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

Between Two Lockers with Brenna Yovanoff

An interview with Brenna Yovanoff, author of The Replacement and all-around charmer.

Between Two Lockers with Brenna Yovanoff

A few weeks ago, I reviewed The Replacement, by Brenna Yovanoff, and, in this age of a-million-craptastic-YA-fantasy-books-coming-out-every-minute, was surprised by how thoroughly delightful I found the book to be.

The Replacement comes out today, and Ms. Yovanoff took time out of her schedule to do an interview with us! So read on after the break (it's a great way to make the line at the book store go faster). And after you read this, I'm pretty sure you'll all be clamoring to give her your BFF charm, just like me!



Your mythology felt both old and new, and I loved all of your characters, especially Mackie and Tate and the sisters in the underworld! Were you inspired by old stories when you were creating your world?

I definitely drew (stole) from old mythology when it came to the sisters. I wanted to take some of that really old Irish folklore and play around with how they might evolve. Nothing exists in a vacuum, and I was interested in the way the characters might change based on contemporary culture.

For some reason, I keep thinking Gentry is in Pennsylvania, but I can't remember if you actually state where the town is. If not, did you have a state or region in mind when you were describing the town?

Yes! While I never state the actual location, in my mind, Gentry is absolutely 100% Pennsylvania (I'm so impressed right now)!

Yay! I win!

This book made me want to picnic in a New England cemetery in fall. Have you ever been to New England, and do you have a favorite cemetery?

So, I've been to Boston once, and my family is from upstate New York, but really, I haven't spent a lot of time in New England. I do like cemeteries, though. I've been to some amazing ones in Savannah and New Orleans. However, my favorite is this little tiny one in the Ozarks. It only has three graves and was completely overgrown and forgotten about for decades before someone rediscovered it and cleaned it up.

And now I'd like to offer you a cup of hot cider, lady! (which may or may not have whiskey in it...)

Wow. Pretty lady.


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

Well, you know the Manic Pixie Dream Girl? She's charming and vivacious and maybe has dark, wild hair and draws all over her Converse and teachers love her for her wit and daring, even if she sometimes does bust out the F-word in class?

I'm not that girl. I'm her best friend, and my role in this story is to be smaller, sweeter, quieter. I'm smart, but not obvious about it. I'm funny, but never in public. The MPDG is an extrovert, and as such, she talks a lot. She will spill all your secrets. Not because she's mean, but because she has no concept of privacy, or she's just trying to help, or she forgot it was a secret. As her best friend, I know this. Which is why I never tell her a goddamn thing.

Who is your secret crush?

The Underachiever. He's consistently tardy, never participates in class, and always sort of smells like pot. Yes, Virginia, even at eight o'clock in the morning. He is startlingly attractive and very clean---perfect for unrequited gazing. If anyone in my hipster-intellectual social circle knew how I felt about him, they would be appalled, but it makes a certain twisted sense. I am terrified of everything, but mostly failure. He, on the other hand, has looked failure right in the eye and it obviously hasn't killed him. For that, I admire him, and kind of want to make out.

Unfortunately, this is forestalled by the fact that we both become incoherent around each other. He mumbles and blushes, while I blurt out the first thing that comes to mind, usually having to do with horror movies, because I spend a lot of time watching MonsterVision with Joe Bob Briggs on TNT. Once, he kind of sort of touched my hand.

I think I speak for the world when I say we all have a little girl-crush on you now.

What is your number #1 source of angst?

Um, that would be the tick-infested death-car. It's almost as old as I am and subject to every mechanical failure ever. I've spent many an afternoon sitting on my butt in the school parking lot, kicking the starter casing because the solenoid sticks and if I don't knock it loose, the starter keeps going and grinds itself up and makes a noise like a dying ambulance. To get it to turn over in the mornings, I have to take off the air filter and blow into the carburetor while working the butterfly valve open and closed with a pencil. Yes, I have to give my car CPR just so it will start.

However, the crowning indignity, the day that will live in infamy, is the Day of the Antifreeze Bath. Otherwise known as, the day the radiator hose blew and I went to school smelling like the color Neon Green. Which smells very, very bad.

