Thursday, March 10, 2011

Aspiring Author Thursday: Introducing Kasie West

I've been following Kasie's blog forever. It's been a few years at least, and I finally got brave enough to comment on it a few months ago. I love her agent story, and I love her fun blog. You must check it out! Anyway, here is my interview with Kasie. She is so fun, and hilarious. Thanks Kasie for letting me interview you! :)

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I was a reader first. I love books. My mom would finish a book and just pass it to me. And back in my high school days young adult wasn't really around so dare I admit that I read a lot of romance? I did. Then my Junior year I took a creative writing class and had the best teacher who made me feel really good about my writing. She even encouraged me to submit one of my short stories to a magazine. (Hooray for amazing teachers!) It was my first rejection letter. It wasn't until around 2004, though, that I started writing for reals. And not until 2007 that I decided I wanted to pursue publication.

I was definitely a reader first as well. I still love books SO much. Too much I think. :)

Do you have a writing schedule, or do you just sit down whenever you get a spare moment?

Oh no. I'm supposed to have a schedule? I don't do anything right. I usually write at night when my kids are in bed and then stay up way later than I should. But it's when I'm the least distracted so it works for me.

Could you tell us a little about getting your agent? I think your story is so inspiring. :)

Aw, thanks. It didn't feel inspiring when it happened and there were many times this last year where I wondered if I should just move on from this dream and try something more practical--like competition eating or Ninja Warrior. But ultimately, no matter how many times I said it, I just couldn't force myself to quit.

So, my story. In 2009 I got my first agent who ended up going on maternity leave shortly after I signed with her (I knew this was happening). So I waited (not so patiently) for her to get back and worked on making my story perfect and kept writing other stories as well. We went on submission in the winter of 2009. In February of 2010 we laid my book to rest with lots of really kind, encouraging rejection letters. For the next 6 months I wrote while she read one of my other books. Ultimately, and before she had a chance to read what I felt was my strongest book yet, we made a mutual decision to part ways due, in part, to the fact that she didn't have a passion for the young adult market she felt she needed to continue forward. I was very sad, but felt like it was for the best. She referred me to a few other agents and I was convinced that I would nab another agent fast.

But I didn't. I'm so glad I didn't because the book that I thought was perfect needed some work. The more rejections I got, the better the book became. I ended up adding 15K words by the time it landed in my agent Michelle Wolfson's inbox. And it was the two agents who ended up with the most recent version who both offered representation. It was nice to go from an agent who didn't have passion for the market to an agent who has so much enthusiasm for my book.

So awesome! Congratulations again. Michelle seems like she is wonderful!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what is one thing you couldn't live without? (Besides your family and a laptop of course.)


For real. I am whiter than white. If I was on a desert island and didn't have sunblock I would probably die of sun poisoning or third degree burns. Every time I watch the show Survivor I cringe at how burnt I would be if I were on that show.

So if anyone happens to meet me in real life be prepared to be blinded. You may want to look away. Not making direct eye contact (kind of like not looking directly at the sun) may save your sight.

I bet we would blind each other if we met in real life! My skin is SO white. I have to wear sunblock even if I'm outside for ten minutes! Curse my mom's red-headed genes!

What is one book you could read over and over and over?

None. I'm really not a book re-reader. Once I know a story, it's hard for me to read it again no matter how good it is. But I do like to read certain authors' "collections" because each their books have the familiar voice of their last book I read even though it's a whole new story: Sarah Dessen, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Cassandra Clare.

I love Cassandra Clare. I heart Jace. Sigh.

What book are you dying to read this year?

Uncommon Criminals. It's the sequel to Heist Society by Ally Carter. I want this book. If anyone has an ARC, give it to me. :) (No, seriously, hand it over.)

I love love LOVED Heist Society! If anyone gives you that ARC, give it to me when you're done!! ;)

What genre do you write and why?

The book that landed me my agent is a YA paranormal. But I get around. I've written fantasy and urban fantasy and lately I've been really getting into writing contemporary. Shhh. Don't tell anyone. I will always stay in the YA genre no matter what form that takes. I like how fast paced it is and I really enjoy the themes of YA. I like characters who are discovering who they are and learning to get along with the world around them. And the boys in YA are so cute. :)

I love YA boys too. :)

Do you have any writing rituals? Music, silence, eating, etc.

