Question: When did your love affair with make-up begin?
Katie Anderson: I can't remember a time when I didn't LOVE makeup. Cosmetics are like watercolors and my face, a canvas. However, it's funny, I don't even wear that much. My best friend just read the book and said, "Shoot. With the amount of cosmetics in here, you'd think you'd be made up like Tammy Faye Baker. But you're not? Why DO you love it so much?" I'm not sure. It's artistic. And I'm good at applying it. I liked giving makeovers as a kid. My daughter is the same way. Maybe it's genetic. Also, I think as a teen I never felt pretty and makeup had this magical power to transform. Though in truth, I realized it can't make a person feel pretty. That feeling comes from inside and isn't sold in tubes and compacts.
Q: Is anything from the book (aside from the makeup obsession) autobiographical?
KA: No. But in retrospect, I realized that I was like Emerson in that I was a fairly popular girl who was secretly intrigued by the less popular boys. I remember being fascinated by the romantic relationships that formed in social circles other than my own. And while there wasn't a boy like Edwin I liked, I wouldn't have been courageous enough to date him if there were. I would have dated a Vance type and suffered. So I guess I wanted to write a new story for a braver teenage Katie, a do-over.
Q: Was Emerson’s superpower one you always imagined or was it just the perfect tie-in to a fictional cosmetic related story?
KA: Totally fictional. And the cosmetics idea came much later in the writing, like a year or so later. I woke up in the middle of the night with the idea to name the chapters after different shades of lip gloss. I have always loved the names of nail polish colors and wanted to do something similar. I decided to create a Willy Wonka type scenario with makeup instead of chocolate. It was really, really fun.
Q: Was it important to set the story in the South and why?
KA: The South is what I call home and I just love it. This book wasn't actually as Southern at first. But I think I'll always write about the South. I love the food, the slower pace, the ties to tradition, the whole personality of it. I grew up in Virginia, but when I moved to Mississippi, I knew I had come home.
Q: Were you inspired by your 11 and 15-year-old daughters’ lives when writing this book?
KA: Not as much as you'd think. I heard a writer once say that most writers struggled with a particular time in their life and so they are stuck writing about it, perhaps in an effort to redo that troubled period. For me, it was my teenage years. I didn't have a very good sense of who I was and so I think I will always write about women who are trying to find that. I hope my own girls have a stronger sense of self than I did at their age.
Q: What would you like girls to take away from this book?
KA: First of all, I just hope it makes them smile and they enjoy it. I'd also like for them to understand that being the most popular or the prettiest face in school is not what will ultimately bring you happiness. I believe that each of us is unique like a snowflake, beautiful in her own right, created like no one else, and designed and equipped to do things only she can do. I wish girls would relax and trust that.