Amanda Brainerd joins us to discuss her 1980s-set novel, Age of Consent. Welcome, Amanda!

Author Name: Amanda Brainerd

Book Title: Age of Consent

Book Genre: Literary Fiction

Release Date: Out Now

Publisher: Viking

Please tell us a bit about Age of Consent.

Coming of age in the early 1980s. Sex, drugs, new wave and cocaine. 

What sparked the idea for the book?

I was at a dinner party with a writer friend and we were talking about the insanity of the laissez-faire parenting of the early 1980s and how different it is today and I thought, I’m writing that story.

How long did it take for you to write the book? Did you do have to do any research?

At first, I saw the book as an oral history, as I was not a trained writer, but thought I could report. I started to interview, and slowly realized I wanted to tell this story in novel form. The first draft took me three years. After that,I shelved it, then pulled it out several years later and revised for another two years. 

What drew you to the literary fiction genre?

It is practically the only genre I read! 

For you, what’s the hardest thing about writing?

Finding the time. I have a full time job and three kids. 

What do you love most about it?

I love the journey, and love to discover things and have ideas pop into my head as I am writing. Sometimes I sit at my desk and laugh out loud!

If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read Age of Consent?

I think there is something universal about the struggle for power between adults and teenagers. 

What are your interests outside of writing and reading?

I am a huge opera fan, and I love to cook. 

Are you working on a new project?

Yes, a story set in contemporary times about two women who look alike. 

Where can readers find you?

Thank you, Amanda—Age of Consent is available now!

It’s 1983. David Bowie reigns supreme, and downtown Manhattan has never been cooler. But Justine and Eve are stuck at Griswold Academy, a Connecticut boarding school. Griswold is a far cry from Justine’s bohemian life in New Haven, where her parents run a theater and struggle to pay the bills. Eve, the sophisticated daughter of status-obsessed Park Avenue parents, also feels like an outsider amidst Griswold’s preppy jocks and debutantes. Justine longs for Eve’s privilege, and Eve for Justine’s sexual confidence. Despite their differences, they form a deep friendship, together grappling with drugs, alcohol, ill-fated crushes, and predatory male teachers.

After a tumultuous school year, Eve and Justine spend the summer in New York City where they join Eve’s childhood friend India. Justine moves into India’s Hell’s Kitchen apartment and is pulled further into her friends’ glamorous lives. Eve, under her parents’ ever-watchful eye, interns at a SoHo art gallery and navigates the unpredictable whims of her boss. India struggles to resist the advances of a famous artist represented by the gallery. All three are affected by their sexual relationships with older men and the power adults hold over them, even as the young women begin to assert their independence.

A captivating, timeless novel about friendship, sex, and parental damage, Amanda Brainerd’s Age of Consent intimately evokes the heady freedom of our teenage years.