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Interview with Joanna Philbin!

Today we have an extra special guest! Joanna Philbin, author of The Daughters series, is here to tell us about the fourth and (*sniff*) final book in the series - The Daughters Join the Party - as well as answer some other questions!

Welcome to the Bibliophile Support Group, Joanna! We're happy to have you!

So, for anybody who hasn't read the first three books in The Daughters series (read my reviews here: The Daughters, The Daughters Break the Rules, The Daughters Take the Stage) can you give everybody a general idea of what they're about?

Lizzie, Carina, and Hudson are best friends who are normal fourteen year-old girls in almost every way. Except for one: each girl has a parent who is incredibly famous. And her parent’s fame complicates her life in a big way. Lizzie’s mom is a supermodel, but Lizzie isn’t what most people would call “beautiful” – in fact, she’s what most people might call “unusual-looking.” How do you deal with having a supermodel mother when you don’t look a thing like her? Carina is the daughter of a famous business tycoon, but her dad decides to stop giving her money to teach her a lesson. Does she admit this to the world or does she keep playing the part of the Upper East Side princess? Hudson is a musical prodigy, but her mom is a mega-selling pop star, who wants Hudson to follow in her record-breaking footsteps. Can Hudson find a way to develop her talent and enter the music business without turning into her mom’s mini-Me? That gives you an idea of what each of the books are about.

You've already made me fall in love with Lizzie, Carina, and Hudson! Who is this new 'daughter' we're going to meet in The Daughters Join the Party?

Emma is a bit of a rebel. She’s not a bad kid, but causing trouble is her way of standing out in her high-achieving family. She has an older brother who gets straight A’s and is headed for Harvard. Her dad is a popular senator, her mom is a successful lawyer. Emma’s smart, too, but she doesn’t believe she is, and she’d so much rather goof off in class and make people laugh than take it seriously. When their dad announces to the family that he intends to run for President, Emma faces a dilemma: does she stay the “black sheep” of the family, or does she try to change who she is to better fit in with the image of a “perfect” family that her dad’s handlers are trying to create?

Being the daughter of Regis Philbin gives you insider knowledge and personal experience when it comes to the subject you're writing about. What's it like being the daughter of someone so universally liked and well-known?

That’s such a hard question to answer because I’ve never known anything different! My dad has been on TV since before I was born, so I’ve never known what it’s like to have a parent who’s not well-known. I still think of him as my dad, first and foremost. When we go out to dinner or walk down the street, that’s when I remember what he does for a living. So sometimes it’s a little surreal for me when he’s recognized.

With all the terrible behavior of many young celebrities, I found your books very refreshing as they show a different, more mature and positive perspective. Was this something you were striving for when writing The Daughters books?

Well, the Daughters are not actually celebrities. Their parents are. And this is what I was trying to show: how strange it is to live on the periphery of fame. And I based so much of the books on what I know of that personally, and my sister and I led lives that were much more normal than most people would think.

Of Lizzie, Carina, and Hudson (or the new daughter Emma), who do you most identify with?

That’s so hard. I think I can identify with all of the girls. So I’ll just have to say, all of them??

In that same vein, of all the swoon-worthy guys you populate your books with (and there are many - thank you for that!), which one do you have the biggest author'scrush on?

Aahh! You’re killing me here. They’re all so swoon-worthy in my opinion! But I have a special fondness for Todd. Maybe because he was my first guy character. I think I fell in love with him right alongside Lizzie as I wrote that book!

Have you noticed if there is a particular favorite 'daughter' among the majority of your fans? If so, why do you think that is?

That’s a great question! To be honest, I don’t think there is a favorite. I just ran a contest on Facebook and asked people to name their favorite Daughter. It seemed to be a tie between Lizzie and Carina, but when I get reader mail, there seem to be a lot of letters about Hudson. So I’m not sure. I’m interested to see if girls will be writing about Emma, too.

There are many funny parts in The Daughters series, but I'll admit that all of the scenes in The Daughters Break the Rules in which Carina was dealing with the ancient panda cell phone had me cracking up like no other! That was classic! Is this hilarious cell phone based off a real one or summoned up from your extraordinary imagination?

Nope, it’s real! I used to have a cell phone that had a panda crawling across the screen in slow motion. I’m not sure why any phone would have that as a selling point, but this one did. This was during a time when I was in New York after graduate school, making no money, working at a bookstore, and struggling to be a writer. I was always in these ridiculous situations, trying to keep up with my friends. But they turned out to be great material for The Daughters Break the Rules.

Very few books, in my opinion, are done justice by the film world - but let's imagine you had the dream job of casting the movie version of your books with absolutely anyone you wanted! Who would you cast as Lizzie, Carina, Hudson, and Emma? And if you have ideas for any of the other characters too, we'd love to hear them!

Believe it or not, the only person I “cast” in my head as I wrote was Carina’s dad, the Jurg. For some reason, I had Richard Gere in my head the entire time. But I didn’t cast the girls. I always love to hear who people think should play them, though!

What are some of your favorite books and authors? Who would you recommend to your fans?

I worshiped Judy Blume when I was a kid and a young teen. Her characters felt like real people, people I might actually know. Reading her books made me feel like someone understood me, and they made me want to be a writer. I also loved Madeleine L’Engle and the Wrinkle In Time trilogy, Paul Zindel, Norma Klein, Lois Lowry, Island of the Blue Dolpins by Scott O’Dell (I think I read that three times), and anything by Roald Dahl. In highschool I fell in love with F. Scott Fitzgerald, J.D. Salinger, Charles Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, and William Styron but I also loved popular writers like Anne Rice and V.C. Andrews and books like The ThornBirds and Endless Love.

Okay, I can't avoid it any longer: Why must this be the last Daughters book??? I know that I am not alone in wanting many more books featuring these awesomegirls! As you can tell from my reviews, your books made me laugh - but theyalso inspired and touched me. Why did you decide to make this fourth book the last in the series?

It just seemed like it was time. Each of the Daughters changed and grew so much over the course of four books. And after I finished Join the Party, I realized that it was time to move on to new characters and a new setting. But this book definitely presents the possibility of another Daughters book one day down the line, so we’ll see.

Do you plan on writing more books? Can you give us any hints?

My next book is called THE RULES OF SUMMER and it’s about two seventeen year-old girls spending the summer in East Hampton and the unlikely friendship that develops between them. One girl has never had a boyfriend, the other is very confident with guys – and both have a relationship that turns their world upside-down. It will be published just in time for the summer of 2013.

Well, I have to say, it was a lot of fun to have you here, Joanna! Thank you so much for visiting the Bibliophile Support Group and answering all my questions! And thank you for writing books that make me (and so many others) happy while I read them!!!


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