Katie Alender is the author of Bad Girl's Don't Die which was realeased today, April 21st!
1) Bad Girl’s Don’t Die is your first novel. Can you tell us a little bit about it and what your road to publication was like for it?
Bad Girls is the story of Alexis Warren, a fifteen-year-old, who’s a bit of a self-made loner. Her only real connection is with her little sister, Kasey, who seems to be coming unhinged. One night, Alexis makes up a story to make Kasey feel better, and after that, strange things start happening around the house. Kasey and her creepy doll collection seem to be at the center of everything, and Alexis has to learn how to play nicely with others in order to get everything sorted out!
I worked on Bad Girls on and off for a few years. I would work really hard on it for a few months, then let it sit for six months. Then I would work really hard again… then let it sit. And so on. It was only when I decided to get serious about trying to get it published that I became more consistent and really buckled down.
When it went out to editors, there was one editor who really liked it and connected with it right away. She had some notes, which I thought were great, and when I made those changes and the book went back out on submission, she bought it! It was really exciting. And the whole process since then has been a blast. Everybody at my publisher (Hyperion) is just amazing to work with, from the editors to the designers to the publicists.
2) What inspired you to write Bad Girl’s Don’t Die? Did something similar to what happened between Alexis and Kasey happen to you?
Well, none of the scary parts. I do have sisters I feel really connected to. And I remember being in high school and being occasionally rebellious and worrying about the effect it was having on my little sister, to feel like she was in the middle and having to choose between siding with me or with my parents. As it happens, my little sister is a much tougher cookie than Kasey, so she never turned to a creepy doll collection to deal with the pressure. Thank goodness. She did have about four hundred billion Beanie Babies at one point.
But at the core, the relationship of the sisters is something I probably took from my own past. Even when they’re at their most disconnected, Alexis still feels pulled to try to help her little sister.
As for what inspired me, I was daydreaming one day (a very important thing for aspiring authors to do!) and I got this image of a scene with two sisters who don’t know anything about their family’s history, so they make up a history for themselves, which one of the sisters takes way more seriously than the other one. That evolved into the current version, where it’s just a kind of fairy tale as opposed to family history.
3) Bad Girl’s Don’t Die is described as being a compelling and creepy ghost story. Was it always meant to be a ghost story or did it involve into one as you were writing it?
It was always a ghost story, from the very beginning. What I didn’t always know was exactly what role the ghost was going to play. In one of my revisions, the ghost had a very different motive than it has in the current book. But in the end, that didn’t support the story as well, so I changed it up.
4) What made you want to write in the Young Adult genre? Do you ever see yourself writing for say adults or children?
I think I was meant to write YA. I hope adults enjoy my books, but the voice that seems to come out of me is always a teenager. (And I’m sure my parents would have something to say about that!)
In my aspiring-writer days, I would come up with ideas about adults, but they always fell flat and failed to inspire me beyond the original concept. But once I turned those adult stories into YA, my brain exploded with possibilities. And that kept happening, and that’s how I figured out that this is my category. My current work in progress is an idea that used to be about adults, but now it’s teen-centered—and so much better this way!
At some point, I may change. But right now, I don’t have any plans to do so.
5) I’m always looking for new books to read. So, do you have any favorite authors or books?
I like so much of what’s out there right now for teens. There’s a great selection of original, fun fiction. I especially like Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series. I also read a ton of non-fiction. There’s a book called “Fair and Tender Ladies” by Lee Smith, who’s a Southern writer, that I just love and it features a strong, independent heroine that I think a lot of young women could appreciate. The writing is just beautiful, too.
I also wish that I had been exposed to more non-fiction when I was young. I think it might have given me a chance to consider interests beyond just film school. I was very focused as a teen, but as I get older, I wonder if that focus is necessarily a good thing. If I had read books like “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver or “Animals in Translation” by Temple Grandin, I might have expanded the possibilities for future careers.
It’s not that I regret the choices I’ve made. But I’m a huge player of the “what if” game, and some of my biggest “what ifs” relate to different life paths. I love books that give me a real appreciation for other lifestyles and viewpoints, and I wish I’d read more when I was younger.
6) What's next for you? Another ghost story or something a bit different?
My current work in progress is not a ghost story, but it’s definitely a story where a normal girl ends up in completely abnormal circumstances (as is everything I write, pretty much). That’s all I’m saying about it right now!
7) Lastly, is there anything else you would like to add?
Just “thank you” for your interest and support! Being a debut author is scary and a little uncertain, and being so graciously and enthusiastically received by the book blogging community means the world to me.
Thanks so much, Katie! :)