Jun 1, 2011

Crush: 26 Real-lifeTales of First Love - Interview with Editor Andrea N. Richesin (+ Giveaway)

Crush: 26 Real-lifeTales of First Love by Andrea N. Richesin
May 31st, 2011 from Harlequin

Twenty-six bestselling authors return to the teenage bedrooms, school hallways and college dorms of their youth to share passionate essays of love lost and found and lessons learned along the way. Whether heartbreaking or hilarious, their soul-baring honesty reminds us to keep reaching for true love wherever we can find it and for as long as it takes. Their intimate reflections will fascinate and move any reader who remembers her first love.

You work for the Marin Literacy Program as a tutor and teacher, what do you think some of the bigger issues are with young people and literacy? 
First of all, thank you, Jen, for this opportunity to discuss my work with you. I learned, from working at Head Start with the Family Literacy Services program, that literacy begins in the home. Parents have to set a positive example for their children. This means turning off the TV; going to the library; having books and periodicals around your home; and allowing children to read whatever they like, even if it means comic books or books their parents haven’t handpicked for them. Reading in front of children is also very important as they’ll recognize its inherent value. In our super-plugged in world, we have to show young people the importance of reading and how it can impact and expand their lives.

I read on your website these two words, George Lucas. Do you mean the George Lucas? Please fill us in! 
I wish I could say that I know Mr. Lucas personally. I see him from time to time with his enormous stack of newspapers and pancakes dining at a local coffee shop called Hilda’s. I’m told he is a distant relation of my mother-in-law who also hails from Modesto. I worked from home for Edutopia primarily as a fact-checker which meant that I Googled until 2am, even while nursing my daughter. There were definite perks to working for the company. I took my little girl to pet the farm animals at Skywalker Ranch and my husband and I attended a party and screening for Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in the Skywalker theatre. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience getting to peek through a window into that world.

Skywalker Ranch - Photo Courtesy of Sarah Hunt

This is your fourth go at editing an anthology, as a whole, what is the experience like for you and why do you come back for more?
I love writers and I hope to become one someday. I enjoy working with them, learning from them, and hoping some of their magic will rub off on me. It has been a great honor and privilege to work with all of them. I’m stunned and humbled by their talent and willingness to work with me.

Tell us a little about CRUSH.
Crush is a collection of 26 accounts of first love in all of its manifestations from spurned suitors, objects of affection, frustrated dreamers, and even the long-time married. One of my favorite descriptions of the anthology came from Lily Burana who endorsed it. In her blurb, she wrote, “No reader should resist this chance to look into the secret, stirring heart of these great writers. Like a lover reading a long-awaited mash note, you'll feel electricity screaming through your body as you consume every impassioned word." I couldn't have put it better myself.

How do authors become part of anthology? 
I’ve contacted the writers I admire and if I’m lucky they agree to contribute a piece to the collection. Sometimes they kindly tell me to buzz off so they can return to finishing their books or screenplays. The majority of the writers pen original essays expressly written with the project in mind. However, I have included a few essays that I found quite unexpectedly and felt I had to include with the others. Melissa Febos and Kerry Cohen’s essays were two that I rambled across and I snatched up as quickly as possible.

What is the hardest part of editing a collection of writing?
I often find it hard to remain objective. I tend to have strong responses to the writing. When I don’t react passionately, I question whether it will resonate with other readers. I’m continuously surprised by how readers react differently to essays. We each bring our own unique perspective and preference. I hate turning writers away, but it must feel honest and true. I also find the promotional part of the process hard work. 

What are your favorite stories out of CRUSH? 
Giving up the Ghost” by Melissa Febos is a lyrical treatise on what it means to love another person. Although I’m almost puritanical compared to Melissa, I deeply connected with her not wanting to have to share her boyfriend with his past lovers. I understood this feeling and thought the writing was superb. Jackie Mitchard’s essay is almost unbelievable, but I don’t care. The story is too good to miss!

What are you working on now?
I’m in the beginning stages of working on a follow-up to my first anthology The May Queen about being a woman in one’s forties. I hope to work with the same contributors and a few new ones. I’m excited to see how these writers’ lives have changed and what has transpired differently from what they imagined six years ago. I would also like this collection to take the form of a backlash to the media’s attempt to portray older women as crones or cougars. I’ve been offended by the negative caricatures of older women in film and on TV. I’d like to see how the contributors investigate many issues facing women in their forties: struggling with infertility, caring for their children and elderly parents and aging gracefully with dignity rather than trying to be forever young. 

Thank you, Andrea for the great interview!! What great authors are in this little gem? Take a look!

Jon Skovron
David Levithan 
Lauren Oliver
Melissa Walker 
Brendan Halpin
Kerry Cohen 
Ann Hood
Sheila Kohler 
Katherine Center
Steve Almond 
Rebecca Walker
& more...

Check out the official book trailer for CRUSH below.

Add to Goodreads
Buy CRUSH from IndieBound or The Book Depository. You can also ask your library to order a copy!

Andrea has been kind enough to offer five copies for five lucky followers. *throws confetti* Pay attention to those entries, and feel free spread the word.

*giveaway closed*