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Interview & Giveaway: Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

I am so thrilled to have the beautiful Lorraine Zago Rosenthal on my blog today. I absolutely loved her book, Other Words for Love, and she was kind enough to answer some questions for me. As an added bonus, she graciously offered up a SIGNED copy of Other Words for Love to one lucky reader.
Trust me, you have to read this book! You can check out my review here.

1. Other Words for Love seems like it could have easily been taken from the true story of a young girl. Was any of this story taken from real experiences?

I, like all writers, create stories and characters based on reality and imagination. Some parts of my novel are based on things I have experienced or observed; some are completely made up; and others are a combination of reality and imagination.

2. This book isn't set in the current-day. What made you choose to place this story in the time period you did?

There are a few reasons why I chose to set the story during the mid-to-late 1980s. It seemed to me that the 1980s were a neglected era in YA fiction. The only other YA novel I know of that is set during this decade is The Carrie Diaries. There is YA fiction set in the 1800s, 1920s, etc., so why not the 1980s? This decade is as valid historically as any other, and I believe that no time period should be restricted from the YA genre. There are stories to tell from the viewpoint of young people in every era.

I thought that if teens could identify with historical fiction—time periods with cultures and values so different from now—then they could easily relate to a time period that they didn’t live through but wasn’t all that long ago. The ideals of the 1980s weren’t exactly the same as today, but they weren’t completely different, either. I also thought that adults who read YA fiction and lived through the 1980s might connect with the story.

But the main reason I set Other Words for Love in the 1980s is that the story wouldn’t work in the present day. As I mentioned, culture and values weren’t radically different then, but they weren’t exactly the same as today. For example—in the novel, Ari’s sister has a baby when she is seventeen years old, and although teen pregnancy isn’t encouraged now, I think it has less of a social stigma than it had during the 80s. There was no “Teen Mom” on MTV back then! Ari is more embarrassed about her sister having been a teen mother than she might be today, and Evelyn’s choices are extremely disappointing to her parents.

Also, the issue of AIDS is prevalent throughout the novel. Although AIDS unfortunately still exists, it is better understood than it was during the 80s, when it was new and many people didn’t fully comprehend how it could be contracted. There was an undercurrent of hysteria when AIDS first appeared, and this is present in Other Words for Love.

Finally, although Ari is intelligent and mature, she’s also more innocent than most girls her age would be today—for various reasons. For example, the internet didn’t exist during the 1980s, so teens didn’t have as much access to information as they do now. The 1980s were more conservative than the present time—just take a look at how teens were represented in the media back then as opposed to now.

3. This book is so touching and I've seen an enormous amount of positive feedback already. What has been the most surprising part of having your book out there?

Thanks so much! The most surprising part of having my novel published has been the response from the wonderful bloggers and readers who have been so supportive of Other Words for Love. As you mentioned, I have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from those who have read the book, and it’s rewarding to hear from readers who have connected with Ari and her story. I’ve even been contacted by young women who are currently dealing with a breakup, and they said that my novel has helped them to get through it. It makes me very happy to hear that.

4. Ari is now one of my all-time favorite YA characters. When you first started writing Other Words for Love, how did you come up with those important aspects of her personality?

Thanks again! I’m so glad that you like Ari. Before I began writing, I saw her as a girl with many wonderful attributes (intelligence, sensitivity, artistic ability, etc.) who isn’t appreciated by her peers, and whose lack of experience and confidence—as well as her tendency toward depression—cause her to quickly fall into an intense relationship and to be devastated when that relationship ends. I created her personality based on her background, her experiences, and the events that shape her story. My goal was to make Ari (and the other characters) sympathetic but honest, human, and flawed.
5. I read that you are in the process of writing another YA book. Can you share any of that information with us?

Yes, I’m currently working on another YA novel that is set in NYC. The story and main character are different from Other Words for Love, but the novel also deals with family and other relationships.

Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal Publisher: Delecorte Books for Young Readers (January 11th, 2011) Reading Level: Young Adult Hardback: 368 pages When an unexpected inheritance enables Ari to transfer to an elite Manhattan prep school, she makes a wealthy new friend, Leigh. Leigh introduces Ari to the glamorous side of New York--and to her gorgeous cousin, Blake. Ari doesn't think she stands a chance, but amazingly, Blake asks her out. As their romance heats up, they find themselves involved in an intense, consuming relationship. Ari's family worries that she is losing touch with the important things in life, like family, hard work, and planning for the future.

When misfortune befalls Blake's family, he pulls away, and Ari's world drains of color. As she struggles to get over the breakup, Ari must finally ask herself: were their feelings true love.. or something else?

Giveaway Prize:

  • 1 winner will receive a SIGNED copy of Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal.

Rules:
  • You must be at least 13 to enter.
  • Name and email must be provided and counts as 1 entry.
  • Extra entries are possible and links must be provided.
  • Contest is US Only and ends March 11th.
  • Once contacted the winner will have 48 hours to respond with their mailing address.
  • The form must be filled out to enter.

Find Lorraine Zago Rosenthal Website | Goodreads | Twitter
Purchase Other Words for Love Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository