I'm so excited to have Emma on the blog today to answer a couple of questions I have about her new book, Tweet Cute, out January 21st. I posted my review a while ago, so if you haven't read it or need a reminder, here's my review. It's so much fun, and I'll be posting a short except below the questions so that you can get a taste of the story.
1. Social media is obviously a huge part of this story. Were you ever hesitant or concerned about trying to capture internet culture in a book? Did you do any kind of research to prepare?
Oh boy, I did almost zero research. I was working as an editor who wrote and assigned daily content based on things going viral both in the social media and food space, so I was already aggressively online. I think my primary concern was mostly trying to keep the book from feeling too hyper specific to the time I was writing it, but also keeping it fresh — I was careful to try and choose the more “lasting” memes than the memes of the week.
2. One of the major threads of the story has to do with Jack's app Weazl. How did you get the idea for Weazl? Was it important to you to show the really positive side of social media with this app because I really enjoyed that focus.
I knew I wanted some element where they were getting to know each other without any pressure, so that’s kind of where Weazl came in. I also did want to emphasize that although there are always cases of social media being used for bad, there’s so, so much good that comes out of it too! I really loved the idea of these kids who were forced to be so hyper competitive all their lives coming together in a place where they could help each other out and band together, because ultimately that’s what a lot of these social media platforms and tools help teens do.
3. Jack and Pepper are both quite complex, well drawn characters that complement each other perfectly. Do you have any advice for writers looking to further develop their own characters, and do you have any advice for people writing multiple points of view?
I think what really helps for me is just figuring out who the characters are by mentally putting them in all kinds of situations that may or may not ever actually land in the book. I think of life experiences I’ve had, or my friends have had, and I ask myself, “How would this character have reacted to that? Would it have been similar or different to the way I did, and why?” That also helped with figuring out the fundamental differences between the two characters when I was switching POVs; I was definitely worried in the beginning about making them sound too alike, so figuring out what set them apart was definitely a priority when I was first shaping them up!
Now that you've learned some things about the book, here's a quick look at the first chapter:
“Look.” I glance into the classroom, where Ethan is thoroughly distracted by Stephen and no longer keeping an eye on us. “I may have . . . overreacted.”
Pepper shakes her head. “I told you. I get it. It’s your family.”
“Yeah. But it’s also—well, to be honest, this has been kind of good for business.”
Pepper’s brow furrows, that one little crease returning. “What, the tweets?”
“Yeah.” I scratch the back of my neck, sheepish. “Actually, we had a line out the door yesterday. It was kind of intense.”
“That’s . . . that’s good, right?”
The tone of my voice is clearly not matching up with the words I’m saying, but if I’m being honest, I’m still wary of this whole overnight business boom. And if I’m being honest, I’m even more wary of Pepper. If this really is as much of a family business as she claims it is—to the point where she’s helping run the Twitter handle, when even I know enough about corporate Twitter accounts to know entire teams of experienced people get paid to do that—then she might have had more of a hand in this whole recipe theft thing than she’s letting on.
The fact of the matter is, I can’t trust her. To the point of not knowing whether I can even trust her knowing how our business is doing, or just how badly we need it.
“Yeah, um, I guess.” I try to make it sound noncommittal. My acting skills, much like my breakfast-packing skills, leave much to be desired.
“So . . .”
Pepper presses her lips into a thin line, a question in her eyes.
“So, I guess—if your mom really wants you to keep tweeting . . .”
“Wait. Yesterday you were pissed. Two minutes ago you were pissed.”
“I am pissed. You stole from us,” I reiterate. “You stole from an eighty-five-year-old woman.”
“Yeah, yeah, but still. You’re them, and I’m . . . her. It’s like a choose your fighter situation, and we just happen to be the ones up to bat.”
“So you’re saying—you don’t not want me to keep this up?”
“The way I see it, you don’t have to make your mom mad, and we get a few more customers in the door too.”
Pepper takes a breath like she’s going to say something, like she’s going to correct me, but after a moment, she lets it go. Her face can’t quite settle on an expression, toeing the line between dread and relief.
I answer by opening the container she handed me. The smell that immediately wafts out of it should honestly be illegal; it stops kids I’ve never even spoken to in their tracks.
“Are you a witch?” I ask, reaching in and taking a bite of one. It’s like Monster Cake, the Sequel—freaking Christmas in my mouth. I already want more before I’ve even managed to chew. My eyes close as if I’m experiencing an actual drug high—and maybe I am, because I forget myself entirely and say, “This might even be better than our Kitchen Sink Macaroons.”
“Kitchen Sink Macaroons?”
Eyes open again. Yikes. Note to self: dessert is the greatest weapon in Pepper’s arsenal. I swallow my bite so I can answer her.
“It’s kind of well-known, at least in the East Village. It even got in some Hub Seed roundup once. I’d tell you to try some, but you might steal the recipe, so.”
Pepper smiles, then—actually smiles, instead of the little smirk she usually does. It’s not startling, but what it does to me in that moment kind of is.
Before I can examine the unfamiliar lurch in my stomach, the bell rings and knocks the smile right off her face. I follow just behind her, wondering why it suddenly seems too hot in here, like they cranked the air up for December instead of October. I dismiss it by the time I get to my desk—probably just all the Twitter drama and the glory of So Sorry Blondies getting to my head.
“One rule,” she says, as we sit in the last two desks in the back of the room.
I raise my eyebrows at her.
“We don’t take any of it personally.” She leans forward on her desk, leveling with me, her bangs falling into her face. “No more getting mad at each other. Cheese and state.”
“What happens on Twitter stays on Twitter,” I say with a nod of agreement. “Okay, then, second rule: no kid gloves.”
Mrs. Fairchild is giving that stern look over the room that never quite successfully quiets anyone down. Pepper frowns, waiting for me to elaborate.
“I mean—no going easy on each other. If we’re going to play at this, we’re both going to give it our A game, okay? No holding back because we’re . . .”
Friends, I almost say. No, I’m going to say. But then—
“I’d appreciate it if even one of you acknowledged the bell with your silence,” Mrs. Fairchild grumbles.
I turn to Pepper, expecting to find her snapping to attention the way she always does when an adult comes within a hundred feet of disciplining her. But her eyes are still intent on me, like she is sizing something up—like she’s looking forward to something I haven’t anticipated yet.
“All right. No taking it personally. And no holding back.”
She holds her hand out for me to shake again, under the desk so Mrs. Fairchild won’t see it. I smile and shake my head, wondering how someone can be so aggressively seventeen and seventy-five at the same time, and then I take it. Her hand is warm and small in mine, but her grip is surprisingly firm, with a pressure that almost feels like she’s still got her fingers wrapped around mine even after we let go.
I turn back to the whiteboard, a ghost of a smirk on my face. “Let the games begin.”
Books by this Author...
Tweet Cute: Review Here
Links of Interest:
New Blog Goals: Here
I Got Rid of (Almost) All My Books: Here
Reflecting on 2019: Here
Top 10 of 2019: Here