Thursday, March 15, 2012

Apocalypse Now: Interview with Elisa Ludwig, author of PRETTY CROOKED

I'm thrilled to be interviewing Elisa Ludwig, whose debut mystery/thrilled PRETTY CROOKED (Katherine Tegen Books/Harper Collins) hit shelves on Tuesday! Elisa is a fellow "detective" with me over at Sleuths, Spies & Alibis, where we blog about YA/MG mysteries, so I'm especially excited about PRETTY CROOKED's release.

Willa's secret plan seems all too simple. Take from the rich kids at valley prep and give to the poor ones. Yet Willa's turn as Robin Hood at her new high school is anything but. Bilking her "friends"—known to everyone as the Glitterati—without them suspecting a thing is far from easy. Learning how to break into lockers and Beemers is as hard as she'd thought it would be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are bullied just for being different, is more fun than she'd expected. The complication Willa didn't expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, VP's most notorious ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her—evening the social playing field between the haves and have-nots. There's no time for flirting, especially with conceited trust-funders like Aidan. But when the cops start investigating the string of thefts at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could Aidan wind up being the person that Willa trusts most? Elisa Ludwig's PRETTY CROOKED is the first book in an adventurous teen caper series filled with mystery, humor, and heart.

In PRETTY CROOKED your protagonist, Willa Fox, faces difficult choices about being accepted or doing the right thing. Her struggles really rang true for me. Would Willa Fox and the teen you have been friends? Why or why not?
I think we could very well have been buddies. I was sort of clique-less and had friends in different groups in high school because I didn't feel like any one group was a natural fit. And even if I had picked a clique, it most definitely would not have been anything resembling the Glitterati. But I would have admired Willa's desire to do the right thing, her rebellious spirit, and her pre-Glitterati fashion sense.

What was the most fun about writing PRETTY CROOKED? 
By far, it was the thieving scenes. They took more research to set up but when I sat down to write them, they just flowed. I remember cackling to myself maniacally on a few occasions.

What do you hope your readers of PRETTY CROOOKED will connect with most?
I guess I'd hope that readers might relate to Willa's situation and find some inspiration to speak up if they see others being bullied. Now, in Willa's case she does the wrong thing in an effort to do the right thing, so she's not a role model. But I'd want readers to feel like it's okay to turn away from the so-called popular people if they are abusing others. If hanging out with these people feels like you're selling yourself out then you probably are.

Willa’s love-hate relationship with arrogant hottie Aidan Murphy positively crackles with romantic tension throughout the book. Willa’s conflicting feelings about him and their biting repartee made the book especially fun. Do you have any favorite literary love-hate relationships? Or any favorite literary couples, in general? 
My inspiration for their relationship came from one obvious source (Veronica Mars and Logan Echolls) and a less-obvious, old-school one (David and Maddy in Moonlighting). I wanted their flirtation to be memorable, so I'm happy you noticed that!

PRETTY CROOKED is the first in a three-book series. Can you give us any hints about what future capers are in store for Willa Fox? 
Willa will be using some of her Pretty Crooked skills in the next two books, but her aims will be different as she sets out to solve some mysteries. And of course there will be some romantic twists and turns!

How do you plan to celebrate your release day?
Ooh, good question. I guess I'd like to sleep in, but that's highly unlikely since I'm sure it will feel like Christmas morning. And though it would be easy to sit in front of the computer all day and bask in electronic debutness, I will make a concerted effort to get outside and do some non-book-related activities, spend time with my man and maybe eat a great meal somewhere in my hometown of Philly.

Since we’re the Lucky 13s, we have to ask: what, if any, are your favorite superstitions or lucky writing charms?
I have a metallic pinecone paperweight on my desk that my writing teacher Beverly Coyle gave me in college and I really like to have that close at hand. I'm fairly superstitious about which cafes I work in and which tables I'll sit at in those particular places... but maybe that is more of a feng shui type of thing. Either way, every step of the journey to publication pretty much feels like a lottery, so whatever kind of luck any of us can summon is helpful!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Elisa -- and congratulations on PRETTY CROOKED's release!
Thanks so much for having me—I can't wait to delve into the 2013 crop.

If you'd like a chance to win a signed ARC of PRETTY CROOKED, stop by Sleuths, Spies & Alibis now through March 19th. 

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