The DUFF (Little, Brown/Poppy) is the debut of Kody Keplinger, 19, whose novel follows Bianca Piper as she navigates her way through a tough family situation and an infuriating enemies-with-benefitsarrangement with hot, popular Wesley Rush. There's anger and angst and love and seriously heated passion in this book -- and all of it revolves around Bianca, the DUFF (the "designated ugly fat friend").
I loved Kody's book, which was inspired by a joke among her friends. "I teased that I would write a book called The DUFF about a girl who was the designated ugly fat friend of her group -- only, in my version, she wouldn't be a cliche angel with a heart of gold who teaches the others a lesson," says Kody. "Nope, in my story, the DUFF would be hard, sarcastic, and bitter. Once I started writing, I couldn't stop." Very cool. We had to talk to this teen author:
I Heart Daily: How did you first hear the term "DUFF"? Kody Keplinger: I heard the word from a friend of mine my senior year of high school. She was angry because a boy had called her friend a "DUFF" and when she told me what it meant, I had 3 reactions. First, I laughed. Second, I thought, "Wow, that's so mean." And third, I realized a little sadly, "That's me -- I'm the DUFF of this group." I discovered later that my friends felt the same - that THEY were the DUFFs of our group. And that was when the joke started -- I would write a book for all of us with the word "DUFF" as a main theme. And then I did, and with my friends support, it became so much more than a joke.
IHD: You've said that most girls feel like "The DUFF" -- and in the book all the friends agree that they feel that way. Why is that? Kody: I think girls are trained to think badly of themselves. If a girl is too confident, she's a snob, so we all try to avoid that and be modest. Only, when it isn't crafted and supervised, a young girl's modesty turns quickly into self esteem issues. Mix that with the media's images of what a girl "should be" and we have problems. Everyone on TV wants to lose weight. Everyone wants to be perfect and pretty, but even perfect pretty girls aren't enough these days. I think it's gotten to a point where its easier to see the beauty in others and in ourselves -- and more socially acceptable to do so. And that's how we get DUFFs.
IHD: Do you relate to Bianca at all? Where did her tough exterior and attitude toward young love come from? Kody: I do relate to Bianca, but we're very different. I often joke that Bianca is my dark side. She's me on my bad days -- only she's like that every day. The truth is, I find myself being cynical sometimes about love, and as soon as I "met" Bianca, I knew she'd be even more cynical than I was. It wasn't until I started writing that I learned why -- she'd been hurt before. But I won't say more to avoid spoilers!
IHD: Any movie news? Kody: Well, the option sold to Vast Entertainment with McG attached to direct, but that's it for now. With an option, it could go so many different ways. But I have my fingers crossed!
We do too!
PS-I ramble about The DUFF on teen book blog The Contemps this week, if you wanna hear more.