Lauren Baratz-Logsted talks Little Women and Me!
You have the most interesting last name. Ever. Do you have a pronunciation guide? We want to make sure we’re saying it properly.
“Logsted” is just like it looks, although people are always trying to shove an ‘a’ in there to make it “Logstead.” It’s the “Baratz” part that gives people real problems. Think of the “Barrett” in Elizabeth Barrett Browning, only with a plural sound to it, and then you’ll have it.
Writing a novel that takes place in another novel seems like a daunting task. (We picture endless re-reads of Little Women.) How much time and research went into for preparing to write Little Women and Me?
Mostly it involved re-reading it one chapter at a time and then deciding what Emily would think of things and how her presence might change each chapter. Readers may be surprised by two things in my book: 1) there are times when Emily suffers from “story amnesia,” finding herself surprised at certain plot twists that most readers of the original book would find hard to forget – it makes perfect sense to me that sometimes the story would surprise her because, just like there’s a difference between reading about a country and actually visiting it, I imagine there would be a huge difference between reading a novel and actually becoming part of the story; plus, over time, I think all our perceptions are affected by film adaptations of the novel. 2) Emily jumps out of the story before it ends, but again that makes sense to me because she was only ever supposed to be there until she did the one thing she needs to do to get out and at the point she leaves it’s because she and the writer and – hopefully – the reader have a big Eureka! moment.
While researching, did you come across any surprising facts about Little Women or Louisa May Alcott?
I think the thing that surprised me most is that the book we think of as one book was originally two books, Little Women and Good Wives. In the single-volume version we know, the separation between the two books is represented by a huge time leap in the story. Without giving too much away, I can say that that big time leap causes Emily huge consternation.
With Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March hanging around in your book, was it hard finding an original voice for Emily?
Not really. Emily is a contemporary teen so she brings much of her 21st Century vocabulary with her although she quickly decides that she’d better try to talk more like those in her surroundings so she’ll fit in. But sometimes she can’t help herself, which is how she introduces the boy next door to “dude” as a term of address. Also, the more time she spends in the book, the more her voice – both interior and out loud – takes on the sound of those around her.
We at GiTS are always on the prowl for a good read. Have any suggestions?
Some of the books I’ve read this year and really loved are: Brutal by Michael Harmon; Across the Universe by Beth Revis; Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King; Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann; Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs; and The Dark Divine by Bree Despain.
Any plans to write more novel-in-novel books? If so, may we suggest Pride & Prejudice?
Personally, I think it would be a lot of fun and so I’m trying to put together a series for younger readers in which kids regularly time-travel into classics to change things. And of course it would be fun to do more YAs like this. Now you’ve got me curious, though: What would you like to see changed about P&P???
We think it would be interesting to have the roles of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth changed, he with the prejudice and her with the pride!!