YA A to Z: Friends and Troublemakers, a guest post by author Lisa Brown Roberts
Today as part of our ongoing attempt to build an index of topics in YA from A to Z, author Lisa Brown Roberts is joining us to talk about friends and troublemakers. Please share with us your favorite friendships and troublemakers in YA lit in the comments.
As much as I enjoy writing YA romance, I love writing friendship just as much, if not more (it’s probably why I write friends-to-lovers romance).
In my newest book, Spies, Lies, and Allies: A Love Story, there’s a bestie because we all need one, but I also tried something new: writing an enemies-to-allies friendship. Heroine Laurel has a summer job at her dad’s company working alongside Trish, who’s determined to make things hard for Laurel. The girls are opposites, and at first Laurel’s goal is to stay out of Trish’s way, but by the end of the summer their relationship has transformed.
As I wrote this book, I realized Trish was a stand-in for one of my dearest high school friends. Amy and I were opposites- she was punk and I was Princess Di (for real, I had the haircut and everything). She was sarcastic, hilarious, and loved to challenge authority. I was a people pleaser and afraid of getting in trouble, yet somehow our orbits intersected. Amy pushed me out of my good-girl zone, daring me to take risks and have fun. The first time I experienced being pulled over by the police, Amy was driving. When I was almost suspended for a prank (um, make that twice), Amy was my partner-in-crime.
We worked in the same mall, in candy stores right next door to each other. Once again, I was the good girl, wearing a black-and-white Russel Stovers’ uniform complete with bow tie that we called the “penguin suit.” Amy rocked her punk clothes, Doc Martens, and purple-streaked hair at the funky local snack shop. She gave away candy to cute boys and when those same boys flirted with me, I followed the rules – no free stuff from me!
When we didn’t have customers, we stood outside our respective stores and bonded. We talked and laughed and swooned over David Bowie and Robert Smith and Billy Idol, and checked out guys and took turns watching each other’s stores so the other person could run off to do whatever. Some of my favorite high school memories are of those evening and weekend mall shifts. Whenever I watch the mall scenes from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, I tear up a bit thinking of Amy.
Our shining mall moment was the night Amy called me and whispered, “Get over here now. INXS is in my store.” This was the eighties, friends, and INXS was big – and oh so sexy. My first thought was that if they saw me in my penguin uniform, I’d be humiliated. But I hurried next door anyway, casually strolling in like it was no big deal to see these sexy rock stars selecting candy and nuts.
Amy, always cool, smack-talked and joked with them while I just…stared. After they stocked up on snacks, they took a peek in my store, where I rushed to stand behind the glass candy cases and tried to act cool. Needless to say, they bought nothing from me. Somehow Amy and I held in our squees until they were far out of earshot.
Last summer, while attending the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Atlanta with amazing authors and readers, I received the shocking news that Amy had died suddenly of an aneurysm. I was at dinner with writer friends when I found out, and I pretty much fell apart. My writer friends were lovely and kind as I blubbered and told them all about Amy, and the INXS story, of course.
Returning to the hotel, my friends asked the Uber driver to play INXS. Our party Uber had a fun light system, and as INXS blasted through the speakers, the lights shimmered in time with the music. I cried and cried, and laughed, too, remembering my old friend while being comforted by new friends.
Spies, Lies, and Allies was written during the last year of my dad’s battle with Alzheimer’s and the same year Amy died. It was the hardest book I’ve written – striving for romantic comedy as I grieved. Yet to my surprise, this book became an homage to both my father and my friend. As a writer, I can’t ask for more than that.
Cherish your friends, new and old, whether you’ve known them for a lifetime or just one summer. And if you’re lucky enough to have a troublemaker friend, hug them extra-tight.
About Spies, Lies, and Allies:
Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.
My boss is running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting––in a good way. But I can’t even think about him like that because fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.
As if that’s not enough, an anonymous informant with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media…and I’m afraid it’s working.
Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer.
About Lisa Brown Roberts:
Award-winning romance author Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage catastrophes of tweezing off both eyebrows, or that time she crashed her car into a tree while trying to impress a guy. It’s no wonder she loves to write romantic comedies. Lisa’s books have earned praise from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and the School Library Journal. She lives in Colorado with her family, in which pets outnumber people. Connect with Lisa at www.lisabrownroberts.com.
Author Website: WWW.LISABROWNROBERTS.COM
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Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8287979.Lisa_Brown_Roberts
Filed under: #YAAtoZ
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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