Britta Lundin’s debut novel Ship It (FYA review here) started out as a Black List, Bitch List and Athena List-featured screenplay before growing into a funny, heartfelt YA novel that you can read right now. We’re thrilled to have the author and Riverdale staff writer join us at the FYA lockers today!
The Actual Book Related Questions
Ship It began its life as a screenplay. What was the journey from Black List to book?
Yes! I am a screenwriter and originally imagined Ship It as a movie, but Freeform Books read the screenplay and saw a young adult book in it. I’ve been reading YA books since well before I even was a young adult, so when they reached out to me, I was like “hell yes!” even though I had never written a book before. It wasn’t until after I said yes that the panic of “omg do I know how to do this?” set in, lol.
I love the moment that Claire walks into her first con and realizes she’s found her home. Do you have a similar story about finding your tribe?
I grew up in a small town in rural Oregon in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, where there were very few gay people on TV, and even fewer out gay people in my town. Fanfiction was a place where I could find stories about all kinds of queer characters in all kinds of scenarios — gay characters, lesbian characters, bisexual characters, falling in love, going on adventures, solving mysteries. It was the queer wonderland I couldn’t find anywhere else. It’s magical.
There’s a beautiful scene where Claire and Tess connect when discussing their first fandoms. It’s clear it’s an intimate revelation for both of them – are you comfortable telling us about your first fandom?
Haha, yes! My first fandom was The X-Files. I was very, very invested in that show from middle school on. I think I first found fanfiction by searching for more information about The X-Files (probably via Ask Jeeves or something). But once you have that fandom framework for interacting with a TV show or movie, it becomes easy to apply it to everything you like after that, so I have been a part of many, many fandoms since then.
What do you love about Claire? What drives you crazy about Claire?
Claire is a very driven, ambitious, outspoken person. There are times when I’m in awe of her confidence and her ability to say exactly what she thinks. And there are times when it makes me cringe because sometimes when you’re sixteen years old you don’t know when to hold your tongue. That was certainly true of me at sixteen.
“Demon Heart,” the demon-hunting thriller for which Claire writes slashfic, feels like it’s inspired by shows like Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries. Did you have a series in mind when writing about the show?
There are so many shows that have found themselves in this position of having the fans shipping a gay ship that the creators have no intention of making canon. Supernatural is a common example, but there are many others, like Sherlock, Once Upon a Time, Teen Wolf, and lots, lots more. So “Demon Heart” isn’t really intended to be any specific show. It’s completely fictional, but probably fans of any of those shows find the story familiar.
There aren’t many romances in fiction like Tess and Claire’s. Why was it important for you to tell their story?
Claire’s arc is about coming to understand and be comfortable with her own sexuality. I had seen stories before about teenagers who knew completely what their own sexuality was from a young age, and that’s a valid and important narrative, but it didn’t reflect my experience. I wanted to tell a story about someone who was wondering if she might be something other than straight, and what that might mean. There’s a lot of pressure to know who you are, especially as a young person, and I think the anxiety of deciding how to identify yourself can be a lot to deal with, so I wanted to write about that experience. It’s ok to not know right away, and it’s ok to change your mind. Sexuality is a messy business.
Ship It takes a nuanced approach to the push-pull dichotomy between the importance of fandom and fan entitlement. Now that you’re a writer on Riverdale, has your perspective on fandom changed at all?
It’s still so funny to me when people insult fans or call them “entitled” because it feels like the ultimate punching down. All fans can do is watch (or not watch), and tweet about it. They aren’t the ones ultimately writing storylines or making creative decisions. So to ask fans to give their time and their heart over to a show and then be mad at them for having opinions on that show requires a weird cognitive dissonance to me. When fans tweet at me about their favorite ship on Riverdale, I don’t get mad at them, I’m just really happy they care about the show we’re making enough to talk about it. That means we’re doing our jobs right.
