Lauren Morrill joins us today to talk about her 2014 book Being Sloane Jacobs, a fun contemporary read featuring hockey, figure skating, and a Parent-Trap-style life swap—all set against a romantic Montreal backdrop.
In Being Sloane Jacobs, there are two Sloanes: Sloane Emily Jacobs, a seriously stressed-out figure skater who choked during junior nationals, and Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. The two girls are on their way to skating camps in Montreal when a luggage mix-up causes them to meet. Pretty soon, the Sloanes realize that this is the opportunity they’ve been waiting for: the chance to escape their lives and switch places for the summer. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that she might meet a hockey hottie. And Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.
Being Sloane Jacobs is available now.
Being Sloane Jacobs features a couple of serious skater girls, one a figure skater and one a hockey player. What kind of research did you do for this novel? Do you have any skating experience yourself?
Growing up, my favorite time of year was the figure skating in the Winter Olympics. I would fake figure skate around my living room, pretending I was Nancy Kerrigan or Michelle Kwan. But that’s as far as my skating career ever got: leaping around on the carpet in my socks.
Fast forward about twenty years to when I started playing roller derby in Boston. I was surrounded by this incredible crew of badass ladies, and I wanted to write a book about them that encapsulated the mental and physical toughness of female athletes. Instead of writing a straight roller derby book, I decided to fall back on my love of ice skating. I made my Sloanes a figure skater and a hockey player, and although my experience was on roller skates, I was able to use a lot of the same body movements when describing their sports. And there are several scenes in the book that come directly from my roller derby life (like the scene where the Sloanes are comparing injuries… that’s an actual conversation I had with my teammates!).
How does it feel to look back on a story you wrote years ago? Has your perspective on this book evolved with time?
Not easy! I really don’t like to reread my work (it’s a little like looking back at photos of yourself in middle school), but I still have so much love for Being Sloane Jacobs that if there’s any opportunity to get it in front of more eyes, I’ll take it!
How have readers responded to Being Sloane Jacobs? Does the response of readers impact you as a writer?
I’ve had a lot of great responses to Being Sloane Jacobs, which I’ve really appreciated because I think it’s my most personal book. I especially love when young women tell me they appreciate reading about tough female athletes.
The book alternates perspective between the two Sloanes, who have very different personalities and family backgrounds–although perhaps not as different as they initially think. How did you get into the head of each Sloane? Was it challenging to switch between the two?
It was a challenge, especially when trying to get into the head of one Sloane when she was pretending to be the other Sloane! Sort of a character development inception… I really had to pause between writing different chapters to make sure I reoriented my head and the voice on the page. Both girls are tough, but they express that in different ways. So with Sloane Devon I worked on that outer toughness, while with Sloane Emily it was about putting up that hard shell around her to keep people out.
Has your approach to writing changed since this book? If so, in what ways? If not, what has stayed the same?
I’m not sure if my process has changed much, but my writing life definitely looks different! When I wrote BSJ, I was working full time, so I’d stay an hour after work every day to get writing time in in my quiet office. Now I’m a full-time author and also a full-time mom to two little boys. Writing now is about squeezing it in where I can, scribbling on whatever notebook I have handy, dashing off notes in my phone, and giving myself a lot more space for the process to take a lot longer.
What have you worked on since Being Sloane Jacobs? Can you share any details about your current project(s)?
I’ve published two more novels since BSJ, a cruise ship romcom called The Trouble with Destiny and a summer romance that takes place on a movie set called My Unscripted Life. I’m working on my 5th book right now, which is about a girl whose life is upended when her mother takes off and she finds herself in a foster home in a very different world from the one she’s used to. And of course there’s a romance, because it’s a Lauren Morrill book! That one, called Better Than the Best Plan, comes out in Winter 2019.
Do you have any advice for new writers on the twists and turns that a career in publishing can take?
I think Dory said it best: “Just keep swimming.” If a book doesn’t perform as expected, that’s okay. You’re already writing the next book. And each book has the opportunity to be a new beginning. Along with that, it’s really important as an author to keep your eyes on your own paper. Especially with social media, you can start comparing yourself and your journey to other people, but that will do nothing but get you down. Just do the work, write because you love it, and never stop.
Who do you hope will find this book?
I want girls to keep discovering it and connecting with their inner badass.
What else would you like readers to know about Being Sloane Jacobs?
We pitched this book as The Parent Trap meets The Cutting Edge, and I think that’s basically the best summary I can think of. If you like camp books, summer romance, ice skating, or just want to read a fun swap book, then Being Sloane Jacobs is for you.