Monday, March 29, 2010

Pay It Forward Author Interviews - Kody Keplinger

This week is an Official Week of Awesomeness, because I'm participating in Pay It Forward Week! This little baby is the brainchild of Elana Johnson, she of the awesomesauce e-book, and LiLa Roecker, my future partners in the Midwest Writing and Armwrestling Awesomeness Tour. The concept is simple: all this week, 15 of us pre-pubbed author types are interviewing fellow debuts about Issues of Importance. I'm talking things like "Do you ever feel like giving up?" and "Do you like M&Ms?" That's right, baby, these are things that will help YOU in your writing.

My first interview is with the lovely and talented Kody Keplinger. She's an 18-year-old debut writer whose book The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) is way at the top of my to-read list. And she speaks mad ghetto, yo.

1. Tell us about your book. (You like how I use the royal "us"? Wow I'm kewl.)
THE DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) will be out September 7, 2010 with LittleBrown/Poppy. It's what my agent referred to as an "anti-romance-romance" about a very cynical girl named Bianca who uses an enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley, a notorious man-slut (but a hot one!) who she hates, in order to distract herself from some personal issues - including her struggles with body image. It's kind of a dark-ish romantic comedy with a Juno-esque tone.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication (finding an agent)?
I got very lucky. With my first "decent" novel (the first one I queried) I realized early on that it wasn't going to work. I wrote THE DUFF for fun more than anything. I had this story and these characters and I wanted to play with them. I had a blast writing it, and my beta readers loved it, so I decided to query.

I was so stressed at first because I had hardly any responses. I sent out like 20 queries and only got 6 replies. Only 2 were requests. When the first partial request came back as a rejection, I was sure that the agent reading my full would come back and reject it for the same issue - not connecting with my main character, who is, to be honest, pretty cynical and sarcastic and not always nice. But only a few days after I sent off the full, my agent (the fabulous Joanna Volpe) asked to talk. I knew what that probably meant and I was in complete shock. Funnily enough, she said the exact opposite of what I expected about my main character - she said her connection with Bianca was the part that really drew her in. Which just goes to show you how subjective this whole thing can be.

After a short revision, Joanna sold my book at auction after only a couple weeks on submission. I wound up with Poppy, with the best editor EVER working with me on my book. I just got my advanced copies in early March, and I think it's finally setting in that this whole thing is real!

3. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?
I never really felt like giving up so much as not trying at all. I was only 17 when I wrote THE DUFF, and I often thought about just not trying. I almost convinced myself that the book was utter teenage spewing crap that no one but me would love. I knew I would get better with age and then try again, but I thought about just waiting.

I decided against this when 3 beta readers came back with glowing reviews and very few suggestions for revision. I really didn't think anyone but ME would love this book, but they all did and they strongly advised me to query. So I did. And I'm glad I decided to get over my fear and just try. It all comes back to that saying. You never know unless you try.


Thanks for that wicked awesome interview, homey. (Man, I am so white.)

Visit Kody on the web at:

You should totally check out the other interviewers this week. MORE questions! MORE awesomeness! MORE royal 'we'! How can you resist? Well, you can't.

Elana Johnson
LiLa Roecker
Beth Revis
Leah Clifford
Victoria Schwab
Kirsten Hubbard
Kim Harrington
Suzette Saxton/Bethany Wiggins
Amy Holder
Tiffany Schmidt
Susan Adrian
Dawn Metcalf
Kathy McCullough
Gretchen McNeil


Bish Denham said...

Nice! An 18 year old, that is way cool.

storyqueen said...

Great interview!

and Kody and I are like agent-buds, I guess.

Cannot wait to read The DUFF!


Jamie Eyberg said...

Sounds awesome, also Kody sounds like someone with a long promising future ahead of them.

Sherrie Petersen said...

My reading list just keeps growing, but this is one that I've been hearing about for a while. Thanks for the kewl interview :)

Danyelle L. said...

These are great! Thanks for the fabulous interview!

PJ Hoover said...

So awesome! And now I feel like eating M&Ms.

Claire Dawn said...

I've seen mention of this book somewhere else on the interwebz and I seriously CAN NOT WAIT to read it. Isn't it out yet? :S

Christine Fonseca said...

Just love these interviews! What a fun week.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

What a fun success story! Duff sounds awesome and I can't waitto read it. :-)

Unknown said...

Congrats to Kody! What an inspirational interview -- you rock, Carrie!

Amy Holder said...

Amazing interview! At only 18, it looks like Kody has a long career ahead of her! I'm looking forward to reading The DUFF!

Joanna said...

Great interview, Kody!!

Elana Johnson said...

I simply can. not. wait to read The DUFF! And I so feel the stress of querying, so glad I'm not the only one who suffered through that. :)

~Jamie said...

I NEED to read that story, and I can't wait to see how it all plays out!

LOVE this interview! Kody, you rock my socks!

Kody Keplinger said...

Thanks everyone!

And thanks, Carrie my Love! You are fabulousness in the flesh!

Carrie Harris said...

You heard it here first, peeps. My new title is Fabulousness in the Flesh.


S. Mozer said...

Enjoyed the interview. Looking forward to reading more of them!

Sonia Gensler said...

Great interview! I recently did a presentation at the local high school (where I used to teach), and I talked this book up to all the students I saw. They were really excited to learn about a teen writer having such success! And they LOVED the concept!

Kathy McCullough said...

I love Bianca and Wesley and I haven't even read the book yet. Very inspiring interview, even though I'm a little over 18. :)

Tiffany Schmidt said...

Great interview, Kody! I get more and more excited to read The DUFF each time I hear (er, read?) more about it!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

cant wait for kody's book!

Cate Gardner said...

Fantastic. It's inspirational for the newbies to know that someone can get a book deal right away.

Linda G. said...

Great interview!

Kody, I can't wait to read The DUFF. Heck, the title alone would've drawn me to it, and now that I know what it's about...well, even better. :)

lisa and laura said...

This story just never gets old! Kody, I still can't get over how much you've accomplished at 18. You are a rockstar!