Author Melissa Schorr talks about cyberbullying, body image, catfishing and what inspired her to write Identity Crisis. Read on this interview and know why you should read her book!
What is Identity Crisis about and what shall your readers expect to read?
Identity Crisis is a story about cyberbullying, where a high school girl finds out her new online boyfriend is actually a catfishing scheme thought up by her worst enemies. The story is told from two perspectives — from Annalise, the girl who finds herself the victim of the scam, and from Noelle, the girl who is doing the catfishing. It’s also about so much more: friendship, slut-shaming, fandom, body image.
What inspired you to write a novel about catfishing?
I’d heard so many stories in the news about people being victims of catfishing scams — like the Notre Dame football player Manti T’eo, and the tragic case of Megan Meier. And there was also the MTV show Catfish. I wanted to understand why someone would fall for such a scam, but also, what would motivate someone to do that to someone else.
Aside from catfishing, the book also deals with the issue of body image and inner beauty. What’s your advice to young readers who are struggling from the same issue?
That at every age, you will look back at yourself and think you were absolutely beautiful back then and you were insane to be stressing about those little imperfections. And that someday, you will find someone who thinks you are crazy beautiful, inside and out — even when you wake up in the morning with bedhead and no makeup!
Are you more likely to be Annalise or Noelle?
Definitely like Noelle, in terms of her fear of public speaking! So of course, that makes giving presentations as an author a bit challenging. But also like Annalise, self-conscious about her body type. (Only, in high school, I didn’t have her problem, I had the opposite, if you know what I mean!) So I guess I’m a bit of both girls.
How different is Identity Crisis compared to your other works?
My first book, Goy Crazy, about a Jewish girl who falls for a Catholic boy, was very autobiographical, while this book is entirely fictional. But both are lighter takes on issues that matter to me — interfaith dating and cyberbullying.
Please share to us your favorite quote from Identity Crisis.
“It seems everyone has something they are covering up—an aging face or a crumbling career,a secret crush or a true identity. We’re all just a bunch of glamour shots and Facebook brags and auto-tunes. What feels real can turn out to be fake, but also, what feels fake can sometimes turn into something real. All that flashy gadgetry—our handles and avatars and screen names— can let us scrape away the surface and connect somewhere true, somewhere deep inside.”
Melissa Schorr is the YA author of GOY CRAZY (Hyperion 2006) and IDENTITY CRISIS (forthcoming, Merit Press 2016), and a contributor to the YA anthology DEAR BULLY. She is currently a contributing writer/editor to the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. Her freelance work has appeared in numerous publications, including GQ, People, Self, San Francisco magazine, and The Wall Street Journal.
Melissa currently lives in Boston with her husband, her daughters, and her dog, Bailey.
When curvaceous Annalise Bradley’s scandalous freshman year hookup sparks the anger of her female classmates, three of them decide to get her back by “catfishing” her, creating a fake online profile of the perfect boy to toy with her affections. Against her better nature, introverted Noelle Spiers, goes along with her friends’ plan, hoping to distract Annalise from dreamy Cooper Franklin, her lifelong crush who has fallen for Annalise instead. As Annalise discovers she is being played and seeks revenge, Noelle increasingly regrets her role in the cruel hoax and tries to salvage their relationship. Told in alternating perspectives, IDENTITY CRISIS covers romance, betrayal, and timeless friendship in the age of modern technology.