Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Interview with Judy Gregerson, Author of BAD GIRLS CLUB

What reviewers are saying

MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW-"Bad Girls Club is as riveting as Dave Pelzer's A Child Called It books, but is far better at exploring the psychological reasons why the abused remain so loyal to their abusers. This is definitely a novel all young adults should read!"

PROFESSORNANA-"Books like A CHILD CALLED IT have long been popular with teens. This book will appeal for many of the same reasons. It is the story, ultimately, of triumph over incredible odds."

Marlene P.:
Tell us about your newest book BAD GIRLS CLUB.

Judy Gregerson: BAD GIRLS CLUB is very special to me. It is so much a part of what happened to me as a teen and I wrote it to show what abandonment and abuse does to the soul and mind of a teenager. We read stories about abused kids in the paper all the time or we see it on the news, but we don't hear much about their inner conflicts and how they struggle with their own feelings and thoughts about what has happened to them. But I think that every teen knows someone who wrestles with these issues and I thought there was a place in teen literature for this story.

Marlene P.: What was your inspiration for this story?

Judy Gregerson: Several things, really, but probably the biggest one is that my mom left when I was thirteen and went into a mental hospital. She never returned and because of it, one of the biggest themes in my writing has been abandonment. No matter what I write, it just shows up.

I tried writing other stories for a long time, but this one kept calling to me. I didn't want to write it at first. It was too close to home. Too scary for me to tackle. But eventually I decided that I would have to take a stab at it. And as I got deeper into the story, I knew that I had to keep going.

Marlene P.: What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Judy Gregerson: The hardest part for me is finding the real, naked truth of the story and bringing that to the forefront. It's easy to write off the top of your head, but when you go deeper, through layers of what you think is truth, eventually you find the real core of the story or the character. It's difficult because you have to keep digging until you find it and that is real work. The other hard part for me is a first draft. I hate first drafts. They're like ugly little anemic stories that are going to have to be fixed.

Marlene P.: What are you working on now?

Judy Gregerson: Right now I'm pretty busy with marketing this book, but I have a humorous YA I'm trying to find a home for and a silly midgrade that I'd like to polish. I've also gotten back into a novel I started in 2002 and couldn't finish. I woke up one night at about 2:30 a.m. and all the answers to the problems were very clear to me. So the next morning I got up and started writing. That's going well, but it's slow because I tend to veer off into marketing or chatting or something else. I'm easily distracted, probably too easily, and I really have to fight to stay on track.

Marlene P.: What is your favorite line, passage, chapter from this book?

Judy Gregerson: Ooooh. You're going to go make me fish it out? Ok, let me go find it.

My life, this island on which I stand, is built with sand, and with each step I take, my feet sink to my ankles. Some days I sink all the way up to my knees. Today I will pull my little sister behind me, sometimes carrying her on my back because she is too small to pull herself out of the quicksand that often traps us. And on our way across this island, I will tell her jokes, and I will hold her hand, and I will shield her from the woman who used to be my mother.

~~Cafe Note~~ As a regular part of our interviews, featured authors will pop back in for one week after their interview is posted to answer any other questions blog readers may leave for them. So if you have any questions or comments for Judy Gregerson, send them now! She'd love to hear from you!


MollyMom103 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MollyMom103 said...

BAD GIRLS CLUB is a heartfelt story. You might cry. You will think. It's totally worth an afternoon.

Ghost Girl said...

Wow, Judy! Can't wait to read it. While it's hard to plumb the depths as you have done for this book, it can be really cathartic as well. Has anyone close to you, who experienced any of the motivating events behind your story, read it? How did they respond?

My first YA does not specifically deal with my own past, but it is certainly informed by that emotional turmoil. My sister started to read it, but the raw emotions that stem from our childhood were too clear for her. How do you handle it?

Lillian said...


I was reading this in the car on vacation. I got to the part where the mother said (Spoiler Removed), and then my husband wanted me to take over the wheel and drive...yeah...right. I couldn't wait to get back to the book.

Judy, what was the hardest part of writing this particular novel?

What types of things do you like to write most?

Do you like to read the same type of books you write?

SAH said...

Congrats on your book! What's the one best thing an author can do to promote her book?

BigJohn_ said...

I have read an advanced readers copy of Judy Gregerson’s Bad Girls Club. Bad Girls Club is riveting and unforgettable. The story is very dramatic and the crises are well, vivid and the characters are very well presented-- you will definitely get the impression that you are there right there in the rooms with these characters--and you will find it hard not to become involved with these characters. You can not read this book and not remember it. Judy Gregerson’s Bad Girls Club is absolutely unforgettable.

Cana said...

