Hey everyone! Daniela here! For today’s #BeyondTheBio, I am joined by another awesome author, Meredith Goldstein! Aside from writing, Meredith is also an advice columnist and features reporter for The Boston Globe. Meredith has been featured in The Washington Post, Bustle, Elite Daily, Apartment Therapy, Shondaland, and Real Simple. Her debut YA novel, Chemistry Lessons, comes out this Tuesday! I definitely recommend picking it up specially if you want to know more about the chemical equation for lasting love. Alright, let’s get to the interview!
Hi Meredith! So glad you are joining us today! Your new book Chemistry Lessons was both hilarious and sweet. Can you tell our readers a little bit about it?
The book is about a young science whiz, Maya, who has an epic breakup the summer before she starts college at MIT. In a heartbroken state, Maya winds up using her late mother’s research on attraction to try to manipulate her love life. The story was inspired by my day job; I’m a love advice columnist at The Boston Globe, and often deal with lovesick readers coping with horrible breakups. I wanted to give them a fictional fix.
I loved Maya! She's such a strong character, and I love seeing girls passionate about science. But, I have to be honest, my favorite character was Bryan. He was incredibly funny and unique. Who was your favorite character to write?
Bryan is my favorite character, too! He’s based on a real Bryan in my life who gives great advice and is an excellent friend. The fictional Bryan is also based on my sister, who inspires all of my most outgoing characters. I love that Bryan is the voice of reason, comic relief, and, in many ways, the conscience of the story. He’s the character who stayed with me the most.
I know many girls my age have been in similar situations to Maya. What advice do you give to those girls who are experiencing their first-ever heartbreak?
It’s easy to tell people that “time heals all wounds,” but the phrase doesn’t mean much if you’re in the middle of the grieving process. The more productive advice I like to give young people – and adults – is to stay busy. In Maya’s case, she starts a science project to fix her love life. Really, though, she’s just keeping busy with a passion – her research. The best way to get over a breakup, from my experience, is to find an activity that makes you feel inspired.
While I was reading, I noticed music came up a lot, especially Justin Timberlake songs. Are you a big fan of JT? What are some other artists you like listening to?
Justin Timberlake’s “Drink You Away” has a great lyric about making a “medicine for heartbreak.” It matched the theme of the book so well, and I found myself playing it a lot while writing. Lately, though, I’ve fallen deeply in love with Troye Sivan’s “The Good Side.” We don’t always get breakup songs from the perspective of the breaker-upper. “The Good Side” hits my heart – and reminds me that breakups are tough on everyone, even the people doing the leaving. I also know that my character Bryan would put it on his mix for Maya.
A lot of your book is based around science. How did you go about implementing real chemistry into the attraction serum?
I did a lot of research, and shadowed a real lab at MIT. I read a ton of pheromone studies, and then met with a scientist at Tufts University. So many scientists were generous with their time. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I do know more about epigenetics than I ever thought I would as an advice columnist.
If you were able to create any kind of potion, what would it be?
I think I’d want a potion for cloning. If I could clone myself, I could read more. And maybe I’d be better about doing my laundry.
One of my favorite parts was the way you wrote about the city of Cambridge. I’ve only been to Boston, but I know Massachusetts is home to many beautiful cities. What’s your favorite place to visit in Cambridge?
I love going to MIT’s Koch Institute Public Galleries, which feature very cool, futuristic-looking cell art. It’s gorgeous at night. When I was working on the book, I’d walk by these massive glowing cells – bright purples and pinks – for inspiration. It reminded me that science can be beautiful.
Speaking of setting, were the Whiff walks and the chocolate factory based on real locations?
Yes! There is a real chocolate factory right on Main Street. The real business is Cambridge Brands, and they make Tootsie Rolls. I highly recommend taking your own whiff walk if you’re in town.
Chemistry Lessons features some LGBTQ+ characters. For those who want cute romances and queer characters, what are some books you'd recommend?
That’s it for today’s interview with Meredith, but don’t leave just yet. We’re giving away a hardcover copy of Chemistry Lessons, and you definitely don’t want to miss out. Just click on the image below to enter. And be sure to come back again next week, when James will be chatting with Jason Reynolds about his award-winning book, Long Way Down.