Sarah: Mel's character is Jewish.
Privileged or not, all the kids have cellphones, of course, without which no plot about contemporary teenagers would stand up. There's a pivotal scene in which a lost cellphone is used to reveal secrets.
Emily: The cellphone is not my friend.
Sarah: My cellphone calls random people.
Lauren: Kids use cellphones in all kinds of complicated ways. They call each other using someone else's cellphone, so the person won't know who's calling. We used that because we needed Jesse to find out information accidentally.
Emily: One of the ideas in the book is that we have all this technology to keep in touch, but Brady [the college boyfriend] won't call Vicks, and Jesse won't call her mother. There's an expectation about keeping in touch, but we resist it.
Lauren: But on the road we escape those connections and reconnect with one another in a human way . . . that's brilliant! I never thought of that!
Emily: But we wrote it.
Censorship is on the minds of the three authors, especially since Lauren's book "ttyl," was recently named to the list of the 10 most challenged books in 2007 by the American Library Assn.
Emily: Books are meant to open doors. If a parent reads a book in which teenagers pick up a hitchhiker or drink at a party [both things happen in this book], wouldn't you think it's an opportunity to talk about it? To ask, "What would you do in that situation?" If you just take it off the shelf, that says to your kid: "Never talk to me about anything!" It closes the door between parents and children.
Lauren: We didn't write a guidebook to bad behavior.
Emily: It's a guide to finding your badassness.
Sarah: Your bad-BOTTOM-ness!
Lauren: My editor told me, "Lauren, you're wired in such a way to remember what it was like to be a tween, but you have the life experience to give some perspective on it and put it into words."
Emily: People seem to think young-adult authors put in sex to increase sales, but by and large, sex inhibits sales, because a lot of libraries won't buy your book. And let's face it, if you want to be edgy and glamorous, you don't write for this age. Do you think it's glamorous at literary parties to say, "I write for kids"? You only do it because you love the audience.
To read about the authors' road trips -- the one they took for writing inspiration and the one they're on now for book promotion -- check out the many online sources:
E. Lockhart's website: www.theboyfriendlist.com
Sarah Mlynowski's website: www.sarahm.com
Lauren Myracle's website: www.laurenmyracle.com
Also have a look at the publisher's site, www.harperteen.com, and "How to Be Bad" on www.myspace.com/how_to_be_bad.
Sonja Bolle's Word Play column appears monthly at www.latimes.com/books.