An interview with Lynn (also known as Jenna) about her new book!

Dabney: What made you want to write a YA book?

Lynn: I love that stage in life, at least on a fictional level. Real life young adulthood is so fraught and difficult and sometimes painful. But in a book, you can pull the best parts of being young and magnify them to tell the story of maybe how things should be, or you wish they had been.

Too, kids in their late teens are old enough to have all of the feelings of an adult–love, desire, frustration, dreams–but young enough not to have the responsibilities of an adult. I’m not saddled with nagging questions like what am I going to make for dinner tonight or how am I going to pay the utility bill this month now that my car needs new brakes? They feel things at a more pure, intense level without that jading effect of knowing what life has in store for them, that maybe bigger things are around the corner that will make today’s problems seem like small potatoes. I like that I don’t have to temper their thoughts and reactions with reality.

This specific book was inspired one night after probably my hundredth viewing of Emma Thompson’s 1995 film version of “Sense and Sensibility”. We know what happens with Eleanor and Maryanne Dashwood, but I wondered about the youngest sister, Margaret. What was her story? I set out to tell a modern version of all three sisters’ stories. It became very, very long, so I cut out “Eleanor’s” part. And then I realized I’d thrown a bit of Pride and Prejudice into the mix! Really, I owe Jane Austen a great debt.

Dabney: Your story is about two sisters, Zee and Bridie. Both have unusual names. What’s the story there?

Lynn: Actually, the story does answer that question in a way that I don’t want to go into too much here as it’s…not a spoiler exactly…but something that’s meaningful. Suffice it to say, Bridie and Zee’s parents are from the US south and follow the tradition of naming their kids after relatives.

Dabney: Both girls have storylines that involve what seem, a bit, like love triangles. What do you like about that?

Lynn: In general, I’m not a big fan of love triangles. Too often I think writers use it as a short-handed way to make a character seem desirable/lovable without actually showing us why. She/he must be desirable because two people want to be with her/him, even though we know nothing about them. When the triangle truly does involve making a choice between two great options, that can be very compelling. My favorite love triangle has to be the Buffy/Angel/Spike romance from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We know why Angel and Spike both love Buffy because we see their dynamics in action over the course of many seasons. And we know the reasons why they’d each make both a good and a bad final choice as her love interest, so the dilemma is real. She could go either way and you’d understand and believe it. (Btw, I’m Team Spike!)

Anyway, that’s a long winded way to say that despite what it may seem like, there really aren’t any love triangles in this story. Bridie makes it very clear from the beginning who she wants and sticks to her guns. And for Zee, it’s really all about friendship which, in theory, shouldn’t involve choosing one or the other.

Dabney: The young people in your book seem believably modern. What issues do you think are most important to them? 

Lynn: In the real world, I think young people face some very serious issues. Climate change, the insane costs of higher education, a transition from traditional work models to something far less secure, a political future that puts the very heart of our democracy at risk. Rather than focusing on those valid concerns, my story keeps things closer to home and deals with the real dramas involved in being new students in a new school, trying to make friends, and falling in love. All of those firsts that, while intense as you go through them, in the long run serve more to define the person you’ll become rather than solve all of the world’s bigger problems. Because, sadly, I don’t have those answers even as a fully grown adult. For me, this is all about escapism.

Dabney: You have an obnoxious librarian in a scene! Writers usually adore librarians! What’s the story there?

Lynn: My obnoxious librarian serves as conduit for putting Zee in a frustrating spot rather than as any commentary on librarians as a whole. In theory, she just represents bureaucracy and the headaches involved when people refuse to deviate from silly rules. I do love librarians, both as a writer and a lover of libraries!!

Dabney: How much of a role do parents play in your book? 

Lynn: Actually, despite remaining mostly off screen, parents do play a strong role in this story. While Zee and Bridie’s mother is a positive, strong influence–a divorced single parent creating a successful business on her own and holding her daughters to a high standard of friendship–other characters have parents who really serve as negative influences on their lives. A lot of the actions taken by these characters is a direct result of expectations put on them directly or outright parental neglect. I didn’t set out to tell that story of bad parenting, per se, but when I look at how much of the action is the direct result of bad parenting, I guess I did tell that story.

Dabney: What did you love most about writing this story? 

Lynn: The characters, hands down. Anyone who writes knows what it’s like to see their fictional creations as real people with voices and thoughts and personalities. I find it so easy to write dialogue because I can hear these kids having conversations in my head. And you really do come to love them. In fact, I struggle to write villains because I can’t seem to create people that I would loathe in real life without turning them into cartoons.

Dabney: What did you love least?

Lynn: I tend to be a very wordy writer, and it’s a real struggle to keep my word count reasonable. I had to cut a lot out to keep this to a readable length (see what I said above about poor Gail’s story getting cut!). And I’ll admit I haven’t loved the publishing process. I want to share my story, but getting it out to the world is not the fun part.

Dabney: What’s next for you?

Lynn: I have so many stories to tell! A lot of them are in various stages of the process, but actually finishing Hermit Crabs Need Love, Too and going through the process of publishing it was a huge hurdle. Now that I’ve proven to myself it’s more than doable, I’m excited to finish other stories and get them out of my head.

Once a teenager herself, Lynn McCreadie remembers well the life-consuming ups and downs that come with first loves, new experiences, and discovering the person you’re meant to be. In her debut Young Adult novel Hermit Crabs Need Love, Too, she indulges in her all-time favorite storytelling tropes; enemies to lovers, bad boys with a heart of gold, and feisty girls who give as good as they get.

When she’s not writing, Lynn is likely to be found stuck in a YouTube vortex, binge watching the latest seasons of Bridgerton and Reacher, or hanging with her husband and two giant goofball dogs. If she were ever stuck on a deserted island, she’d be perfectly content if she had her family, all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a copy of S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and the entire works of Jane Austen, and an endless supply of vanilla sweet cream cold brew and veggie stir fry with noodles. 

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