1) How did you get the idea for Bad Girls Don't Die?
The book began as the story of two sisters making up stories to provide a family history for themselves, and then one of the sisters latches on to the stories and starts bringing them to life. Its come a long way since then!
2) You went to film school and have worked on a film ("Project 96-B" for the 48-Hour Film Project). What made you want to go into film? And has your film background affected the way in which you write your novels?
I went to an arts high school for communications. Initially, I was there for writing, but as time went on, I got more involved with video production. I really enjoyed creating something tactile, but I also enjoyed the freedom we had to wander all over the school! I wanted to go to film school because I wanted to tell stories, and at that age, I wasnt thinking in terms of actually just writing them down. I didnt even consider trying to be an author. But Im glad I went to film school; my path has served me well (and provided me with my husband and many of my closest friends!).
My books are definitely affected by my film background. As I grow as a writer, I am learning to balance the purely visual storytelling with the more internalized beats. But my books all play out visually in my head, which sometimes makes it easier to get through a tough spotas a narrator, I just sit back and watch the action unfold, and then tell it like I saw it in my head.
3) What book(s) are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about it?
I cant really say much, because I protect my baby projects like little chickies in my nest! Its another girl very much out of her element story, although this one isnt supernatural. But it does have thriller elements to it, certainly. Im trying to sneak in moments to work on it between all of my publicity stuff for Bad Girls!
4) What brought you to the YA genre? Have you always been a fan, or are you still fairly new to it all?
I read a lot of YA when I was a kidstuff that is considered pretty old school now, like Paula Danziger, Judy Blume. I read a lot of new YA, as well, and I like so much of what is going on in teen lit right now.
I came to YA probably first and foremost because when I started writing Bad Girls, I was working in development for kids and teens. But I think I would have found my way to writing about teens no matter what. After I started thinking about future projects, I realized that every idea I came up with was way more fun and interesting if it was about teens.
I had a great time in high school and had really great friendsthey were wonderful people as teens and grew up to be wonderful adults. So I have a built-in respect level for teens, and a real fascination with the way they interact with the worldthat strange combination of being expected to behave like an adult but not being allowed to make your own choices.
5) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor?
I feel reluctant to admit that Im a big fan of the popcorn (buttered and caramel) flavors. Theyre so wrong and yet so right. And now Im craving jelly beans. (This is Future Katie speaking: I guess the buttered popcorn flavor is actually very popular, because at the airport, when I went to buy some Jelly Bellies, there were like a hundred bags of JUST that flavor. I wasnt even brave enough to buy them
too much of a good thing is madness.) (This is Future Future Katie speaking: since I read this question, I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO STOP THINKING ABOUT JELLY BELLIES! You are responsible for my consumption of several billion jelly bean calories this week, and can I just say, what is with all the grody licorice jelly beans they give you in the regular bag?)
6) What book(s) are you reading now, or are about to start?
My to-read list is about a billion pages long. At the moment, Im reading Story by Robert McKee and The Mist by Stephen King; Im listening to the audiobook The Last Lion, about Winston Churchill; I just started The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose, about a liberal student who spends a semester at Liberty University, and Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas; and I just finished And Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. I used to be a one-book-at-a-time girlI have no idea what happened!
7) Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
When youre young, write as much as you can. I used to have stories I just worked on for fun, not with any intention of doing anything but just creating my own world and characters.
Theres so much pressure to try to get things done while youre very youngthey publish books by 15-year-olds, so theres this feeling that if you dont succeed early, youll be too late. When I was in college, I thought that if I wasnt a famous director by the time I was 28, Id be a washup. But all of the VERY non-fame-causing jobs I had were so much fun, and I met so many people and learned so much.
So dont allow yourself to feel the pressure to succeed when youre very young; use those years, enjoy them, enjoy your work, enjoy your friends, enjoy the person youre growing into! Find your real self, and let writing come naturally out of that. I wasnt famous at 28 and I actually might never be famous at all, and the day that stopped bothering me was a great day. (And seriously, who wants to be famous anyway?)