Hello YABC! It's C.J. Redwine, and I've staged a coup. I've mutinied. I've TAKEN OVER THE SITE!
OK, let's get to the interview. When you were a teen, which books were you reading?
After my strict, scare-myself-silly Stephen King phase, I expanded to literary classics. At first it was because I felt oh-so-smart when I read them, but then I found a connection to books like A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway and The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. The writing was transfixing. In between those, I'd cleanse my reading palate with fantasies like The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny or The Cosmic Trilogy by C.S. Lewis.
You may be the only person I know who cleansed her reading palate with super smart books like The Cosmic Trilogy. I cleansed my palate with Sweet Valley High, but whatever.
What music were you listening to?
So. Many. Different. Things. The 90's alternative station in St. Louis was well-worn on my FM dial. They mixed Nirvana, The Offspring, and Pearl Jam with a deft hand. At one point I went through a serious Oldies phase. I still love Tommy James and the Shondells like WHOA. Then, moving further along the spectrum, I listened to a lot of bluegrass, country, and southern rock, too. I ran lights and performed in my dad's country band all over mid-Missouri in bars and honky-tonks. I could pull off a pretty mean Shania Twain or Dixie Chicks cover in my day. (You know you'd pay to see that.)
I would TOTALLY pay to see that. I think all of YABC would. Dare you to sing a cover of Man! I Feel Like a Woman! and vlog it on YABC. Triple dog dare, which, as you know, is a binding contract in 36 of the 50 states.
Which movies did you watch over and over?
Oh gosh, I think I remember going to see Independence Day in the theater with my friends about a dozen times. I loved old Disney films and Robin Hood was my "prince" of choice. I had The Princess Bride completely memorized. (Still do.) I also loved Kevin Bacon and I must have watched each of his movies (even the obscure ones) a million and a half times. The first film I saw him in was The River Wild. Pretty much have that one memorized too.
Inconceivable! I do not think that word means what you think it means. He's only mostly dead. As you wish--what? Oh, I'm still interviewing you. Right. I should stop with the Princess Bride quotes now. HELLO! MY NAME IS INIGO MONTOYA. YOU KILLED MY--ouch! Okay, fine! I'll keep interviewing. No need to grab the Bang of Doom and twist like that.
What did you want to be “when you grew up?”
An author. Always an author. But I was a practical child, and I didn't think that would ever happen, so I thought I might become an exotic animal trainer. My dream was to train a tiger for film or TV. That's way more practical, right?
That is totally more practical. The only thing MORE practical would be to plan a career of raising and selling unicorns. (I bet you considered that as an option too. Don't lie to me. That was my third career choice, right behind writer and ninja princess, and we're too alike for me to have been alone in my unicorn farmer dreams.)
What did you and your friends do for fun?
We lived out in the middle of nowhere and there wasn't much to do, so we just drove around listening to music, laughing far too loudly, flirting with boys, and trying to get lost. We also made a point of dressing in outlandish outfits to see how people reacted. (Ha! The seersucker re-purposed tablecloth pirate casual pants are explained!) This was a small farming community, so the reactions were pretty entertaining. We were often followed by security or asked to leave establishments, not because we were rowdy or causing a scene, but because we were wearing loud, crazy clothes. That was an interesting social experiment, now that I think back on it.
Example: Here we have grandpa slacks, a Boy Scout shirt, and various accessories complete with a bat ring. Just look how pensive I am. Why, oh why didn't I persue that modeling career?
Lol. I see after I gave you grief on the pirate casual pants, you decided to up your game with ... a boy scout uniform and pants you reclaimed from your grandpa? Well played! My Bang of Doom is looking more fashionable by the moment. It's still highly unfair that beyond your questionable wardrobe choices, your hair and skin look amazing, but I'll get over it. :)
Like I said, there wasn't much to do...
You ... you cruised the farming ghetto while blaring classical music? *blinks* Did none of you know Bohemian Rhapsody? Because THAT is a song made for cruising. *sighs*
I cannot throw stones here M.G. I used to cruise a grocery store parking lot in my teen years. All of my friends did. Small town solidarity, sister. *fist bumps*
Did you have a strange quirk, obsession, or hobby? Was there something you LOVED but were too embarrassed to admit to your peers?
I loved to walk my dad's farm, thinking up story ideas and acting them out where no one could see. (Complete with epic sword fight scenes.) I'd have lengthy, dramatic conversations with the cows in the pastures or the kittens in the barn. I also wrote those stories down, scribbling every day and night since the time I could put pencil to paper. I call it strange only because I didn't tell too many people about my writing obsession. It was such a huge part of my everyday life, but very few people knew it existed. As you may have guessed, cows and kittens are pretty good secret-keepers.
