December 10, 2009

Lotus Lowenstein's My-Life-Is-Merde-but-Have a Bonnes-Fêtes-Anyway Blog Tourapalooza

Welcome to Lotus Lowenstein's My-Life-Is-Merde-but-Have a Bonnes-Fêtes-Anyway Blog Tourapalooza! My review looks pretty boring next to this interview with author Libby Schmais and protagonist Lotus Lowenstein. Not to mention if you collect all of the words du jour you can win a pretty fabuleux prize.


Interview with Libby Schmais, author

1. You've previously written two adult titles, THE PERFECT ELIZABETH and THE ESSENTIAL CHARLOTTE. Do you think there was a difference between writing for an adult audience and a young adult audience? Did you know THE PILLOW BOOK OF LOTUS LOWENSTEIN would be YA when you began writing it?

Book Cover

No, I didn’t know that THE PILLOW BOOK OF LOTUS LOWENSTEIN was a YA book when wrote it, and I think that was a good thing, because I didn’t have a lot of preconceptions of what a YA novel should be like. So, I wasn’t trying to use any different kind of writing style, just to be true to the character.

2. Lotus's diary follows her English assignments on THE PILLOW BOOK OF SEI SHONAGAN, perhaps the most badass of Heian era court-style poets. (Murasaki Shikibu would beg to disagree, I'm sure.) How did you come to intwine your story with this somewhat obscure classic?

I agree with you about Sei Shonagon, although I’m going to have to go back and do some research on Murasaki Shikubi. When I read The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagan, I was just so impressed with the beauty of the language and how modern it was that I wanted to introduce people to it in a fun, non-academic way.

[IBWB Note: Murasaki wrote THE TALE OF GENJI, and her diary is available in English translation.]

3. Lotus is a devoted Francophile. What about you? If you could live in one country, aside from the US, which would you choose and why?

I’m not quite as much of a Francophile as Lotus, but I would love to live in another country. I think I could be quite happy in some little town in the South of France. I love the food, it’s beautiful there and the health care system isn’t bad, either.

Book Cover

4. Both you and Lotus are Brooklynites. What is different between setting a novel somewhere you're very familiar with and somewhere that you aren't (such as Montreal, where the French Club visits)?

I think it’s definitely easier to set a novel in a place you are very familiar with, since you already have the sounds and the smells locked into your memory. But the advantage of using an unfamiliar setting is that you are looking at it through a fresh perspective. Also, in my case, I used it as an excuse to take a trip to Montreal.

5. One of the major conflicts in the book is the fight between Lotus and best friend Joni over Sean, whom they both consider the perfect guy. What is your own perfect man like? Would you even consider a non-exclusive relationship?

I think the perfect guy is one who you feel perfectly comfortable with, which is how I feel about my husband Sam. I’ve been with other guys who tried to change me, and that only leads to unhappiness. And I definitely couldn’t deal with being in a non-exclusive relationship – I don’t like to share.

Interview with Lotus Lowenstein, protagonist

Book Cover

1. Hello Lotus! Most of my readers haven't read your diary, so why don't you say something about what it's about.

Bonjour blog readers! Je suis thrilled to be here! My diary tells the story of a few months in my life when everything was coming together and falling apart at the same time. I fell in love, lost my best friend, began to understand the meaning of life and learned a few makeup tricks.

2. You've got a great french vocabulary, but your grammar is somewhat lacking. What's the hardest part about learning the language for you? Will you still love the culture even if you never learn to speak the language?

It’s true my grammaire is often a probleme, as my French teacher Mme LeFevre would be happy to tell you, but I think the most important thing is to have a real feel for the language, and a good accent, which I definitely have. So, I don’t worry too much about details of grammaire. I’m sure once I move to France, I’ll pick it up anyway, n’est ce pas?

3. How did you and Joni first become friends? Have ya'll ever exhibited the same taste in guys before?

Joni and I have been friends forever, but Sean is the first mec (guy) we’ve ever both liked and it almost ruined our friendship, which was très traumatique for both of us. But merci dieu, we are best friends again and both single, for the moment, although there are a few mecs I have my eye on.

4. You kept a diary before, but the real impetus for your pillow book was Mrs. G's assignment. How does your public diary differ from your personal one? What is your favorite line by Sei Shonagan?

I have no private diary anymore. I believe in sharing everything with the public. All my thoughts, sans censoring. Since we were talking about guys, here’s a good quote from Sei Shonagon on the subject “Men really have strange emotions and behave in the most bizarre ways.” So vrai!

5. You've been trying to lose weight with the help of FRENCH WOMEN DON'T GET FAT. What's your favorite part of the French diet? What dissatisfies you about your body?

I am actually very satisfied with my body. I am perfectly in proportion, and have a kind of Rubenesque charm. The only raison I was trying to lose weight was so I could fit better into couture and the antique clothes of my grandmère.

Thanks for visiting IBWB, Libby and Lotus!

Merci for having us!!!

Now, what you're really waiting for:

Today’s French Word du Jour is mec (which means "guy"). If you collect all the French words du jour on the Blog Tourapalooza, you can enter a contest to win fabulous prizes (a $25 Sephora gift card and a personally autographed Pillow Book!). Once you’ve visited all the blog tour stops and collected all the words, email the complete list of words to with the subject line “French Word du Jour Contest.” All e-mail entries must be received by midnight (EST) on December 21, 2009. The winner will be selected at random on December 22, 2009. Be sure to include your name, e-mail address, and daytime phone number with your entry (If you're under age 13, give your parent's contact info). The complete My-Life-Is-Merde-but-Have-a-Bonnes-Fêtes-Anyway Blog Tourapalooza schedule can be found at Our next tour stop is Book, Line, and Sinker on December 11. See you on the road, mes amis!


  1. Man, I have GOT to read this! I live in France, and I am obsessed with Japan. I loved the Tale of Genji!
    I wish her much luck picking up the French grammaire. Je sais que ca peut etre tres difficile! :-) My grammar's fine, but my accent is merde (according to the French, at least - it's very quebecois).

  2. Great interview, and I really like the blog!!


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