Thursday, May 5, 2011


Interview with Carolyn Samuels from If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor

Today my guest is a girl who has suddenly been thrust into the media. Recently she gave a talk on Karen’s Chaise Lounge and now she is a featured guest on this blog. How is it affecting this young girl who has graciously agreed to talk about the events of her freshman year in high school.  Since Carolyn was a little nervous about her first big interview she asked the author of her story, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, Barbara Ehrentreu, to interview her.

Welcome to both of you. Barbara and Carolyn.

Barbara, please ask your first question.

Carolyn, would you please tell us a little about yourself?
There’s not much to tell. I live in Mill Valley, which is in Westchester, NY and I attend Mill Valley High School. My best friends are Becky and Janie and I love Math. Oh, yeah, I have a Newfoundland dog named Max and my favorite cookie is chocolate chocolate chip homemade by my mom. My mom works for an ad agency in the city. That’s what New Yorkers called New York City. My dad is a criminal lawyer. I’m an only child, but you couldn’t ask for better parents. Except they don’t pay much attention to me.

On the surface it looks like you have a great life. Why, then did you come to me one day crying and telling me you hated Jennifer Taylor and she made your life miserable? Who is Jennifer Taylor and why do you hate her?

Jennifer Taylor has made my life a living nightmare since middle school. I call her Miss Perfect, because she is a size two and her father owns half the town. She’s on the path to be an Olympic gymnast so she’s excellent in gym. Jennifer is the most popular girl in the freshman class. I think she knows everyone in the class. And to top it all off she has this hot boyfriend, Brad, who is a Junior and the quarterback for our football team. He’s so amazing and I don’t think she deserves to be with him. Okay, maybe I have a crush on Brad myself.

What happened last year on the first day of school?

I’m not sure I can talk about this, because it brings back awful memories. Do you want me to go all the way back to the rope line incident? I mean that’s what started all this.

Yes, tell us as much as you can.

Well, I got up on the first day of school after having this incredible dream where I was popular and a cheerleader and my boyfriend fed me a piece of chocolate cake because I was thin and blonde and didn’t gain weight. Of course the truth is I am a little overweight and my hair is dark brown and hangs like shriveled spaghetti. But still this was a great dream, wouldn’t you agree? I wanted to stay in bed, because when my alarm rang I realized I might run into Jennifer Taylor. 

You see I hate her and I also want to be like her. It’s awful and here’s how it started. When I was in seventh grade we did the ropes course. One part of it , the zip line, required you to climb up to this platform and you were given a harness. When you got up there you had to clasp yourself to the line and then you could slide down. A few people went in front of me and then of course, Jennifer did it perfectly. When my turn came I froze. Then I started breathing funny, because I have this thing. I hyperventilate when I’m nervous and that day I started turning blue. If I can’t start breathing I can faint. I started feeling dizzy and couldn’t clasp myself onto the zip line. Jennifer was on the ground and saw me. The teacher saw me too and raced up the ladder to the platform. She said to me, “Breathe, Carolyn, breathe.” Then Jennifer started saying too and soon all the kids who had been on the line echoed her. As I came down the ladder I wanted a big hole to open up and swallow me. So then Jennifer started bothering me at odd times every day. She’d sneak up and say “Breathe, Carolyn, breathe.” Or she would whisper it in class when I had to go up to the board. We were in Math class together and I started to dread it. So when I was in her Math class again and the teacher put us together as partners I didn’t know how I could stand it.

What happened?

Well the first day of school after being pushed together with her for a Math project I was put in front of her in line for gym. I don’t know what happened, but all of a sudden I didn’t want to be anywhere near Jennifer and I started hyperventilating until I fainted. I guess that’s when I got connected to Jennifer in a much more serious way.

Oh, my goodness, your story has more to it?

Oh yes, I learned way too much about Jennifer and wound up holding her secrets until the end of the year. I mean, I did meet Brad and well, I don’t think I can say anymore. This is all really painful to talk about, you know?

Yes, Carolyn and thank you for telling us a little bit about your story. I guess if you want to learn more about what happened that year you will have to read the book, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor coming from MuseItUp Publishing in September as a cool e-book.

Thank you, Amy for hosting us today.

Yes, thank you Amy. This was my first blog interview and thank you Barbara for helping me through it.

My pleasure, Carolyn. I know talking about these things is hard for you, but you did very well.

Barbara, a retired teacher with a Masters degree in Reading and Writing K-12 and seventeen years of teaching experience lives with her family in Stamford, Connecticut. When she received her Masters degree she began writing seriously. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, Barbara’s first YA novel, was inspired by Paula Danziger. Barbara is a NY Literature Examiner for with several articles for them. Her blog, Barbara’s Meanderings,, is networked on both Facebook and Blog Catalog. She hosts Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages on Blog Talk Radio every 4th Thursday. In addition, her children's story, “The Trouble with Follow the Leader” and an adult story, “Out on a Ledge” are published online She writes book reviews for and several of her reviews have been on Acewriters and Celebrity CafĂ©. She is a member of SCBWI. Writing is her life!

