Stephanitely, maybe
EVERYTHING IS EMBARRASSING - Margarita Buenaventura (The Philippine Star) - August 29, 2014 - 12:00am

YA author Stephanie Perkins drops by Manila to talk about her newest book, horror stories, and how online dating might just lead to a happily ever after.

Writing about the most tumultuous period of anyone’s life (a.k.a. adolescence) is no easy task. All those feelings and hormones? Danger zone. Young adult author Stephanie Perkins, though, makes it seem so easy. She is the brains behind young adult novels Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, all part of a sweet trilogy about three teenage girls in high school that ends with Isla and the Happily Ever After.

Equal parts touching and swoon-worthy, it comes as no surprise that Stephanie’s books have gotten thousands of young folks reading more (and also to expect that real life guys would be as cute and funny as her fictional heroes… not that we’re complaining). I get to catch up with Stephanie during her visit to Manila to talk about faking it till you make it, online dating, and why her newest book Isla and the Happily Ever After might be her best one yet.

YOUNG STAR: Are you writing anything new right now?

My next book is a horror, actually!

Oh, that’s cool. Is that also under the young adult genre?

It is, yeah! It’s an all-out slasher—guy with a knife chasing teenagers. I wish I were almost done with it… I’m still close to the beginning. But now that Isla is done, and I just finished editing this holiday anthology, I should turn it in soon for publication next year.

Is it scary to write a scary book?

So far, no. Which is actually scary in itself because when I write something I really try to evoke that emotion in myself. So right now, because it’s such an early draft, it’s not scary yet. But I want to scare myself! I’m hoping it comes. If I can’t creep out myself, I can’t creep out my readers!

Do you enjoy horror movies, then?

Oh, I love them. When I was really little, I was afraid of everything. When I was in middle school, I had this friend who was the total opposite of me. She wanted to see the film Scream, and I was terrified. I didn’t want to see it. But I didn’t want to disappoint her, so I pretended that I wasn’t scared. And by pretending I wasn’t scared, I actually wasn’t scared! It’s kind of this miracle which I’ve applied to everything in my life. By pretending that something doesn’t scare you, you end up getting through the experience.

In the acknowledgements section on your second book (Lola and the Boy Next Door), you mentioned a few things that also sort of happened in the book. You wrote about Chuck Taylors and flying across the country. Is the story based on your relationship in any way?

Well, San Francisco is where the book was set, and that’s where we really got to date. We met online, and at the time I was living in Arizona and he was all the way in Georgia. But I was accepted into San Francisco State University a week into our relationship, so we knew that was where I was going, and that’s where he decided to follow me. The thing about Lindsay and her boyfriend Charlie wearing matching Chuck Taylors to the prom… Jarrod and I wore matching Chuck Taylors to my prom. That was also the first time we met—when he flew in to take me to my senior prom.

You mentioned that you and your husband met online. A lot of people are starting to meet their partners online—do you think there’s still any stigma surrounding it?

I think less so now, because it is becoming more common. Obviously, I think it’s a great way to meet people, particular in a love kind of relationship. That first barrier of, like, physical attraction isn’t actually there. You’re focusing on their personality, and their interests. Right away, my husband and I knew we were compatible, and we were able to create a very stable relationship.

So tell us about your new book Isla. I really love how it figures into the whole universe while having their own stories.

They were never meant to be connected stories actually, but while I was writing Lola, Anna and Etienne just fit right in, and it was nice because it was like having friends to comfort you while writing a book that was difficult to write. As for Isla, it’s set in the American School in Paris which was where Anna’s story was set, so there are a lot of characters who you’ve seen before. Lola and Cricket are in it, too. I’m really proud of this book. It was a struggle, but I think it’s my best one.

* * *

Watch out for Stephanie Perkins’ latest book Isla and the Happily Ever After soon in National Bookstore branches nationwide.

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