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

When I unmask (and subsequently marry) the boy responsible for creating a facetious and outrageously fascist political movement, based on anonymity and shock-value. Their agenda is simple: throw the entire school into a panic on a semi-regular basis by distributing bizarrely offensive propaganda, complete with enigmatic slogans and graphics and . . . you think I'm making this up, don't you? Well, you just keep thinking that. Because I totally married him.

Okay, you AND your husband are totally the shizz.

And who would play you in the film adaptation?

Natasha Melnick, circa Freaks & Geeks. No, this does not mean that I was a cheerleader or a budding Young Republican. But even though she doesn't have the telltale Yovanoff bump on her nose or the crazy yellow hair (and I'm reasonably sure that she's much taller than me), she still has a certain adolescent-Brenna quality. Also, there's just no one else for me to pick---I never get compared to celebrities. One time, someone in college told me I looked like Jewel. He was drunk, though.

Um? Adorable?


What is your secret power?

The ability to take both sides in an argument while simultaneously taking neither. I'm Switzerland, baby!

What is your #1 favorite food?

Well, the actual answer to this would be "food," because I really love food. But I'm going to narrow it down and go with Vietnamese food. Or else Pixy Stix.

Tell me about your area of expertise.

I used to work as a lab tech in a photo shop, and was in charge of all the printing for the local police force. I am capable of great attention to detail, while withstanding vast amounts of grossness.

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

Wow, this is a hard one! Let's go to the bookshelves . . .

"The Idea Man" Micah from Liar

"The Detail Man" Taylor Markham from Jellicoe Road

"The Inside Man" Severus Snape from Harry Potter

"The Bankroll" Edward Cullen from Twilight

"The Getaway" Beth Cooper, from I Love You, Beth Cooper

"The Getaway 2" Ben Starling from Paper Towns

"The Eye In The Sky" Gretchen Yee from Fly on the Wall

"The Basher" Jace Wayland from the Mortal Instruments

"The Grease Man" Rue from The Hunger Games

"The High Roller" Mr. Nancy from American Gods

"The Rookie" Bliss Cavendar from Derby Girl

Whoah. Excellent picks. I would not want to be on the bad side of that team!

What is your best karaoke song?

"Leader of the Pack," by the Shangri-Las! No, I'm not joking. Also, best is a relative term.

Tell me something scandalous!

Against all reason, I really, really like Eminem. There. I said it.

I completely agree with you! We can listen to him while we braid each other's hair!

What is your favorite adult beverage?

Hands down, the Cape Cod. How can two simple ingredients, cranberry and Grey Goose, yield such perfection?

So, it's obvious that you need to come down to Austin, immediately! A Cape Cod will be waiting.

What book have you read the most number of times?

The Little Friend, by Donna Tartt. I don't remember how many times, but it's in the teens at this point.

Oh man! So with you on that one! There's just something about dressing up like Jesus and making your friends play the disciples to re-enact the Garden of Gethsemane scene...

Who is your "freebie"?

I asked my husband if I had a freebie and he very kindly informed me that I don't. However, in the fictitious event that I did have one, it would be James McAvoy.

Or as we call him around these parts, Jimmy Mac. The one man I want to bite and feed soup to at the same time.

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

Over the last few years, I've had the opportunity to meet so many super-cool YA authors and it's very hard to pick. So I'm going to give my charm to Melina Marchetta, even though I've never met her, because Jellicoe Road is one of the best books I've ever read and I swooned so hard over Jonah Griggs that it's not even funny.


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

Well, I really wouldn't mind being Carlina from The Replacement. She has excellent fashion sense and is also a rock star. Basically, if I were her, I'd be much better at karaoke.

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 my ridiculously-Hef silk bathrobe and an actual negligee, because that is how I roll. The snack would be Samoas Girl Scout cookies, and the movie would be Heathers because: Christian Slater.

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!

Beach house

James McAvoy

Propaganda Boy
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Sylar from Heroes


# of Kids

Photo Shop girl



San Francisco

Pot-Bellied Pig

Tesla Roadster

1974 Chevy Nova (mint)
Ford wagon

Wow, I guess some things were destined? Let's hope Brenna and Propaganda Boy enjoy the fruits of her success with this novel! Thanks for stopping by, Brenna!

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.