Kitty Keswick, author of the young adult novel Freaksville takes time to drop in and answer a few questions about her novel. First a bit about Freaksville.
High school is hard enough when you’re normal. There’s peer pressure, book reports, the in crowd and the enormous zit that has a life of its own. Having a family whose skeletons in the closet lean toward the paranormal is not a topper on anyone’s list. Sophomore Kasey Maxwell is busy juggling the typical teen angst. Add visions, ghosts and hairy four-legged monsters into the mix and you get FREAKSVILLE. It’s a wonder Kasey has survived.
Every woman in the Maxwell family has the gift of sight. A talent sixteen-year-old Kasey would gladly give up. All she wants is a normal life. Shopping and talking about boys with her best friend and long-time sidekick Gillie Godshall consume her days. Until Kasey has a vision about Josh Johnstone, the foreign exchange student from England. The vision leads her into new waters, a lead in a play, a haunted theater…and into the arms of the Josh. Yet, both Kasey and Josh have secrets lurking in dark corners. Can Kasey’s new romance survive FREAKSVILLE?
Please welcome Kitty! Thanks for dropping by to visit us! I won't ask about the first story you published at the tender age of eight about a frog, or about how you're breeding paperbacks~you peeps will have to check out her website to read about that! But I will say I love that you believe one must read to write. I see you've been inspired by some of John Hughes’ great movies, but is there a particular author that has inspired you?
Every book authors read, they take something with them. Now, I’m not talking about plagiarism; it’s not cool lifting another’s work as your own. What I’m talking about is learning about story structure, pace, voice, even characterization. I learned how to sprinkle historical information into a story without it being info dump by reading Diana Gabaldon. I’ve learned what makes a great alpha hero by reading JR Ward. I learned about pacing by reading Kelley Armstrong, and how to write snarky by reading Katie Macalister. I’ve even learned how to be a better writer by reading my own work. Being able to detach oneself from the work is the hardest. Books take time to write, sometimes years and it’s hard to cut things or change things. But what I’ve learned most of all is that, in order to be a better writer, one must push to change and, if something isn’t working, have the courage to delete it. Readers will notice lazy writing. I’m challenging myself to be better with each project I do.
That's so true! We're all influenced by what we read. What was your favorite part of the writing process?
I love building worlds. I also love characters—getting to know them, spending time in their worlds, seeing things through their eyes, learning something new in order to write about them. I have a series I’m working on with Judith Graves, and my hero is a drummer, so I’ve started taking lessons. I’m also a fan of research, but the trick is to make the research work for the story to move it forward without slowing it down. Having each tidbit add a layer to the character or the world rather than turning it into an info dump that says, “Look at me. I studied this, and now so should you.” The research shouldn’t slap a reader in the face; it should caress them. In Freaksville I did a lot of research—1940’s fashion, how fire spreads, British slang… It was fun, and I think it adds layers to Freaksville.
Building worlds is one of my favorite things to do too! I love that Freaksville is told through the main character's blog. Can you tell us a bit about it that we may not know from the synopsis?
Blogging is a strange beast. People share more online than they would in person. Online nobody really knows you, so you can play whatever part you want. People feel safe. My heroine, Kasey, is a lot deeper than she appears on the surface. She hides behind humor. She’s struggling with her gift of sight, a gift that makes contact with people hard. If she touches objects, she’ll get a vision. In order to stop the visions, she wears gloves. This sets her apart, and she’s not able to touch the world around her, to experience it as a normal girl would. So in turn she reaches out in her blog. She’s really trying to convince herself that she’s not a freak. That’s why she shares her story. I don’t really think Kasey ever intended for people to read her blog. She’s always lived outside the world, so she thought cyber space would be no different. When Kasey’s voice became clear to me, it was very much like reading her diary—young, naïve in ways, and full of spunk, so I felt that blogging would be a good fit for FREAKSVILLE. In book two, FURRY AND FREAKED, blogging doesn’t have as large of role, just because Kasey has confronted her inner Freak. In book two she’s battling inner and outer demons. She had to grow up really fast, and in FURRY she’s forced to be more of a leader.
Blogging is a strange beast indeed! There will be more books, yay! That leads me right into my next question. What can you tell us about the series?
I have two more books in the FREAKVILLE series. I’m in edits for book two FURRY AND FREAKED. I’m also working on a series with Judith Graves, based on a pseudo-Salem world. And my muse has been screaming at me to write another YA, I started it about two weeks ago. This one I don’t have a contract for, but the voice is so loud and so different from my normal style that I’m very intrigued with the world. All I can say at the moment, is it’s a paranormal, but doesn’t have an ounce of vampires, werewolves or ghosts in it.
Awesome, I can hardly wait. Is there anything in the publishing process that surprised you?
Every day. First off, I originally sold my book in 2007. Yes, three years later it finally came out. My original publisher closed their YA line, and my rights were given back to me. I had been promoting the book already for one year. What was I going to do? I was FREAKED! The senior editor of the young adult line was offered a position at a new publisher. She offered me a contract for FREAKVILLE. I had already edited the book to the other publisher’s more gentle and tame guidelines and, because I was one of the debut authors, we had to run with FREAKVILLE as it was. I had wanted a slightly darker read, and I’ll have it more with book two and three. I guess what I’m saying is, even after you’ve finally sold, nothing is for sure. I’m glad I’m with Leap Books. They are small, but really respected. They’re part of the Children’s Book Council, and the staff is very interested in developing the best books they can, not just cranking out titles.
Any closing thoughts you'd like to leave us with?
Thanks, Heather, for having me. I understand you’re a writer, too. The best advice I can give is to keep trying, keep writing, keep reading. You have to develop thick skin, and even then the arrows do pierce. Push yourself to be a better writer with each chapter, each verse, each word you place on the paper. Like Corey Hart, sang, “Never Surrender.” I’m learning; I’ll be learning until my last breath.
To get a copy of Freaksville click on the title and to learn more about Kitty Keswick click on her name. Be sure to check out Kitty's site for a free short story that has a bit of bite to it, pun intended! You'll love it!
You can also find Kitty on the Wolfy Chicks blog where she blogs along with author Judith Graves. And don't forget to look for her on Twitter here.