Monday, March 30, 2009

What's Fresh with Liz Funk's Supergirls Speak Out!

Some girls seem to have it all...
The top grades
The best clothes
A great body
A cute boyfriend
But they may also have...
Eating disorders
Crippling insecurity

From grammar school girls to working women, the pressure to be perfect is spreading like a disease. These Supergirls feel the unrelenting need to succeed -- sometimes at the cost of their own happiness and sanity. A recovering Supergirl herself, Liz Funk exposes the dangerous consequences that can come from striving for perfection. By closely following five girls and interviewing nearly one hundred more, she takes us inside the Supergirl psyche, explaining the causes of this phenomenon and showing how Supergirls can let their (sleek and shiny) hair down and find some time to relax and enjoy life!
With practical advice, biting humor, and the sensitivity of someone who's been through it all, Funk's Supergirls Speak Out is the absolutely necessary companion for any girl who thinks 100 percent just isn't enough.

Hi Liz, it's great to have you here. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made the sale of your book?

Liz: Sure! And thanks so much for having me here to talk about “Supergirls Speak Out!” I was always writing novels and screenplays for fun in high school, but I turned writing into a career when I was seventeen and started writing freelance professionally. I began at publications for teens like Next Step magazine and smallish literary magazines, and I also wrote a blog for Albany’s daily newspaper the Times Union on Generation Y issues. I eventually moved up to writing opinion articles and features about Generation Y trends and young women’s issues for places like USA Today, the Christian Science Monitor, CosmoGIRL!, Girls’ Life, and Newsday.

When I was eighteen, I moved to New York City for college and met a lot of cool, young writers in NYC who were writing book proposals and working on books, and a friend introduced me to my now-agent, who was really intrigued by the proposal I had written about the “Supergirls” (best $15 I ever spent: Getting Your Book Published for Dummies. It’s how I learned to write a book proposal!). My agent got a lot of interest in the book from the editors she knew, and I was lucky enough to get a great offer from my favorite editor I had met, at Touchstone/ Fireside (an imprint of Simon and Schuster).

Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.

Liz: I usually wake up around 9am and chill out on my couch for an hour. I like to start my day by reading; I think it’s a really pleasant way to start the day, but also, I think it gets my brain into creativity mode. Then I like to check my e-mail and take care of any thing super-urgent for 20 minutes or whatever, and then I spend the rest of the morning writing—whether it’s an op-ed, an article pitch, or the novel I’m working on. I like to use music to get me in the mood to write (and honestly, sometimes I dance to get in the zone!), but I almost always write in silence. I take a break for lunch in the early afternoon and then I spend the rest of the afternoon responding to e-mails, pitching articles and corresponding with my editors, and working on school work (it’s my last semester of college and I’m taking online classes to accommodate my book tour!). Sometimes I like to write in the evening or late at night, but I’ve really been working to pursue a work/life balance lately; I haven’t been a night owl writer as much in recent months. It’s easy to become a workaholic when you’re a writer!

Please tell us about your release Supergirls Speak Out and what we can expect from your book.

Liz: “Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls” was published by Simon and Schuster’s Touchstone imprint on March 3rd. The book follows the lives of five young women during the summer and fall of 2007: a high school student at journalism camp at Syracuse University, a high school student on Long Island, a college freshman at the University of Albany, a college junior at the George Washington University, and an investment banker in her late twenties in New York City. Each chapter starts out with investigative reporting on these young women’s lives and the second half of each chapter includes interviews with girls from all around the country, psychologists, writers and media experts, parents, and teachers. The chapters in the book cover topics like the pressure on girls to get into a good college, the confusion girls feel over their sexuality and whether perfect girls should be virginal or very sexually available, how the media depicts girls and girls’ bodies, and the eight million different roles that young women have to play today. Despite that the book can be a little gloom-and-doom (it candidly discusses eating disorders, depression, plastic surgery, prescription drug popping, etc. etc.), I think girls will find it to be a relatable and hopefully inspiring book!

Sounds like you touch on all the important topics some girls are afraid to speak openly about! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Liz:: I do! My main thing right now is that I’m working a novel. I probably won’t finish it for another two years, but I’m totally in the thick of writing it right now. Last year, I started reading novels of social criticism—novels that make an argument about society or politics through the story—and I designed an independent study course in school last fall where I studied novels of social criticism by writers like Jonathan Franzen, Curtis Sittenfeld, Tom Wolfe, and so on. And because I read a lot of YA and a lot of fiction for young women, I’m fusing these two very different genres and am writing a novel of social criticism specifically for young women. My novel criticizes the very limiting roles for young women in today’s society and is semi-autobiographical. I think it’s important for writers who want to cross over from fiction to non-fiction (or vice versa) to have books of different genres that compliment one another and perhaps are similar in scope.

Thanks so much for joining us, Liz! Best of luck with this awesome book! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Liz: I think one of the most important things to do before starting a new writing project is conceptualizing it. I like to get a big pad of paper (like the ones that people put on their desks) and cover it with my ideas for the project (and maybe even make a big chapter outline). Not only have I gotten my ideas out of my brain onto my paper in a creative, high-energy way, but I also have this piece of paper to use as a reference! I think it’s also really good to make a playlist of music specifically to get you in the mood to write. Personally, I find Dave Matthews and the Spring Awakening soundtrack to be particularly inspiring. Finally, read! Read as much as you can, all the time! There is no better writing teacher than other authors when they’re at their best: in their books!

Liz Funk is the twenty year old author of “Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls,” a new non-fiction book for young women about the pressure to be perfect (Touchstone, March 2009). She is a journalist who covers Generation Y and is particularly interested in gender, education, and class issues: her writing has appeared in USA Today, Newsday, the Christian Science Monitor, the Huffington Post, CosmoGIRL!, Girls’ Life, New York magazine, and the Times Union (Albany, NY). She blogs at her web-site,

3 fresh comments:

TinaFerraro said...

Liz, congratulations to you on the sale of this book...and it sounds like it's going to be super-helpful to a legion of overachievers!

Leigh said...

I'm almost afraid to read this and see too much of myself - or my friends - in it! LOL! But it sounds terrific and insightful. Good luck to Liz on its release!

Erika Lynn said...

I am totally a Supergirl. The book you are working on sounds amazing too and I can't wait for it. great interview!