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September 7, 2011

Laura Goode: The Endless Conversation

Posted by Anonymous

rsz_hotlaura.jpgsisterm.Laura Goode bursts onto the YA scene with her debut novel, SISTER MISCHIEF, which she describes as "a feminist love letter to my own mischievous sisters." Here, Laura dishes about the wild times she's shared with these sisters, who were not only cohorts in plenty of mischief making, but also helped inspire this daring book.

SISTER MISCHEIF is a love story. Its heroine, Esme Rockett, is wildly in love with the world: with hip-hop, with writing, and eventually with her co-MC and BFF, Rowie. There’s another kind of love that pervades the novel, though, and that’s the mitzvah of being wildly in love with your friends.

Let me back up. My first year of college in New York City, after escaping my Minnesota hometown and, I thought at the time, never looking back, I made one really, really good friend. In a lot of ways, she felt like the first real best friend I’d ever had: someone who knew more about me than anyone else because she was watching me change day by day, trying on hair colors, boys, and interests as rapidly as you could say “identity crisis,” just as I watched her do the same. We spent the year making mischief, pushing boundaries, reading a lot of books, and searching desperately for at least two other women to complete the ladies’ poker night of our dreams. We wanted to be girls doing things that only men used to do. We wanted to be pioneers. And we wanted allies.

It took a long time to find those two other poker buddies, but one summer in Brooklyn, magically, alchemically, as though ordered by destiny, we found them. Suddenly we had a fearsome foursome, a gang, an A-team, a band of ruffians, a coterie. We spent days, weeks, months causing a ruckus together, adoring each other, talking about the dreams we lusted after, mythologizing ourselves, incessantly texting, emailing, and Facebooking each other in the few moments we weren’t together. We were unconquerable, invincible, sisters-in-arms, though somehow we never managed actually to play poker.

As time marched on, though, it became painfully clear that the moment we shared was fleeting. We were all in New York because that’s where we’d all gone to school, but as a result of all those big dreams, new opportunities began to creep onto our horizons, opportunities that would take us to different cities and schools and adventures. Before too long, it became clear that after all those long, conspiratorial conversations hashing out our big thrilling dreams, we had to leave each other to go out and live them. 

About three months into the process of writing SM, I left my sisters-in-arms to move to San Francisco. I was indescribably lonely. I went to my job during the day and came home to write at night, pouring my lonesomeness into the book, recreating conversations with my little sisterhood and imagining the ones I still wanted to be having on a daily basis with them. We logged countless hours of digital communication, sending each other articles that we discussed fervently, poems and quotes that inspired us, all the little things that seeped into our days that made us think of each other. In cities apart, we all began to achieve some of the things we’d always talked about. 

To say I would never have achieved my biggest dream --- writing and publishing a book --- without them is the understatement of the century. The characters of SM aren’t directly based each-for-each on these women, but the tenor of the dynamic Esme, Rowie, Marcy, and Tess share --- bantering, mischievous, sharp, challenging, and inquisitive --- shares a lot of communicational DNA with the endless conversation my friends and I are still having. The way my friends and I talk to each other is like the way siblings talk to each other as toddlers: in a common, invented language, full of nonsense words and inside jokes and loving jabs. Geography is one circumstance that produces new languages. Love is another. 

I’m getting married in the fall, to a man of whom my girlfriends approve. Soon they’re taking me on a bachelorette weekend in New York, back where it all began. We can’t go back to who we were, or to the moment in time that brought us to each other. Nonetheless, as we move forward in our hectic lives both separately and together, I think it’s about time we suited up for an all-night game of Texas Hold ‘Em.