Joanna Philbin Answers Questions About Her New Y.A. Series
Morgan Doremus: Lizzie is the daughter of a famous supermodel. Did your own experience with a famous family affect the way that you wrote about Lizzie’s story? Did you have similar experiences while growing up?
Joanna Philbin: Yes, definitely! While I didn't grow up the daughter of a supermodel in celebrity-crazed 2010, I did have lots of Lizzie-esque moments. People recognized my dad in stores, came up to us in restaurants, or stared at us walking down the street. And being a normal, self-conscious teenage girl, I would always want to disappear into thin air. If I ever went to an event with them where there were cameras, I would kind of dive into the sidelines and only emerge when the picture-taking was over. So I used a lot of those memories when I was writing Lizzie's story. She knows that her mom will always get an enormous amount of attention when they leave the house, but she's not quite clear how she's supposed to deal with it.
MD: Many of the story’s older readers have said that they felt Lizzie and her friends seem to be older than fourteen. What do you think it is about being in the spotlight that makes kids grow up faster?
JP: I don't know. I'm not sure that I grew up "faster" than anyone else. But I do know that I was very attuned at an early age to other people's perceptions of me. I could tell right away, at summer camp, for example, if the other kids thought I was going to be some kind of snob. And I would do everything I could to let other kids know that I wasn't. I think that constant awareness made me a bit different from my friends.
MD: RT Reviewer Lauren Spielberg said The Daughters asks questions "that even those of us who weren’t raised in the lap of luxury can find relatable." Did you think a lot about your audience (or various audiences) as you were writing? Why do you feel so many readers are able to see themselves in your characters?
JP: It was very important to me that people could relate to these girls. But I also knew as I was writing that these girls were dealing with universal questions. "Who am I?" "Will I ever be my own person, or will people always see someone, or something, else when they look at me?" "Will I ever be okay with who I am, inside and out?î Everyone asks themselves these things at some point, especially during the teen years. And I think that's what people are responding to.
MD: Lizzie’s on-again-off-again love interest Todd has just re-joined her class, did you always know where their relationship was going to end up?
JP: I don’t want to give anything away to someone who might not have read the book, so absolutely is all I’ll say to that!
MD: When an embarrassing moment of Lizzie’s is caught and put on YouTube, she and her mother have a huge fight. What’s a piece of advice you’d give to someone in Lizzie’s situation?
JP: I suppose the only thing I could possibly tell someone in that situation is, "Don't worry, people will be talking about some other scandalous thing on the web by this time tomorrow!"
MD: What are aspects of Carina and Hudson’s stories that you are looking forward to writing?
JP: I loved writing Carina’s story. It's called The Daughters Break the Rules and it comes out in November. Carina gets herself into a scrape with her billionaire dad who retaliates by cutting her off. Hudson’s book will come out in May of 2011, and I’m finishing it now. She's the Daughter who's the closest to becoming a star in her own right, and that’s been a very satisfying story to write.
MD: TWIST, the ‘tween magazine, called your novel "first up" for their beach reads this summer. What is your favorite beach read?
JP: There are really too many to count, but if I had to pick my favorite beach read of all time, it would have to be The Thorn Birds. I read it when I was sixteen, and I still look for a book like it every summer. Father Ralph! Meggie! Even the miniseries is amazing.