I was also thrilled to be able to read this incredible story. I read it weeks ago and it still pops into my head from out of nowhere. Her characters are so real, so poignant. The book is amazing and I applaud Judy Gregerson for having the courage to write this riveting novel. I highly recommend you read this book.

Anonymous said...

Note: Blogger is not letting me post under my name, so I've gone anonymous.

Ghost Girl: Thanks for the comments. I have to say that this book is not "my story" in the sense that all of what happened to my MC did not happen to me. I was a very different kind of teenager although I felt a lot of what she feels and I drew from that when I wrote the book. But I didn't find it painful to write the story and it wasn't cathartic in any way. I found it fairly easy to step out of myself and put her emotions on paper.

The easiest way to do this was to become the main character and I found that I often got so into being the character that when I stopped writing, it took hours to shake her off. It was almost like going in a trance, which is the only way I can explain it.

I think that abandonment is a feeling that everyone has experienced in their life to some degree. But having lost my own mother as a teenager, it was a good "fit" as a story for me. I did push the story as far as I could because as I wrote it, I was thinking of the kids whose live with mothers like Susan Smith or Andrea Yates. And my research showed that about 400-500 kids a year are murdered by their mothers. I wanted to write their story more than mine. I was also thinking about the kids who are locked in cages by their parents or starved to the point of death because I felt they needed a voice.

My oldest sister did read the book and she loved the story. I think that she knew that the underlying emotions were mine but she never commented on that. We had talked a little, before she read it, about how this was not my family's story and how I didn't want people, especially those in my home town, to think it was. How my mother ended up in a mental hospital and why she never returned is a story about my father's betrayal of her and that is a whole other story that has nothing to do with this one. Maybe I ought to write that one next!

Anonymous said...

Lill: The hardest part about writing this book was plot. I had an emotion and a character when I started. Then I had to give her a story and some complications. I'd read somewhere about "13 complications", and about adding them one by one in order to keep upping the tension of the story, so I used that concept and went with it.

I like writing deep stories but I also like humor a lot. I'd say that humor is my first choice.

As far as reading goes, I like books about survival. They're my favorites.

Paula said...

Hi Judy! You mentioned that no matter how much you try to write something else, it seems to come around to abandonment.

However, you mention an MG and another book in the works. Was it difficult to switch gears? Or was it a relief to finally write something else, once you got Bad Girls Club and its topic off your chest?

Now that you've told it, do you believe that you'll be better able to tackle lighter topics? Or do you believe that writing about heavier issues is simply something you're better at because of your own experiences?

Anonymous said...

Sah: Boy, that's a hard question. I really had to think about what's the one best thing to do to promote.

I'd say, consider all your options and be open to do whatever it is that you think needs being done and be willing to do whatever you're asked to do. Within limits, of course. And that means looking at the big picture and finding out how you can fit your promotion into that. Choose what works for you, what you're comfortable with, and what you really think will benefit you. And since this is a long term thing, choose wisely.

Anonymous said...

Paula: After I wrote BAD GIRLS CLUB, I was definitely ready for something lighter. At that point, there was no way I wanted to tackle a book with heavy issues. This was my second book of this kind and although the first was a different genre and had been published years before, I was tired of it.

So, it was a relief to shift gears, although I will admit that I'm probably more comfortable with the deeper stuff. The challenge was making heavy issues funny, or at least toning them down some, because I never seem to get away from them.

Joni said...

Hi, Judy! Joni here, in case blogger makes me be anon, which it sometimes does.

Very interesting "inside story!" Curious, especially as you mentioned 13 complications, etc. -- did you outline the whole thing before writing? And/or how many drafts did it take until it was in a shape at least similar to where it is now, if you don't mind saying?

Congrats on the impending release!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping in, Joni.

No, I did not outline. And this made the story very hard for me to write as I knew where it started, had no idea where it would end up, and no clue what happened in the middle. So, it was an organic process that about drove me nuts.

The story kind of unfolded as I went through my 20 something drafts over a period of 7 years. I'd work on it for 6 months and then put it down for 6. Then I'd go back and do some more. It was like driving in fog and I had to keep at it until the fog cleared. That took a long time.

In fact, it really had three very distinct incarnations. I'd think it was done, send it out, and then I'd get comments back from editors. Two were very helpful because they worked with me on revisions and helped me with voice, atmosphere, and tone.

ljohns said...

Judy -- congrats on this newest novel and your fab reviews! This is my kind of book, raw and full of uncertainties. I can't wait to share it with readers at The Seattle Public Library!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ljohns. You were so supportive of this book from the very start and I have always remembered what you said to me after you read one of the early incarnations. I'm glad you're working in a library now and can share it with kids. LOL. Judy

MaryP said...

Judy, congrats on the publication of BAD GIRLS CLUB! You are an awesome writer--can't wait to read it!

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Anais said...

Good words.

Anonymous said...