Okay, if it isn't obvious I have been Fangirling over Kiersten White and this novel for a long time. Well, I finally got the courage to ask Kiersten to do an interview for my Fangirl Friday segment. She said YES and now I'm Fangirled out beyond Fangirlisim!
Mrs. Vee: For those who aren’t huge fan girls of PARANORMALCY; can you tell everyone a little bit about the story and what inspired it?
Kiersten: Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.
But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal.
I started writing Paranormalcy on a whim--I wanted to write something with a little more fantasy than I'd been previously writing, and I wanted to try out a first person point-of-view. I had the idea for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, and three weeks later I had a complete novel. It was one of those ideas that takes hold of you and won't shut up or get out of your brain until it's had its say!
Mrs. Vee: Evie is not like the normal protagonist that we have been seeing in paranormal romance with her kick-butt profession and arsenal of pink weaponry. How did you come up with Evie’s character and if someone were to play her in a movie, who would it be?
Kiersten: Evie sprang into my head fully formed. Once I got her voice, the rest just sort of filled itself in. I love her view of the world--how she can be such a girly girl and then drop kick a rabid gremlin down the hall. She's a delightful contradiction.
For someone to play her in a movie, ideally she'd need to be blonde with very, very light eyes, but more importantly she'd need to be able to play the full range of emotions that we see in Evie. I loved what my editor said about her, something along the lines of "She's so tough and funny, and at the same time one of the most genuinely vulnerable characters I've ever read." As confident as Evie comes across with her quips and actions, she really is a teenage girl with some serious issues.
A few actresses I wouldn't mind are AnnaSophia Robb (probably my first choice), Dakota Fanning, and Diana Agron (Quinn from Glee--she is awesome at being tough and vulnerable at the same time).
Mrs. Vee: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to publication? You have said that you were picked out of the slush pile, but how did you decide who to query? Did you send out a lot of queries and how did you deal with rejection?
Kiersten: Ha. Ah, querying. Good times, those. I knew no one, had no connections whatsoever. I queried 45 agents with a manuscript (which wasn't Paranormalcy) before signing with Michelle Wolfson. Once I got past the first five agents that I knew about from blogs, I just used Agent Query and queried everyone who a) accepted email queries and b) represented YA with paranormal/sci-fi elements. When Michelle asked for a partial, I researched her more and liked everything I found. She got back to me incredibly fast about the full with an offer of representation, I felt like we connected really well, and that was that.
However. There were 45 queries and three-and-a-half months between when I started querying and when I found Michelle. And those months were miserable. And disappointing. I was going a little nuts with frustration; then I had a medical emergency that required immediate surgery so that I wouldn't, you know, die. After that I was a little bit calmer about things. (Although I did kind of expect an agent to pop up and offer me representation the next week, since the universe totally owed me at that point. Alas, it'd take another month-and-a-half before the universe made good.)
Here are the things you need in order to survive querying: 1) Chocolate. 2) Good, supportive friends who are also writers and therefore understand what a frustrating, horrible process it can be. 3) Chocolate. 4) Perspective--your writing may not be ready yet, but that doesn't mean it won't be someday. 5) Chocolate. And finally, 6) another manuscript to be working on in the meantime in case things don't work out with this one.
Also, did I mention chocolate?
Mrs. Vee: Are you like Evie (aside from the paranormal attributes of course) and what were you like as a teenager?
Kiersten: I don't think I'm much like Evie. I mean, obviously we share a similar sarcastic sense of humor, and we both try to remain positive in the face of obstacles. However, I think she's far braver than I am, and has a much stronger personality than I do. If I'd faced similar things in my life (not having a family, etc.), I think I'd have been much more messed up by it all. And I totally wouldn't have been strong enough to break up with an enchanting, controlling faerie boyfriend like Reth as a fifteen-year-old. Good thing I didn't know any faeries back then.
As a teenager I was, shockingly enough, sarcastic. I was a bit of a nerd and had a reputation for having, shall we say, strong opinions. (Okay, fine, I was the only feminist in my entire high school.) I was very boy crazy but didn't date much aside from a boyfriend or two; boys may have been a little intimidated by me. I was also deeply lonely and suffered from insomnia. It was an interesting period of my life, one that was both wonderful and terrible and that I'm very glad I never have to go back to, but at the same time very glad I went through.
So, probably a lot like how most of you were as teenagers.
Mrs. Vee: You have touched on some pretty controversial subjects on your blog (religion and infertility); what do you say to those people that may criticize you for talking about these subjects?
Kiersten: You know, I haven't really been criticized for it. I did have a friend question my tone while talking about infertility. I think she thought I was making light of it. But in the past two years of trying I've had one ectopic pregnancy and two miscarriages, and the way I see it, I can either let the anger and the sorrow turn me into a bitter ball of pain, or I can try my hardest to find humor in this strange, dark place. I prefer to find the humor. And it's important to me to express that and let other women know it's okay to talk about--that they aren't alone, and it does suck, and it's alright to acknowledge that however you want. It doesn't have to be some big secret, because when we keep it secret, that mess of emotions somehow translates into shame. And that's something that should never be added to the pain inherent in infertility.
As far as religion, I don't think that blogs are a forum for discussing doctrine. In fact, there's not really a forum I ever enjoy doing that in because it inevitably turns into He said, He said, with everyone quoting the same scriptures to prove their very different points, and really, it just makes me tired. But I'm also aware that there are a lot of misconceptions about my particular brand of Christianity, and I figure my silly blog is a safe place for people to ask any questions they might have. I don't take offense and I don't expect others to, either.
So I don't mind opening up about those topics every once in a while; it's a nice change of pace from my usual nonsense.
Mrs. Vee: Being a complete fan girl of yours; who do you fan girl over? Or is there any book you just can’t wait to get your hands on?
Kiersten: I fangirl over SO MANY authors. I fangirl John Green all the time, and swoon over Neil Gaiman something fierce. I also worship Laini Taylor, who I think is probably the most talented writer in YA right now--and she's an absolutely delightful person to boot. I also fangirl over my writing partners, Natalie Whipple who is wonderful, Carrie Harris, and Stephanie Perkins. I can't wait for Steph's book, ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, to come out this December. It's delicious. If I listed all of the authors I fangirl, this interview would never end. Oh! Markus Zusak. And oh! E. Lockhart. And oh! Yeah. I'll stop.
Mrs. Vee: Favorite book, movie, TV Show and famous last words?
Kiersten White: My own last words would probably be, "Fine, kill me, because I can't pick just one favorite book even if it means my life." I love the movies Penelope and The Fellowship of the Rings, I think Arrested Development was the funniest show ever made, and that it should be criminal Pushing Daisies was canceled.
You can find out more about Kiersten by checking out her blog Kiersten Writes and check out her debut novel PARANORMALCY that will be in a store near you August 31st