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Author Interview - Sarah Strohmeyer + Giveaway

Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Today, I'm interviewing with Sarah Strohmeyer about her debut YA novel Smart Girls Get What They Want. I adore her book and am really excited to be sharing more of it with you!


Gigi, Bea, and Neerja are best friends and total overachievers. Even if they aren’t the most popular girls in school, they aren’t too worried. They know their real lives will begin once they get to their Ivy League colleges. There will be ivy, and there will be cute guys in the libraries (hopefully with English accents)! But when an unexpected event shows them they’re missing out on the full high school experience, it’s time to come out of the honors lounge and into the spotlight. They make a pact: They will each take on their greatest challenge—and they will totally rock it.

Gigi decides to run for student rep, but she’ll have to get over her fear of public speaking—and go head-to-head with gorgeous California Will. Bea used to be one of the best skiers around, until she was derailed. It could be time for her to take the plunge again. And Neerja loves the drama club but always stayed behind the scenes—until now.

Author Bio

Sarah Strohmeyer is the award-winning, nationally bestselling author of fifteen novels one of which, The Cinderella Pact, became a Lifetime Movie, Lying to Be Perfect. Her books have been translated into German, French, Italian, Turkish, Taiwanese and a bunch of others. Smart Girls Get What They Want is her first young adult novel.


These friends are determined to show that smart girls get what they want—but that could mean getting way more attention than they ever bargained for... I saw in your Amazon profile that you began your writing career by placing Barbie in various contemporary and historical settings. Could you tell us more about this?
The book was called Barbie Unbound: A Parody of the Barbie Obsession. (I think there are still a few used copies on eBay or Amazon.) It was a bizarre hit and I wrote it during my wild post partum depression when we a) moved 2 days before my son Sam was born and b) to the backwoods of Vermont populated by hippie mothers who refused to let their daughters play with Barbies and c) while my husband was studying for the bar exam. In the fall during the shortest days of the year. Finally, after a mother kept asking my four-year-old daughter (now a senior at Bryn Mawr) to put away her Barbie because they were sexist, I got this idea for a book placing Barbie in 40 historical, literary and contemporary poses. With photos. Each one was written like a science lab. (Seriously, I was insane.) We had Barbie d'Arc and Barbie Plath (own oven,) Teenage Pregnant Barbie on and on. It was sick. And so much fun! And, surprisingly, we didn't get sued though Mattel was NOT happy. I ended up on national TV, blah, blah, but that mother NEVER spoke to me again.

Wow. You really made an impact in literature with your debut, and now the smart girls have  made a stand in YA lit. Smart Girls Get What They Want is your first YA novel. What made you decide to explore the YA genre after thirteen books?
Actually, an editor at Harper Collins came to me. She'd read The Cinderella Pact and The Sleeping Beauty Proposal, two popular books of mine that are light and humorous. (To be honest, none of my stuff is deep and meaningful. I have, like, a 115 IQ.) She suggested to my agent that I write YA and since I happened to have a teenage daughter (the Barbie kid) who was reading tons of Meg Cabot and Sarah Dessen at the time, I was familiar with the literature. Of course, since then I've read a lot more and I'm totally intimidated. YA is so quick and honest and real. Much more interesting than adult fiction. But I digress.

I'm delighted that the Harper Collins editor invited you to write YA. You have a refreshing style and voice that's really suitable for the genre. How did you come up with the idea for Smart Girls
Why Smart Girls? Because I'd been a smart girl in high school and so was my daughter and her friends and they were going through the same experiences I'd endured. They were smart and pretty and confident and, yet, they were "isolated." Does that make sense? And it wasn't necessarily the other kids who were isolating them. They were isolating themselves. And I thought, goddammit, enough of this. Smart girls should get everything they want....And, so, a book was born!

It does make sense. I can entirely relate to your smart girls! I was the person always sitting quietly at my desk doing homework and reading, yet always secretly hoping someone would come up and talk to me. Since then, like Gigi and her friends, I've learned to open up more. I saw on your post on why you wrote Smart Girls that you didn't want clichés. With this in mind, how did you go about developing your characters?
I thought back to my friends and I thought about my daughter's friends and I kind of mushed them together. I have yet to meet a smart girl who is a shy ugly duckling who, with the aid of contacts and the right hair product, emerges from her shell. It was easy to avoid the clichés.

