Mt. Airy author lets her characters ‘write’ her novels

Mt. Airy author Amy Ignatow has released her third book in her tweens series The Popularity Papers.

As the name of the series suggests, learning how to become to become popular in school is something her characters take seriously. In the original story Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang embark on an academic pursuit to study what makes other girls popular at their school. “The First book is the search for popularity. Define what one needs to do to be popular,” said Ignatow.

The latest is The Popularity Papers: Words of (Questionable) Wisdom from Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang we find the two of them reunited after Lydia comes back from a summer in England. That entire experience is the subject of second volume of The Popularity Papers.

Both girls try their popularity research independently for the summer and Ignatow says now it’s time for them to compare notes and from Julie’s point-of-view, ” I’m going to fix the mistakes you made while I was gone,” said Ignatow.

In this third series, the girls both attend a funeral. Even though they didn’t know the deceased well, the event has a profound impact on them.

“They want to reprioritize their lives…Instead of chasing popularity, they want to help people, feed the hungry, cloth the unclothed, Ignatow said. But in typical adolescence passion they go to extremes. In one of their missions to improve the lives of others, they see a girl in class who dresses in ragged clothes. They think she must be poor. They decide to give her some nice clothes. The next time they see her the clothes they gave her is torn up and battered. Turns out the girl is wealthy and likes to dress down by choice.

The books stand out because Ignatow took the approach of having the series appear as if they are journals written and illustrated by the characters. Ignatow said she had to develop two different handwriting and drawing styles to reflect their personalities. 


Unleashing her inner fifth-grader

Ignatow didn’t start out writing for tweens, in fact, she admits that much of earlier writings have been taken down from the internet. She had written a more autobiographical web graphic novel called Ig City. I mention the bar Fergie’s (a Philadelphia bar) much too often,” she admits.

But it was Ig City that led her to create The Popularity Papers. Ignatow says when she presented “Ig City” to literary agent Dan Lazar he told her “‘I think your work is very childlike’,” she said. He meant that in a good way. Lazar suggested she try a graphic novel for younger adults. It was good advice. On June 4, 2010 The New York Times reviewed The Popularity Papers and liked it. 

Her fourth in this series is due in April of next year.

Amy Ignatow will do a book reading on Saturday, October 29, at 3 p.m. at Big Blue Marble Books.

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