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

Between Two Lockers with Erin McCahan

Erin McCahan stops by FYA to dish about her latest book, Love and Other Foreign Words.

Between Two Lockers with Erin McCahan

Because raving about the book wasn't enough, I invited author of Love and Other Foreign Words, Erin McCahan, to join me at the FYA lockers -- and she said yes! 


So I have to know: where did the inspiration for Josie come from? Is she anything like you or someone you know? (And if so: can I be your/their BFF?!)

If I were 15 now and not naturally hesitant to say whatever the heck I'm thinking, I'd be Josie.

Speaking of inspiration, did your past experiences as a youth minister influence how you wrote the teens in this book?

Working with teenagers for so long reminded me what it was like to be a teenager and taught me to trust those memories.  Experiences are different for today's teens, but the emotions are the same.

Aside from the fabulous heroine, the supporting cast is full of rich, lively characters. Who was the most fun to write?

Josie's parents.  After them, Kate in a fit was a ball to write.

AND a ball to read!

How would you describe the Language of Erin?

I don't think I can describe it.  I think you just need to sit with me for a couple hours over endless Diet Cokes and quick trips to the ladies room.  I can't talk through the stall, though, so please don't follow me in there.  Or if you do, and I don't talk to you, don't take it personally.

Which other languages are you fluent in?

I used to be proficient in Spanish and ancient Hebrew, but I've grown rusty.  After that, I've studied Latin, French, ancient Greek, a little Japanese, and I'm currently learning German.  I am wholly and harrowingly fluent in my family's collective language, which often needs to be translated for outsiders.  For example, when they say always, they mean 'at least once.'  When they say everyone, as in "Everyone is fed up with you, young lady," they mean "I."  "I am fed up with you, young lady."  Young lady is ugly name-calling.  If you're called young lady, you need to get out of the house as fast as possible.

An adaptation of the book is already in the works (congrats, btw!); can you share any updates with us? (Pretty please? We'll bribe you with a pet goat!)

A pet goat?!  Really?!  Oh, no, wait.  I always wanted a koala bear.  But, thank you, anyway.  Sadly, I have no updates to share.  Oh, but I so wish I did!  The contract took forever to hammer out, so I just signed it towards the end of last year, and one thing I've learned in this business is that everything takes a very, very long time.  So I wait.  And when there's news, I have to trust someone will tell me.

Your wish is my command!

If your real life adolescence was a YA book...

What would you, the main character, be like?

Shy, hiding in the bathroom and trying desperately to get out of being the main character.

Who is your secret crush?

In high school it was the Greasers from The Outsiders, but only as Greasers, not as themselves in real life.

What is your number #1 source of angst?

Fearing I'd become the main character if my real life adolescence were a YA book.

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

When I finally looked up and just cold-cocked the meanest kid in the school for saying one too many nasty things to people I like.

I mean, I don't condone violence. But clearly, I also don't condone messing with YA Erin, 'cause DAAAAMN.

And who would play you in the film adaptation?

I don't know.  I had absurdly long hair in high school so maybe the girl from Tangled.

Plus, she sounds like Mandy Moore and her bf is Zachary Levi! WIN. 


What is your secret power?

I have a bizarre ability to tell when people are lying.  But I wish my secret power were invisibility.

What is your #1 favorite food?

Shrimp fried rice.

Tell me about your area of expertise.

Single guys should come to me for dating advice.  I am expert at being able to tell when a girl is just not right for a guy.

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

I'm assuming, in the spirit of Ocean's 11, that we'd be committing some heist, so my crew would never work, and here's why:

Billy Pilgrim would disappear at irregular intervals.
Franny Glass would have a breakdown right at the start of the thing.
Zooey Glass would want to be in charge and then would over-analyze everything.
Hester Prynne would stick a big, red A on her dress, giving us all away.
Yossarian would take off at the last minute.
Ronald Smith, now Psmith, would keep saying,  "Leave it to me," and nothing would ever get done properly.
Johnny Tremain would keep injuring his hands.
Louis, a trumpeter swan, is, after all, a swan, and what are we going to do with a swan on the crew -- one who keeps blowing a trumpet, no less?
Marianne Dashwood would catch a fever every time she went outside.
And Hercule Poirot would end up solving the very heist he was in on, landing us all in jail if Hester's H hadn't already done it.

What is your best karaoke song?

There isn't one.  I have never sung and will never sing karaoke.  Singing tops the list of my inabilities.  Reading a map is a close second.

Tell me something scandalous!

I am completely fascinated by the rumor that Bruce Jenner is becoming a woman.

What is your favorite adult beverage?


Oooh, I like the way you think!

What book have you read (or movie you’ve watched) the most number of times?

Franny and Zoey.

Who is your "freebie"?

Bruce Jenner!  No, I'm just kidding.

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

Bruce Jenner!  No, I'm kidding again.

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

Josie's mom.  Nothing ruffles that woman, and I think it would be so nice to be un-ruffle-able.

Right?! Because shouldn't un-ruffle-able come standard with adulthood?

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

I LOVE slumber parties.  I would bring Doritos and a huge stack of magazines with quizzes in them so we can all find out if we're good kissers, are with the right guy, have the best haircut for our shape faces and are rocking our jeans!

And now it's time for MASH! Erin provided the first three options, and the fourth was chosen for her. The magic number was 7.

Okay, so, I'm filling this in as if I were 20, unmarried, still in college and dreaming of my future,


Bruce Jenner (wait, that should be your 4th bad option)
Liam Neeson
Iain Glen
Brody Jenner

Restroom stall

However many Kardashians there are to keep up with

Secret agent

150k keytars

South Haven, MI
17th century Puritan Boston

Koala bear
Naked mole rat

Subaru Forester*
Subaru Outback*
Subaru Impreza*
Subaru Sambar, in orange

*All blue

Well, when you invoke his name so many times, is it any wonder that you ended up with Bruce Jenner? At least you get to stay being an author -- and we get to keep reading your books!

Thanks for stopping by, Erin! Check out her website, for find her on Twitter (@ErinMcCahan).

Mandy Wan's photo About the Author: Residing in Edmonton, AB, Mandy unabashedly loves YA lit, frozen desserts, and terrible puns.