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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Blog Tour: Pretty Amy - Lisa Burstein (Guest Post)


Pretty AmyTitle: Pretty Amy
Author: Lisa Burstein
Release Date: May 8th 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Blog Tour: Guest Post (IDEA OF PRETTY AMY)

Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she’s somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when their dates stand them up for prom, and the girls take matters into their own hands—earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx—Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating “rehabilitation techniques” now filling up her summer. Worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing—like she is nothing.

Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it’s worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over
By  debut YA author Lisa Burstein
The idea for PRETTY AMY really started out of necessity. I was in grad school and had to write 150 pages of a novel for my dissertation. What I wrote was a funny, angry rant about a Jewish girl named Amy Fleishman who felt like her life sucked and didn't care about sharing those feelings. She had two best friends, Lila and Cassie and a therapist who was desperate to try and help her. I wrote furiously, getting out all the crap I felt when I was in high school about not feeling pretty enough, good enough, special enough. I had a great character study, but it was surely not a book.

A few years passed and I picked it up again. I knew I loved Amy. I knew she could be the catalyst to an amazing story, I just had to figure out what that story was. I knew she had to be put up against a wall to give up any of her secrets and so I came up with her getting arrested. Aside from the fear of death, the fear of captivity is probably one of the most humbling a person can face. I wanted to up the stakes of her being arrested, so I made it on prom night. A night all teens want to be one of the happiest they experience. With that idea, I started. Amy went through a lot of revision and rewrites, more than I want to admit.

First reads of my new version received nice comments from agents, she's funny, she's smart, this book is a rollicking good time, but Amy is not likeable. It killed me. I had a lot of soclose moments before I decided to try again.

So I went back and thought some more. I knew I had to give Amy something to love, something or someone to show that she was capable of love, that she was deserving of being likeable. I knew I wanted it to be a pet. There is something about the way someone loves a pet, or an animal that lets you know who they really are. I went through all the usual suspects- dog- too cutesy, cat- too independent, fish- too wet and thought what about a bird? A talking bird. Basically it could be something for Amy to love and a metaphor for how silent and caged she felt. And, so AJ was born.

With AJ in the book, Amy wasn't just an angry, unlikeable teenager, she was a girl who could only have real feelings and feel real feelings for her parrot. She was a girl who couldn't let anyone in but her bird. She was a girl who needed to teach her parrot to tell her that she was pretty. She was a girl who became complex. It is also where the title came from.

With this version, PRETTY AMY started to get interest and eventually snagged an agent, but would you believe it had to go through yet another rewrite before it was purchased? This time there was an editor request to add a love interest for Amy. So I thought some more. I knew it couldn't just be a typical love interest because Amy's story was anything but typical. I decided to give her two--one totally right for her, but that she couldn't see was right and one totally wrong for her, but that she couldn't see was wrong.

The addition of Aaron and Joe was the magic formula. I even felt it as I was writing. They added an extra layer of drama and showed a completely different side of Amy. After a month of nail biting I heard back from the requesting editor. She loved it. She wanted to buy it.

Amy has gone through so many changes to be who she is now, but each one was one that was needed. I guess my lesson would be don't give up and listen to feedback because sometimes it can be so right!

BIG THANK YOU TO ENTANGLED PUBLISHING - for letting me take part in the blog tour for this amazing book and for letting me read a review copy! I loved this book when I read it back in March (I think), and I can't wait to post my review early next month! (So sorry for the lateness - too much school and exams :( )  
Lisa Burstein
Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She received her MFA in Fiction from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University and is glad to finally have it be worth more than the paper it was printed on. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats. Pretty Amy is her first novel. She never went to her senior prom.


  1. Very cool to hear more about the making of a story. It really is a labor of love! I also read your (Lisa's) Dear Teen Me. It was moving, so thank you.


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