We’re in for a treat today. I’m welcoming Barbara Ehrentreu back for a return visit. She’s brought along the main character from her newest books and has graciously consented to interview her for us. But first let’s learn a little bit about Barbara.
Barbara Ehrentreu grew up in Brooklyn and moved to Queens. She has lived and taught in Long Island, Buffalo, NY and Westchester, NY as well as a year in Los Angeles, CA. She has a Masters Degree in Reading and Writing K-12. Currently she is retired from teaching, tutoring, and living in Stamford, CT with her family. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor won second prize in Preditors & Editors as Best Young Adult Book for 2011. It was inspired by Paula Danziger for her children’s writing workshop at Manhattanville College. Her second book, After, considers what can happen to a teen when her father becomes ill with a heart attack. It is based on her own experiences when her husband had a heart attack and the aftermath of what she and her family experienced. She is preparing the sequel to If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, Who Is Jennifer Taylor? Barbara also writes poetry and several of her poems are published in the anthologies, World Poetry Open Mic, Prompted: An International Collection of Poetry, Beyond the Dark Room, Storm Cycle and Backlit Barbell. She has a blog, Barbara’s Meanderings, and she hosts a radio show on Blog Talk Radio, Red River Radio Tales from the Pages, once a month. She is a member of Pen Letters and SCBWI.
Interview with Lauren Walstein from After by Barbara Ehrentreu
Today we have the pleasure of getting to know a little more about Lauren Walstein, who is the main character of After by Barbara Ehrentreu. Since this is one of Lauren’s first interviews she has asked that her author interview her.
My name is Lauren and I am from Mill Valley. I love to play softball and I’m a pitcher on my school’s team. In the book I’m fifteen, a sophomore and I’m hoping to get a scholarship to go to college. My parents told me I can’t go if I don’t. My father is a lawyer and my mother works for an advertising agency. I’m pretty tall. My hair is short and kind of a dark brown. I don’t think about it much. My pet peeve is letting oil trucks on the highway. Blue is my favorite color. I don’t drive so I usually go with my sister, Diane, my parents or Joey. I am most comfortable wearing jeans and a tee shirt or tank top. I like to listen to all kinds of music, but the song I love because it means Joey is calling is: “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. I know it’s corny but it fits him. My favorite drink is diet soda and my favorite thing to eat is mini chocolate-chip pancakes. My best friends are Joey and Jenny. I would have to say my nemesis is Amber Goldstein. Ooooh!!!
Barbara: Lauren has gone through a very turbulent year. I’ll let her tell you about all that happened.
Lauren: Um, hi. I’m not sure who is here, but Barbara told me a lot of people would read about me, so I’m a little nervous. I come from a pretty small town in upstate New York, Mill Valley. I’m still in high school. When everything happened I was a sophomore. Now I’m a senior and getting ready to graduate this year.
Barbara: Why don’t you tell everyone what happened to you the first month of your sophomore year?
Lauren: Well, um, yeah I’ll try to remember. Do you want me to start at the beginning?
Barbara: Yes. Tell us everything that happened. You know with your father and Joey.
Lauren: Okay, but I might start crying, because I always do when I have to tell this story. Is that okay?
Barbara: We can’t see you. So just start talking. You can stop if it gets to be too much!!
Lauren: So it all started with me watching the Mets play on TV. They had a good chance to win the pennant that year and so I was really hoping it would happen, but they were losing this game. I’m a pitcher on the softball team, so I take baseball seriously. Just as I was getting so tired and the score was so ridiculous I decided to go to sleep. I put one foot on the first step and the phone rang. I picked it up, because it was right near me and it was my dad. Only he didn’t sound right and wanted to speak to mom. So I gave the phone to her and started upstairs until I heard mom saying: “You have indigestion and back pains?” So I ran back downstairs and Diane came right behind me. We both got close to Mom who was hysterical. She kept saying how Dad needed to go to a hospital and then she called our doctors and they agreed. So she called Dad back and he said he would. I won’t go into everything she said, but I really think my life changed with that phone call. So I started thinking of life as before the phone call and after the phone call. Before it was all me thinking about lunch and my baseball mitt, winning the next game and Joey and after the call I felt like my world had shattered and everything changed. I mean everything!!
Barbara: Are you okay to keep talking Lauren?
Lauren: Yeah, I guess. I’ll skip over this part, because I don’t like to think about it too much, but Dad went to the hospital and they said he had a heart attack after we had been there for hours. Then in the morning they moved him to a new room and then another hospital. He had to have
bypass surgery and they didn’t do it at that hospital. All I remember is being in the hospital and then getting into a car and going to another hospital and then that hospital was so stupid they didn’t even have good chairs in the waiting room and it was awful. Dad had to wait too long and …. You know I don’t think I can talk about this. You know….
