Libba Bray is the author of the New York Times bestselling Gemma Doyle Trilogy, which comprises the novels A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing. In 2010 she was awarded the Michael L Printz award for her satirical road-trip novel Going Bovine, which was also shortlisted for the Australian Centre for Youth Literature's Inky Award. Libba has written satire crossing Lost with America's Next Top Model in Beauty Queens, a finalist for the 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize, plus short stories about everything from Cheap Trick concerts to The Rocky Horror Picture Show devotees to meeting Satan worshippers on summer vacation. Libba lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, son, and two cats, and is part of an all-YA author band called Tiger Beat (for realz).
1. I lived in Texas until I was 26 years old, then I moved to New York City with $600.00 in my shoe ('cause muggers won't take it out of your shoe, y'know . . . riiiiight . . .) and a punchbowl (my grandmother's gift) under my arm. I ended up using the punchbowl box as an end table for two years.
2. My dad was a Presbyterian minister. Yes, I am one of those dreaded P.K.s–Preacher's Kids. Be afraid. Be very afraid . . .
3. The first story I ever wrote, in Mrs. McBee's 6th grade English class, was about a girl whose family is kidnapped and held hostage by a murderous lot of bank robbers who intend to kill the whole family–including the dog–until the 12-year-old heroine foils the plot and saves the day. It included colored pencil illustrations of manly-looking, bearded criminals smoking, and, oblivious to the fact that The Beatles had already sort of laid claim to the title, I called my novel, HELP. My mom still has a copy. And when I do something she doesn't like, she threatens to find it.
4. My favorite word is "redemption." I like both its meaning and the sound. My least favorite word is "maybe." "Maybe" is almost always a "no" drawn out in cruel fashion.
5. My three worst habits are overeating, self-doubt, and the frequent use of the "f" word.
6. The three things I like best about myself are my sense of humor, my ability to listen, and my imagination.
7. I have an artificial left eye. I lost my real eye in a car accident when I was eighteen. In fact, I had to have my entire face rebuilt because I smashed it up pretty good. It took six years and thirteen surgeries. However, I did have the pleasure of freezing a plastic eyeball in an ice cube, putting it in a friend's drink, ("Eyeball in your highball?") and watching him freak completely. Okay, so maybe that's not going down on my good karma record. But it sure was fun.
8. In 7th grade, my three best friends and I dressed up as KISS and walked around our neighborhood on Halloween. Man, we were such dorks.
9. I once spent New Year's Eve in a wetsuit. I'd gone to the party in a black dress that was a little too tight (too many holiday cookies) and when I went to sit down, the dress ripped up the back completely. Can we all say, mortified? The problem was, my friends were moving out of their house–everything was packed and on a truck–and there was nothing I could put on . . . but a wetsuit that they still had tacked to the wall. I spent the rest of the party maneuvering through throngs of people feeling like a giant squid.
10. I got married in Florence, Italy. My husband and I were in love but totally broke, so we eloped and got married in Italy, where he was going on a business trip. We had to pull a guy off the street to be our witness. It was incredibly romantic. Florence is still one of my favorite cities in the world.
11. My favorite way to write is to take my laptop, Lucille, (I name all my computers) and sit in my favorite coffeehouse with a hot cup o’ joe while listening to eclectic music mixes chosen randomly by the baristas.
12. I'm related to Davy Crockett on my mom's side. Honest.
13. I grew up doing theatre and spent a long time as a playwright. I still think very visually when I write.
14. Some of my favorite movies of all time (subject to change when I think of other movies I love) are All About Eve, Brazil, Blade Runner, Spinal Tap, Citizen Kane, Harold & Maude, To Kill a Mockingbird, Singin' in the Rain, and probably a million more that I can't think of right now. I have never made it through The Wizard of Oz without crying. Not once.
15. Naming my favorite books feels like naming a favorite child–impossible. But here's my list of some Y.A. books I love as of 4:03pm today. TITHE by Holly Black. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee. CATCHER IN THE RYE by J. D. Salinger. LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding. 33 SNOWFISH by Adam Rapp. WHALE TALK by Chris Crutcher. BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE by Annette Curtis Klause. THE BELL JAR by Sylvia Plath (not really Y.A. but I read it when I was 16 and it rocked my world). SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson.
16. I love to be scared. Not "hey, I think I smell smoke . . ." scared, but creepy, paranoid, what's-that-out-there-in-the-dark, ghost story scared. It's no surprise that I was the girl who got invited to the slumber parties because I could be counted on to tell a tale to scare the bejesus out of you.
17. In homage to a book I just read entitled, FIVE MEN WHO BROKE MY HEART, I submit: The first boy who broke my heart (age 6) didn't want to sit next to me because I'd wet my pants in reading circle once and he thought I was gross. Damn my small bladder! The second boy who broke my heart (age 16) was a drummer with a band (the start of a trend, folks...) and he threw me over for a really cool chick I couldn't even bring myself to hate. The third boy who broke my heart (ages 20—24, ay yi yi . . .) was a strapping hunk of bodaciousness with the mind of Einstein. We had the exact same birthday, same year and everything. So the time he forgot to wish me a happy birthday was kind of the beginning of the end, I think. The fourth boy who broke my heart (age 25) was also a drummer. I had to stop with the drummers.
18. I'm one of those people who has to write. If I don't write, I feel itchy and depressed and cranky. So everybody's glad when I write and stop complaining already.
19. My Pennsylvania Dutch great-great-great grandmother was supposedly a psychic who could see and speak to the dead. Sort of a witch, I guess. Her husband was an undertaker, and she would have these visions of someone bringing in a string of a particular size (people were measured for their coffins in this way) and it would come true. Creepy stuff, but fascinating.
20. If I were stuck on a deserted island, the five indispensable CDs I'd take would be London Calling by the Clash, Quadrophenia by The Who, Aretha Franklin's Greatest Hits, To Venus and Back by Tori Amos, and Elvis Costello's Greatest Hits.
21. I hate doughnuts. Weird but true.