Saturday, September 28, 2013

Inside the Industry: Author + Librarian

Saturday, September 28, 2013
A look at the book business by the people who know it best.
Lauren Gibaldi is the YA author of the upcoming release, The Night We Said Yes (HarperTeen, 2015), a debut about "the giddy, magical night two people first meet and spark to one another, and the night they reunite one year after their break-up, questioning if second chances are possible." She's also a teen librarian (and a nerdfighter, but more about that below). 

How does being a teen librarian help your writing, or vice versa? How do you balance both jobs?
Working with teens is wonderful, because I think people genuinely underestimate them. But there are some witty, smart, thoughtful teens out there, and I love talking to them about what they like/don't like (in books and in life. Believe me, I've given relationship advice in our aisles). They're at such a weird stage in their lives, when they're figuring out who they are, and what they want to become, and it's so extremely relatable, because we've all been there. So I think working with them encourages me to write honest, real characters (at least I hope they come out that way) because I want to make these teens proud. And writing it, well I've become a bit immersed in the category, so I love recommending books that I think a specific teen will cling on to. I honestly love both jobs, so it's easy to balance both. (Though I think my husband may disagree. I think he forgot what I look like.)

Are you in charge of buying teen books for your library? What factors into your decisions?
I am not (we have people at our main library branch do that), however I can request books to be purchased if I don't see them on our shelves (which I've done), and I get to make displays and book lists featuring titles I want to push. And I love pushing books. 

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)I saw on your blog that you host a Nerdfighter meet up each month at your library, which sounds awesome. What makes for a great teen library event?
I do, and I love it! It started almost a year ago - a girl (who's since become a friend) approached me about a possible event like that, and it's become a monthly meetup since. They're really fun, and I've gotten to see these teens become great friends and open up to one another. I love that they come to the library to simply hang out. I think what goes into a successful program is just that - collaborating with a teen to create something they want. They come up with crafts for us to do, they bring games and snacks. I think it's successful because it's as much their program as it is mine. (I'm currently working with one of them to make a Catching Fire program - we're playing the floor is lava during it!)

Tell us a little bit about your path to publication. How long did it take for The Night We Said Yes  to go from a Work-in-Progress to a Book-with-a-Publishing-Contract? 
I originally had the idea for TNWSY a while ago, and wrote a chapter here or there. It never turned into anything. So in 2011 I did NaNoWriMo and finished my first draft in 27 days. After that, I took a few months to mold it into something much better (my first drafts are not good), and had three friends read it, edit it, and critique it. Once I felt it was ready (around March), I started querying agents. I'll admit that I was very lucky; my wonderful agent, Michelle Andelman, was one of the first five people I queried because I had recently read and enjoyed a book she represents. After Michelle offered to represent me (and I did the required happy freakout), we worked on perfecting it and sending it out on submission. In April of this year, the amazing Karen Chaplin with HarperTeen made an offer on the book and I haven't stopped smiling since.

What part of the publishing process has been the most rewarding? The most challenging?
Writing "The End." Weird, right? TNWSY is the first book I wrote, so writing those two words just felt...magical. I finished something. Something I liked! And then hearing Michelle and, later, Karen talk about my characters like they're real people - and really getting who they are and what I want my story to tell - it was just such an amazing feeling. The most challenging is definitely the waiting. I'm impatient. It happens. 

Describe your writing routine. Do you make playlists/have lucky writing socks/any other routines?
I don't really have much of a routine. I try to write every day (without music - I get distracted), and really go all out on Fridays. My hours fluctuate, but i'm always off on Fridays, so that's become my designated writing day. I like sitting outside until I can't stand the Florida heat anymore. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
WRITE!  If you just write, you'll get somewhere. Don't stop to self-edit. Don't doubt yourself. Get your first draft done. After that, you'll feel amazing. 

Just for fun question: If you could recommend only one book to your library’s patrons, which book would you choose? 
Hardest question of my life. We have a staff picks table, and I think my current books are Juliet Naked by Nick Hornby and Wild Awake by Hilary T Smith (both wonderful books). But if I could only choose ONE would be The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I loved that book when I was 17, and I still love it now. 

Want to find out more? Check out Lauren's Goodreads page, blog, Twitter, and Tumblr!
If you work in the book business and would like to be featured, send an email to with the subject line “Inside the Industry.” I would love to hear from you!


  1. Such a great interview; I especially loved hearing about her path to publication/what she found most challenging! :)

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

    1. Glad you liked it, Alice! I think it's so cool that TNWSY began as a Nano novel!

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