I bet you, like me, had a pile of spiral notebooks filled with stories. Do you still have yours? It would be interesting to pull them out and see where you started as a writer and how far you've come.
Did you ever get in BIG trouble?
Not really. I got sassy on the bus once and the bus driver had me suspended from riding it for a month or so. Another time I stayed out way too late and worried my parents sick. I still feel bad about that because it was SO not worth it. Other than that, I was a good kid, fueled by the world's largest guilty conscience. Thanks for that, Mom.
You don't fool me. When you say you "got sassy," you mean you "wore the pirate casual pants." What was the best thing that happened to you?
Finding my close group of friends. We're still friends today, and I love those four girls more than anything (the very same girls who aren't afraid to pose with me while wearing the pirate pants). Also, the surprise party they threw for my 16th birthday was pretty damn epic.
Ooh, a surprise sweet 16 party! What was your dessert of choice? Regular cake? Cupcakes? PIE? (Clearly I have a small bias toward pie ...)
Gosh, I don't remember the dessert! It was too damn epic, I guess.
Did you have a major crush on anyone?
Major, major crush on one boy in particular. We dated for a while, and it was sweet and wonderful and lovely, but we were young, and we were stupid (or at least I was) and it didn't last. I still feel bad about how I treated him. I didn't know what the hell I was doing or what I wanted at the time. But we're still friends, and I *think* I've apologized enough for penance. Maybe. : )
Aww. We're all young and kind of stupid about relationships when we first start dating. Making mistakes is how we learn.
What were you writing at the time? Fiction? Journal entries? Poetry? Can you share anything with us?
I wrote a lot of sweeping epic fantasies about castles and horses and girls who didn't like wearing dresses. I wrote ghost stories and Nancy Drew-type mysteries. I wrote really bad songs and really bad poetry. I wrote plays and tried my hand at keeping a journal, but I'm no good at it. I wrote a bit of fan fiction before I knew what fan fiction was. I also wrote parody newspaper articles, sort of like those you find in The Onion. But mostly I wrote heated, angsty dialogue between teens whose lives were full of DRAMA.
Alas, I don't have anything because of that whole Trashing It All Thing. I'm sure it was really terrible, though. Way too much telling and not enough showing. ;-)
Nancy Drew! She was my go-to girl back in the day. I think along with your Shania Twain cover vlog, you should treat us to a reading of a scene from one of your Nancy Drew-type mysteries. You could be cruising while playing classical music as well ... pirate casual pants are optional.
What is one bit of advice you'd give your teen self?
To teenage Mandy: Good Lord, girl, stop worrying about what others think. Those who judge you aren't the ones who will matter in the long run. YOU matter. So take care of YOU and stop tip-toeing around everyone else so you don't rock the boat. Rock it.
Fabulous advice! Thank you for chatting with us today, M.G.!
THE 57 LIVES OF ALEX WAYFARE
by M.G. Buehrlen
March 4, 2014 (US)
6 March, 2014 (UK)
Publisher: Strange Chemistry (distributed by Random House)
One girl. Fifty-seven lives. Endless ways to die.
For as long as 17-year-old Alex Wayfare can remember, she has had visions of the past. Visions that make her feel like she’s really on a ship bound for America, living in Jamestown during the Starving Time, or riding the original Ferris wheel at the World’s Fair.
But these brushes with history pull her from her daily life without warning, sometimes leaving her with strange lasting effects and wounds she can’t explain. Trying to excuse away the aftereffects has booked her more time in the principal’s office than in any of her classes and a permanent place at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Alex is desperate to find out what her visions mean and get rid of them.
It isn’t until she meets Porter, a stranger who knows more than should be possible about her, that she learns the truth: Her visions aren’t really visions. Alex is a Descender – capable of traveling back in time by accessing Limbo, the space between Life and Afterlife. Alex is one soul with fifty-six past lives, fifty-six histories.
Fifty-six lifetimes to explore: the prospect is irresistible to Alex, especially when the same mysterious boy with soulful blue eyes keeps showing up in each of them. But the more she descends, the more it becomes apparent that someone doesn’t want Alex to travel again. Ever.
And will stop at nothing to make this life her last.
When she’s not writing, M.G. moonlights as a web designer and social media/creative director. She’s the current web ninja lurking behind the hugely popular website YABooksCentral.com, a social network for YA (and kids!) book lovers. The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare is her debut novel. M.G. lives nestled away in Michigan pines, surrounded by good coffee and good books, with her husband and son and three furbabies. Say hello on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.
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