No, not really. I just sit down and write. Sometimes reading a really good book will inspire me or watching a really good movie or hearing a song with excellent lyrics. But mostly, I just have to sit down and do it. Like a habit. Some days I suck at it and some I feel pretty happy with what I accomplished. Some days I don't write at all. I give myself a break.

Do you prefer salty snacks or sugary ones?

Sugar in any form. I like it too much. I need to stop.

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Don't get caught up in comparing yourself to others. The way you write or your story to publication. When I had my full out with several agents I would constantly read how long it took those agents to respond to others. Then I would whine and cry that they hadn't gotten to mine that fast, they must HATE IT. They must hate ME. But one of the agents that offered me rep had had my book for four months (I gave her a revised version towards the end) and didn't read it until I told her I had another offer. And no matter what the other stories said about how she got back to them in three weeks or two days, that's not how it worked with me. She was super busy and wasn't able to get around to mine. But she loved it. So every story is different. You'll have your own story.

This also applies to writing. Every writer has their own way of doing things. Do what works for you and don't worry how other people write. There is not one right way. Whatever way works for you is the right way.

Great advice. Thank you SO much for that. It's so easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves to others.

Random question: If your current main character came face to face with Harry Potter, how would their conversation go?

"In or out, dude, make up your mind, you're letting all the cold air in."

Harry steps inside the shop and looks around cautiously.

"I hope you're not planning on using that thing in here," she says pointing to his wand. "The dolls are very expensive and breakable and my mom wouldn't care who you are, she'd kill you."

That's the character from my WIP (a contemporary). I, on the other hand, coming face to face with Harry Potter would squeal like a little girl and ask him where Ron was. I'm a sucker for a guy that makes me laugh and I have a slight (and by slight, I mean huge) crush on Ron.

Thank you so much Kasie!! You are awesome!


Michelle Merrill said...

Great interview. I'm headed over to Kasie's blog right now :)

Kasie West said...

Thanks for the interview, Chantele. It was fun. You were in my first group of followers, I remember you from way back then. Doesn't it feel like forever ago? We're practically veterans. :) And perhaps we should never meet in real life because our combined blinding power might burn holes in the ozone. :)

Unknown said...

Excellent interview! I love Kasie already.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

@Kasie West It does feel like forever ago! I agree about burning holes in the ozone... It could happen you know. :)

erica and christy said...

Great interview, I really need to pop over to Kasie's blog now!! And, um, Chantele - you and I could duel over who's the whitest brunette (my mom isn't a redhead, but my sister is). :(

Anonymous said...

Hehe, Kasie seems too cool! I'm going over to check her blog out right now. I love her agent story. And YA boys - le sigh. You can't help but love them! Great interview! :)

ali cross said...

THAT was a super fun interview! Thanks you guys!

Myrna Foster said...

That was a great interview! I loved how her character would handle Harry Potter. Thanks!

Kerri Cuev said...

That was a fantastical interview! Thanks ladies! I'm heading to Kasie's blog now.

Chantele I left you a blogger award at my blog if you want it :)

Anonymous said...

Great interview, just what you need to hear when you are subbing. Thanks!

Ruth Josse said...

I'm here via Kasie's blog! Thanks for the good time!

Patti said...

Great interview Chantele. Kasie's blog is awesome and her story inspiring to just keep writing.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

erica and christy- The duel is on!! lol

Thanks everyone! I thought her story was so amazing. It just goes to show that you should never ever ever give up. :)

Linda G. said...

Love the interview! Add me to the Must Have Sunscreen Club -- I've been accused of glowing in the dark, I'm so pale. ;)

Sophia Chang said...

I love hearing stories like that - makes me so much more ready to face whatever form the road to publication takes.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

A very inspiring story and thanks for some good advice.

Candice said...

You know I love Kasie!

J.R. Johansson said...

Great interview. I <3 Kasie. :)

Tricia said...

Wow, everything I ever wanted to know about Kasie but was afraid to ask. And here all along I figured she'd want a treasure chest of Junior Mints over the sunblock. You think you know someone ...