Jodi Lipper and I write the Hot Chick Book Series together (How to Love Like a Hot Chick, How to Eat Like a Hot Chick, and Live Like a Hot Chick), which make women laugh while empowering them to live their very best lives. Our next book together will be about nurturing and creating beautiful female friendships, but Jodi's newly released new adult novel is a naughty, sexy, and smart look at the other side of these friendships. In Fresh Women, the two college-aged protagonists compete for their professor's attention and stab each other in the back, but ultimately share an intimate bond that cannot be ignored. I loved Fresh Women. It made me want to go back to college and re-live my heyday -- the crazy, messy, and most fun part of any woman's life. Jodi and I sat down for an interview so I could find out more of the dirt behind the writing of Fresh Women.
How did you come up with the title Fresh Women?
I loved the fact that there are many different meanings and plays on words within the title, Fresh Women. I think all writers have certain words they love and hate, and I love the word fresh. It can have opposing meanings and in the case of the tittle, it represents the opposition between the novel's main characters. Most people will probably look at the cover and assume the title refers to women being fresh meaning nasty and impudent, and that's certainly true. But it also references how raw, innocent, and pure other characters are. Finally, Fresh Women is a wink to my fellow women's college graduates. At Barnard, we were told not to refer to ourselves as freshmen because we weren't men. The term we used instead was First Years, but sometimes we used Fresh Women in jest. When I started writing this book, Fresh Women captured everything I wanted to convey in a title and I never considered using anything else.
Why did you choose Barnard College as your setting for Fresh Women?
I chose Barnard because I found my time there as a student to be so fascinating. One thing that I felt was a unique part of being at a women's college is the super intense friendships that spring up between girlfriends. As Lena Dunham famously wrote in Girls, "A friendship between college girls is grander and more dramatic than any romance," and I'd argue that this is especially true at a women's college. Without men around to focus and obsess over, girls turn to each other to fill many more roles than in a typical female friendship. The result always seemed to me to be friendships that were more intense and volatile than they needed to be. But I'm not judging! It's only natural for the young women who are thrust together while transforming into adults to form intense, intimate connections that are naturally the genesis of great stories. And it was fun to use my imagination to make these relationships even more scandalous and dramatic on the page than they are in real life.
You've also written several books as a ghostwriter. What's that like?
I love the process of ghostwriting, mostly because it involves such close collaboration. Writing can be a lonely process, but when you're working with an author on his or her book, it's a lovely partnership instead of a solitary endeavor! Ghostwriting also allows me to step into another author's shoes for a few months and learn from them while helping them share their story and expertise with the rest of the world. It is rewarding and challenging to capture an author's unique voice and translate it into an actual book.
Why did you decide to start writing fiction now?
I strongly believe that as a writer it's crucial to be diverse. It's one thing if you're an established entity who's selling a billion thrillers a year or what have you, but as a non-fiction writer, I had to diversify. My expertise is in writing in general, not in one style of writing or one particular subject. After reading the Hot Chick books, some people are surprised to hear that I've written serious non-fiction as a ghostwriter, but that's silly and judgmental. I've written everything from grant proposals for Ivy League colleges to speeches for corporate CEOs. A good writer can write anything, and fiction was simply the next way to challenge and push myself. It's a way of expressing a different side of myself. I have no intention of giving up ghostwriting, either. Part of what I love about writing is the opportunity to keep trying something new, challenging, and exciting!
What do you enjoy reading?
My tastes as a reader are just as diverse as they are as a writer! I love all types of fiction, from literary fiction to chick lit to romance. In non-fiction, I especially love memoirs and books that inspire and motivate me to push harder and do better!
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