Tell us about yourself and why you got into writing.
When I was a kid I wanted three careers: to be a hair stylist, to be a waitress, and to be an author. After I mohawked my Barbie and gave myself a bad red dye job I knew I wasn’t cut out for the hairstylist career. I actually was a waitress in a Jewish deli when I was a teenager, and I worked for a caterer. Although I loved talking to my customers, especially Holocaust survivors, and watching them slice a clover-stained cow’s tongue, writing was the real passion. And it stuck!
You actually write books for both adults and teens. What do you like about writing for both groups?
I love writing for women of all ages – young women, i.e., tweens and teens, and adult women all the way into their eighties. Funnily enough, even though we all mature in so many ways, a lot of the concerns we have as young women stick with us. We are relational, we are emotional, we seek to find our unique place in the world in whatever situation and during whatever age we find ourselves. And because women ARE relational I often hear from them via my website after they read my books. I love that!
Your new series is London Confidential. Book 1 is called Asking for Trouble. Savvy Smith moves to with her family to London. How would you describe the journey she goes through in the book dealing with her new surroundings?
I think she finds out a lot about herself, her family, and her God. Each of us can relate to not fitting in, and Savvy certainly finds out that while everyone speaks English there are many things she has to learn about living in London. This series is really a fun series, though. Lots of excitement, mishaps, friendships, fashion, and good times.
Why did you write the London Confidential series?
Each of us, as women, remember what it’s like to be a young woman, struggling to find our place in the world. Some girls have family issues, some have friendship issues, some have school issues, most of us have more than one concern. Whenever I write for young women I hope to provide them with an enjoyable read that validates their concerns, shows them that they are not alone, and provides encouragement to stay the course and see what wonderful things the Lord has just around the next corner.
The world feels a little depressed right now, too. I wanted to provide a happy, hopeful read and not a heavily issues-driven series. The London Confidential books are, I hope, fun to read.
What are some of the biggest struggles for teen girls today? What do you hope teen girls will take away from the series?
Truly, as Eccelsiastes says, there is nothing new under the sun. The issues that young women had when I was growing up are the same ones that my daughter has. Who am I? How can I make a difference? Where do I fit in? Am I loved? Why are people hurtful? While they may have different formats, for example, the internet, texting, or movies, the issues remain essentially the same.
But that’s good news! That means that we women have walked these paths and have hopefully found our way. It enables us to be Girl Guides, the British world for Girl Scouts, in a physical, emotional, and spiritual sense. Just as we’re instructed to do in Titus 2. We can do this in person, or we can do it by buying a good book to pass along to our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and friends.
You say books can bring mothers and daughters together. How?
Books provide a non-threatening, impersonal forum for mothers and daughters to discuss issues. A mother can ask questions like, “What do you think of her choices? Is that a temptation kids at your school face? Do kids act that way in your school? Is the way these girls acting normal? Do you think those girls should be allowed to date?” That way you’re not pointing to or calling our your daughter’s behavior, specifically, but you’re allowing her to express what her world is like. Just be sure not to offer a correction or comment to her every response!
Why did you decide to set the series in London?
I think, at heart, we are all fantasy travelers, excited about visiting new places – especially places that speak English! London is such a fun, cosmopolitan town. They speak English, but with an enchanting accent that American girls often imitate because it sounds so, well, posh! I noticed there is a facebook group that some of my readers are members of called, “I wonder if British people sit around trying to talk in American accents.” We love their royalty, their history, the fact that they are both very similar and yet different from us.
The girls who read the London Confidential books may not be able to visit London in person this year, but they can go there via the book. And then plan the REAL trip to follow.
What can readers look forward to in the final two London Confidential books?
The final two books in the series release on September 1, 2010 and talk about good friendships and bad, why it’s important for Christian girls to stick with only liking, even crushing on, Christian boys, how to persevere in times of trouble, and taking your first adult steps in your faith. When girls open any of the books, they’ll find a girl who is a lot like them, with dreams and hopes and fears like theirs, and God who works things out in ways they would not have imagined. There are friendship ups and downs, school ups and downs, guy ups and downs, family issues and lots of fun. I wanted to write books that would be fun to read, and yet still be meaningful. I hope the girls find the books to be just that.
After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd went on to publish more than three dozen books including her widely-acclaimed adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake and it’s sequels, Bon Appétit and Pièce de Résistance. Her new series, releasing this month, is a tween/teen fiction series, London Confidential.
A former textbook acquisitions editor, Sandra is also an accomplished non-fiction writer and author. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications such as Radiant, Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Magazine, Christian Parenting Today, Today’s Christian Woman, Pockets, Decision, and Guideposts. During the past eight years Sandra has mentored hundreds of students through the Christian Writer’s Guild.