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

Between Two Lockers with Sarah Dessen (OMG!!!)

Sarah Dessen, light of our lives, sits down to give FYA the dish on her books, her favorite karaoke song and her secret crush.

Between Two Lockers with Sarah Dessen (OMG!!!)

Hey y'all, before I present today's author interview, I have to take a moment to let my swimfan out. Please bear with me for the next ten seconds.


Whew! Ok, now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's move forward! As you probably know, Sarah's latest book, What Happened to Goodbye, comes out today, and I urge all of y'all to check it out (my review is here if you need any further pressure encouragement). Even though pub day is, like, a huge deal, Sarah took time out of her busy schedule to join us for a Between Two Lockers chat. And if you don't already love her like I do, prepare to be smitten in 5... 4... 3.. 2...


In my review of the book, I put Mclean's ability to change identities on par with the superspy skills of Sydney Bristow from Alias. I t made me think a lot about the different personae we inhabit during our adolescence and even in our adulthood. Did you go through different identities in high school? How do you define yourself now, as an adult?

I actually didn't vary my identity much in high school, although the idea always really appealed to me. Growing up in a small town, going to school with the same people from second grade doesn't provide a lot of chances for transformation. I always wished I could show up at school on Monday and be totally different, leaving everything I didn't like about myself behind. It was the ultimate fantasy, and I think that' s where the idea for Mclean came from. As far as how I define myself now, I think the difference is I know that nobody, me included, is any one thing. I' m a writer, a wife, a mom, a daughter, a person who watches too much Bravo. All of these things at once.

I enjoyed getting to know Mclean, but I have to say, Deb is really the one who earned my BFF charm. There's still so much I want to know about her! Any chance she'll star in her own book?

It's so funny you say that, because a lot of folks are really telling me how much they like Deb. I honestly feel like she could have run away with the entire book: I had to reign her back in, several times, and actually cut a bulk of scenes about her that took momentum from the story. I would love to revisit her, but probably not as narrator much as a cameo, like I've done with some of my other characters.

I have no doubt that even with a tiny, one-sentence cameo, Deb could totally take over a whole book.

I love finding the "Easter eggs" in your novels that connect characters and places in the Dessen universe, so I was super excited to see one of those eggs hatch into a supporting role in this book. What made you give Jason a second chance?

I had the idea for an older male character already but it was actually a girl on Twitter who gave me the idea. She asked me if I'd ever consider giving Jason Talbot a happy ending, and I realized I really had sort of put him in a bad light in two separate books. I love the idea of seeing what can happen after high school, and this was a great opportunity to do that.

Once I found out that Luna Blu served FREE fried pickles, I wanted to road trip there immediately. When creating the restaurant, did you include elements of some of your favorite tasty business establishments?

The fried pickles I actually did base on an appetizer at a place in Carrboro called Tyler's Taproom. The rolls that Mclean' s dad does away with, in my mind, were a lot like those at 411 West in Chapel Hill: they are SO GOOD and I could totally eat them as a total meal. The truth is, eating is one of my favorite things to do, so it was great to write about it.

Seriously, who wants to go to Chapel Hill with me RIGHT NOW?

Ok, so this question isn't just about your latest book, but I have to ask! I know you're a huge fan of Friday Night Lights. (I mean, how could you not be? It's AMAZING!) We tend to cast a lot of the actors from the show in our book reports, especially a certain #33. Do you ever cast your own characters in your head? If so, are there any FNL cameos?

Oh, what a great question! I actually don't do a lot of casting because in my mind I already have an idea of what all the characters in my novels look like: they're real peole to me. That said, I would love to see ANYONE from FNL in any of the roles from my books, especially the boys who played Matt Saracen and of course Riggs. Sa-woon!



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

Truthfully, I'd be a lot like the girls in my books. Never the big leader, not entirely confident, always watching and remembering everything. In high school, I was the oracle. My friends both loved and hated this about me.

Who is your secret crush?

Either Taylor Kitsch, Kyle Chandler or Jake Gyllenhaal.

What is your number #1 source of angst?

I always worry I am disappointing someone, every second of the day.

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

When I got over this and just lived my life for me. I am still waiting for that moment!

Sarah Dessen, I'll pump my fist for you every single day if that helps.

And who would play you in the film adaptation?

I'm not picky. Just someone with really, really straight teeth. I hate my teeth!


What is your secret power?

I can find anything lost in my house, from Legos to receipts. I am a homing device.

Where were you when I was trying to find those champ cans that I swore I bought last week?

What is your #1 favorite food?

Supreme pizza.

Tell me about your area of expertise.

I'm actually really good with tech stuff, like fixing computer glitches and programming phone and remotes. I will geek out, given the chance.

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

So many to choose from! But really, if I could hang with any characters in person, I'd probably pick my own. I would love to hear what they think about how I've portrayed them and get their advice on my own problems. Especially Remy from This Lullaby and Deb from the new book. I can only imagine how they'd turn me around.

Those gals could put Tyra Banks out of the makeover business.

What is your best karaoke song?

I only sing karaoke in groups. But I am partial to "I Think I Love You," by the Partridge Family and anything by Johnny Cash.

Tell me something scandalous!

I dropped out of the first college I went to after a month and a half.

Whoah! Usually people don't tell us anything really scandalous, but that's a good one! Don't worry, your secret is safe with us.

What is your favorite adult beverage?

Very cold Chardonnay.

What book have you read the most number of times?

A Prayer For Owen Meany, by John Irving.

Who is your "freebie"?

You know, my husband and I have never really had that conversation. Which makes it totally fine for me to say Taylor Kitsch, right?


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

Laurie Halse Anderson. She rocks.

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

Remy from This Lullaby. She has all the confidence I wish I had in high school. And now, for that matter.

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 LOVE Old Navy pajama bottoms and worn-in tank tops, and I'd bring Grosse Point Blanke and Pirate's Booty.

Sarah, you and your Pirate's Booty are welcome ANY time.

And speaking of slumber parties, it's time to get down to some MASH business!


Jake Gyllenhaal
Luke Perry

Kyle Chandler
Donald Trump

Turks and Caicos
Greek Isles
Your Local Gymboree

# of Kids

Dozen (cos they're cheaper!)

Ad exec
Ballroom Dancer

Ke$sha Impersonator


1 Groupon/day

Chapel Hill, NC San Francisco
A place where fried pickles don't exist


Pygmy goat
Bronx Zoo cobra

Audi A8
Vintage Toyota Land Cruiser

VW bug
Red Bull car

Well, you pretty much lucked out on this one. Sure, you have to sing Tik Tok every day, but you've got a fine lookin' man at home and an adorable pygmy goat to keep those twelve kids occupied. As far as MASH goes, you've got a bright future ahead of you.

Sarah, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our hard-hitting questions and giving us a peak into your soul. YOU ARE AMAZING, and no one else cares about your teeth. Trust me.


Shameless Self-Promotion!

Check out our Sarah Dessen themed t-shirts!

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).