Lauren Myracle on the Importance of Love, the Difficulty of Growing Up Today and Why Olives are Evil
Lauren Myracle has long been a go-to author for teens. With her honest portrayals of growing up and the ups-and-downs of teen relationships, Lauren's unique voice has won over tons of readers. Now, with this month's The Infinite Moment of Us, she's ready to take readers on another whirlwind of a story as people pleaser Wren graduates from high school and collides with Charlie Parker, a boy who doesn't think he's good enough for a girl like Wren. Today, Lauren's here with us reminisce about her own teen years and the challenges teens — both fictional and real — face today.
What were you like as a teenager? How were you similar and different from Wren?
I was very much a Good Girl … that is, up until my senior year of high school. At that point, I fell deeply and madly into crush with a musician (oh no! run! run!), and I tried to impress him by being a wild child. It wasn't a great fit. The urge (and the confidence) to be counter-culture and subversive stuck with me, however, even if the leaning toward bad decisions didn't. Maybe that's why I'm not afraid to write about certain topics that other authors feel wary of exploring?
Wren receives a lot of outside pressures and expectations that differ from her own. Did you experience the same thing? If so, how did you deal with the stress of trying to please everyone?
Hee hee. I love the fact that you used past tense to ask this question! How "did" I deal with the stress? How DO I deal with the stress of trying to please everyone is more like it! Well, I drink. A lot. Kidding! (Although I do love a good margarita.) Let's see, basically I've created a short list of friends and family for whom I will do anything, including dying or eating an evil olive. (I *detest* olives. Vile nasty things!) If someone on that short list needs me? I'm there. Otherwise, I smile like the good southern girl I am and say the equivalent of, “I'm so sorry, but I do my donating through the Red Cross. Thanks for asking, though. And good luck!”
Do you feel that teens today face these same social and academic expectations to succeed from their parents?
Absolutely — if not to an even greater extent! Holy moly, y'all have heard how hard college is to get into these days, right? IT IS A NEW A TRICKY WORLD WHEN IT COMES TO SUCH THINGS! Add in helicopter moms and dads … and IB programs … and all the sports/plays/charitable outreaches these kids are expected to do … sheesh. We should all hug every teen we see and say, “Oh, sweetie, oh! You *will* make it. You will. And be kind to yourself! Failing is OKAY!”
Did you ever experience a whirlwind and intense relationship like Wren and Charlie's?
Hahahaha. Umm. Yes. I'm in it right now — I'm newly divorced, you see, and newly in love. And talk about a second adolescence! The highest highs and the lowest lows, that's what I'm experiencing all over again. I channeled ALL of that as I wrote about Wren and Charlie. (And, yes, the yummy physical parts too!)
What would you want Teen Lauren to know now?
Teen Lauren, listen up: please, start practicing yoga. It will keep you sane. Don't do drugs; they're a bad road to nowhere. Steve Chapman is a BAD EGG. Do not go there. And always, always value a good heart over a good chest/ass/set of rippling muscles. It's the heart that matters. With your heart, you can love long and well.
Do you think everything had to happen for things to turn out as they are now?
Well … no. I am not a determinist in that sort of way. I think that everything DID happen the way it did, and therefore things DID turn out the way they are now, and with that in mind, I do subscribe to the idea that regret over bad choices is useful only so far as you can learn from it. The joy in my life that sprang from past decisions will always give me sustenance, on the other hand. Also, let's all be gentle with ourselves, shall we? Life is a huge, constantly shifting tapestry of joy and heartbreak, pleasure and pain. Let's open ourselves to it and embrace it, come what may. And let's ALWAYS bring others along for the ride — but only in a good way!
What is one piece of advice you'd like to share with your teen readers?
Grown-ups always say, "Be true to yourselves," and yeah, sure, do that. But what if you don't yet know who your true self is yet? That's all right, too. I sure didn't. I *did* know, however, when I strayed from my core values … because my gut told me so. So I guess I'd say: Listen to your inner self. You are wise. You are a child of the world, a child of God, a child of the mystery of life. Life is based on love, I think, and love — the true, unselfish, authentic sort — will never lead you wrong. So, be true to love, how about that? And smile and laugh and play as much as you can!
We're pretty sure you're going to want to pick up The Infinite Moment of Us, available in stores and online now. And for more YA book news, check out our Everything Young Adult page!