Sweet Sixteener Holly VanDyne recently spoke to Fearless Fifteener Elaine Dimopoulos her debut YA science fiction novel, MATERIALS GIRLS (May 5, 2015 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
Elaine Dimopoulos is a graduate of Yale, Columbia, and, Simmons College, where she earned an M.F.A. in Writing for Children. Currently, she teaches children’s literature at Boston University and is also an instructor for Grub Street. She served as the Associates of the Boston Public Library’s Children’s Writer-in-Residence during which time she wrote Material Girls.
In Marla Klein and Ivy Wilde’s world, teens are the gatekeepers of culture. A top fashion label employs sixteen-year-old Marla to dictate hot new clothing trends, while Ivy, a teen pop star, popularizes the garments that Marla approves. Both girls are pawns in a calculated but seductive system of corporate control, and both begin to question their world’s aggressive levels of consumption. Will their new “eco-chic” trend subversively resist and overturn the industry that controls every part of their lives?
Smart, provocative, and entertaining, this thrilling page-turner for teens questions the cult like mentality of fame and fashion. Are you in or are you out?
Holly: MATERIAL GIRLS is such a unique concept. What was your inspiration behind it?
Elaine: Thanks! In the world of the novel, teens dictate trends, and my inspiration came from noticing moms and daughters dressing alike at a school where I used to teach. It made me ask: What if children instead of adults were the official fashion trend setters? Focusing on trends made me curious about what happens to our clothes once they’re out of style and we discard them. I also thought about the experience of young celebrities and wondered what it would be like to peak at sixteen while the whole world watches—and then face the prospect of losing your fame. Ultimately, I wanted to write a story that makes us think a little harder about the way we dispose of clothes—and people—in our own world.
Holly: Was there much research involved when you were writing MATERIAL GIRLS?
Elaine: I researched the history of fashion, statistics on clothing waste, methods of eco-conscious clothing production, and child labor movements. I also ripped out pages of fashion magazines for inspiration and stuck them up around my office.
Holly: How did you find your agent?
Elaine: I heard my agent speak at two SCBWI conferences, and he impressed the heck out of me. I still queried widely, but when he offered me representation, I was thrilled.
Holly: What has been your favorite part of the publishing process?
Elaine: Receiving my editorial letter was so exciting. I loved the moment when I fully grasped the changes I needed to make and before I dug into the messy process of rewriting.
Lightning Round Questions
Music to write by?
Café white noise.
Outline or no outline?
Outline of major scenes and ending.
Favorite writing snack?
Does a mozzarella & pesto Panini count as a snack?
What were you reading when you were 16?
Books for school. Almost exclusively. Oedipus Rex, Beloved, King Lear, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Is this the first book you’ve written?
No. I wrote a historical romance first. In keeping with the eco-theme of Material Girls, I plan to go back and repurpose its scenes at some point.
Favorite place to write?
A café with good food and fast internet… but I’ll write anywhere.
In addition to being a writer, Holly VanDyne is also a librarian, computer and art teacher at a small, private school in the middle of Ohio where she lives with her husband and two daughters. Her book, THE INHABITANT OF ALEXIS O’RILEY, was previously scheduled for publication with Egmont USA and is currently looking for a new publishing home. You can find her on Twitter.