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Luisa Plaja Interview

Posted on 12 February 2008. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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Writewords talks to Luisa Plaja, aka Luisa

Tell us about your writing background

I always fancied myself as a bit of a writer, even before I started school. In my teens, I wrote short stories, serials and photo stories for teenage magazines. I sold my first story to the now defunct Patches magazine when I was 14, and my first serial to the equally defunct (not my fault! Er, I don't think) Blue Jeans magazine at 15. Sigh, they don't make 'em like they used to! It was a huge thrill to be paid for my stories and see them in print, but I didn't really think writing fiction was something a grown-up could do for a living, much as I would have liked to. So I found other ways to work with words. I took a degree in Linguistics and worked as a lexicographer and dictionary editor, then as a television subtitler, then in linguistic software, maintaining dictionaries for speech recognition. I now specialise in UK/US English language differences, which might possibly have informed a couple of jokes in Split by a Kiss.
Since arming myself with a book deal, I've done occasional freelance work for a manuscript assessment and synopsis-writing service. This has taught me that it's far easier to take other people's work apart than it is your own.

How did you start writing?

Well, apart from writing on and off all my life... I started my first serious attempt at a novel for teenagers a few months after the birth of my second baby. I decided I wanted to do something totally selfish, non-work and non-baby-related. I also think I felt liberated at that point I realised nothing in the world could expose me to more criticism than bringing up children. Er, not so far, at least.

Who are your favourite writers and why?

I love fiction written primarily for teenage girls and my favourite authors include E. Lockhart, Maureen Johnson, Rachel Vail, Jaclyn Moriarty and Sarra Manning. I admire the way they write with wit and honesty about relationships and growing up. I love their strong female characters, and the focus on a time in life when most major decisions have yet to be made.

I do enjoy grown-up fiction as well. Books I've loved recently have included Mothernight by Sarah Stovell, Prince Rupert's Teardrop by Lisa Glass and More Than Love Letters by Rosy Thornton. At the moment I'm reading a fantastic book of short stories: No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July. I've also always admired the work of Jane Rogers and Barbara Gowdy, among others whose names have annoyingly popped out of my head right now.

Is there a pressure to keep up with youth culture in the young adult writing world?

No, I don't think so. Writers usually find a way to create worlds based on their own experiences of having been a young person, give or take a mobile phone ringtone or two. Besides, when it comes to issues surrounding emotional development and 'coming of age', I'm pretty sure things haven't changed much for a couple of millennia.

What's the worst thing about writing?

Aching for more time to write. Oh, also banishing that annoying inner critic. I've got a really loud one here. Grr, go away.

And the best?

Getting completely involved in a world I've created myself. Or maybe that amazing feeling when other people 'get it' too.

How did you get your first agent/ commission/publication?

After finishing my novel, I wrote query emails to two top UK children's literary agents, explaining the premise of my book. One of them wrote back the same day asking for the full manuscript. She phoned two weeks later, saying she loved my book and wanted to meet me. I signed with her at the meeting. After I followed her revision suggestions, she sold the book to Random House within three weeks of submitting it. It was a whirlwind of excitement and nothing like I ever expected the process could be, even in my wildest and most 'maybe-it's-not-all-rubbish-after-all' dreams.

Tell us what kind of response you get from audiences/readers and if/how this affects/influences your writing

It's early days yet for me, but I had some fantastic reviews (The Bookbag's reviewer called my book "the ultimate in teen fiction" gulp!) and I've received a few lovely emails from people who have read my proof. I've also had a series of wonderful comments from teenaged readers. I wouldn't say any of this has affected my writing, but it has amazed and thrilled me to bits!

A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

Comments by other Members

Trina at 20:48 on 12 February 2008  Report this post
Fantastic interview! :-)
Can't wait to read Split by a Kiss

eve at 20:53 on 12 February 2008  Report this post
Yay Luisa, superb interview.

Really enjoyed reading that :):)

Sappholit at 20:55 on 12 February 2008  Report this post
Ooh, Luisa. You do kick ass.

Joanna at 21:06 on 12 February 2008  Report this post
Fab interview, Luisa... And about time too! ;)

charlottetheduck at 21:57 on 12 February 2008  Report this post
Woohoo!!! *does happy-for-Luisa dance*

Fab stuff. Can't WAIT to read the book!!! xxx

Shika at 22:06 on 12 February 2008  Report this post
Feel like this interview is long over due! Nice one. S

Sally_Nicholls at 22:06 on 12 February 2008  Report this post
I deal mostly with the self-image and identity issues of teenage girls growing up in a so-called post-feminist world. Also, snogging.

I loved this quote! Looking forward muchly to the book,

Sally xxx

Sidewinder at 23:48 on 12 February 2008  Report this post
Lovely interview, Luisa. Can't wait to read the book!

Clodagh x

Nik Perring at 00:05 on 13 February 2008  Report this post
Fantastic interview; fantastic writer. And a top person too.

Can't wait to get my copy.

All the very best with it!

Nik xx

Steerpike`s sister at 07:19 on 13 February 2008  Report this post
Great interview, Luisa! :)

Beanie Baby at 07:59 on 13 February 2008  Report this post
This is great! Well done Luisa. And good luck with the new book.

caro55 at 10:25 on 13 February 2008  Report this post
Great interview, and I love your book cover!

The Mighty Mouse at 10:39 on 13 February 2008  Report this post
I always love reading how other writers began their careers. I'm just about to start submitting my own stories, not the novels which I've uploaded to this site but childrens picture books that I've been working on because my main profession is illustration

MariaM at 10:51 on 13 February 2008  Report this post
Fantastic interview - well done Luisa!

CarolineSG at 10:51 on 13 February 2008  Report this post
Brill interview Luisa! I thought this line

Don't forget to enjoy it.
...is something we all ought to tattoo onto our hands or something so we don;t forget it.

Can't wait to read your book. I bet they'll turn it into a film...x

MF at 12:02 on 13 February 2008  Report this post
Ha ha...I just took the "Are You Jo or Josie" test, only to be told that I'm a bit of both :)

Congrats, Luisa - and enjoy the ride!

manicmuse at 13:00 on 13 February 2008  Report this post
Our Luisa eh....I feel like a proud Mum! Well done Luisa, you are fab. Fx

Luisa at 14:42 on 13 February 2008  Report this post
Thank you for all these lovely comments. Sniff. You're all wonderful!

MF, you're obviously very well-balanced. I come out as Jo the Nerd every time I try it, despite having written the questions myself. ;)

sazenfrog at 15:32 on 13 February 2008  Report this post
Super interview, Luisa! I didn't realise you were such a linguistics boff or that you specialised in US/UK language differences.

I know what my niece will be getting for Christmas...

Saz x

Deborah at 09:53 on 15 February 2008  Report this post
Luisa - you're a bloody star (a real actual one now!) Can't wait to get Mini-Me the book (and read it when she's not looking) - and tell everyone 'I *virtually* know her!!!
Well (sob) done, you cool cool person, you!
Debs x

mariaharris at 09:58 on 22 February 2008  Report this post
Brilliant Luisa!!

Btw my publishers sent me a page from weekend Arts/Culture of The Herald with a review of both our books - your review is stonkingly good! WW mail me if you'd like a colour digital version, just in case you haven't seen it.

Account Closed at 23:16 on 11 March 2008  Report this post
Great interview!

And thanks for the mention

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