Between Two Lockers: We get the dish from YA authors on their books, lives and secret crushes. See More...

Between Two Lockers with Natalie Standiford

An interview with Natalie Standiford, author of Confession of the Sullivan Sisters, and coolest lady in town.

Between Two Lockers with Natalie Standiford

It's Monday, and after a full week devoted to Mockingjay, it's time to try to move forward. And what's the #1 best way to treat TEABS? KEEP READING MORE AWESOME BOOKS!!!! (And drinking cocktails, but that's a given.)

If you saw my review of Natalie Standiford's Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters, you'll know that I've already given my BFF charm to this book AND all of its characters! With its release this Wednesday, you'll all soon be handing out charms of your very own to Norrie, Jane and Sassy, but today, we have Natalie Standiford herself here, answering all of our hard-hitting questions!

Ms. Standiford took time out of her incredibly busy schedule to talk to us, and I'm sure that after reading this, you'll all (like us) be planning slumber parties, just so you can invite her!

 

ACTUAL BOOK RELATED QUESTIONS

I loved Norrie and adored Sassy, but it was Jane who rocked my world. She's the kind of girl I'd like to be (although I'm probably more of a mixture of Norrie and Sassy). Are you like any of the characters in your book?

I'm a little like all three of the Sullivan girls (but, like you, I wish I had more Jane in me). I've got some of Norrie's big-sister,don't-make-trouble vibe, but I also went through a terrorize-my-parents Jane phase. (I was a little older than Jane and way worse. Ironically, my mother said of Jane "I'm glad she's not my daughter"! A little amnesia goes a long way.). And the event that kickstarts Sassy's weird sense that she's immortal actually happened to me. I was walking around a building under construction, stepped into a room, and it had no floor! I fell into a dark space not knowing what I would land on.Just like Sassy, I landed on fiberglass. I've also been hit by a car several times and have never been hurt. But, unlike Sassy, I didn't start thinking I was immortal.

My granny was a tough bird, and Almighty (though way more mean- at least at times- and powerful) reminded me of how I saw her when I was young. What/who was your inspiration for the character of Almighty?

Mostly my great-aunt Lil, who was very strong-willed (though not as mean--and nowhere nearas rich, unfortunately--as Almighty). She was a painter and a musician and she changed religions regularly, and she didn't care what anybody thought about her. It was my grandmother, though--Lil's meeker younger sister, Lucy--who made the comment about nobody wanting to marry me if I didn't learn to hold my knife properly. I was in 8th grade at the time and couldn't believe she'd really said that.

Whoah! I certainly hope you learned how to hold a knife! Ah, actually that sounds like many a thing my mom would have said. So good to see that chauvinistic ideals are still being perpetuated...

Your descriptions of the lives of old Baltimore Bluebloods was fantastic, but it was missing ONE thing: Blue Crabs!! Have you spent any time in Maryland, and if so have you eaten blue crabs? If not, tell us something about Baltimore that inspired you to set your story there.

I grew up in Baltimore. My entire family (except for me and a couple of cousins) still lives there. My parents and their parents and their parents are from Baltimore and/or Maryland, all the way back to the 1600s. Blue crab is my favorite food (see below)! I think I did mention crab cakes and possibly crab balls somewhere in the book. The girls don't have a crab feast because that's a summertime activity and the book takes place in the fall and winter. But now that you mention it the sequel (if any) will definitely have a crab feast, complete with instructions on how to properly pick them.

Yahoo! Oh man, just give me a pile of blue crabs on some newspaper... are your folks still there? Do they like visitors? Um....

Reading a book in epistolary form can be tiresome. Was it a struggle to tell the story in this form? And was it difficult to keep the sisters' voices distinct?

I didn't originally write the book in epistolary form; it was my brilliant editor, David Levithan's, idea. Originally I had each girl write a short note to Almighty and then segue into pure first person, but David suggested I write the whole thing as confessions directly to Almighty and I think it worked. It felt a little weird at first writing to "You, Almighty," but I got used to it. I worried about keeping the girls' voices distinct when I started writing, but it turned out not to be hard--it just happened naturally.

Easy for you, maybe...

If this is not the loveliest author picture (and author) you've ever seen, then Peeta doesn't bake.

THE YA QUESTIONS

If your real life adolescence was a YA book...What would you, the main character, be like?

She would be the nice quiet girl everyone thinks is very conventional and proper who turns out actually to be kind of wild and even a little odd. Like Carey Mulligan's character in An Education. Or Natalie Sterling in Siobhan Vivian's Not That Kind of Girl, but without the political ambitions. (Siobhan, how did you know?)

Who is your secret crush?

The smart boy who is too shy to ask me out.

What is your number #1 source of angst?

My life is so safe and dull! Everyone I know is so freaking nice! I want to go out into the world and LIVE, dammit!

