Today MG author Elisabeth Wolf stops by The Hiding Spot to chat about her first book, Lulu in LA LA Land! Elisabeth discusses which book inspired her to become a writer, why her favorite word is marshmallow, and her own, various, hiding spots!
Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Or, were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write?
Most of the characters and scenes I wrote weren’t too hard because I chose to write about types of people and places that I knew. Years ago I wanted to write a thriller about a sister sneaking into India to save her kidnapped brother who was working clandestinely to persuade India to protect England from a Chinese invasion. Having never been to India or China nor having never pursued advanced study of geo-political power struggles, I decided to scrap the whole project.
The hardest part of Lulu to write was about the mean girls. The idea of children being unkind to other children just to make themselves feel important or cool really bums me out. I had to pull back when writing about the “Pop Girls” and remind myself that at least one of them was going to turn nice at the end.
Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication?
The title, Lulu in LA LA Land always stayed the same. It sounded so good and represented the story so well no one ever suggested changing it.
What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general?
To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. Ms. Lee crafted and wrote one perfect book. It shows real childhood. It explains American weaknesses and fears and American strength and bravery. It is simple and complicated at the same time. Reading it for the first time in middle school was the exact moment I decided my dream was to become a writer.
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a writer/published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing?
After leaving graduate school at Stanford, I needed a job. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do beyond read and write. A friend offered me a position as an assistant communications director on a California political campaign. After that, I fell into jobs on the press, messaging, media side of government and politics. The experience of writing short, clean, simple sentences to explain complex policy was invaluable to becoming a writer for children. Also, needing to write quickly and on deadlines made me able to manage the requests made by my agents and editor.
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?
Marshmallow. And, I’m not kidding! I have always loved this word. The way it sounds and the memories and feelings that go along with it. Marshmallows telegraph childhood, softness, sweetness, and versatility. I mean, really, who couldn’t love this word, with all its consonants plus the “sh,” that is the glue that holds a s’more together?!
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
Hiding spot. So great. Love that it’s the name of your blog. Reality escapism is among my character strengths. Actually, the interests of Lulu, my main character, represent ways I find inner calm. Here’s my list: gardening, walking beaches, baking, looking into my dog’s dark brown eyes, and doing something that I suspect will make someone else happy.