Barbara: Yes. It’s okay. Tell us about Joey.
Lauren: Oh, Joey. He’s like my best friend since kindergarten and before this year we did everything together. But during the summer he met Amber and they started going out. So I saw him practically never. But he was really nice when he heard my dad was in the hospital and when I was with him I started to feel more than friends if you know what I mean. Like I liked him as a guy and a friend too. It got really complicated because Joey wanted to be with me too, but he had to deal with Amber.
Barbara: That does sound complicated. How did you handle it?
Lauren: Well, when I was BFF’s with only Joey I didn’t have any girl friends. So when I really needed a friend an old friend who helped me though I hadn’t talked to her since elementary school, her name is Jenny, she got me through school. As we got closer I realized how I had missed a real girl friend and it was all good.
Barbara: What happened with Amber?
Lauren: Do we have to talk about her? I can’t talk about her and really if Joey were here he would tell me not to think about her. She’s a non-person to me.
Barbara: Well, thank you very much Lauren for telling us about your experience and anyone who would like to learn more will have to go and read After to find out the whole story.
“After” is a story about the struggles Lauren Walstein, a fifteen-year-old girl, has to go through when her father suddenly has a heart attack and undergoes bypass surgery. In one phone call her life changes completely. Lauren is a character with whom most teens will relate. Her best friend since kindergarten, Joey, is going out with her enemy and they have grown apart. Before the phone call all she thought about was getting a scholarship for softball, and the Mets. Suddenly she must deal with both her father’s illness and being in school. The demands on her from both ends complicate the story. In the middle of all this, she finds she is developing feelings for her best friend that are more than friendly. Is he feeling the same or is he just comforting her? In addition there is Joey’s mean girl friend Amber, who doesn’t appreciate Lauren being in the picture. Will Lauren’s father recover? How will Lauren cope with her new feelings for Joey?
Excerpt: Chapter One
The phone rang as the ball left the pitcher’s glove and I glanced toward the sound. Mom’s tears made me forget all about the game. My life changed while the TV blurred and turned into a nightmare kaleidoscope. That moment has been indelibly pressed into my thoughts.
My sister, Diane, was upstairs hunched over her computer as usual. She’s not a baseball fan at all. But I lived and breathed for the Mets that fall. They had such a great chance of getting the pennant and maybe even winning the World Series. I obsessed about the Mets, and of course, Joey.
Joey, my best friend from kindergarten, was always there for me. It’s hard to imagine a recess without him by my side. He’s bigger than I am and always looked a little older than he was. Mom liked Joey because he reassured her he would obey her rules. Maybe it was his easy smile or his clear, gray eyes.
Lately, though, Joey and I haven’t been so close. It happened during the summer when he was a counselor at this camp and he hooked up with this girl, Amber, who goes to our school. So now he spends a lot of his time with her and we barely see each other. We used to watch the Mets together all the time, too. So I missed him being there with me, and his comments about the players. But all that was before the phone call. Pre-phone call my deepest thoughts centered on the Mets and finding the sweet spot for the ball in my new baseball glove. Pre-phone call, my world was worrying about homework getting done and wondering what lunch would be like on Monday. Oh, and of course, thinking about how to beat the next team we were up against in softball. I’m a starting pitcher this year and I want to show my coach she can believe in me. I’m only a sophomore, but I hopesomeday to play college softball. I need to get a scholarship in order to go. My parents have already told me they can’t swing it without one.
After the phone call my life was a ball of twisted emotions and all I could think about was Dad, and how Mom, Diane, and I would get through this night.
MuseItUp Publishing: http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/young-adult/after-detail Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/After-Barbara-Ehrentreu-ebook/dp/B00NDYDC3C/ref=la_B00J0URGVM_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418409175&sr=1-2 For Nook on Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/after-barbara-ehrentreu/1120349821?ean=2940046242980
If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor: (print and ebook) MuseItUp Publishing: http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/museityoung/if-i-could-be-like-jennifer-taylor-detail Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/If-Could-Like-Jennifer-Taylor-ebook/dp/B005NWRLL6/ref=la_B00J0URGVM_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418409175&sr=1-1
Blog: Barbara’s Meanderings: http://barbaraehrentreu.blogspot.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraEhrentreu
Thank you all so much for coming. I haven’t read After, but if it’s anything like her last book, If I could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, I can say you will not be disappointed. While you’re out an about, please run by Barbara’s blog at http://barbaraehrentreu.blogspot.com for a peek at my newest book Xander’s Tangled Web.