Wacky British author connects with teen readers
Have you ever dated a Sex God? Or danced in your nuddy-pants? What in the heck are nuddy-pants, anyway? We addressed these and a few other questions to British author Louise Rennison, whose best-selling books about the trials and tribulations of teenage heroine Georgia Nicolson have won critical acclaim for their insight into the adolescent mind as well as their laugh-out-loud humor.
Here's what the outlandish author of the outrageously titled books On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God; Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas; and a new novel Dancing in My Nuddy-Pants had to say:
How long have you been writing books for teen readers?
I have been writing books for teenagers (or the criminally insane as I prefer to call them) for three years now. I like to think it has made me a more grown-up and rounded person. However, my so-called friends say it has made me "unbelievably childish," which is a bit harsh I think, but ho hum pig's bum.
What inspired you to write the Georgia series?
While I was writing a column for a London newspaper, I wrote about how I had to be taken to the A and E [emergency room] at a London hospital to have my stilettos cut off. I had shoved my huge feet into tiny, strappy high heels, and after walking home from a night of dancing, had fallen asleep with them on. As I slept, my feet swelled up around the straps, forever trapping me in them. When I got to the A and E, the doctor said, I'll have to cut them off. I cried, Oh, please, doctor can't you save them. He thought I meant my feet! Anyway, a publisher saw my column and asked me if I would consider writing a teenage girl's diary book. I said, er . . . why me? and they said, because we have never read anything quite so self-obsessed and childish, so we thought you could do a really good job.
What compels you to write?
I have always written since I was very little. My first publication was a comic I wrote about the people in the street where we lived. There was a particularly mad family that I wrote amusingly about. My mum wouldn't let me sell it on the street, though. And when I asked why, she said, because I want to go on living, and if that family sees what you have written about them, I won't.
In one of your books you note that "[you] don't know what [you're] going on about half the time." And indeed, the language in the books is quite, shall we say, unique. Where did this language come from?
It's partly from school. We used to call our school "Home for the terminally bewildered" and say things like "piddly diddly department" and "sheer desperadoes." Other stuff is, alarmingly, the way my mates and I speak to each other now. All that "thick as two short thick things" or "clever as a bat" is our idea of amusementosity.
Is Georgia an adolescent version of yourself?
My parents beg and plead for me not to admit this, but all the things in the books actually happened, and all the people are based entirely on real people. So before you ask: Yes, I did go to a party dressed as a stuffed olive. And yes, I did shave off my eyebrows by mistake (by the way, never do this, unless you want to stay in your room for the next 40 years). The sadness is that I put real people's names in it . . . so I fully expect to be killed by Elvis Attwood, the school caretaker, when I go back to my old school.
Have you ever dated a Sex God? Or danced in your nuddy-pants?
Yes, I have dated a Sex God and he was in a band. The band wasn't called The Stiff Dylans (which it clearly should have been, as it is an excellent name). And guess what? I am going to a school reunion in September and the band (with the Sex God) are going to be playing at it! So you never know, there might be a reprise of our romance. And yes, of course, I have danced in my nuddy-pants . . . but hey, who hasn't?
What is next on Georgia's horizon?
Georgia will be taking a well-earned rest. My next book is about a girl who emigrates to America from England. (A sort of teenage Bill Bryson . . . although not a boy. Or American. Or 40 . . . but on the whole, similar-ish.)
Any advice for your teen readers?
You're gorgeous and loveable as all get out.