Thanks to Lil for answering all my questions!
Hello Lil! So, first thing's first: how much of Gwynnie's character is based on yourself?
I first started writing BOYS FOR BEGINNERS when I was 10 and the character of Gwynnie was based on my best friend Kate. We both played football with the boys, but she was much more of a tomboy than me – never brushing her hair and only wearing tracksuits and fluorescent socks – one green, one orange.
But twenty years later, Gwynnie is most definitely me. No, I have never been skinny, nor was I ever a Tottenham supporter, but I remember that change when I suddenly wanted to be cool and I wanted attention from boys, and not just picked for a side.
Like Gwynnie, I had no idea what the metallic crushing contraption was in my friend’s makeup bag (an eyelash curler). Like Gwynnie, I burnt my ear with straighteners. And, like Gwynnie, I had a male friend who added me to his ‘mates’ list, rather than his ‘girls’ list.
Were you as unlucky with boys as she is? (Poor Gwynnie!)
My problem was ‘the friend zone’. So often I would fancy a bloke, we would spend time together, have a good laugh, he would call me a lot... but never want to be my boyfriend. I even had the humiliation of asking a boy out on a date, and it turned out he liked me. Just not like that.
The only consolation is that when it did work out, it was great. The boyfriends I’ve had have always been good friends too, so in that way I’ve been very lucky in my relationships.
I mentioned in my review that Boys for Beginners reminded me of Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicolson series (it really did, promise). Did you have any particular inspiration for the book?
To be compared to Louise Rennison is such a compliment! Thank you!
I read ANGUS, THONGS… a few months before I started writing B4B and it was such a surprise to find out how funny pre-teen fiction can be. And I mean, really, really, laugh-out-loud-on-the-tube-like-an-idiot, funny. I definitely took inspiration from her.
I love shows like GOSSIP GIRL, and loved the SWEET VALLEY HIGH series growing up. And I must have seen HEATHERS about fifty times. I’ve always been drawn to high school dramas because everyone knows how awful it is to feel uncool and unpopular. And the mean girls make such brilliant baddies!
What's your biggest embarrassing teen moment?
I have to pick just one?
I can remember so many fashion faux pas. For example: black DM boots with whites socks sticking over the top, black tights, white shorts, and a black body. I must have look like I’d vomited in monochrome!
But my most embarrassing moment was when I was about 15 and my friends had just left my house. I ran downstairs to where my parents were watching TV, shouting something like, ‘Mummy! I need a mummy cuddle! Can I come and snuggle in!?’ in a baby voice.
Then the toilet flushed.
Then Ben came out of the toilet.
The worst part is that I didn’t say anything as he walked past me; I was too embarrassed. He didn’t say anything either. But the smirk on his face told me he’s heard every word.
Do you have any top boy tips for 13-year-old girls? Bear in mind that Gwynnie's ideas didn't always work... ;)
Have fun. Smile. Laugh a lot. When you’re with your friends make sure you seem like nice, approachable people. Boys are just as scared about going up to girls as we are going up to them. But it’s even harder for boys because the pressure is on them to make the move.
Remember, boys are only human too. (Mostly.)
If Boys for Beginners was ever made into a film, who would be your main cast and what would be on the soundtrack?
Ooo, that’s a good one…
Okay. For Gwynnie I would like Fearne Cotton. I know she looks gorgeous now but for some reason I think she might have been a scraggly tomboy when she was younger. And I love her laugh.
Jenny Gregson would be Paris Hilton. Pretty, blond, and very girlie. And although she can appear mean sometimes, I get the sense that she wants everyone to like her.
Charlie Notts would be played by Chord Overstreet – AKA the cute blond boy from GLEE. He’s the kind of good looking that everyone has to take notice of.
And Gwynnie’s Dad would be Kris Marshall from the BT adverts. Very sweet, but a little gormless too.
As for a soundtrack, there’s Jenny and Paul’s song: BREAKING FREE from High School Musical. And have you ever really listened to the lyrics in Rihanna’s UMBRELLA? That song would be playing when Gwynnie thinks about her mum. For the scenes when Gwynnie is getting ready to go out, I’d like to play Hanson’s MMM BOP – it always puts me in a good mood.
Lastly, when can we expect more books from you, and will there be more from Gwynnie?
My next book is called LOCKER 62 and it’s out in May 2012. It’s not about Gwynnie and her friends, it’s about a school where the students write down their secrets and post them into a locked locker. When a new girl Maya arrives she is allocated this locker and gets to read everyone’s secrets! She has to decide whether to use what she knows for good or evil.
I really want to see what happens to Gwynnie, Charlie, Paul and Jenny as I am completely in love with them… even Jenny. I do have an idea for another story about Gwynnie so keep an eye on www.lilchase.com to see what happens!
- Lil's site: Lil Chase.com
- UK publisher's site: Quercus Books
- My review: Boys for Beginners by Lil Chase