If I Could Be LIke Jennifer Taylor

Carolyn Samuels’ freshman year becomes a series of lies to cover Jennifer Taylor’s terrible secret in return for popularity.
Carolyn Samuels is obsessed with the idea of being popular. She is convinced that the only thing keeping her from happiness is her too heavy for fashion body and not being a cheerleader. Hyperventilating when she gets nervous doesn’t help. When she is paired for a Math project with the girl who tormented her in middle school, Jennifer Taylor, she is sure it is going to be another year of pain.With Carolyn’s crush on Jennifer’s hunky Junior quarterback Brad her freshman year in high school looks like a rerun of middle school. After Jennifer’s the only student who knows why she fell in gym class, Carolyn is blackmailed into doing her math homework in return for Jennifer’s silence. Jennifer takes on Carolyn as a pity project since she can’t be seen with someone who dresses in jeans and sweatshirts. When Jennifer invites Carolyn to sleep over to make her over and teach her to tumble, Carolyn learns Jennifer’s secret and lies to her own friends to cover it up. Will Carolyn become a cheerleader and become popular? Does she continue to keep Jennifer’s secret? Or will she be a target of this mean girl again?


“Out on a Ledge”


Pat Dale said...

Hey, this sounds like Carolyn has quite a story to tell. I have a grandaughter in Nebraska who might like this one. She's a senior now but as the youngest of four, she's had a rough way to go. She's dyslexic (sp) and the others are all talented and very bright. Katie is also bright but just now beginning to find her own way. No way would I want to come back as a youngster these days. It was tough enough the first time.
LOL Anyway, I'll be lookinig for your book to send to Katie!
Pat Dale

Emily Pikkasso said...

Hi Carolyn, you did a great job on the interview. I hope you and Jennifer work things out. Wishing you much sucess on your debut in September, I look forward to seeing more of you between now and then.


lionmother said...

Thank you Dale. I think she would like my story. It's hard having something wrong with you and some kids make fun of you, but sometimes these kids are doing it because they want to forget their own problems. Jennifer isn't really perfect is all I'm going to say. I'll let you know when it comes out in September.

lionmother said...

Thank you Nancy! I'm so glad you came over to read our interview. Carolyn had to leave, but she said to tell you thank you, too.

Marilyn ~ wiggiemd said...

Great interview! Thanks for sharing.

Pat McDermott said...

Wonderful interview, ladies. Carolyn did great! I look forward to reading her intriguing story.

Karen Cote said...

Barbara, you've brought Carolyn to life in a way that reaches into the soul and simply yearns for something bigger, stronger...weaker. like for someone to step up and help. I've seen this in your poetry and you're beautiful. Thank you for always giving a part of yourself. Thank you Amy for the showcase on this beautiful writer and friend to many.

BarbaraB said...

Hi Amy,
Thanks for hosting this interesting tag team.

Hi Barbara and Carolyn,
I enjoyed your very revealing conversation and am looking forward to reading the rest of the story. This shows how hard it is to be a teenager. I hope the teens who read the book will be helped in their own lives.

lionmother said...

Thank you for visiting and I'm glad you enjoyed the interview.

lionmother said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview. It's always hard to talk with a teenager, but Carolyn really wanted to tell her story.

lionmother said...

Karen, thank you for all the beautiful words for both me and Carolyn. Each time we appear together I learn more about her. I can't wait for everyone to learn her story in September. Having friends like you and all the people who commented here makes me feel like I'm in the middle of a giant group hug!

lionmother said...

BarbaraB thank you for visiting and I'm hoping this story will reach into young teens' hearts. It is hard to be a teen today and Carolyn's story is very difficult to have lived. But as hard as it was to be Carolyn it was worse to be Jennifer. Jennifer has way too many secrets that affected Carolyn and changed her forever. I can't wait until all us September debutantes get our books released.:)

lionmother said...

Amy, thank you for this opportunity for both myself and Carolyn. We both appreciate it.:)

festival8 said...

I was happy to have you Barbara. You were a delightful guest.

J Q Rose said...

Love the give and take between Carolyn and Barbara. Very clever post. Best wishes on your upcoming book!

lionmother said...

Thank you, JQ! I really learned a lot about my character from interacting with her. She comes more alive for me each time we appear together. :)

Amy, you are so sweet. I really enjoyed myself and can't wait to have you on my blog. I'm looking forward to having you on my show in the future.