Lorenza Bernardi’s teen love (Il Maggio dei Libri 2021)

by Erica Surace

Love: a word with a vast significance, a precious feeling, an experience that pervades all of our lives both in conventional and less conventional ways. In this “Maggio dei Libri” (May of Books), Women Plot wants to tell you about loves that are much more than the classical boy-meets-girl. Today we reflect on the many nuances, and possible complications, of teen love with Lorenza Bernardi (instagram.com/labbernarda), successful teenager literature writer and cartoon screenwriter, with an important publishing past and a passion for both the youth world and the sports world. What does it mean to empathize with teenagers so much to be able to dive into the world of young love all over again and bring your readers with you?

  1. What does love mean to you?

Love is reaching out, opening up, listening to each other, but also to ourselves. Love is feeling alive because of your significant other, one that can be present or be, on the contrary, just an idea, a purpose that makes your heart race. Love is not necessarily a person, but rather an emotional state, a state of grace that makes us bloom.

  1. How do your works deal with love?

Love is a feeling that overwhelms us. It can be triggered by a person, a situation, a goal to be achieved, a passion… In my books, I often talk about these upheavals, those tensions that make us reach out to somebody or something. Because love shakes us as well as the priorities we had up until that point.

  1. What brought you to explore the world of young adult novels?

I have always had an inclination for the kids’ and teens’ world. I love the potential that young people have, and I remember all too well when I was a teenager myself, that ‘not being [something] anymore but not being [something else] yet’. I like to think that, through my stories and my words, I’m able to hit their heart and accompany them for some part of their growth.

  1. In the guise of an artist, how did you step into the shoes of a teenager to write about her?

It’s very natural for me to ‘step into the shoes of’, partly because the feeling of that time – when I was a teenager myself – is still very much alive in me. At the same time, I have two children: one has just gone through that phase, while the other is jumping in it with both feet. Finally, I have to say my second job as a triathlon coach (I have a team of young athletes from six to nineteen years old) allows me to have a privileged window on this world.

  1. As a woman who writes mainly about love, have you experienced prejudice within the Italian publishing scene? If so, what advice would you give to emerging women writers?

Given that I don’t write exclusively about love (meaning ‘romantic love’), I must admit that the publishing world is in general quite an equal one, at least as far as opportunities go – especially in children’s literature.

As the target age progresses, stronger inequalities, as well as these prejudices you mentioned, begin to emerge. For example, literature written by women for a predominantly single, female target is still referred to as ‘chick lit’, as in ‘literature for chicks’. I find this term not only demeaning for female writers, but also for their female readers, as it implies a constant differentiation between first-class and second-class products, as if everything that revolves around the female world is always kind of inferior, not to be taken seriously.

In contrast, living also in the sports world (my other great working passion) myself, I find it to be still so steeped in sexism and prejudice that the publishing world seems like a newly paved road to me.

The advice I can give to young female writers is: insist and persist. You have time and energy: channel them and bet on yourselves. Do group, network, exchange ideas, give comfort and support to each other. Eventually, you’ll make it.

We will have the pleasure to speak with Lorenza on Wednesday, 12 May 2021 at 6:30 (CEST) through an Instagram Live on our profile (instagram.com/womenplot) – FYI: in Italian – where we will further discuss teen love, the female publishing world, and the role of a teen novels writer.