Q1. Populatti easily project the role of social media to teenagers, for an author like you what do you think is the advantage & disadvantage of social media?
Well first I think it is important to realize that social media really is like any other technology. It is a tool which was created with the hopes of improving our lives, but like any tool, its value is all in how we use it. Some of the advantages are definitely that social media makes it easier to keep in touch with friends and family, especially those located around the globe. It also allows us to connect and share our lives in ways people never before could through the sharing of videos, photos and text. And the technology is not just limited to social relationships. I’ve seen some amazing things done with social media in the classroom through discussion boards, lecture capture, and more. Really, with social media the opportunities are endless. It really can bring all types of people together in endless situations.
However, there are downsides to these benefits. Like FOMO and YOLO (fear of missing out and you only live once). I swear, now that you can log onto a social network and see what’s happening with your friends, it can seem like you’re always missing out on some party. Or not living life to the “fullest,” whatever that means. This can definitely lead to feelings of depression and loneliness, which is ironic given that social media is supposed to bring people together. It can also lead to time lost trying to “one up” friends with cooler photos and status messages and videos, a time consuming process which can take away from real world enjoyment. I mean, who wants to be worrying about getting the perfect concert pic – with cool lighting, a perfect Instagram filter, and awesome background – when your favorite band is playing your favorite song? To me, that’s the opposite of living your life to the fullest, yet for some it can become an obsession. Creating the perfect social media life takes work. And in the end, all you’ve created is a façade. Which could also lead others who view it to feel lonely and depressed, creating a dangerous cycle.
So what is the solution? I think really the first step is to be aware of the disadvantages that accompany all of the great benefits. And then to think twice when posting and reading profiles online. Because sometimes the best experiences are the ones you don’t post online. And that friend that seems to post awesome pics every day? Well she could be the loneliest of all.
Q2. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Livi?
When I created Livi, I think one of the most surprising things was realizing how every decision she made impacted one of her friends or peers in some way. When I was in Livi’s head I often would miss this as I would get so wrapped up in her drama that all I could think about was how I was going to ensure Livi accomplished her goals. Then I’d go back and say “Wow, I can’t believe she did that. That’s totally going to affect ‘so-and-so.’” This really made me think twice. Not only about all the different plotlines I had to pull together, but about how people interact in general. And how even a mundane conversation can have a profound effect on someone, depending on what’s going on in their lives.
Q3. What is one thing you hope readers will learn from reading Populatti?
It’s funny because even though it’s a book about being online, I hope they’ll learn that while there are obviously many great benefits of social media, that it’s healthy to spend time offline as well. And I also hope it will help teens realize that not every “friend” has your best interest at heart, or at least not all of the time. And that it’s okay to evaluate friendships and choose to stick with those that treat you with respect, rather than hold onto relationships that are unhealthy. I think as a teen it’s easy to feel trapped or pigeon-holed into a specific group or clique. I really hope my readers see that it is possible to break free of this. Because what matters most is just being yourself. The right types of friendships will follow.
Q4. What made you decide to leave your career in marketing and focus on writing fictions?
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve written stories and dreamed of being an author. I wrote my first manuscript in college (which is still languishing somewhere on my old 20-pound laptop), and spent the next eight years writing at night and working in marketing during the day. During that time I definitely came to love my day job, yet never could fully turn off the stories unfolding in my head. In fact many of my characters started off as little scribbles on scraps of paper, as I would furiously try to get the thoughts down before diving into my next assignment. Yet still the idea of leaving the security of a “real job” for writing seemed more a dream than reality.
And then my daughter was born. And it was then I realized that if I wanted to devote myself to my daughter, there wasn’t going to be enough time left for a full-time day job and part-time writing career. So after a lot of serious discussions with my husband, I decided to take the plunge and devote myself fully to staying home with her and writing. And these days, even though a lot of my writing still happens at night, I know I made the decision that was right for me. Because I get to do the two things I love most. And I know I’m incredibly lucky to have that opportunity.
Q5. Do you have any plans on writing books for non-YA audience? What genre do you think you’ll focus on and why?
Right now I am focusing on YA, but I have tried writing middle grade in the past and could see myself trying contemporary fiction as well. However, YA really is what I love. There is just something special about connecting with readers during such a turbulent time in their lives. I love all the optimism and excitement that surrounds adolescence – all the dreams and aspirations that are just beginning to take shape. And I love all the drama that goes along with it. There are so many firsts in high school that really do stick with a person for much of their life. Getting to create characters that deal with these experiences in ways that can help other young teens is very rewarding.
Q6. Are you working on any project right now? What we should expect from you in the near future?
I am! Right now I am working on a YA novel that follows a young high school sailing champion as she works to unravel some mysteries unfolding on a local island. It takes place right next to my hometown, so the project is very near and dear to my heart. I can’t wait to share it soon!
Q7. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes, thank you! For your emails, reviews and everything else. I am incredibly lucky to have such a vocal and supportive readership. Without you, writing would not be worth it. So thank you again for being the awesome readers you are, and if you ever want to get in touch, please do shoot me a note at email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you!
About The Book
Getting in is hard. Staying in is harder…
Joining social network Populatti.com let sixteen-year-old Livi Stanley trade her awkward middle school past for the social life of her dreams. Because Populatti isn’t just a social network. It’s a club, providing access to friends. Parties. And Livi’s crush, star baseball player Brandon Dash.
Yet lately, online rumors have been threatening Livi’s place in the group. And not even her friends are doing much to stop them. Leaving Livi to prove them wrong, and fast.
Before her life as a popster is over.
Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper is an author of young adult realistic fiction. Her first novel, On the Line, is an honorable mention recipient in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards. She releases her second YA novel, Populatti, in time for National Anti-Bullying Monththis October.
She graduated with honors from Cornell University, where her thesis addressed the emerging field of social media. She now lives in Stamford, Connecticut with her husband, Tad, and daughter, Cecilia.
Bardenwerper worked in public relations and marketing for seven years before deciding to devote her time to writing and raising
her daughter. She is also an avid runner and, as may be evident in her writing, loves the beach and ocean.
Thank you so much Jakie for stopping by today and for answering all my questions. I’m looking forward readingyour next book. The sailing champion character sounds interesting. Thanks again!