR TEENS IN SUCH A DRAMATIC WAY. PRESSURE TO TAKE AP CLASSES, TO LOOK PERFECT, TO HAVE MORE “LIKES” THAN YOUR FRIENDS, TO HAVE YOUR OWN REALITY SHOW, OR AT THE VERY LEAST A MASSIVE FOLLOWING… HIGH SCHOOL HAS ALWAYS BEEN STRESSFUL BUT NOW THE EXPECTATIONS ARE UNREALISTIC. I WANTED TO EXPLORE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE PRESSURE TO BE OUTSTANDING BECOMES OVERWHELMING.
ALL AROUND US CELEBRITIES, POLITICIANS, ATHLETES, ARE BEING CALLED OUT FOR MISLEADING THE PUBLIC AND I WAS DRAWN TO THAT. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN DRAWN TO THE LENGTHS PEOPLE GO TO TO BE ACCEPTED. THAT THEME HAS BEEN AT THE FOREFRONT OF ALL OF MY SERIES. BUT THIS TIME I WANTED TO FOCUS ON HOW WE END UP THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE. HOW WE END UP IN THESE PREDICAMENTS. ONCE YOU KNOW THAT IT’S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO JUDGE. I FIND THAT FASCINATING.
Reading the journals is so addicting because your characters DO get caught up in lots of drama because of all those pressures. How did you get the idea for using journals to reveal their stories?
I LOVE SHOWING HOW WE OFTEN MISJUDGE EACH OTHER. WE THINK WE KNOW WHY FRIENDS, CRUSHES, PARENTS DO WHAT THEY DO. THE OLDER I GET THE MORE I REALIZE YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON INSIDE A PERSON. I WANTED TO SHOW THESE MISUNDERSTANDINGS FROM ALL SIDES. SHOW HOW TWO PEOPLE CAN READ THE SAME SITUATION SO DIFFERENTLY AND HOW THAT LEADS TO TROUBLE. JOURNALS ARE THE BEST WAY TO DO THAT BECAUSE JOURNALS ARE PRIVATE SO PEOPLE ARE HONEST.
ALSO, I WANTED TO MAKE A POINT ABOUT THE TEACHER MS. SILVER MAKES IN THE BOOK. WE ARE SO ATTACHED TO SCREENS AND KEYBOARDS AND LIVING PUBLICLY. I WANTED TO KNOW WHAT THESE CHARACTERS WOULD DO AND SAY WHEN THEY THOUGHT NO ONE WAS WATCHING. I WANTED TO REVEAL THE PERSON BEHIND THE PROFILE.
I WAS A MASSIVE JOURNAL KEEPER. I HAVE DOZENS OF THEM. THAT’S HOW I LEARNED TO BE MY OWN BEST FRIEND.
Did you use any of your high school experiences as inspiration in this book?
I DIDN’T USE ANY EXPERIENCES FROM HIGH SCHOOL, JUST EMOTIONS.
HOW IT FELT TO GO FROM A SHELTERED PRIVATE SCHOOL TO A PUBLIC SCHOOL (LILY)
HOW IT FELT TO WANT TO BE EVERYONE BUT MYSELF. (SHERIDAN)
HOW IT FELT TO FEND FOR YOURSELF WHEN YOUR PARENTS COULDN’T HELP YOU. (DUFFY)
HOW IT FELT TO BE EMBARRASSED BY YOUR FAMILY. (JAGGER)
HOW IT FELT TO FEEL RESPONSIBLE FOR OTHER PEOPLE’S HAPPINESS. (VANESSA)
HOW IT FELT TO BE ASHAMED OF YOUR SEXUALITY. (BLAKE)
HOW IT FELT TO FALL IN LOVE. (ALL OF THEM)
HOW IT FELT TO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GET WHAT YOU WANT. (ALL OF THEM)
What do you think about social media and how it impacts high school students?
THANK GOD IT WASN’T THERE WHEN I WAS GROWING UP. NOW YOU HAVE TO BE POPULAR IN A WHOLE OTHER DIMENSION. NOT ONLY THAT, BUT YOU’RE COMPETING ON A GLOBAL SCALE. IT’S A LOT HARDER TO STAND OUT THAT WAY SO THEY TRY HARDER AND OFTEN END UP BETRAYING THEMSELVES. TEENS AREN’T ALLOWED TO LOOK GOOFY IN PICTURES ANYMORE. THEY CAN’T RIP UP EMBARRASSING SHOTS OR THROW THEM IN THE FIREPLACE. THEY’RE OUT THERE, FLOATING ON CLOUDS. EVERYTHING THEY SAY AND DO CAN AND WILL BE HELD AGAINST THEM. IT’S TRAGIC. THESE ARE THE MISTAKE YEARS. THEY SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO DO AND SAY EMBARRASSING THINGS THEN BLOCK THEM OUT LIKE I DID.
You worked for a TV show prior to publishing your book series. Did that experience influence your writing?
IT TAUGHT ME HOW TO ENTERTAIN. I TEND TO WRITE BOOKS THE WAY I STRUCTURED SHOWS FOR MTV. IT WAS OUR GOAL TO END EACH SEGMENT WITH A CLIFFHANGER SO VIEWERS WOULD STICK AROUND DURING THE COMMERCIAL BREAK. (BEFORE DVR). I DO THAT WITH MY CHAPTERS AND THE END OF EACH BOOK. I TRY TO END IN A PLACE THAT MAKES READERS WANT TO STICK AROUND.
ALSO, MY MANTRA AT MTV WAS MEDICINE AND SUGAR. I ALWAYS TRY TO SAY SOMETHING MEANINGFUL. THERE IS ALWAYS A POINT IN MY NOVELS AND THE CHARACTERS LEARN WHAT I WANT MY READERS TO LEARN. BUT I DUMP TONS OF SUGAR ALL OVER THE PAGES SO IT DOESN’T TASTE LIKE LEARNING. IT TASTES LIKE FUN.
If you were casting the Phoenix Five, who would you choose?
SHERIDAN: ELLE FANNING
DUFFY: HARRY STYLES OR JOSH HUTCHERSON
LILY: NOAH CYRUS
VANESSA: YOUNG VANESSA WILLIAMS
JAGGER: YOUNG MICK JAGGER
Now…time for five quick questions!
Your guiltiest pleasure?
US WEEKLY WHILE EATING POPCORN AND MUSTARD. GO AHEAD, JUDGE.
Three words that describe Pretenders:
SECRET LIVES REVEALED.
If you were to spend a week in any book it would be….
THE KENNEDY CHRONICLES; THE GOLDEN AGE OF MTV THROUGH ROSE COLORED GLASSES. WRITTEN BY FORMER MTV VJ KENNEDY. THOSE YEARS AT MTV WERE THE MOST FUN AND INSPIRING YEARS OF MY LIFE. I’D LOVE TO RELIVE THEM FOR A WEEK. AFTER THAT I’D PROBABLY NEED TO BE HOSPITALIZED.
The theme song for Pretenders should be…..
“IF YOU WANT TO SING OUT, SING OUT” BY CAT STEVENS REMADE BY PINK OR ANY ONE OFF THE JUNO SOUNDTRACK.
Your go-to chick flick is….