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Interview with Deborah Reber
Language of Love in Love, Love, Love (Simon Pulse, December 2010)
--The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less.
Shy Janna pretends to be a Hungarian exchange student to get the attention of Julian. But when she falls for him, things get complicated!--How did you get the idea for the story?
I wanted to write about a girl who thought she had to be someone else in order for people, more specifically boys, to like her. I was thinking about a story arc in Beverly Hills 90210 (the original one I used to watch back in the day!) where Donna and Brenda are spending the summer in Paris. They meet a cute American boy, and Brenda decides to pretend she is French, thinking it’s a harmless prank. I decided to take that idea and spin it on its head a bit and see what would happen when my main character Janna, a shy wallflower, is persuaded by her best friend (NOT a shy wallflower) to be a Hungarian exchange student at her Seattle high school . What no one could have predicted was how much Janna would like her alter ego, and how it would give her courage she didn’t know she even had.
--Which character would you most/least like to have dinner with?
Hmmm…I’d love to hang out with Juli Baker, the main character in Flipped. I love her energy, positive attitude, and outlook on life. I also share her love of trees!
--What are some of your favorite books? Do you still have much time to read?
I LOVE to read and am always juggling several books. The challenge for me is that while I love to read, it puts me to sleep. Plus I’m a slow reader. So I stake out about an hour each night before I go to bed to read, and I tend to balance my fun, pleasure reading with the more research-oriented stuff I need to stay on top of. I like MANY different kind of books, but here are some of my favorites: Bluebeard (Kurt Vonnegut), The Hours (Michael Cunningham), anything by Nick Hornby, The Hunger Games trilogy, Flipped (Wendelin Van Draanen), Election (Tom Perotta), and The Golden Compass (Philip Pulman).
--Do you need anything to write (music, coffee, etc)? Are there any songs on your book’s playlist-" songs that inspired you or that were playing while you wrote?
I can’t have any music playing when I write … it must be totally silent or I get super distracted. In fact, just about anything can distract me when I’m writing. That’s why I write in short little bursts – apparently this matches my attention span. I do like to have a Diet Coke next to me, and my dog somewhere in the near vicinity (I think he’s my muse). But while I wasn’t inspired by music, I was influenced by the city of Seattle where my book takes place…it’s kind of its own character in the book.
--If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
I once heard a story on the radio show This American Life about the two most common superpowers people would want if they were given the choice: flying and becoming invisible. And what you choose says something about the kind of person you are. People who choose invisibility are people with something to hide, while people who choose flying are comfortable letting it all hang out. I’m not sure I believe those generalizations, but I will say that I would choose flying any day over invisibility. And yes, I guess I do like to let it all hang out. Plus, I often fly in my dreams (did so more when I was younger, but still take flight every now and then), and I love the idea of soaring around.
--Besides writing, what do you like to do in your free time?
I am an avid runner…I run pretty much every day, partly to stay fit, but more so to keep my sanity. I also love to garden. Not sure where that one comes from – I think after living in NYC for so many years, the idea of having my hands in the dirt and spending hours in my backyard, both in Los Angeles where I used to live and now in Seattle, is very appealing. If I could, I’d be in my garden from dawn to dusk on a summer day. After that, it’s the usual things: hanging with my friends, watching bad reality television, and eating gelato.
--Is there anything else you want to add or say to your readers?
I hope you like Language of Love! While I’ve written a lot of nonfiction, this is my first stab at fiction, and I’ll be honest – it’s a bit nerve-wracking having it out in the world. I loved the actual writing process though, and I hope to do much more fiction in the future.