At what point would the reader pump his/her fist in victory?

When I finally move to New York and land my first job in publishing, skipping up Third Avenue singing Elvis Costello's "Every Day I Write the Book" and not caring who hears me.

And who would play you in the film adaptation?

People have said I look like Karen Black (yikes: Horror Queen) and Patricia Arquette. I think it's the close-together eyes. Anyway, you mentioned that Carey Mulligan would be good playing Norrie and that's a brilliant idea, so I'm going to steal it and make her play Young Natalie Standiford too.

OMG! The sass! You are DEFINITELY coming to our slumber party!!!!

THE SLUMBER PARTY Qs

What is your secret power?

I can name all 50 states and all 44 U.S. Presidents in alphabetical order (it's my insomnia cure). I'm also good at spotting celebrities in the wild.

What is your #1 favorite food?

Blue crabs: jumbo lump backfin with nothing but a little Old Bay spice.

Sweet Jesus, lady, you have good taste!

Tell me about your area of expertise.

I know more than a person should about Soviet gymnasts from the 1970s. Ludmilla Turishcheva forever! Also, I'm no expert but I play bass in a rock band.

Awesome! Actually, readers, get this: Natalie is not only in a rock band, but it's a rock band made up of YA authors! And it's called Tiger Beat!!!!!

If you could assemble your own Ocean's 11 of fictional characters, who would you pick?

Frankie Landau-Banks from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks as the Idea Girl

Margot Roth Spiegelman from Paper Towns as the Detail Girl

Francie from The Blonde of the Joke as the Inside Girl

Gonzo from Going Bovine: explosives

Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany's: getaway

Tiny Cooper from Will Grayson, Will Grayson: bankroll

Enid from Ghost World: surveillance

Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby: high roller

The Zhang Ziyi character from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as the Chinese acrobat (this is perhaps a bit literal-minded, but she was amazing)

Bart Simpson as the Rookie pickpocket

Is that 11 yet? If not, throw in Cassandra from I Capture the Castle just because I love her. This is a pretty literary gang and we'd probably get caught...but think how much fun we could have together in jail.

Wow. You have officially come up with the BEST. TEAM. EVER.

What is your best karaoke song?

"Sugar Town" by Nancy Sinatra. (I sang it before (500) Days of Summer came out--Zooey Deschanel stole it from me.) Unfortunately, a lot of karaoke places don't have it, so I'm forced to default to "Dream On" by Aerosmith, which is way harder.

Tell me something scandalous!

Not sure if this is scandalous, exactly, but when I was 19 and home from college for the summer my parents and I fought constantly about whether my curfew should be 4 AM or 4:30 AM.

What is your favorite adult beverage?

Red wine.

What book have you read the most number of times?

I've never counted, but these are all up there: Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, the story "The Dead" from Dubliners by James Joyce, Stuart Little by E.B. White, and Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik.

Who is your "freebie"?

This question is very embarrassing. I'm going to go with Young Bob Dylan.

YA authors are so cool. Who would you give a BFF charm to?

Libba Bray. First, she's so amazing and multi-talented you just want to be around her and hope some of it rubs off. Second, she's my band sister and band sisters are forever (Tiger Beat!). And third, I want to get into her cow suit.

Out of all of the characters you've written, which one do you most wish you could be?

Norrie Sullivan. She finds true love, even though it's inconvenient. And I think she has a kind of natural glamour.

If you were invited to the FYA slumber party (and obvs, you ARE), what pajamas would you wear, and what is the most crucial snack food and/or movie you'd bring?

I'd wear blue Chinese silk pajamas and I'd bring Annie Hall to watch, because it's got everything: humor, romance, heartache, and making fun of L.A. My snack would be spearmint leaves (the candy, not the actual leaves).

And now it's time for the life-changing game of MASH! Give us three choices for each category, we'll pick one each for the 'bad' choices, pick a random number, and predict your future!

Mansion Apartment Shack House

Spouse
John Krasinski
Robert Downey, Jr.
Mikhail Baryshnikov
Randy Quaid

Honeymoon
Barcelona
Zanzibar

California coast
Arkadelphia

# of Kids
0
1
3
7

Job
Writer
Movie star
Astronaut
Rodeo clown

Income
Millions
Billions
Good karma
35k

Hometown
NYC
Paris
San Francisco
Jersey Shore

Pet
Cat
Dog
Leopard
Sea horse

Car
Mini Cooper
Old Volvo from the 60s
Mercedes sedan
Hummer

Um, wow! This game really worked out for you! Say hi to John for us!

And since Natalie didn't have this pic ready for our prom post, she included this bonus for us!

If we hadn't made it official before now, we LOVE you!

Thanks so much for hanging out at the lockers with us, Natalie! Be sure to get your copy of Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters this Wednesday!

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.
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