I met Lauren Myracle at a crowded book party in New Orleans last summer, during the American Library Association’s annual convention. She grabbed my arm and insisted that I have a glass of champagne immediately. I had no idea who she was at the time (having failed to recognize the resemblance to her author photos) but I soon realized that this petite woman was a force of nature. Talking a blue streak while she guided me through the party’s close quarters, she located the bar, put a glass of champagne into my hand and only then mentioned her latest book. Oh, I thought to myself, this isn’t just “Lauren” I’m talking to, it’s Lauren Myracle — the author of the popular Internet series for teens (ttyl, ttfn, etc.) and a writer whose work is frequently challenged because of its controversial themes.
If you’ve met her, heard her speak, been moved by her writing or inspired by her unflinching reaction to having her books banned, then you probably reacted as I did on learning a couple of weeks ago that it was bubbly, hilarious, impassioned Lauren Myracle who had been done wrong by the National Book Foundation. In a perplexingly sloppy process, the foundation not only mistakenly announced that Myracle’s novel Shine was a finalist for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature, the organization’s director compounded the error a few days later by asking Myracle to withdraw her own book from consideration. After a weekend of deliberation, Myracle agreed to the NBF’s “request” — drawing new sympathy for the author and new outrage about the blunder.
Though she’s been engulfed by a media whirlwind, Myracle deserves attention for something more than being dissed by the National Book Awards. Shine has many admirers — NBA or no NBA — and her latest book for tweens is due out in January.
In a Q&A with BookPage, Myracle gives us her reaction to the events of the last two weeks and her thoughts on what the future holds. Here’s my favorite exchange:
Looking a couple of years down the road, if someone calls to inform you that you’re a finalist for a major literary award, how will you react?
Myracle: I will tell said caller to call my publisher, who will go to the ends of the earth and back to make sure that it’s EFFING REAL. Then . . . then I will throw five thousand gumdrops into the air and twirl around until I’m so dizzy I fall to the floor.
Read the full Q&A for Myracle’s thoughts on dealing with adversity, the benefits of crying in public, and the possibility that the whole NBA mess might end up benefiting her career.