Wednesday 1 April 2009

Interview: Luisa Plaja

Luisa Plaja is the British young adult author of the fabulous Split by a Kiss and Extreme Kissing that will released on 2nd April (ooh, tomorrow!) by Random House. She is also the editor of the brilliant teen book review website Chicklish. Luisa was kind enough to answer a few questions.

1. Tell us a bit about ‘Extreme Kissing‘.

OK! Extreme Kissing is a story about two best friends who go on an adventure in London, spending the day trying to overcome their worries by doing random challenges taken from the pages of a teenage magazine. Over the course of the extreme day, the girls start to reveal secrets to each other, and possibly find out things they never suspected about themselves. There are also boys involved, and dancing, shopping, danger... and kissing.

2. Is there a specific time or place that you do your best writing in?

Yes, I write best at night when the house goes quiet and it's harder to persuade my lovely online friends to distract me. I'm a total night person and I can write for hours into the morning. If only it didn't make the other side of the morning so difficult...

3. How did you get into writing young adult fiction?

I never stopped reading books aimed at teenagers and I probably never will. It's a genre I love passionately and I think everyone should read it! When I tried writing it, I knew immediately that it was what I wanted to do. I write for myself, really - I'm sure all writers do - and writing in this genre just feels right.

4. Who were your favourite authors as a teenager? Are they different to your current favourites?
When I was a teenager I'd read anything I could get my hands on! I had favourites in every genre, and I was a huge fan of horror fiction at that age, especially Stephen King. But my overall favourites are definitely authors I still love today - for example, Judy Blume and Mary Hooper (who used to write contemporary romance, and now writes mostly historical YA). I also devoured teen series like Sweet Valley High and the love story series Sweet Dreams. My tastes haven't really changed but I've added scores of authors to my favourites list, including Sarra Manning, Meg Cabot, E. Lockhart, Jaclyn Moriarty... I could definitely go on, but I'll stop myself there!

5. Your main characters are confused and conflicted girls. Is this something that you feel is present in the lives of most teenage girls?

I think there's probably some confusion in everyone's life, really, male and female, and at any age. But there's something that attracts me to reading and writing about the teenage years - it's a time in life when you experience certain powerful emotions for the first time, and everything can feel heightened. It's also a time when you're deciding who you are and who you want to be, and all the possible paths you can take are stretching ahead of you. In Split by a Kiss, I wanted to look at the consequences of making a decision that could take a character down two different paths. And Extreme Kissing is a lot about taking safe routes versus riskier ones. I don't think things are cut and dried: there's not necessarily a 'right' or 'wrong' decision (within reason), and it's not necessarily better to be 'safe' or 'reckless' (also within reason). It's a question of figuring out your own path and trying to stay true to yourself and the people you care about - and that's what my books are about. Although that makes them sound very serious, and they're not! They're full of fun and snogging. :)

6. Have you ever done a silent rave like Carlota, Bethany, Zac and Yves? It sounds like fun!

I happened to have a chat once with a writer who took part in a huge silent rave on the South Bank and his description definitely influenced this scene in my book! (So thanks to Gareth P. Jones, if you ever see this!) I've also seen silent raves on television, but I've yet to be involved in one. Maybe it's time to start organising one. Who wants to join me...?

7. I love the way Bethany and Carlota try to keep their friendship going. Is this something that you feel is important?

Yes, definitely. Friendships can be complicated and often not quite what they seem on the surface, and there can be bad patches, but this doesn't mean they won't be long-lasting. In Extreme Kissing, Bethany and Carlota seem to have very different personalities, almost at opposite extremes, and they both have moments of wishing they were more like each other. But I think they start to see that they're not that different, and their friendship clearly works. I wanted to write about friendship but also about how self-image can colour relationships - one of my favourite themes in teen fiction!

8. What are you working on at the moment?

I'm working on a sequel for Split by a Kiss, which will hopefully be out next year.

Thank you very much, Luisa. You can see my review of Split by a Kiss here and Extreme Kissing here. You can also visit Luisa on her website I can't recommend Luisa’s books enough because they are brilliant.



  1. Ooh nice interview! I think we should rename this 'Extreme Kissing Week'. hehe.

    Oh, and Luisa... what was that about your online friends not distracting you late at night? *walks away sheepishly*

  2. Yes, well, obviously there are happy exceptions. :)

    Thank you very much for interviewing me, Sophie, and for all the wonderful things you said! Thank you, thank you!


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