Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Interview with Katie Alender!
Today with us we have the wonderful Katie Alender, author of the Bad Girls Don't Die, which will be reviewed on this blog in the near future. (:
When did you decide you want to be an author?
When I was about eight, I knew I loved writing. But it wasn’t until I was in my early 20s that I realized I wanted to actually put some effort into writing books.
What kind of music do you listen to? Do you listen to any certain playlist while writing?
I listen to a little bit of everything (except reggae). If I’m writing, any music I listen to has to be instrumental, because otherwise I get too distracted. But between actual writing sessions, I have a playlist or each project that fits the mood and characters, and I listen to it over and over and over (and over and over!)… It helps keep me focused on the story and characters.
How was the road to publication different than what you thought it would be?
Being published is a wonderful thing, something to be grateful for, and I’ve enjoyed the whole process. But it has taught me that you can’t rely on a specific achievement to bring you contentment and satisfaction in your life. If you can’t be happy unpublished, you won’t be happy published. To be honest, the whole thing is not very glamorous. It’s a lot of work and it can be really rewarding, but it’s not this magical thing that will mean nonstop puppies and rainbows in your life.
One of the biggest surprises for me, which fortunately came many years ago, was learning that most authors can’t quit their day jobs with the money they make from writing.
How did you come up with the idea of Bad Girls Don't Die?
I had the idea of two sisters, who were very disconnected from their parents, telling each other stories and making up legends about their family. The book morphed from that into something quite different, but the storytelling scene has always been at the center of it.
Are you working on any books right now? If yes, are you allowed to tell us anything about them?
I am working on another book, but I can’t say anything about it at the moment. It’s quite different from “Bad Girls Don’t Die” in a lot of ways, but it’s also similar. Pretty much all of my main characters are teen girls who discover their own strengths. I also have a sequel to “Bad Girls” percolating in my brain.
How did the first draft of Bad Girls Don't Die change to make it the copy we see today at bookstores?
Well, the first draft was so different that I don’t think I’d even recognize it. Most authors say they have two books sitting in a drawer somewhere. In my case, “Bad Girls” is that first book, revised and revised and revised. It has changed drastically. With every subsequent draft, I pulled the story tighter and tried to weave more pieces of it together.
Do any of your characters' experiences resemble any that you've had?
Not really. But I think if I had gone to the local high school instead of an arts school, I would probably have been a lot like Alexis.
I read that you love to sew. What is the most favorite thing that you've sewed?
I love all of my projects for various reasons. I love every quilt because it represents the dog, baby, or friend it was made for. I love all of my wrap skirts because it’s super fun to get dressed knowing that I’m the only person in the world with that particular item. I guess my favorite quilt is a bird quilt I made for a baby (which you can see here, and my favorite skirt is one that has vertical stripes in red, yellow, aqua, white, and chocolate brown. When I wear that with a crisp white button-down shirt and my “nicest” flipflops, I feel like I’m 100% me.
What is your advice to teens who want to be authors?
Read Stephen King’s “On Writing.” Find a career you love, because that will give you something to write about. Nurture your ideas, and protect them when they’re young, like baby chicks. Don’t go too long without finishing a whole draft of something. Challenge yourself when you revise. Learn to collaborate with others. Don’t ever have your characters describe themselves while looking in a mirror. Remember that when you write for publication, you’re becoming an influence on your readers, so be responsible. Write, write, write!
Ask yourself a question and answer it!
Q: So, Katie, what do you want readers to take away from your book after reading it?
A: Well, Katie, that is an exceptionally great question. In my wildest dreams, I want my readers to get a sense of not being defined by the way other people may perceive them—and not defining others in that way. And I want them to feel inspired to take on some of their own problems and issues, knowing they will come through stronger than they were before.
Thank you so much, Katie!