Katie Alender is not only one of the nicest people you'll meet, but a great new YA author. Her debut novel, Bad Girls Don't Die can be found in bookstores everywhere, and it's spooky plot is definitely worthwhile. She's a fresh face to look out for.
Describe Bad Girls Don't Die in 5 words or less.
Scary sister changes everything.
Is there a story behind the title?
Actually, the title was meant to be a joke. My agent, editor, and I had been wracking our brains for weeks to come up with something that conveyed the tone of the book--a little edgy but not too dark. I was making list after list and sending them off, and on one of the lists, to be funny, I wrote "Bad Girls Don't Die (sung to the tune of...)", referring to the oldies song "Big Girls Don't Cry." So then my editor called and said, "Everyone loved one of your titles!" and she told me which one and it was a bit of a surprise, to put it mildly. But I came to love it. Now I can't imagine the book being called anything else.
What inspired you to write Bad Girls Don't Die?
I was inspired by a daydream I had about two sisters who tell each other stories, and then one sister started making the stories come true. And I love the gore-less gothic spookiness of ghost stories.
Since this is your first novel, would you say it was hard finishing the manuscript?
Actually, finishing the first draft was easy. But I knew the book needed lots of revising to be anywhere near good enough to publish. I rewrote the entire thing many times, making big, sweeping changes each time. It was a little like Novel Writing 101. A lot of authors have two books tucked away in a drawer somewhere... For me, earlier drafts of this book are my version of the two books nobody will EVER read.
How was your experience breaking into the industry?
It wasn't as traumatic as some people's. In 2005, I had made contact with a gentleman I worked with briefly a few years earlier--he was an editor with his own imprint. I asked him if he'd take a look at the book, and he told me to send it along. I never did hear back from him. After a year had passed, I was starting to feel like it was time to fish or cut bait, as they say. Surfing my high school alumni website, I happened to notice that a guy I'd known was a literary agent. I sent him an email saying hi and asking if he'd look at my book, and by the end of the week, he'd agreed to represent it. We went through two rounds of submission with a set of revisions in between, and then the book was bought in a pre-empt.
What's funny is that getting my book to print after it was bought was more of a bear than getting an agent and selling it, because my acquiring editor decided to pursue another career path. It's terrifying to be handed to a new editor, but I got VERY lucky and landed with a brilliant woman who really helped shape the book into what it is today.
Some authors say that the characters come to them before the story, was this true for you?
Yes--the sisters were where the whole thing started for me. Alexis formed while I was writing, but Kasey sort of sprang from my head fully developed--she was always a character who was disconnected to the point that she became vulnerable to evil influences.
Who was your favorite character to write about?
Interesting question! Aside from the main characters, I really liked writing Lydia and Pepper.
Do you share any of your characters' quirks, like Alexis' love of photography, Kasey's obsession with dolls, or Carter's affinity for architecture?
I took photography in high school--but I was too broke to buy film and paper so I spent a lot of time reading about photographers. Dolls, not so much. Architecture interests me in that it reflects time periods and attitudes. What people's houses look like says so much about their priorities.
I'm interested in everything, though. I love to learn.
What was your favorite scene to write?
I think the scene with Carter and Alexis in the library--or the scene with them at the park.
What can we expect from you in the future? Any new books in the works?
Yes! I'm thrilled to be working on two sequels to "Bad Girls Don't Die." They'll be in stores in 2011 and 2012.
Is there anything else you'd like to tell the readers out there?
Hmm... how about, thanks for reading!
Thanks Katie! We'll be looking out for those sequels!
P.S. Read my review of Bad Girls Don't Die here.
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