Denise Mealy | The Children’s Book Review | June 25, 2014
Author Lauren Henderson is just as fun to talk to as we imagine Violet, the heroine of her book Kissing in Italian, would be. Half American and British, Henderson seems both posh and down to Earth. We talk about our mutual admiration for each others’ countries (You have Prom! Yes, but you have boarding schools!) and good deals found at Target.
“I absolutely love New York…the shopping, the restaurants,” she says. And after spending time dating in New York, she wrote Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating. “It’s a genuine guide to dating. What would Jane Austen say about not finding a man, but the right partner…Everyone said I would never find a man since I was a size 8 and had curly hair.” Her witty book was a smash hit.
When Henderson decided to write Young Adult Fiction, she tried to imagine what American girls would want to read about. For the book, Kiss Me Kill Me, book one in the Scarlett Wakefield series, Henderson drew from her own unique experiences with a peanut allergy and boarding school.
“The peanut allergy struck me as something that could be really interesting, it was very personal. [The boarding school in the book] is a hundred percent the school that I went to.” The Scarlett Wakefield series went on for three more popular books.
She’s gone on to write the Flirting in Italian series, where spunky Brit Violet tries to unravel the mystery of her heartthrob’s heritage. Are they related, or not? “How can a relationship be impossible anymore?” she says, when discussing the plot. “There are very few things that would stop two people from being together.” The rich tapestry of the Italian countryside provides a dazzling backdrop to the series. “I had very similar times driving round the beautiful countryside, meeting Italian boys and going to parties. The part in the book where the girls go to have pizza and then dance and swim in the river/hot springs is all based on times we had back then, as well as the very smart parties hosted by parents of friends.”
When discussing writing for teens, she says, “It’s just storytelling. I really loved writing sixteen-year-old protagonists. [Teens] want one thing and they want it really badly. Their motivation is incredibly focused and incredibly driven. The rivalries are all terribly felt. It really matters to them.”
Henderson’s always wanted to be a writer. “There just weren’t any books with heroines that were contemporary to the life I was living.” It seems her fans would agree, snapping up her contemporary novels all across the world. After all, who doesn’t want to be whisked away to a riveting, sensual place where intrigue reigns supreme?
Read more about Kissing in Italian, her latest Young Adult book.
About Lauren Henderson
LAUREN HENDERSON is the author of Flirting in Italian and Kissing in Italian, the Scarlett Wakefield series, and several acclaimed “tart noir” mystery novels for adults, as well as the witty romance handbook, Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating. Lauren was born and raised in London, where she lives with her husband. Visit: laurenhenderson.net