Ladies and Gents! Allow me to introduce you to the lovely Lisa Clark, author of “Think Pink”.
Lisa Clark is a freelance writer, youth market consultant and Mizz magazine’s life coach. Having always lived her life with a distinctly girly hue, Lisa thinks seeing the world through a very cool pair of oversized, pink-tinted shades is a more than do-able way to live life, and is obsessed with Hollywood starlets, all things pink and slinky-hipped dream boys. As always don’t forget to check out her website: Pink World
And now over to the lovely Lisa to answer some of your questions!
How did you get started in the industry, and what first steps should someone take, who wants to write freelance or their first book?
Writing books and freelancing is all about ideas, persistence and perseverance - I write freelance for many of the teen titles here in the UK but I'm only as good as my next pitch, so for me, it's all about the ideas. I made a lot of contacts just by checking the mastheads of my favourite magazines and emailing the features editor. I then made a real effort to maintain contact with them all - not in a stalker-girl way, well...maybe a little... I'd send feature ideas all the time hoping one of them would stick, I'd ask advice, then eventually a fab teen magazine called J17 took me on as an intern and the rest, as they say, is history!
Book wise, write a killer proposal. Obviously, it helps to have a great idea but unless you can get someone to love it as much as you, it ain't gonna happen!
What should one do as far as promotion, once they've broken in?
Geez, this is a toughie... as this is my first book, I'm still learning but I do know that you have to be a bit of a book pimp and not afraid to toot your own horn - especially if it's your first book and your publisher doesn't have a huge-ass, Harry Potter style budget. A website/blog is an essential although, a blog is totally addictive and can hoover-suck your time, but it's a great way to build an audience, and will give them a you-fix between books.
What does she feel are good, authentic, accessible sources for YA fiction writers to be able to understand the teenage mind best? E.g., is Cosmo Girl really worthwhile reading? Any non-fic books (sounds like yours might be a good one to pick up!)?
Going back to the horn tootin', my book, "Think Pink" is a great insight for getting an idea of what's going on for teens right now, as well as the fabulous-o accompanying website: www.pink-world.co.uk that has contributions not only from the author, but from readers too! Reading the material your audience reads definitely helps and visiting the sites they visit too - for example, I hang out on Myspace quite a lot, chatting with my readers who tell me what they're diggin' and what's going on for them - again major time suckage but well, worth it!
Describe your 'average' writing day
Any writing day involves chocolate and green tea - mmmm! I'm total waster after 6pm so I get up early to make sure I can fit everything in! Since new year, I've also been doing a mornin beach walk, well, except for when it's raining, I'm not that hardcore! Writing wise - it's the whole 'getting started bit' I'm not so good at and will do anything to avoid it, like checkin' emails - obsessively, going on Myspace, writing my blog, buying new music off itunes - when I do start though, I put on my huge shut-out-the-world headphones, and if I'm writing books I'll have put together some inspir-o tunes that remind me of my characters to get me into the Think Pink zone - if I'm writing features I'll just put Radio 1 on - I always leave features to the last minute, no matter how much time an ed-type gives me, rest assured I'll be doing it the night before!
How did the 'Think Pink' series come about?
I'm an agony aunt for teen magazine, Mizz and get a scary amount of letters from girls who think life is major-league sucky. Low self-esteem, making new friends, hatin' on their bodies or boy trouble - there were issues that were coming up time and time again for these girls. I'd started work on a fiction series about a kooky clique called The Pink Ladies who found a pair of pink-tinted shades and their life significantly changed for the better, and after checking out the 'life guide' material that was currently available for girls, which seemed a little bit dry and dullsville, I thought it would be a great idea to try and combine the two - so I did.
Why do you think so many teenagers have such low self-esteem?
I think the non-stop images of so-called perfection teens are being fed on a daily basis just isn't healthy. It encourages constant comparisons and bad body talk, which is why Think Pink is about providing girls with the tools they need to know that girls in magazines are airbrushed, that popstars have an entire entourage of people whose entire job it is to make them look pretty and most importantly, that it's really cool to like what you've got...
Do you conduct research by talking to young people before you write the guides?
I do, I've been a youth worker for 7 years, so I'm really aware of the issues young people are facing but the Pink Ladies, the fab girls that sign up to my mailing list, are always answering questionnaires, providing voxpops, and attending workshops so I'm constantly checking what works for them!
What was your path into writing - did you train as a journalist?
I did a degree in media & culture and got involved in setting up a magazine for young people in the city where I lived. The magazine trained young people in journalism, I did writing workshops while writing features for the magazine and then just started the pitching process to my fave magazines, it's taken 'til now, 8 years on, to actually be doing it all as a career though!
Why did you set up the workshops and how do you run them - what do you hope girls will get out of them?
I set up the workshops, which are completely fun and informal, to get girls talking to each other about the issues that are effecting them, too often they'll hide their insecurities by bad mouthin' each other. The workshops provide tools and techniques to make sure they leave the session feeling feisty, fun, fearless and fabulous!
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
Think Pink is the most exciting project ever as there are so many possibilities! I've just edited book 2, "Beauty*licious" - which is all about being beautiful inside and out, there are more go-for-it guides in the pipeline, there are the fiction ideas too and I really want to host Think Pink summer camps - I'm obsesso 'bout the idea!
What are your short term and long term writing aims?
I'm only just starting out, so there is still so much to do - I'm dizzy with excitement about it all! I just want to continue to write material that girls love, it's simple as that really. Books were so important to me as a girl and really shaped who I am today, so if I can help one girl to dig what she sees in the mirror because of something I've written - happy, happy days.
When my 13YO daughter tells me about how none of the cool people at school even know she exists, what do I say?
The main task here is to help her to start liking who she is right now and letting her know that liking herself and all the things that make her totally YOU-nique, don't depend on getting the 'cool kids' approval. Try to find out why she thinks these so-called 'cool' kids are quite so cool and why it matters to be liked by them, the next step is to let her know that she's fabulous on a regular basis – just the way she is!
Do you think Portsmouth with qualify for the UEFA cup this season?
[Lisa writes for a paper in Portsmouth]
I live a five minute walk from the football ground, yet I can tell you nada about whether they could qualify for the UEFA cup (what is that anyway?) I know they play in blue though and there's a cute one called Matt Taylor!
And there you have it folks! Lisa, it’s been lovely having you over here at The Temp, The Actress and The Writer (confusingly also known as ididntchoosethis.blogspot.com)! I wish you all the success with the book, and where can I get a pair of those glasses by the way?
Big round of applause! (And there was much cheering, and rose petals thrown out to computer screens across the planet!)