Nothing Like You: Debut YA Fiction Novel from CalArts Grad Lauren Strasnick

Lauren Strasnick| Photo: Jade Chang

Lauren Strasnick | Photo: Jade Chang

Lauren Strasnick (Critical Studies MFA 05) wrote her first short story, “Yours Truly, The Girls from Bunk Six,” in a cloth-bound 5×4 journal, in the fifth grade. She’s come a long way since then: Her first book of young adult (YA) fiction—Nothing Like You (Simon & Schuster) was released on Tuesday. On Saturday (Oct. 24), the Los Angeles resident reads and signs her novel at Skylight Books in Los Angeles.

24700 did an e-mail interview earlier this week with Strasnick as she celebrates her book’s publication:

24700: Where are you from originally?
: I was born in Boston, but raised in Connecticut.

24700: What’s Nothing Like You about? Relationships?
Nothing Like You is about high school senior, Holly Hirsh.  Holly’s mom dies and Holly gets involved with the wrong guy. He’s got a girlfriend. She and Holly develop a friendship. Disaster ensues! Okay, basically:  teen girl grapples with grief and seeks solace in all the wrong places. Poor Holly. Boys and liquor! Bad news.

24700: Would you file the book under the chick lit genre? Do you mind the label?
I think of Chick Lit as light, fun fiction geared more toward young, professional women–books about men, martinis, shopping.  I think there is absolutely a YA (young adult) equivalent–beach reads for the 14-plus crowd–I’m not sure my book fits the criteria. I’d categorize it as contemporary young adult. I think the reason there’s such tension around that term–Chick Lit–is because most fiction by women, for women–gets slapped with that label–regardless of theme or content.  I mean, at the end of the day, who really cares, so long as you’re selling books, right?  But, you know, guys write novels, they’re called novels. But women…?
24700: Fiction is often spun from true life stories…where did this book come from? What was your inspiration?
Writing is kind of like collaging–I take a piece from my own life and smoosh it together with something that happened to a friend.  I pull from music, bad TV, old movies–an idea I’ve been obsessing on for months.  Eventually, I’ve pieced together some sort of story.  This particular book was born from a mash up of stuff I’d been pondering:  death, infidelity, psychics, the afterlife, cute dogs, potato tacos, Topanga, brush fires, sex in cars, canyon hikes.

24700: How did your book get picked up by Simon & Schuster?
I spent the year after graduation subbing my thesis (a different YA novel) to agents. After a ton of rejection, some near misses, I tucked that manuscript away and started another.  When I was through, I started the process all over again–querying contacts I’d made the previous year.  I signed with my agency soon after that, and spent a couple of months revising the book before it went out to editors. Simon Pulse/S&S made a preemptive offer a few weeks later. We happily accepted, same day.

24700: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Oh–“Be fearless.”  A professor in undergrad passed on that little nugget of wisdom and still, it helps me daily.  Be fearless with your work!  I’m no good at fearlessness in life, so I try to be as brave as possible on the page.

Author event with Lauren Strasnick
Skylight Books
1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles
Saturday, Oct. 24
5 pm

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  1. AntoneKonst // //

    Hey I just wanted to say that as a CalArts student, this blog is one of the best idea’s I’ve seen the institution have. It’s really great and gives us a sense of community and connectedness with ourselves and the outside world in relation to CalArts students faculty and alumni.
    Good job, keep it up.

  2. Sudi Press // //

    Have been waiting and rooting for this book of Lauren’s for a long time. Your interview w/ her shows her for the smart, funny, perceptive, young PUBLISHED! author that she is. I think she’s probably a lot more fearless than she thinks!

  3. Christine N. Ziemba // //


    Thanks for reading the blog, and we’re trying to get the word out there about 24700, so if you like an article please pass it along. And feel free to email me tips or story ideas, too.


  4. Diana Graves // //

    I bought this book for my 17 year old daughter, she finished it in two days. She loved the writing and said it was better than the Twilight series.