If you were a fan writing fic about Riverdale, who would it feature?
Hahaha I cannot write fic about Riverdale! I think it would violate all kinds of contracts (not just legal but also the fan-creator social contract), but if I did, it would be about the inner life of Archie’s dog, Vegas. What does he think about this whole business of Archie joining the Lodge’s “business”? And who’s walking him when Fred is out campaigning for Mayor?
What’s next for you?
Riverdale just got picked up for a third season, so that’s very exciting! And as for YA, I’m figuring out if writing more books is something I want to do. I had a great time writing Ship It, so maybe you’ll see more from me in the future…
The YA Questions
If your real life adolescence were a YA book…
What would you, the main character, be like?
Loud, funny, gestures too much, and outspoken to a fault (repeated foot-in-mouth syndrome).
Who is your secret crush?
That girl in bio class who seems to always have her emotions in check. HOW DOES SHE DO THAT? Also, she has cool hair and a bomber jacket.
What is your number #1 source of angst?
I assume she’s straight.
At what point would the reader pump his/her fist in victory?
When cool bio class girl casually mentions she had a girlfriend at her old school. YESSSSSS.
And who would play you in the film adaptation?
Whoever the teenage Gwendoline Christie is these days: too tall, kind of butch, handsome, and oddly compelling.
The Slumber Party Questions
What is your secret power?
I can do a rubik’s cube (it is not a terribly useful superpower tbh).
What is your #1 favorite food?
My wife’s homemade sukiyaki.
Tell me about your area of expertise.
Getting 95% of the way to my destination without using GPS and then getting lost three blocks from where I’m trying to go.
If you could assemble your own Ocean’s 11 of fictional characters, who would you pick and why?
Dana Scully to mastermind the plan.
Veronica Lodge to distract the casino owner.
Brienne of Tarth to knock out the guards.
Charlie Bradbury to hack into the security system.
Poussey Washington to crack the safe.
Poe Dameron to drive the getaway spaceship (What? My Ocean’s 11 takes place in space).
Lena Waithe in Master of None to tell us why the plan is a dumb one.
And Elle Woods to represent us in court when we get caught.
What is your best karaoke song?
“Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks. It’s a crowd pleaser!
Tell me something scandalous!
One time in 3rd grade I convinced the school librarian that I had returned a missing book (because I thought I had!) and then in 5th grade, I found it behind my bookshelf, where it had fallen. I’ve felt guilty about it since then. It was The Indian in the Cupboard.
What is your favorite adult beverage?
What book have you read the most number of times?
The first 80% of Where The Red Fern Grows. I always stop right before… well, you know the part.
Who is your “freebie”?
Michelle Obama. (Sorry, Barack!)
YA authors are so cool. Who would you give a BFF charm to?
Bree Barton, whose rad, funny, feminist fantasy book Heart of Thrones comes out this summer!
Out of all of the characters you’ve written, which one do you most wish you could be?
I didn’t create her, I just get the honor of writing her once in a while, but Betty Cooper is the smart, driven, honorable Gryffindor I strive to be every day.
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 would bring like six foster puppies because I feel like that would be an amazing party.
ed. note: this is literally the best answer ever given to this question.
And now, MASH
Britta made three picks for each category, and I added a fourth. The magic number (chosen by a random number generator) was 6.
A S H
Harry Styles Samira Wiley Cersei Lannister
Alaska Mexico City
Boise Comic Con
# OF KIDS
2 5 many, many cats
Bourbon Distiller Oceanside Innkeeper
$75 million $4 million
many, many cats
Stars Hollow, Connecticut
Austin, Texas Pine Bluff, Idaho
5 dogs 12 dogs many, many cats
Wood-paneled station wagon
1967 Chevrolet Impala The stair car from Arrested Development
Thanks for playing! You can follow Britta on Twitter and Instagram, and read more about her on her site. And don’t forget to pick up your copy of Ship it, available now!