About the Author:
·Libba Bray is the author of the 2010 Printz Award winning Going Bovine, and the acclaimed Gemma Doyle trilogy. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Author: Libba Bray
From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray comes the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island.
Teen beauty queens. A Lost-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to emall. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count. A Q&A between Author Libba Bray and... Libba Bray Q:
Hi Libba. I understand that today I have the opportunity to interview you. Er, me. Us? A:
Will this be on the test? Q:
God, I hope not. How about I’ll be “Q” and you’ll be “A.” A:
Sure. Figures you’d get to be the exotic, Scrabble-tastic letter. Mom always liked you best. Q:
So your new book, Beauty Queens
, is about a planeload of teen beauty queens who crash on a “deserted” island, which turns out to be the location of a rogue operation running a super-secret arms deal. Hijinks ensue. A:
Wow, that’s exactly what I
would’ve said. Q:
Admit it: This was your chance to scratch your James Bond itch.
Well, you may only live twice, but I’ve seen all the Bond movies about a dozen times. I like it when things blow up. If they can blow up with sequins, so much the better.
The book satirizes consumer culture, reality TV, politics, rom-coms, the beauty industry, and religion while exploring issues of gender, race, sexuality, beauty, and identity.
And things go ‘splodey. Don’t forget.
And things go ‘splodey. In more ways than one. What was the inspiration for this book?
I signed a contract, for starters. The less prosaic answer is that years ago over lunch, my editor David Levithan said, “A colleague and I came up with an idea and you have to write it: A plane carrying teen beauty pageant survivors crashes on an island. And...scene!” I thought it sounded like great, campy fun—a chance for a feminist take on Lord of the Flies
. The intervening years have seen some pretty profound and depressing setbacks for women, not just legislatively but in entertainment, too. We went from “Norma Rae” and “Mary Tyler Moore” to “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and “Bride Wars.” I was at the store, and even the product names suggested we were broken in some way—“repair” “correct” “age defying.” I think there was one product targeted for men and it had some really straightforward name like “Moisturizing Lotion. For Men.” No judgment just, “Oh, hey, you have dry skin? Here’s a product to help with that, dude.” The end.
Anyway, I kept coming back to Lord of the Flies. Golding paints a pretty grim picture of humanity. Without the trappings of civilization, the boys devolve into savagery. But for the girls in Beauty Queens, it’s almost the opposite: Without the expectations & pressures of civilization, they have the freedom to be themselves—or at least to start figuring out who they might be. Mint? Q:
You’re welcome. This is so Meta, isn’t it? Seems like James Franco should be here.
I’m starting to understand what people mean when they say you’re odd and a little annoying.
Harsh. I don’t treat you this way. Remember, I’m a delicate flower. You know, like the Venus Flytrap. Or Audrey II.
Moving on. I know you like to create a playlist for everything you write. What was on this one?
Oh. You know. (knowing wink)
Er, yes. I do. But maybe other people would like to know.
Oh. Sure. No problem. There were thirty-six songs, including: Beauty Queen/Roxy Music, Mystery Girl/The Yeah YeahYeahs, Guyana Punch/The Judys, Paper Planes/M.I.A., Diamonds Are Forever/Shirley Bassey, Porpoise Song (Theme from “Head”)/The Monkees, Teenage Dream/T-Rex. And of course, Ladybird by Nancy Sinatra in honor of Ladybird Hope, one of the many characters readers will meet in Beauty Queens.
Speaking of Ladybird Hope, presidential hopeful and the most famous Miss Teen Dream who ever lived, author of Get Scared, America!—any truth to the rumor that she bears a passing resemblance to a certain former governor from Alaska?
Sorry, I can’t answer that. I just put food in my mouth.
But... you’re typing these answers.
Hoo-kay...there are commercials for TV shows in the book, like “Pirates Bodacious IV: Badder and More Bodaciouser”, and products like Lady ‘Stache Off and Maxi-Pad Pets, the revolutionary fashion maxi-pad that makes you feel like you’ve got a special friend in your pants.
Were you drawing on your former life as an advertising copywriter?
No. I just really like writing about maxi-pads.
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