Today is my spot on the blog tour for Tulip Taylor by Anna Mainwearing, and I am excited to be sharing with you a guest post from the author!
Who is Tulip Taylor and where did she come from?
My latest novel takes its title from the central character, Tulip Taylor. She’s fifteen, she loves words and make-up in equal measure, she can be ridiculous and brave all in the same moment. She’s frequently written off as an air-head when she’s far from it. So what chain of ideas led to me creating her?
First of all, I wanted a character who was going to be sent into the wild to survive for themselves. So it had to be someone for whom this would be a challenge. So I knew that I had to have a character who was completely unprepared for the challenge but also I wanted a character who could learn from her mistakes and overcome difficulties.
I’d read quite a lot of books with a female protagonist where the central characters found pretty, popular girls a threat. In fact, these were the kind of girls who were often portrayed as bullies. I realised that I’d done this to some extent in my first book, ‘Rebel with a Cupcake’. I teach mostly) teenage girls. Many seem to manage being attractive with being kind, clever, hard-working and good company. I didn’t want to fall into the trap again of using ‘pretty’ as a another way of saying vain or vapid. So many things that are classes as traditionally feminine are often criticised – for example fashion or wearing make-up. That seems to me another kind of misogyny. If you live in a world where rightly or wrongly you are judged on what you look like, as teens are, it seems logical to experiment with clothes and make-up. What I’ve learned through having teen girls in my life, is that often experimenting with make-up is primarily a creative act, practising a skill, something you do for fun with friends, rather than something you wear outside the house. All this fed into creating Tulip’s thoughts.
I’ve often seen how girls can be underestimated. I took some year 7 students on an activity weekend some years ago. They were tiny, many of them never stopped talking. On first glance, they appeared totally unsuitable for ghyll scrambling, rock climbing, high wire activities and long hikes. At the end of the week, one of the instructors took me to one side. He said they’d never had a group of students who were so positive, so up for a challenge and so resilient. He admitted that when we’d piled off the coach, some of the instructors assumed that they’d complain and find it all hard. But they’d learned a lesson. Don’t judge anyone by first impressions. This too added into my vision for Tulip’s character and what happens to her.
What I’ve learned about teenage girls is this: you can take a selfie and still want to change the world. You can want to know how to do a perfect eyeliner flick and still read Victorian novels or understand quantum physics. One kind of interest doesn’t bar you from another. What I love about my students today is their enthusiasm for so many diverse aspects of life. And that’s what I wanted to give Tulip. I hope you enjoy reading her story.
About the Book
Challenged to go on a `survival’ reality TV show, fifteen-year-old make-up vlogger Tulip only accepts to escape her mother’s money-making schemes and protect her younger brother and sister. Set up to fail, can she prove to the TV show, to Harvey – the cute but annoying boy who got her on there – and most importantly to herself, that she’s more than just a pretty face? As Tulip puts down her phone and heads for the hills, she finds she has both the courage and insight to take on each new challenge. But as ‘reality’ gets ever more crazy, will either teen escape their families and their time in the spotlight unscathed?