Same here. I think that story's more Cinderella. Gigi initially goes after the seemingly smart guy yet finds herself drawn to someone else as she learns more about him. Where did this come from?
Actually, one relationship was inspired by a real-life relationship in high school. (Not mine.) It was between the smartest girl in our calculus class and the "dumbest jock" who somehow got in. Turned out, the "dumb jock" wasn't so dumb after all. He ended up going to Penn. On the other hand, Will was inspired by a guy I met during an Andover Summer Session who is now Very Big in TV news. He's a book all by himself. Needless to say, I don't think we got along. However, he was the one and only person I've ever met who truly had a photographic memory. Give him a page to read. He'd read it and spit it back verbatim. Harvard College. Rhodes Scholar. Interesting dude.

I love how one story can inspire another. Gigi's relationship with Mike and Will was wonderfully written and believable. After their experiences sophomore year, what advice would Gigi, Bea, and Neerja give smart girls?
Well, they'll be juniors and that's a tough year. It's the most important year of high school. I think pacing yourself, keeping it all in perspective and not getting freaked out by what other people are doing vis a vis college are key. And if you do screw up junior year, think of a good explanation for your applications. Schools understand. You're teenagers. You're supposed to mess up. The bottom line is...your life is not going to be made or broken junior year. It just gets more interesting. Love yourself!

That's great advice! Which smart girl in the book do you relate with the most?
Probably a mixture of GiGi and Bea. I wish I'd had Neerja's family, though. Very supportive.

Can readers expect more from you in the YA genre? What are you working on now?
In fact, my manuscript is due in exactly 24 hours. (I hope this excuses my crazy answers.) I'll have another book coming out from Balzer + Bray at HarperCollins next summer, but I don't think I can say anything about the title or cover. (Fantastic!) Not yet.

I'm super excited to hear that. I will definitely be on the watch for news on your next YA book!





Sarah Strohmeyer has offered a signed copy of Smart Girls Get What They Want to one lucky U.S. winner. The giveaway is open through July 31th.

To enter, follow Imaginary Reads and leave a meaningful comment on the interview. Extra entries for tweeting about the giveaway and commenting on my review of Smart Girls Get What They Want. Then fill out the form below. Do not include your email in the comments section.

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37 comments on "Author Interview - Sarah Strohmeyer + Giveaway"
  1. I found the entire Barbie thing hilarious. When I kid I use to love playing with Barbie's. I've seen the Cinderella Pact (Lying To Be Perfect Lifetime Movie). Thank you for the giveaway.

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  2. Awesome interview! Smart Girls Get What They Want sounds really good! Thanks for the chance to win!

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  3. Really liked the interview! and I totally relate to how smart girls are marginalized! How awesome that this books makes us all feel better and represents our high school experience:)

    Thanks so much:)

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  4. Well, the girls kinda sound like me a bit. I'm not totally isolated at school, only a little. And if one of the girls' stories is like Cinderella, I will love it. :D Thank you for the interview. :D

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  5. Thanks so much for the interview, Kris! It was a lot of fun. Let me just say that this book is NOT meant to be a true reflection of nerdy school life. I wrote it more as fantasy for what I would have wished had happened when I was 16. If only I had a time machine!

    Stay dry over there in the UK!

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  6. Loved the interview! Putting Barbie in different settings was hilarious! Thanks for the interview!

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  7. Great interview!! Wow... Barbie in different settings... unique but strange idea! :)
    I just read this book (yesterday) and I can totally relate to the book. I am also the *smart girl.* Amazing book!!
    I cannot wait for her next YA book and thanks for the giveaway (:

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    1. Thanks...what the "smart girls" think is most important to me!

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  8. KRIS: Maybe I should throw in a free copy of BARBIE UNBOUND: A PARODY OF THE BARBIE OBSESSION with a copy of SMART GIRLS for the giveaway?

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    1. That would be cool. There seems to be a Barbie obsession going around now! Should I add that in?

