Swoontini Interview: Kami Garcia

WELCOME BACK! Last week was a big week for us because as most of you know…… IT WAS COMIC CON!! *pops nerd collar*

Did you go? Did we tackle love all over you? Well guess who was one of the unfortunate recipients of our hugs? The amazing Kami Garcia, co-author of The Beautiful Creatures series with the lovely Margaret Stohl, and author of the upcoming UNBREAKABLE, the first book in her solo series, THE LEGION! She didn’t even call security! And though everyone knows that Kami is a kickass writer, she’s also a real inspiration to those of us just starting out.

Lo & C: You were on a panel at San Diego Comic Con this year – the What’s Hot in Young Adult Fiction). And you’ve been to SDCC before – what’s the best costume you’ve ever seen?
KG: The Star Wars costumes are always my favorites, but the con before “The Walking Dead” came out, there were some serious zombie costumes at the booth.
Lo & C: We agree! We swear we could probably sit and do nothing but people watch all day and still  have a blast.

this is seriously what it’s like to walk in downtown san diego during the con.

What were you most excited about seeing at this year at the Con?
KG: Aside from catching up with my author friends attending, I am dying to see Joss Whedon. I am an insane “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fan (my dogs are names after characters in the show, Spike and Oz). He is a genius.

Tell us a little bit about teenage you! What current books would you be devouring if they’d been released when you were a teen?
KG: I wore a lot of black, spent too much time listening to The Cure and too many class periods reading in my desk or writing poetry. I was 4’11 when I graduated from high school, and I always stuck up for the underdog. I always believed (and still do) in two things my great-grandmother taught me: “The right thing and the easy thing are never the same,” and “What goes around comes back around.”

I would have devoured Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely Series (dark, brooding, and beautifully written), Tahereh Mafi’s SHATTER ME (come on, it opens with a girl trapped in a cell writing in her journal = totally me), Lex Thomas’ QUARANTINE (“The Breakfast Club” with real clubs and no adults), and Ransom Riggs’ MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN (because I was a peculiar child and believed I had magical powers).

You’ve been in the writing world for awhile now and no doubt have good advice to give. What is the best advice you ever received when you were first starting, and what is the best advice you’d give now – with more experience?
KG: Beautiful Creatures was not written with publication in mind. Margie and I wrote the book on a dare from seven teenagers—her teenage daughters and my students. I actually received the best piece of writing advice not during my career as a writer, but while I was still teaching.  I had the opportunity to take four students to Clive Barker’s home to meet him, see the original Abarat paintings, and discuss writing. He told the teens that he reads everything he writes out loud after he finishes because his ear picks up things his eyes miss—stilted dialogue, missing words, awkward language. I fall back on that advice constantly, and I’m always amazed at how much I catch when I read my work aloud.

I have two pieces of writing advice. You don’t need an MFA or a fancy degree to be a writer. You just need a pen, an idea, and perseverance. That said, you should definitely study the craft of writing through reading, attending conferences or writing courses, and through good old-fashioned practice. My second piece of advice is to FINISH. You can’t publish a book if you only write the first five chapters, and you can’t revise one to make it better until you finish writing it.

We can’t wait to see Beautiful Creatures on the big screen. What has this whole process – from publication to film right sales to entering production – been like for you?
KG: As I mentioned previously, we wrote Beautiful Creatures on a dare so everything that happened from the moment we finished writing, to the sale of the book at auction, to standing on the film sets [the movie releases February 13, 2013] has been completely surreal. Like Lena, the heroine in the series, I spent enough class periods writing poetry in spiral notebooks that I filled a huge storage container, but I never planned to be a writer. The two moments that stand out for me are the day I received the first finished copy of the hardcover and realized it was a real book (not just 546 pages living on my computer) and when I stepped onto the set for the first time. Seeing the characters and the word come to life was unbelievable!

Lo & C: We cannot wait to read your new book, UNBREAKABLE (Little, Brown, Fall 2013). Does it feel more comfortable this time around (series, movie deal), or is it new/scary in a totally different way?
In a lot of ways, I think it’s scarier because now I’m writing for my readers and I don’t want to disappoint them.  But I’ve talked to a lot of my author friends and they all say the same thing – launching a new series is terrifying even if you’ve written twenty books.  I also think the minute you start believing that your books destined for greatness is the moment you stop pushing yourself.  It’s the beginning of the end.

On the film side, UNBREAKABLE is in development with Mark Morgan, producer of “The Twilight Saga” & “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”  I can’t really talk about what’s happening, but it’s all really exciting!

we might be dying a little.

Lo & C: Was it easy to fall in love with new characters?
KG: I was shocked by how easily I fell in love with the characters in UNBREAKABLE.  There are five main characters, but I’ve only shared three so I’ll stick to them.  Kennedy is a girl who exists in that in-between place where you aren’t part of the popular crowd, but you aren’t a social outcast either – until she comes home one night and finds her mother dead.  She learns that her mom was a member of a two hundred year-old secret society, formed to protect the world from a powerful demon and the spirits he controls.  Suddenly, navigating the social landmines of high school is the least of her problems.

Lukas and Jared, the boys from the novel that I’ve mentioned online were incredible easy to fall in love with.  Though they are very different, both boys are deeply flawed, which are always my favorite characters. (Lo & C: Guh, us too.) I think it gives them weight, and allows you to feel for them in a way that is incredibly real.  I think one of them just might break your heart.

Lo & C: Anything you can share with us about your new world?
KG: UNBREAKABLE is a dark urban fantasy with serious doses of action, suspense, paranormal elements and romantic tension.  It takes place in the real world and the settings, many of which are real places, are integral to the story.  But we aren’t in the South anymore.


Favorite movie: Tie – Star Wars & Rocky

Book you’d most like to see made into a film: Abarat by Clive Barker

Favorite dessert: Coca-Cola Cake (Lo & C: And we just happen to have a seriously awesome vid of you showing us how to make it!)

(LO & C: omg how adorable is she???)

Best place in the world to visit: My imagination

A song that is always stuck in your head: “Hells Bells” by AC/DC

Popcorn flavored Jelly Bellys YES OR NO? No – Cotton Candy

You can find out more about Kami & her books at: www.kamigarcia.com.

Thanks so much for playing with us!! We are so glad to have you and just adore you and all your support for new and upcoming authors! Leave Kami some love and you could win & tell us which Kami (or Kami/Margie!) book you want us to send you! We can even get it signed, y’all.