Welcome back to The Debuts, a series of posts introducing you to brand, spanking new authors you really should get to know.
Meet Kristen Kittscher!
Byrt: If one of the top Hollywood voice-over guys was narrating your book trailer (in a hammy Hollywood way), what would he say?
Kristen: In a world where middle school counselors are dangerous fugitives, only two seventh grade girls can stop the madness…before it stops them! (Oh dear. It’s a good thing I don’t write Hollywood movie trailers.)
Byrt: So what’s the story behind your story?
Kristen: I taught seventh grade English at an all girls’ private school for many years. It’s a great place, with an extraordinarily dedicated faculty – so dedicated, in fact, that I wondered if our students felt like we were paying too much attention. What if all that caring potentially masked evil intentions? Enter my (alleged) villain, Luna Vista Middle School counselor school Dr. Charlotte Agford and her suffocating eau de Lysol perfume.
Middle school is a fraught time, socially, of course, so I also wanted to write a story about a strained friendship. Sophie Young & Grace Yang have their share of ups and downs as they try to figure out if they’ve let their imaginations run haywire, or if indeed, they’re the only ones who can expose the dangerous fugitive living right across the street.
I thought a tale of self-doubt, wild imaginations and potential hypocrisy would be something my funny, precocious students would like – so I wrote it with them in mind. Of course, I also drew upon some of my own experiences as a twelve year old spy…
Kristen: If you like alternatively laughing out loud and being creeped out, you’ll like my book.
Byrt: The silliest/craziest author moment you’ve had so far?
Kristen: The simple fact that something I wrote sitting quietly alone in front of my computer is now going out into the world is pretty crazy and silly in itself. However, I think the most surreal moment was learning that Neil Gaiman and I have the same editor. That blew my mind.
Byrt: Book you own with the most tattered, scotch-taped cover, the most battered spine? (And why you love it)
Kristen: The Great Gatsby. I think because so many kids are forced to read it in high school – and because it reeks of privilege and snootiness – it’s easy to dismiss it these days as a dusty old classic English teachers foist on the rest of the population. However, I can read Gatsby over and over again and never get tired of it: I’m attracted to stories about darkness and corruption lurking behind polished surfaces, and this one is really one of the most deceptively simple, beautifully structured novels that takes up that theme. I’m in love with Fitzgerald’s sentences – and how, with just a few strokes, he can nail a description for us. I’ve re-read it several times and always find something new in it.
Byrt: Book you’re reading right now?
Kristen: Rita Williams-Garcia’s amazing sequel to One Crazy Summer, P.S. Be Eleven. It might even be better than the first. I feel like I’m living on Herkimer Street, Brooklyn in the late sixties…
Byrt: Biggest Fangirl/boy moment you’ve ever had?
Kristen: I’m a big fan of Kirsten Miller’s Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City. When I had the chance to interview her and she asked to read my book, I did a back-flip. Or, rather, I would have done a backflip, if I were a wee bit more agile…
Byrt: The TV show/movie you feel guiltiest admitting you love?
Kristen:Uh-oh. I watch very little TV, but the shows in my line-up are all deeply embarrassing to fess up to watching. The guiltiest, though? I think I’ll go with Revenge… I mean, having seen every episode of Murder, She Wrote several times is nothing to be ashamed of, right?
Byrt: First song lyric that comes to mind right now. Go.
Kristen: “Take me away to nowhere plains!” (The Pixies, “Here Comes Your Man”.) (Hmm. I guess I feel like escaping these days!)
Byrt: What’s up next for you?
Kristen: I’m working on Wig’s sequel, The Tiara on the Terrace, which will likely come out in late 2014. This time Young & Yang go undercover Miss Congeniality-style as “pages” in their town festival’s Royal Court in order to stop a murderer. It’s loosely based on the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena, where I live. Lots of hijinks in this one – and I’m having fun playing around with such a rich setting! Poor Sophie & Grace’s friendship takes quite a beating in this one, too…
Thanks again to Kristen for taking the time!
For more on all things Kittscher, Kristen Kittscher, check out her website here
And you can read an excerpt from The Wig in the Window here