Jennifer Banash is the wonderful author of The Elite series. The first book is out now, and the second one will be out soon! Click here to see my review of The Elite and enjoy the guest blog!
As I pack up to move to California, I’ve noticed that I’m feeling pretty nostalgic lately, wading through the mounds of crap in my apartment, throwing shoes into boxes and stopping frequently to sit down on the floor and rifle through old photos. I just rented a condo in Long Beach, and I’m ready for a new job, a new location, a new attitude, and, most importantly, lots and lots of time spent lying around on the beach and learning to surf. (Shut up—I can HEAR your laughter. I WILL surf in stilettos. So there).
All of this California dreamin’ has me thinking about Cali-based YA, and how the first series I ever fell in love with made me want to pack my bags and head west faster than you can say surf wax. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the one, the only, the ORIGINAL Sweet Valley High, by Francine Pascal. I devoured those books like chocolate chip cookies with a root beer float chaser, loved them so hard their covers fell off, and refused to loan them out or share them with my friends. “You’ll just have to buy your own, “ I’d sniff imperiously when anyone came too close to my beloved paperback collection. I wanted to BE Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, have their petty problems (bad hair day, dumb boyfriend), possess their perfectly feathered blond hair, live their lives, which seemed to be all sunlight, tanning oil, and sunsets. What I loved about the series was how unrealistic it was—I didn’t WANT to read anything that even remotely resembled my own awkward existence, so I adored the fact that the SVH books were completely ridiculous plot-wise—and especially as the series went on. Who could forget when the twins battled a werewolf in London? Or when Jessica fell in love with a Vampire (Paging Edward Cullen). Or when the twins were chased by escaped criminals in Death Valley?
So when I finally got a shot to write my own YA series THE ELITE, I knew that I wanted to offer an escape from the every day—the same escape I had sought out from the SVH books as a shy and awkward teenager, but with real character development, and also, with some real problems. As much as I loved the Wakefield twins, I have to admit there were times they made me feel hopeless, as if I’d never quite measure up, or fit into their glamorous world. So basically, that’s where I got the idea of creating Casey McCloy—a realistic, down-to-earth character who would hopefully temper the over-the-top glamour of the series itself. And as long as we’re talking about California, here’s a list of my favorite Cali TV shows in no particular order:
Beverly Hills 90210: Hell yes. Crazy-ridiculous 90’s fashion, The Peach Pit, and Shannon Dougherty. Bring. It. On. So what if Andrea Zuckerman was the only thirty-five year old at Beverly Hills High, or that Dylan McKay was so old that his hair was receding? Did I mention that I own every season on DVD? Or that I am counting the days until the new 90210 airs this fall? OK, I am clearly a lunatic. So sue me :D
The first season of The O.C: Perfect television as far as I’m concerned. So what if the show jumped the shark after the second season? The first season is perfection personified. Marissa Cooper’s suicide attempt in Mexico? I was on the edge of my seat—and I don’t even like Mischa Barton.
Melrose Place: Short tempers and even shorter skirts—it’s 90210 for the twenty-something set, and I was hopeless, horribly hooked. Who remembers when Kimberley kept trying to kill Michael and finally tried to run him over with a damn CAR? Or when Sidney joined a cult? Or when Kimberley blew up the whole BUILDING? Amazing. This show pushed the envelope until it was shredded.
Laguna Beach: Yes, I know what you’re thinking, and I don’t care :D It’s probably scripted, It’s annoying airbrushed and perfect, but I adore the first season the way I adore chocolate. The sand, the bonfires, the perpetual glow of cocktail hour sunsets and margarita’s. Not the kind of series you watch over and over, but highly addictive when you’re in the middle of it.
So what are YOUR favorite Cali TV shows and books? Do tell!
Want to know more about Jennifer or the Elite series?
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