Guys, I am SO excited to be a stop on the Drain You Blog Tour, launched by the lovely ladies over at Hobbitsies and Mundie Moms! I really enjoyed this book and was stoked when offered the chance to interview author M. Beth Bloom. For somebody like me, who spent the better part of her twenties during the 1990s, this book induced some serious nostalgia. You can read my review of Drain You HERE, and for those of you who haven't yet read the book, here's some info for you:
Check out Publishers Weekly's Review of Drain You
And guys, check out this AWESOME trailer for Drain You...
Now on to the interview!
TFR: A great big welcome to author M. Beth Bloom!
For those who haven't yet read Drain You, can you give a brief description of the book?
MBB: LA teenage girl in the 90s falling in love with everyone who moves – including those who move while dead. Does that work? haha…
TFR: One of the things I loved most about Drain You was the character of Quinn Lacey because she is not your typical YA heroine. She's an unapologetic slacker, she manipulates her parents and friends to serve her own means, and she juggles not one, but three different guys through the course of the book. To me, Quinn is written almost like a stereotypical "bad boy" and I LOVED that. I think her flaws make her character more authentic and that there is a little bit of Quinn in all of us (whether we want to admit to it or not.) When you were writing Drain You did you think about how very different Quinn was in regards to other female leads in today's YA literature?
MBB: Absolutely. That was in fact my inspiration for the book. Female leads in so much fiction – particularly YA – drive me CRAZY. Women characters aren’t typically allowed to be as three-dimensional as men, and I’m here to change that. Quinn is a total bad boy, not in the rebellious way, but in certain immature and obnoxious ways – just like I feel like I was and many of my friends were. And why is it that men are always the ones stringing women along when that’s usually NOT how it is in adolescence? We’re the far more sketchy gender at that age!
TFR: Other than Quinn, my favorite character in Drain You is Whit. Something about the description of his room (Woody Allen poster, beat up typewriter, and worn out Converse sneakers) endeared him to me from right from the start. Do you have a favorite character in Drain You?
MBB: My favorite character is Morgan. I was the Morgan throughout junior high and high school. Sucks to be a Morgan! It’s like, James is the fantasy, Whit is the ideal, and Morgan is the hardcore reality. He’s the one you actually end up dating – which is a little disappointing but also a little fantastic because he’s sweet and attentive. And supportive and cool, c’mon!
TFR: Let's talk about the time period Drain You is set in. As a Gen X-er, reading this book was like a walk down memory lane. The music, the film, the fashion, the slang (my favorite being Libby calling Quinn's look crucial, YES!) all triggered some major nostalgia as I was reading. When you were writing Drain You did you always plan to set your story during that decade?
MBB: Always. That’s the decade when I was Quinn’s age, and it’s the time I most vividly remember hanging with friends, loving boys, fixating on myself and music and clothes and everything else I considered crucial. It’s not that we were more innocent in the 90s, it’s that we were more unaware – being cell phone-less, Facebook-less, in most cases computer-less! That’s the naivety I wanted to instill in Quinn; she’s cynical but not jaded, bold but not Twitter-happy…
TFR Speaking of music, some really awesome music is referenced in Drain You. Do you have a playlist you'd like to share?
MBB: The mid-90s were an amazing time for music across the genres. I love ’93-’94 hip hop like Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, Nas, Notorious B.I.G., and Tupac. In the alt-scene: Bikini Kill, Sonic Youth, Bratmobile, Pavement, Yo La Tengo, The Softies. And for dancing/romancing: Bjork, Portishead, Tricky, Dee Lite.
TFR: Drain You, like any recently published book that features vampires, has been compared to Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga. After reading your book, I read a blog post in which the reviewer said she wasn't sure if some of the similarities between the two works were intentional, coincidental or if Drain You wasn't actually a satirical take on the whole vampire craze that is so prevalent in YA lit today. That made me curious and I wondered how you might answer that question.
MBB: It’s a satire for sure. But not out of mocking or hatred or deep pessimism – out of love! As you remember, the 80s and 90s were an awesome time for vamps: The Lost Boys, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Near Dark, Interview With the Vampire, Bram Stoker’s Dracula… I’ve always been a huge fan. Lately though, with Twilight and other vampire books like it, we’ve come to see this area of supernatural as mainly emo/goth/dark/somber/high melodrama. It’s no longer funny, or better than funny – it’s no longer coy (dare I say “biting” haha) and tongue-in-cheek. Bella is her own thing, but she doesn’t need knock-offs or copycats. Other types of girls deserve the vampire experience and so do other types of readers.
TFR: Paranormal (vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc.,) dystopian and post apocalyptic themes are still really hot in today's YA lit. I personally like that more YA authors are starting to include historical fiction, science fiction and even horror in their work. Is there a particular genre you'd like to read more of in upcoming Young Adult literature?
MBB: I kind of miss just straight up YA literature like Girl by Blake Nelson or even Flowers in the Attic by VC Andrews (though I know people consider her a genre writer, since there are no wolves, vamps, ghosts, zombies, or mermaids in that one!). I wish YA authors were more experimental, a bit more avant-garde – that they tried approaches like Bret Easton Ellis or Lorrie Moore. I wish too there was more black comedy – smartness, pithiness, satire. I love Daniel Handler and think he handles that perfectly.
TFR: The conclusion of Drain You was very open ended. So, we all want to know...will there be a sequel? If not, do you have any other projects in the works?
MBB: I think a sequel would be dictated by how many people love the book and want to see more. I don’t have one planned now, though of course there are a few ideas of how I’d go forth (more Naomi butt-kicking for one!). I did just finish the first draft of my next book for HarperTeen about a group of eighth graders who find out one of their best friends is missing. And this one won’t be genre-specific so I hope it finds an audience of avid readers who don’t mind human-on-human interaction!
Seriously, how cool is she? Thanks so much Ms. Bloom! I totally agree with your take on unconventional female heroines and stereotypes in YA lit. And I love your thoughts on the vampire phenomena over the last three decades. Your film examples look like my personal dvd collection...:)
- 5 copies of Drain You signed by the author
- A $50 credit to Wasteland (Quinn's favorite store)
- Pages from Quinn's notebook
- 10 Drain You bookmarks made by Quinn
- (10) 90's mixtapes curated and created by Quinn.
to check out all the stops on the
Drain You Blog Tour!
Guys, Drain You is in stores NOW! Go check it out and then come back to the blog and tell me what you think of it!
About the Author:
Bloom's first short story “Love And Other Catastrophes: A Mix Tape” was featured in Story Quarterly and selected by Dave Eggers for inclusion in The Best American Nonrequired Reading: 2003 (Houghton-Mifflin), which he curates annually. Bloom is the founder of underground dance label 100% Silk (profiled here in LA Weekly) AND the producer/lead singer of the band LA Vampires (written up in The Guardian as well as Pitchfork and Fader). Her next book will be published through HarperTeen.
M. Beth lives on the east side of L.A. where she indulges in raw fooding, magazine subscribing, thrift shopping, Sunday matinee'ing, and ladies book clubbing.