When I received the ARC of GOSSIP FROM THE GIRLS' ROOM by ROSE COOPER (Random House, 2011) I was intrigued by the comment "Diary of a Wimpy Kid for girls" tag that was added to it. But let me tell you something. Rose has written a book that stands on its own and will rise above the shadow of a wimpy kid and take life of its own. In fact it already has with several printings. This Blogtastic book is hilarious! The phrase "stink-haunted" had me laughing for days. Now that I am thinking about that word again I'm laughing. I really hope that boys will overlook the pink trimmings on the black cover and pick this book up and read it. Why? Because they will find a great deal of humor that is not just "girl-centric". I couldn't read the book fast enough and I had to speak with the author that had me laughing harder at times than Wimpy Kid did. So please join me for a very entertaining interview with one of my new heroes.
Can you tell me a bit of your background and what brought you to writing for children?
Rose Cooper: I was always obsessed with reading and writing and in 6th grade I proclaimed my career as a future author. I just had no idea it would be such a long and difficult journey. I did the typical kid stuff, entering story contests, attending young writers’ conferences, and sending out my first query when I was eleven. I declared myself as my own agent because, well, anyone can do that, right? After I grew up and figured out what a query really was and traded in the typewriter and white out for a computer, I started seriously querying agents. Although I had many close calls, it took me about ten stories, a bazillion queries, and six years before writing GOSSIP and landing my fabulous agent, Rosemary Stimola. I’ve just always had a passion for writing for children. That, and being in denial about growing up, has helped.
Your debut novel is hilarious. Was it intended to be a graphic novel? If not, when did that decision come about?
RC: Thanks! I did intend for it to be a graphic novel, I just never thought in a million years that the actual images would be done by me! As soon as I started the story, it became clear that the images would have to be incorporated into the text, so I drew these to get my idea across. It wasn’t until we got the offer from Random House that I realized they would be keeping the images.
What made you decide to tell this story first and how much of it is based on you (if any)?
RC: The inspiration for the story hit me like a suitcase of bricks. I was in Starbucks studying for my Business Law class and the restroom was in my direct line of vision. WHAM! Inspiration! Actually, my original title, “Bathroom Blog” is the first thing that came to mind. From there, I wrote the story. There is quite a bit of me in Sofia. I’ve always been dramatic, clumsy, and full of those “duh” moments. Middle Grade was the most difficult years for me and I was never one of the popular kids. I always had my nose stuck in a book and quietly watched (and laughed) from afar. Although I will deny that if you tell anyone!
I know the format of writing comic book/GN scripts, but If I wanted to write a graphic novel like Gossip can you tell me what the process is? Are you writing the manuscript and making notes of what images will go where along the way?
RC: When I queried my agent, I scanned my images and inserted into them into the word doc of my actual story, just so she could get the full idea of what I was trying to do. Once she requested the full, I converted it to a PDF file. There was never an actual format that I was aware of, so I really took a chance.
Writing the second book, Rumors, I had more of an idea of what to expect. I wrote the book first and inserted illustration notes along the way. The inserted notes are copyedited along with the rest of the manuscript. I then work with an in-house designer and send her all the images in a specific format. I get all the freedom when deciding on the images, although they can send any back to me for corrections (and they do!) if they aren’t consistent with the others, or small details I might have missed from one image to the next.
Is there any rumors you can spill about the sequel to Gossip (because I'm very anxious to read it)?
RC: Rumors from the Boys Room: A Blogtastic! Novel will be released Oct.11, 2011 (holy cow!) and you will see many familiar faces, as well as new ones. Sofia Becker swears to only blog about things that she hears from a totally trustworthy source---herself! Her locker just happens to be in her direct line of vision of the boy’s room (if she peeks around the corner) , so this gives her many opportunities to spy on the boys. Of course there’s no way she could possibly get that information mixed up, right? Thrown into the mix is a FES (foreign exchange student), a Popular Pretty who has the ability to use her hair as a weapon (or jump rope), and a dirty psycho kitty. I can’t really say much more than that, but it’s already available for pre-order! Am I allowed to do shameless promoting here?
Go ahead and be shameless! That's what we are here for. Please everyone, let's all join Rose and be shameless for a moment...
I was fascinated by the mention in your bio that you were raised around dead people, being a mortician's (step) daughter. Can you tell me what that was like and will there be any stories coming from that era? (I can only imagine with your humor what that would be like).
RC: If you asked me back then what it was like, I would tell you it was miserable. Awful. My life was ruined and totally over. We lived only feet away from the mortuary and the cemetery was our backyard. But looking back, I can see so much humor in it. Like riding in the back of a coroners van (with a dead body. And the toes touched me!) And being picked up from school in a hearse. Or when my step-dad jumped out of a coffin (unoccupied, of course) just trying to scare me. And we won’t even go into the things I witnessed in the embalming room!
RC: The first story I ever wrote and completed was based on all these experiences. It is a humor MG, being the new girl in a tiny town where the odds are already stacked against her. Then enter the dead body stuff. Unfortunately, my editor didn’t think this one would work for the market right now. BUT, there may be a book in the future dealing with the supernatural. And it just might also have the most awesome title ever! So be sure to visit my website often, like three times a day, to stay updated. (You said yes to the shameless promoting, right?)
Yes, we love shameless promoting. Here let me help you out. OKAY People, listen up! Go buy Rose's book and pre-order the other one. You won't be sorry!
If you were trapped inside a building during a zombie apocalypse and had only one book with you to read, what would it be and why?
RC: It would have to be, the book “How to escape a building and survive during a zombie apocalypse.” Just kidding! (Unless there really is a book called that?) I have so many favorites so this is tough. I would have to say Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. This was the first book I read that made me spit soda through my nose. So naturally, I’d want to get my mind off the Zombiness going on and maybe get a good laugh too. And assuming I’m trapped inside a mall, it was also be very appropriate.
Speaking of shopping, have I mentioned that you can pre-order RUMORS now?
Okay, I'm dying now for Rumors. Seriously, I would take a day off work to read it. I want to thank Rose for stopping by the Asylum and hanging with us. I also want to thank her for writing an awesome middle-grade book. A big thank you to Random House for the ARC. What a wonderful surprise it was. To learn more about Rose hope over to her blogtastic blog and enjoy - http://rosecooperwriter.blogspot.com/