Lorraine Zago Rosenthal’s debut YA novel, Other Words for Love, will be released tomorrow by Random House, and we are pleased to welcome her to celebrate that release and to let us know a little bit about her and the book.
Other Words for Love is about a middle-class high school girl (Ari) from Brooklyn who becomes involved in an intense relationship with a wealthy college student (Blake) from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and her struggle to deal with equally intense emotions when things turn out differently than she had planned. The story also delves into Ari’s complex relationships with her best friend, Summer, and with Ari’s family—especially with her sister, Evelyn, who is a former teen mom. To make things even more complicated, Ari has a serious crush on Evelyn’s husband.
She’s very proud of this book because, she told me, “It’s the product of a great deal of time, work, effort, perseverance, and—most importantly—affection for the story and its characters.”
Lorraine began to devour books at a very young age—as soon as she learned to read—and it didn’t take her long to want to create her own characters and stories.
Even while she held other jobs, she was constantly thinking about whatever she was writing at the time—working on it during her lunch hour and getting right back to it as soon as she got home. She never wanted to do anything other than a writer, with her main interest being writing, but she also aspired to write for TV or film.
Because she’s always loved writing, she didn’t want to hear any negativity during the time she was working on her books.
“I shut all the naysayers out and wrote as a solitary activity,” she said. “I learned by years of practicing, reading, and studying books, film, and TV. I always paid close attention to characterization, plot, dialogue, etc.—and that taught me a lot.”
She’s also learned a lot since she began writing with her agent and her editor.
She considers her “big break” the day she was offered represention by her agent, Elizabeth Evans with the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, who sold Other Words for Love to Random House/Delacorte Press.
“I was so excited that she wanted to work with me and to represent OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE. Elizabeth suggested some revisions to the original draft, and I was amazed and thrilled at how much she cared about the novel, as well as her depth of understanding of my characters. In addition to being an incredible agent, Elizabeth is also a very skillful, intelligent, and insightful editor.”
Lorraine always creates soundtracks for her books and had an eclectic playlist she listened to each time she sat down to write.
“Music is a great way to immerse yourself in the setting and tone of your story, and the psyche of your characters,” she explained. “The song I listened to most was Breathe your Name by Sixpence None the Richer. This song perfectly captures the depth and fragility of emotion that my main character, Ari, has for her boyfriend, Blake. Another song that expresses Ari’s personality and her feelings of being an outsider is Here’s Where the Story Ends by the Sundays.”
Finally, I asked Lorraine, “Do you have any advice for young writers?”
“The most important advice I can give to young writers is to never let anyone discourage you—either in regard to your writing itself or your goal of becoming a published author. Some people think it’s impossible to succeed as a writer, but that isn’t true. It may be difficult, but it is NOT impossible. Always believe in yourself and your work, and keep trying even if you hit some roadblocks. Don’t think of yourself as an aspiring writer—always think of yourself as a writer, even if you haven’t been published yet. If you write, then you’re a writer. You’re just waiting for someone in the business to connect with your work. As the saying goes, ‘a published author is an amateur who didn’t quit.’ My best advice: keep practicing, and never quit! Also: love what you’re writing, and write primarily for yourself. If you don’t love your story, nobody else will.”
Bio: Lorraine Zago Rosenthal was born and raised in New York City. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education from the University of South Florida. She also earned a master’s degree in English, with a concentration in American and British literature, from Northern Kentucky University. In addition to writing fiction, Lorraine enjoys reading, exercising, watching movies, and spending time with her husband. OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE is her first novel.