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  9. Wow, the Barbie thing she did sounds interesting...I love getting to know authors through interviews like this. You find out things you would never have known from just reading the back cover of the book! Thanks for the interview and giveaway. =)
    ~Shelby
    www.gobsandgobsofbooks.blogspot.com

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  10. omg I would totally love to read The Barbie book! Sounds amazing :)

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  11. This interview was awesome! I love how you said the smart girl with the "dumb" jock.
    -JennyC

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  12. I love the review and interview. I really want to read this book.

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  13. I think that is why I love contemporary YA so much, because it's quick, honest and almost always easy to relate to. Great interview!

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  14. This book looks great and now thanks to your interview I want to check out the cinderella pact as well!

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  15. Is it weird that now I kinda want the Barbie book? Picturing Barbies in all those scenes is very amusing and now I really need to see Barbie as Sylvia Plath with her head in the oven :P I might have actually laughed one of those bahahaha laughs at that. I've read most all of your adult books,(I love me some bubbles) so of course I have to try out your YA. I haven't read it yet, but am most definitely going to have to go check it out. It sounds a lot like what my friends and I were like in high school. It was my BFF who was with the not so dumb jock and I was the drama wannabe (except I never had trouble being on stage). Yep we were awesome : ) Thanks for the great interview!!

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  16. EEP! Totally can't wait to read this one. Sarah sounds amazing and I'm pretty sure her writing is as well. Great interview and thanks for the amazing giveaway! :D

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  17. WOW! I have heard of people playing school, doctor, or dress up with barbies but I never would of thought of coming up with book ideas from them! My daughters still have huge buckets full of barbie...maybe we should hold on to them. They may need them for inspriation some day!

    Thanks so much!

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  18. Thanks for the awesome interview and giveaway! This book sounds fantastic! ♥

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  19. Awesome interview and giveaway. And I love the idea of this book, its unique and the Cinderella thing sounds wonderful as well.

    Thanks

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  20. That's great that you were able to mix your own experiences with your daughter's to create the story.

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  21. I love her inspiration for the book and its title! Smart girls should get what we want. Like her and her daughters, I'm inadvertently isolated. I can't wait to read this!

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  22. I loved this! I need to get my hands on that Barbie book, what a fun read that must be! I feel a little sad for the child of the mother who wanted your daughter to put away her barbie. I can't imagine being a young kid (4!) and not being able to play with a simple toy because of a parent's insecurities as a person. I am really looking forward to reading Smart Girls, it sounds like an incredible read :)

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  23. I'm so excited for this book. Contemporary is my favorite genre! The Barbie thing was shocking. I LOVED Barbie growing up and now I collect a few of them. Crazy and sad.

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  24. I think this book would be so awesome.
    I so love the title as well ^.^v

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  25. Great interview. I like the concept of this book!
    I know I'm a bit of an overacheiver myself XD

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  26. I'm definitely intrigued by this Barbie book!! This sounds like such a fun read.

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  27. I love that this idea is based off some actually real life relationship, there was something of the same that happened in my high school everyone thought the girl was slacker but while the rest of us were scraping by in algebra she was taking advance physics and her boyfriend was in the honor society. Thanks for the chance at this great giveaway!

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  28. This cover looks amazing. I kept seeing this cover on Goodreads and the cover did look pretty and I never really payed much attention to it. I saw it here and I though I would find out what it was about and I have to say after reading the post the book does sound pretty interesting :D

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  29. I want to read this Barbie book! It sounds great! And I've met people who act like Barbies are sexist, I played with them when I was a kid, and I turned out just fine I believe. I mean, come on people, it's a doll! lol

    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  30. Just the title Barbie Unbound: A Parody of the Barbie Obsession is hilarious! Thanks for stopping by!

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  31. What a super smart interview! This book looks so cute haha! Love getting the inside scoop from authors! Thanks for hosting Kris!

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  32. Barbie Unbound: A Parody of the Barbie Obsession was genius! Truly enjoyed your take on this & the entire interview. I agree, it would be fantabuous if you threw a copy in. Thanks for a terrific giveaway!

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  33. *facepalm* I totally put in the wrong tweet link. So SORRY!!!

    https://twitter.com/deadtossedwaves/status/228618529535037440

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  34. loved the interview and this books sounds like it would be a funny one

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  35. This sounds like a fantastic book. I agree, smart girls SHOULD get everything they want!

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