Pop-culture extraordinaire (she's interviewed tons of celebs like Justin Bieber and the Jonas Brothers!) and author Lauren Brown chats exclusively with J-14 and gives us all the scoop on her hot new series fiction series, Doggy Divas -- plus shares her own friend drama and tips for aspiring writers!
J-14: How would you describe the series to new fans?
Lauren: I would say that Doggy Divas is not a "dog" series but more of a classic friendship series. It's for anyone that has had a best friend, lost their best friend, made new friends, gone against the grain and found their place at school in the most unexpected way imaginable. I grew up loving series like The Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High, so it was definitely on my "bucket list" to create a series of my own one day filled with characters and storylines that my readers would want to keep revisiting. The main characters - Roxy, Kim, Georgia, and even the mean girl Liz - all have a piece of me in them and what better backdrop to tell their story than with a bunch of crazy dogs. Dogs just make everything better, right?
J-14: Which character do you most identify with?
Lauren: Roxy - without a doubt. She is caught between two worlds. She wants to follow the crowd and be popular because it seems like the easy path. But as we get to know her, we see that she has way more depth than just another popular girl following the leader. [Editor's note: You can follow Roxy on Twitter @MissDoggyDiva!] And I definitely struggled with that too -- I wanted to be that boy crazy girl, but I also wanted to make my mark. And very often that meant doing things my friends weren't interested in doing with me - like exploring new writers at the library or joining a club they weren't into. And you know what? It made them respect me and support my dreams even more.
J-14: Did you ever deal with friend drama like Roxy and Liz?
Lauren: Yes! When I was in the seventh grade, I had a group of friends that was considered popular - but it always seemed like so much work to always do and say the right thing around them and be "cool." Sure, we had a lot in common and had sleepovers where we told each other our deepest darkest secrets. But one day, something I said about one of the girls was misconstrued and well, before I knew it, everyone was mad at me for talking badly (which I didn't) and I was ousted. It was devastating. Rumors spread about me like wild fire and no one wanted to be my friend in any clique. But I held my head high despite the rumors, I eventually found a new (lower maintenance) group. It taught me a valuable lesson about friendship - it shouldn't take "work" to develop a friendship and you should never feel that anything other than being 100% yourself at all times is acceptable.
J-14: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Did you ever write as a tween/teen?
Lauren: I have wanted to write since I was two years old and memorized the books my parents read to me so I could "read" them to myself after they went to bed. I wrote my first novel in the fourth grade, and then I would write "bonus" chapters to my Sweet Valley High books because I wanted them to keep going and "amp" up the drama. When I was in high school, I started writing completely original short stories and journaling like crazy. If you want to be a writer, keep a journal -- even if you write just one sentence in it every day. Writers have to write! Do all you can do to make it a regular part of your routine and not seem like a chore. Commit to a number of pages or even a number of words that you need to write every day. If writing a book is your goal, just remember they get written one word at a time so don't get overwhelmed thinking about writing thousands of words to reach your goal.
J-14: What can we expect next in the Doggy Divas series?
Lauren: Well, book two in the series is called Lights, Camera, Kim, so Kim will get her chance in the spotlight when she gets an accidental dose of fame. The Doggy Divas will still have their struggles with Liz Craft, Roxy will still crush on Matt Billings, Georgia will still blurt out the first thing that comes to her mind, their business will continue to grow -- but more than anything, the girls will grow and the readers are going to be along for the ride!