Cora Carmack On The Awkward, Lovable Heroine Of Losing It

If you hadn't already heard, "New Adult" is the latest genre craze sweeping the publishing industry. Featuring slightly older protagonists than the ones you find in traditional YA stories, new adult heroes and heroines are usually college-aged, ranging from 19 to 21. You can check out our feature on the genre in the February 2013 issue of RT, but in the meantime we decided to ask New Adult author Cora Carmack to learn more about her latest release, Losing It. Bliss Edwards is a senior in college and still has her virginity, but not for long! Bliss is determined to lose it, and spots the perfect guy to help her. But her nerves get the best of her and she leaves the stranger alone in her bed — only to discover that he's her new theater professor! The author shares what made writing this awkward heroine so fun, and how she can relate:

We’ve all been that person.

Tripping in the lunchroom. Walking in on someone in the bathroom. Thinking a guy is checking you out, when he’s totally checking out the girl behind you.

These things happen. They are the awkward facts of life. I’ve been there… A LOT.

And these are the moments about which I love to write! When I think back on my life, I remember the really good moments (like selling my book to Harper Collins), the really bad moments, and the really mortifying. Everything else fades into the background.

As a reader, I feel like I’ve read plenty of books about the good and the bad, but only a few (especially in the romance genre) that embrace the awkward side of life. I had a writing teacher once tell me not to spare or protect my characters when they were in dangerous situations. This is a familiar piece of advice to writers, but I think we’ve been unconsciously sparing our characters from the embarrassing parts of life because we want our characters to be attractive and talented and appealing. As people, we’re trained to hide the awkward parts of ourselves to look better in front of others, but I think we’re flattening our characters when we save them the embarrassment.

When I started writing Losing It, all this was in the back of my mind. I wanted to write a book that was funny and honest and did things that other writers weren’t doing. In terms of the “New Adult” market, most of the books out there are dark and angst-y and can be emotionally draining reads. I enjoy these kinds of books. Most of the writing I did before Losing It was this kind of writing. But for whatever reason, back in June, I made a radically different decision.

I decided to write a book about the kind of funny girl that is traditionally the best friend or the sidekick. I wanted her to be quirky and ridiculous and awkward. I wanted her to be a lot like I was in college. I wanted to laugh while I was writing, and I wanted my readers to laugh, too. I wanted readers to laugh not just at jokes but through the good moments and the bad. Laughter can go a long way to helping people get through some really difficult situations. In my life I’ve been surprised at how even in the midst of terrible tragedy or extreme fear, humor always finds a way in.

At the moment, every other book idea I’m writing or planning involves some element of awkward goodness. Some writers torture their characters, piling on one unfortunate event after another. I prefer to embarrass mine. I love writing this way because I think it’s something to which all readers can relate. Most readers haven’t been in near death situations or interacted with a paranormal creature, but they’ve all been embarrassed. We can all look back on an uncomfortable situation, and wish we’d handled it differently or that things had gone better. In Losing It, I got to write about a situation where something good comes out of something awkward.

I can only hope my readers enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

And now, for reading my post, I shall reward you all with an embarrassing moment of my own:

When I was a teenager (and ripped jeans had just gotten really popular again), I was at a drive-in movie (these still exist? I know! I was surprised, too). I was with a big group of friends, one of whom I had a MASSIVE crush on. Said crush announced he was going to go grab some food from the concession stand, and I rushed to volunteer to join him. It was dark outside, and we were parked toward the back of the theater. I was sitting in the bed of a pick-up, and I slid forward and out of the truck quickly. One of the holes in my jeans got caught on something, so that when I jumped, they ripped. And I must have put a lot of power into that jump (or had really cheap jeans) because it wasn’t just a little rip, oh no. The rip spanned from one seam to the other across the back of my leg about an inch below my bum, so I had a gaping hole that revealed the back of my bare thigh and probably the edge of my underwear (I didn’t really stop to find out). I think we were only ten minutes into the movie. Let’s just say it was a long night, and sadly that crush led nowhere. I’m not as lucky as my characters.

Thanks to the RT Blog for hosting me, and happy reading everyone!

- Cora Cormack

Have you read any New Adult books? Let us know in the comments. And you can download a copy of Losing It, available from digital retailers now! Find more genre news and coverage on our Everything Young Adult Page!