Author Interview: Laura Ruby + Giveaway!

I'm so excited to announce my first author interview ever with Laura Ruby, the author of YA books Good Girls, Play Me, and Bad Apple. She currently lives in Chicago and writes a wide range of books, from adult to childrens, and you can check out more of her books over here. Today, I'm going to focus on one of her newest books, Bad Apple, and please read on for the awesome giveaway Laura has kindly provided at the bottom! :)

1. What three words would you use to describe Bad Apple (or, if you would like, your books in general)?

If I'm trying to choose adjectives for Bad Apple in particular, I'd say funny, quirky, and unique. If I had to choose adjectives for all my teen books, I'd say funny, edgy, and honest.

But if you're asking for a phrase, I'd say that all my teen books are about finding your voice. This is something I believe is particularly hard to do, especially when there's such a wall of noise blaring from every direction — the opinions of friends, family, even strangers blah blah blahing all over the Internet. How can you figure out what you think when nobody will ever shut up?

2. Would Bad Apple reflect your own attempt in self-discovery, especially during your own high school years?

Though I'm nothing like Tola — I was shy, can't draw to save my life, and not a troublemaker at all — I'd say Bad Apple does reflect some of what I was feeling when I was in high school. It felt to me that other people were always trying to define you FOR you, and it was so hard to contradict what they were saying (even when what they were saying was contradictory). It felt as if you were the last person on earth allowed to define yourself. There was always some other person slapping a label on you: you're a slut, you're a geek, you're a jock, you're goth, whatever. I felt hemmed in all the time, trapped. What if you don't want to be what everyone says you are?

3. On that note, how did you get the inspiration for the character that is Tola and why, in particular, did you choose to write about a teacher-student scandal?

I'd guess the initial inspiration for Tola came from my own blended family. I wrote the earliest pages of this manuscript back in 1994, after I was officially adopted by my stepdad, who'd raised me from when I was eight years old. I was already in my twenties at the time of the adoption, which was purely ceremonial at that point. I was interested in the way that the break-up and then re-making of families affecting the kids growing up in them. How fractured their lives could be, how jaded they appeared, and yet, how secretly romantic they were. (I was all of these things, myself).

So, when I was writing Tola, I was thinking about those things — fractured, jaded, and yet secretly romantic. Secretly hopeful. Hungry.

Over the years, when I was rewriting the manuscript, I realized I also wanted a main character who was chattier and more digressive than others I'd written. Not as nice and plainspoken as Audrey in Good Girls. Not as clear or forward as Eddie in Play Me. I get bored really easily, and I'm so nosy I want to try on as many voices as I possibly can. Tola's voice is weirder, more layered, and sarcastic than the narrators of my previous books. I like that about her.

4. Tola has a very unique view of life, she's very aware of other's conceptions about her and certain objects have fairly unusual symbolism to her. I also felt that the development of her relationship with Seven was unconventional in that they are two very different people. Would their relationship reflect your own high school dating experience at all? Or any special event that sticks out to you?

I think Tola is unconventional, and I think Seven is as well, but I think the way they come together, falling fast, is conventional in that you'll find this kind of pairing in lots and lots of fairy tales. You know, the prince gets one look at the princess — or vice versa — and they just know they're meant to be together.

As for it being anything like my own high school dating experiences, well...I can say that I fell hard and fast and often, but none of them led to any happily ever afters, and most didn't even lead to happily for a few minutes. I had to wait a bit for that.

5. What made you interested in writing, especially writing young adult novels?

I've always written stories and poems, from the time I could compose sentences and paragraphs. Like most writers, I'm a huge reader, always have been. My most powerful reading experiences came when I was young. I remember being able to disappear into books. I wouldn't even hear anyone talking to me as I read, I was so lost in the stories. I wanted to be able to give that experience to other young adults if I possibly could.

Other Questions:

6. If you had the chance to go back to high school and redefine yourself, what would your personality and appearance would be like?

Okay, my first, visceral response to this question: I wouldn't. Ever. I hate being told what to do.

My second, more rational response: If I could go back and change anything, I wouldn't want to change my personality or appearance so much. (Well, okay, I'd want all the lovely antifrizz hair products that are available now, and I would NEVER have bought those corduroy knickers in the 9th grade). What I would wish for my high school self is more courage. More daring. I loved acting in school plays and wish I'd been brave enough to do more of it outside of school. I loved writing and wish I'd been brave enough to finish all the pieces I started (it took me years before I could do that). And I really really wish I didn't waste so much time thinking about what other people thought of me.

Lol, corduroy knickers? Sounds like there's a story behind that. :)

Nope, no story, just very very bad judgment. I wore them once. If you believe it, knickers were all the rage for about five seconds back in the 80s.

7. If you could only pick one thing to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?


8. Favorite:
TV show? Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance
Book? Adult: Pride & Prejudice. YA: Speak
(That's this second, however. Ask me in a few minutes and I'll have entirely different ones).
Hobby? Running.
Place to write? My office, with the cats sprawled across my desk.
Vacation destination? Coronado Island.
Way to annoy others? Pontificating. Or sarcasm. Pontificating sarcastically?

9. Hm, I think that's about it. Do you have any upcoming works we should know about?

I'm working on a bunch of things — a sort-of-but-not-really YA romance, a teen thriller, a middle grade mystery, even a horror novel. I'll just have to wait and see which of them I finish first. : )

10. And is there anything else you would like add?

Thanks, Jenn, for taking the time to read my books, and to interview me. It's been fun!

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Wow, I just realized that I asked what seems like a lot of questions, but Laura gave great responses to all of them! And a huge "thank you" goes toward Laura for making my first interview an awesome experience, and just for being an awesome person in general. She's super nice, witty, and a great writer, so please go check her out! You can read more about her at her website,

And, for my readers, thank you for listening in and look for more interviews in the future!


Laura, being the amazing person she is, is providing ONE copy of Bad Apple to give away to a lucky winner, and it's INTERNATIONAL.

To enter:
Fill out this form.

Extra entry link: Review of Bad Apple here.

Contest Ends: December 11, 11:59 EST (time converter here)