Beyond The Bio: Robin Talley


Hey there! We’re so excited to have two guests for today’s interview. The first guest is bestselling YA author Robin Talley, whose new book Pulp just came out last month. You might recognize Robin from her previous books, including What We Left Behind and Lies We Tell Ourselves. She’s a big fan of chocolate and lives in Washington, D.C. with her wife and daughter.

Our second guest is our awesome teen interviewer, Michael. He’s a high school freshman who loves Star Wars and cream soda. He’s also a firm believer in the superiority of Playstation over Xbox.

I'll let the two of them take it from here!

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Michael: Hey Robin! Thanks for joining me today to talk about your new book Pulp. How would you describe Pulp in two sentences to someone who hasn’t read it yet?

Robin: Pulp is a historical/contemporary mash-up. It follows a closeted lesbian in 1955 who discovers a cheap lesbian paperback in a bus station and decides to risk everything by writing novel of her own, and an out-and-proud girl in 2017 who finds a copy of a now-classic lesbian pulp novel written under a pseudonym and decides to track down its mysterious author, who disappeared after publishing her first and only book.

Michael: My favorite scene had to be when Mrs. Smith calls Abby, but she hangs up in order to comfort Ethan. It’s touching and marks a character shift for Abby. Do you have a favorite scene?

Robin: Thank you! For me, my favorite scenes are early on, when Janet first starts writing her book. As a writer myself, I relate to quite a bit in those scenes, and they were a lot of fun to put together.

Michael: When Abby starts reading Women Of The Twilight Realm, she is immediately obsessed with finding the author. Who were you obsessed with as a teenager?

Robin: Like Abby, I’ve always had a lot of obsessions. I’m dating myself here, but in high school I was very into R.E.M. Later on I got obsessed with Harry Potter, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and the Lord of the Rings movies. Also, though I have very mixed feelings about it now, Glee.

Michael: Marian Love’s book is actually a mirror of her own life. Does Pulp reflect your own life in any way?

Robin: Not in terms of the actual plot, but as I mentioned earlier I very much relate to the writing processes that both Janet and Abby experience. Also, like them, I’ve lived in Washington, D.C., for the past two decades. I currently live in the same neighborhood where Abby lives, in fact.

Michael: When Janet and Abby are writing their books, they both reach out to the author that inspired them. Who inspires you to write?

Robin: I don’t currently have a single author who I look up to in the specific way that Abby and Janet do, but I’m not sure I’d be a writer today if I hadn’t devoured the Baby-Sitters Club series when I was in fourth and fifth grades. I very much wanted to be Ann M. Martin for many years, and it was those books that solidified my interest in both reading and writing.

Michael: You reference a lot of different lesbian pulp fiction, some real and some imaginary. What novels would you recommend for someone who’s new to the genre?

Robin: It depends on your taste. If you prefer literary fiction, start with The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith (and if you want to just dip your toe into the water first, watch its movie adaptation, Carol, since that will give you an excellent flavor for the pulp stories). If you like the idea of a multi-book saga with an ensemble cast and a somewhat grittier vibe, check out the classic Beebo Brinker series by Ann Bannon, the queen of lesbian pulp fiction. The series began with Odd Girl Out, but I recommend starting with the prequel, which is simply titled Beebo Brinker. And if you want to try something really out there, read Valerie Taylor’s The Girls in 3-B, which is an extremely disturbing but beautifully written depiction of exactly how much it sucked to be a teenage girl, gay or otherwise, in the 1950s.

Michael: Abby toys with the idea of Marian doing a follow up to her book and thereby continuing Elaine and Paula’s story. Do you think you’ll ever continue Abby’s story?

Robin: Ha, no, I think the most interesting parts of Abby’s journey are already covered in Pulp. I wish Abby could write an authorized sequel about the further adventures of Paula and Elaine, though!

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That’s it for today’s interview with Robin. If you’re a teen interested in interviewing your favorite author, be sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter. We’ve got some exciting announcements coming up about how to do just that! And don’t forget to order a copy of Pulp from our friends at Indiebound before you leave. See you back here again next week!

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