Terri Libenson is the author of Just Jaime, the third in her series of graphic novels for kids, after Invisible Emmie and Positively Izzy. She is the cartoonist of the comic strip The Pajama Diaries, and she lives in Cleveland.
Q: Why did you decide to focus on your characters Jaime and Maya in your new novel?
A: I like to rotate characters, and I thought it would be interesting to bring some unexpected background characters from Emmie and Izzy into the forefront. I also thought it would be fun to add depth to their personalities instead of having them maintain their Gossip Girl personas.
Q: What do you think the book says about middle school friendships?
A: I think it shows how friendships in middle school can turn on a dime (for better or worse). To me, middle school is all about transition and fluctuation, and that especially goes for friendships.
Q: Each of your books involves the same group of kids, but you tell each story from a different character's perspective. Did you figure all of this out before you started the first book, or has it developed gradually?
A: I originally had a two-book deal with my publisher, and I just assumed the second book would also be about Emmie. But when I finished writing Invisible Emmie, I thought her story was complete (for now) and I wanted to try something new. So I switched gears and focused on Brianna and Izzy. I really liked the changeup, and from then on, I knew I wanted to keep switching out the characters. So, yes, unplanned.
Q: Has your process for creating the text and illustrations changed over the course of the series?
A: I’ve become a little faster! I really didn’t know what I was doing in Emmie, but now that I have templates to work from, the illustrations go so much more smoothly. As for writing, it really helps to have well-developed characters now. That also makes the process quicker and smoother, as I can reasonably predict how they’ll react to situations.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m finishing the first draft of book 4!
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I can give you a hint for book 4: I’m bringing back one of the main characters from the first three books as a protagonist. You’ll just have to guess who.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Terri Libenson.