Today, to kick off the Hearts, Flowers and Romance Valentine's event here on the Mod Podge Bookshelf debut author, Lorraine Zago Rosenthal has stopped by to talk about her novel, Other Words for Love.
GC: The plot of Other Words for Love is tried and true, a contemporary first-love story that doesn’t end with the prince swooping the princess of to his castle. What is original is your cast of characters and how different their experiences in love have been. Why did you feel it was important to layer Ari and Blake's relationship with the tales of other romances, marriages and bad reputations? Would you ever consider doing a spin-off of your first novel, telling Leigh, or even Delsin’s story?
LZR: My goal in writing Other Words for Love was to create characters who were nuanced and complex. The other aspects of the story create a background for each character and help to define their motivations. I don’t think that a spin-off will happen; although the secondary characters are important, the heart of the novel is Ari—and her story has been fully told.
GC: Do you believe that first love is doomed to fail, or do you believe the fate of a romantic relationship rests in the hands of the people involved?
LZR: I don’t believe that first love is necessarily doomed to fail. Some people meet their soul mate in high school and live happily ever after. For others, it takes much longer to find the right partner. I think that whether any relationship works out depends on the people and their individual circumstances.
GC: What do you image for Ari’s future, and how do you hope her literary experiences might affect young readers as they move forward in their own lives?
LZR: I imagine Ari as living a happy and fulfilled life, using her talent, and having all the things she feared she’d never find.
Regarding how Ari’s experiences might affect young readers: when I write, I don’t have an agenda. I just tell one person’s story—in this case, Ari’s story. Fiction is extremely subjective, and people analyze and judge it based on their personal experiences and values. Because of that, every reader will take something different from my novel. However, if there’s one message that I think readers—especially teen readers—might take from Ari’s story is that your existence won’t always be exactly as it is now. Young people don’t have enough experience to know that life is always in flux, and circumstances constantly change. So even if you’re not particularly popular or happy or appreciated at the moment, it won’t always be that way. What makes you different now will make you special later. I also think that Ari’s experience in Other Words for Love demonstrates that even if things don’t work out the way you expected, you will be okay—and maybe even better. I have already heard from many readers who have told me that Ari’s story has helped them deal with a breakup, and I’m thrilled to hear that! It makes me so happy to know that readers are connecting with and learning from Ari.
GC: What is next for you as a writer?
LZR: I plan to continue writing YA novels. I’m currently working on a book that, like Other Words for Love, is set in NYC.
GC: And finally, since this is an event about Love, could you please share your most romantic memory, or a love story that has inspired you?
LZR: Many love stories have inspired me, including the movie Ghost and the movie/musical West Side Story—which are romantic, tragic, and heart-wrenching. I also love the romantic comedies When Harry Met Sally, Moonstruck, and Sweet Home Alabama.
Lorraine Zago Rosenthal