Popularity has its pitfalls, and Polly is discovering them firsthand in this middle-grade M!X novel. Polly Pierce likes being the second-most popular girl at Winston Academy, right after her BFF, Kelsey. Popularity comes with special privileges, like a seat at the best table in the cafeteria and a coveted spot on the planning committee for the school’s big talent show competition, Groove It Up! And since all Polly has to do is agree with whatever Kelsey says, being popular is easy—even if kids do call her “Plastic Polly” behind her back.
But when a freak accident takes Kelsey out of the picture, Polly is suddenly in charge of the Groove It Up! committee. She’s not prepared for her new status—and neither is anyone else. Backstabbing friends, an intimidating crush, and diva demands from an injured Kelsey all threaten to derail Polly’s plans. Can she prove to everyone—and herself—that she has a personality of her own?
Jenny Lundquist grew up in Huntington Beach, CA, and she was shy, not popular. She spent a lot of time hiding out in her room reading books and writing stories she never finished. Eventually she got over her shyness (mostly) and graduated from Biola University. She still spends a lot of time reading and writing, but now she finishes her stories. Jenny is the author of the Aladdin M!X title Seeing Cinderella. Jenny and her family live in Northern California.
If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
I would go back into the past. I am fascinated with Tudor history and would travel back to the reign of Henry VIII. Although, on second thought, the activist in me probably couldn’t keep my mouth shut over his abuses of power, and I’d probably end up on the chopping block.
If you were a superhero what would your name be?
I am a stay-at-home mom who manages to hit my deadlines and keep my household running (sort of, anyway). I already AM a superhero. I am SuperMom, hear me roar!
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
My favorite thing to eat for breakfast (or any other meal) is food someone else has cooked!
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Ever wondered what life was like for the “fake” popular girl in middle school that you couldn’t stand?—read Plastic Polly and you’ll find out that, on the inside, she’s not that different than you! (Plus, there’s a really fun talent show competition!)
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
In October my YA novel The Princess in the Opal Mask comes out and I’m currently finishing up the final round of edits. It’s about a princess who’s been forced all her life to wear a mask made of opals, and she doesn’t know why. I can’t say too much more than that right now, because my publisher is still putting together cover copy.
After that, I need to start drafting the second book in the Opal Mask series, which I have ingeniously titled OPAL 2. My goal is to have a really horrible first draft of OPAL 2 completed before my kids get out of school for the summer, as my productivity level plummets during the months of June, July and August.
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
One of my favorite books was “Thirteen” by Candice Ransom and featured a girl that felt like a fish out of water at her middle school. She ends up losing her best friend, who’s a little bit more mature and ready for things that the main character is not.
This book was so helpful to me because I was the shy middle schooler who felt like things were going along just great and then—BAM!—one day I woke up and my friends had all turned into boy crazy aliens. I needed a book that reminded me it was okay to take life at my own pace, even if it was slower than where everyone else my age was at. If I’m really honest with myself, that’s why I chose to write middle grade books first before young adult. When I wrote Seeing Cinderella and Plastic Polly, I had a very targeted reader in mind: A shy tween, who just wanted to be reassured that she was okay, just as she was.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Ignore the negative voices in your head, and just write. I discovered I liked to write when I was ten years old, but I spent much of the next two decades believing that I wasn’t creative enough; that I wouldn’t finish a book even if I tried to write one; and even if I finished one, it wouldn’t be any good, anyway. It wasn’t until I was thirty that I realized that time is a nonrenewable resource and that all the time I spent thinking, “Maybe I’ll write a book…someday,” wasn’t getting me anywhere. I decided to turn “someday” into “today” and I’ve been writing ever since. I still struggle with negative voices, but I’ve learned not to listen to them. (Or I try not to, anyway.)
Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
There’s a little bit of me in most of my characters. I wasn’t popular in middle school like Polly is, but I was deeply insecure, and not always sure I wanted people to know the “real” me. Kelsey, Polly’s loud-mouthed, outrageous best friend, is me when I’m too tired or stressed out to care what other people think of me. In Plastic Polly, there’s a subplot between Polly’s mom an overachieving lawyer, and the mother of one of Polly’s classmates, who thinks Polly’s mom isn’t involved enough at the kids’ school. That was basically me working through my “mama guilt” about how much time writing takes these days.
What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had?
Whenever I get overly stressed, I think about killing off my main character. It would solve all my problems, but I’m pretty sure my editor wouldn’t let it fly!
How do you react to a bad review?
I think I’ve gotten tougher over the last year. I recognize that everyone has their own preferences—and their right to express those preferences. A low rating on Goodreads might have sunk my whole day when Seeing Cinderella came out last year. It’s my goal to become a better writer with each book, but I realize I’ll never be able to please everybody.
If you were a super hero what would your kryptonite be?
Chocolate, definitely. I can never resist chocolate, and when I eat too much, it impedes my ability to function. But it hurts so good!
If you had 24 hours alone how would you spend it?
If I had 24 hours alone, then it must be because the world ended and I was the only one left behind. Seriously, I would spend it in my house reading and enjoying the QUIET! That probably sounds like a boring answer, but for those of you with children at home, you know what I’m talking about! And, in not completely unrelated news, in the time it’s taken me to answer these questions, I’ve had to mediate three fights between my kids, make lunch, and had a practical joke played on me—and I’m not exaggerating…wait, make that two practical jokes. Apparently, my younger son has decided to pull out all the stops today.
Favorite quote from a movie?
“The choices we make, dictate the life we lead.” –Danny Devito, Renaissance Man. To be fair, he was quoting William Shakespeare, but at the time I didn’t know it. The sentence stuck with me, even though it’s been almost twenty years since I’ve seen that movie, and I’ve never forgotten it.
Most embarrassing moment?
My most embarrassing moment was in middle school when a boy I had a crush on licked his fingers, then ran them down the lenses of my glasses. I was mortified, because I’d been hoping he’d stopped to talk to me because he’d finally recognized my inner awesomeness. I became convinced my glasses had magic powers (they repelled boys!) and promptly came to school wearing contacts the next day. I was too embarrassed and hurt to tell my friends or parents what happened, but eventually, that incident sparked the idea for Seeing Cinderella, which was the sweetest revenge of all!
How do you juggle writing & family life?
I always shoot for ‘Good Enough’ as opposed to ‘Good.’ Otherwise, Not Enough gets done!
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