Swanky Seventeen author A.V. Geiger recently chatted with Laura Stampler about her new contemporary YA: LITTLE BLACK DRESSES, LITTLE WHITE LIES (Simon Pulse, July 16, 2016).
About the Book
The Devil Wears Prada meets Sex and the City in a wickedly funny debut novel about a girl who lands a dream internship at a magazine in New York City. If only she hadn’t lied about being a dating expert on her resume…
About the Author
Laura Stampler is a Californian turned New Yorker. After graduating from Stanford University, she became a journalist, interning—and then worked on staff—at various newspapers and magazines. Laura has written about everything from dating to social media stars to social justice issues at Time magazine, Business Insider, Huffington Post, The Nation, The New Republic, and The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. When she isn’t writing, she’s probably looking at pug gifs on the Internet.
A.V.: Your book stars a wickedly funny 17-year-old blogger, Harper, who snags an internship at a famous teen magazine (the fictional Shift, reminiscent of Teen Vogue or Seventeen). You yourself have a long history in the magazine industry. How closely is this book based on your own real-life experiences?
Laura: I was covering a number of topics including app dating at TIME magazine when I started writing Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies. I thought that it would be really fun to create a world where a girl who was kind of like me in high school (aka zero game whatsoever in the romance department) got placed in a situation in which she had to write about dating.
Although Shift magazine and the people who work there are totally fictional, and I’ve never worked at a glossy fashion magazine, I definitely pulled some experiences from my real life as a journalist. I wanted to capture the simultaneously exciting and overwhelming world of online media — writing articles you’re incredibly proud of and articles you quickly churn out to get traffic, the thrilling highs and unexpected lows of going viral (hello, trolls!)
A.V.: How did you decide to make the leap from journalism to novel writing? Was that a long-time goal or a more recent ambition?
Laura: Writing fiction has always been a part of my life — from when I dictated stories to my mom when I was too young to spell to when I majored in English with an emphasis in creative writing in college to now.
A.V.: Can we talk about how your main character spends most of the book feeling like an imposter? She fibbed her way into this prestigious internship, and now she has to act the part (“fake it till you feel it,” as she advises her own readers). I could personally identify with that sense of being in way over your head. Any words of wisdom for fellow authors who might be dealing with the dreaded “Imposter Syndrome?”
Laura: Ugh I’d like to meet someone who hasn’t felt like an imposter at some point in his or her life. (Actually, I wouldn’t. That person is probs THE WORST.)
I think it’s really important to remind yourself that you are a writer. That your voice and words matter. That you are the only person who can tell your story. It feels like a lie sometimes. Or even if you know it’s true, it’s hard to internalize that confidence. But I think that if you keep reminding yourself of your own value, eventually the message is going to stick.
A.V.: Do you have any advice for teens who aspire to write for a magazine like Shift?
Laura: First thing’s first: don’t base your application on a lie. You are totally capable of nailing this on your own. Stay true to your voice, but also accept every (ethical) assignment and task — no matter how menial and small.
Also, you don’t have to wait for an official internship to start being a journalist. Start writing and getting your work out there now! There’s your school and community newspapers, blogs and platforms like MTV Founders that publish essays written by teens.
Pug prom: it’s a big scene in the book. Does it exist, and have you (or any of your canine friends) ever attended?
I met someone who recently brought his dog to a PUG POOL PARTY in the Hamptons (this is literally my dream) so I’d like to think that pug proms are real. At the very least, dog proms exist. I drew a lot of inspiration from photographer Amy Lombard’s incredible series on the event.
Beauty and the Beast. (Although, I like to forget the whole Stockholm syndrome part of it.)
California or NYC?
For now, NYC. For the future, WHO KNOWS?
YA couple that you love to “ship”?
Ron and Hermione.
TV guilty pleasure?
ALL THINGS THE BACHELOR! But this is pure pleasure. Zero guilt.
Weirdest writing habit?
I subsist on a diet of Oreos and Diet Coke during serious writing binges.
About the Interviewer
A.V. Geiger is a popular author on the story-sharing website Wattpad, where her original teen fiction has received millions of hits and ranked as high as #1 in the Mystery/Thriller genre. Her writing career began as a hobby, posting celebrity fanfiction online, and her work draws extensively on her own experiences with fan culture and social media. Her first novel, FOLLOW ME BACK, debuts with Sourcebooks Fire in June 2017.
FOLLOW ME BACK is a romantic thriller for the online generation, told through a combination of police transcripts, Twitter DMs, and a dual POV narrative. When a disguised pop star and his #1 Twitter fan arrange to meet in real life, fake identities are revealed, and what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish turns deadly.