As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

October 5, 2010

Interview with Leila Sales, Author and Assistant Editor

Interviewed by Amy Finnegan

When we first started asking people to review their favorite books for Bookshop Talk, I turned to one of the best editors in the publishing business - Joy Peskin, Executive Editor at Viking - because I knew we could definitely count on her recommendations. After all, Joy works with some of the most prolific and powerful writers on the planet (Laurie Halse Anderson, for example).

And what was the first book that Joy felt the world just had to know about? MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS, by debut author Leila Sales. Piqued by wild curiosity, I pre-ordered the book right away, and also contacted the author to ask for an interview. So without further delay, we're excited to introduce our readers at Bookshop Talk to Leila Sales:

Bookshop Talk: Since your day job is working as an Assistant Editor at a major publishing house, and your nights must be filled with writing, I'm curious about what drew you to a lifestyle surrounded by books.

Leila Sales: I love books and I have always loved books. I love thinking about characters and stories and themes and how to improve them. I'm not a person with a lot of practical knowledge about the world, so children's literature is the only topic on which I can even begin to claim expertise.

I grew up in a household surrounded by books, and I became a total bookworm before I was five years old. This was not, by the way, considered "cool" in middle school. The fact that I read one Babysitters Club book per day in sixth grade did not, for some reason, win me many friends. But then I went to a high school that sincerely valued books and learning, and a college (the University of Chicago) where your book knowledge was pretty directly correlated with your social cache. And after I graduated, I started looking for jobs in publishing. I never seriously considered doing anything else.

The one downside to my love of stories is that I'm very bad at distinguishing between fiction and reality. This is why I can't watch scary movies or read extremely sad books. I can't convince myself that they're not real!

BT: Your first novel, MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS, was officially released by Simon Pulse today. What inspired you to write a novel about the evolving relationship of two best friends?

LS: A lot of YA novels and movies and TV shows are about romantic relationships. That's interesting, and something I enjoy writing about, too, but for this book I wanted to explore something different. My most valuable relationships have always been those with my closest friends. Like the characters in MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS, I went to an all-girls prep school. In high school, I didn't know any boys, so I didn't want to always read about girls having crushes and getting dates and going to second base. I'd read Seventeen and wonder, "Who are these girls?" I mean, there are crushes and boyfriends in Mostly Good Girls, too, but the foundation of the story is really Violet and Katie's relationship, and how they define themselves in relation to each other.

BT: Do you have any other novels in the works?

LS: My next novel is scheduled to come out in Fall 2011. It's about a girl who's a Colonial reenactor. And she falls for a guy who's a Civil War reenactor. Only they can't be together. Because they "come from different times." It should be really funny and poignant and many other positive adjectives, only I can't say exactly which ones yet, since I'm still writing it.

BT: What are some of your all-time favorite books?

LS: Unsurprisingly, I have a lot. I love Kay Thompson's Eloise and A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh; in fact, I use an epigraph about Pooh to open Mostly Good Girls. I've read Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess an insane number of times. My all-time favorite writer is Dave Barry. He is a genius. I can honestly say that I don't think I'd be a humor writer today, were it not for Dave Barry. I could keep going on, but I'll stop myself there!

Thanks for joining us, Leila!

Readers, you can get your own copy of MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS at a local bookstore or library. Or find it on Amazon:  Mostly Good Girls (hardcover) Mostly Good Girls (kindle)

Mostly Good Girls
The higher you aim, the farther you fall…. It’s Violet’s junior year at the Westfield School. She thought she’d be focusing on getting straight As, editing the lit mag, and figuring out how to talk to boys without choking on her own saliva. Instead, she’s just trying to hold it together in the face of cutthroat academics, her crush’s new girlfriend, and the sense that things are going irreversibly wrong with her best friend, Katie. When Katie starts making choices that Violet can’t even begin to fathom, Violet has no idea how to set things right between them. Westfield girls are trained for success—but how can Violet keep her junior year from being one huge epic failure?

You can also read a glowing review of MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS, here: Joy Peskin's Review on Bookshop Talk

Extra Gush: Leila has a really funny blog that chronicles the unintentional text messages she gets because of a glitch in the Verizon network. And I'll admit, I find it rather entertaining to eavesdrop on the text messages of strangers. See for yourself:

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