Young adult fiction. Those are three of the hottest words in the publication world especially given the box office successes stemming from the Twilight Saga novels and the Harry Potter juggernaut as well as the worlds of The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars that have been turned into TV gold.
In what I hope will become a regular feature here at Rueben’s Ramblings, I will shine a well-deserved spotlight not only on well-established writers but exciting up-and-coming novelists in the world of young adult fiction and delve into the interesting worlds for which they have created.
Entering into this wonderful world of young adult fiction is author Stacey Kade, an award-winning corporate copywriter, who has written about everything from backhoe loaders to breast pumps; but now she has turned her writing toward a more interesting subject: ghosts
Her current series consists of the books The Ghost and the Goth and Queen of the Dead (both available through Hyperion Books). But, why don’t we find out what Stacey has to say about her career and how she became a young adult novelist in her own words:
Question: What inspired you to write your books?
Stacey: I guess I write the stories I want to read. I love young adult novels, and I was intrigued by the idea of a romance between people who are total opposites, in every way, including life/death status.
Question: How long was the story in development and how long did it take you to write each book?
Stacey: I don’t outline in any kind of formal way, but it takes me about a month or so to kind of wrap my head around the characters and the story and where it’s going. I need to know the end before I can start. Each one took between three and four months to write.
Question: What inspired you to become a writer? Did you always know or did the interest come at a later time in your life?
Stacey: I’ve always been interested in storytelling (but) it took me awhile to realize that it was something I could try in book form, though. I didn’t seriously start trying to write a book until after I graduated from college.
Question: What was the most difficult scene to write in either book?
Stacey: Oh, I think the end of Queen of the Dead was tough. It was emotionally difficult for the characters (and for me) and just a tricky scene to manage for a lot of different reasons. I can’t explain too much more without spoilers!
The Ghost and the Goth
Question: Can you please provide a general premise for each book?
Stacey: The overall premise of the series revolves around two characters: Alona Dare and Will Killian. Alona Dare is part of the popular crowd, the girl everyone wants to be: Captain of the cheerleading squad, Homecoming Queen, and kind of a mean girl. And then she dies in a rather abrupt fashion–death by school bus. So, now she’s a ghost, trying to figure out why she’s still here instead of moving on to the light.
Will Killian is a ghost-talker, someone who can see, hear and touch ghosts, and it makes his life miserable. He’s a social outcast, the school weirdo. He’s just trying to make it through high school without being kicked out or locked away in a mental institution because everyone thinks he’s crazy.
The first book, The Ghost and the Goth, is about Alona discovering that she is, indeed, a ghost and she’s stuck in a place in between the living and the dead. Will is just trying to get by. His principal is out to get him, and his psychiatrist thinks he should be locked up. The last thing he needs is another ghost–particularly a very persistent one–pestering him. But Alona is in danger of disappearing for good, and he’s the only one who can help.
So the two of them, with all their bickering and name-calling, have to figure out a way to work together.
In the second book, Queen of the Dead, Will and Alona have figured out how to work together and they’re both struggling a little with feeling more for each other than they should. Then a new ghost-talker, Mina, shows up on the scene, claiming to have more information about Will’s dad, who died years before. Alona doesn’t trust her, but Will is intrigued. And Alona has her own problems with her still living family–they’re moving on with their lives without her. All of this sets Will and Alona more at odds with each other than ever. And when they’re not working well together…well, it causes all kinds of problems, some of which cannot be easily remedied.
Question: Do you have a favorite character?
Stacey: That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child, but I will say that, in terms of writing, Alona is a lot of fun because she has a very distinct voice and she doesn’t hold back. And as a writer, sometimes it’s fun to really let loose!
Question: Will you be writing more books in the series?
Stacey: One more book in this series, and then I have a new series starting in 2013 with The Rules. It’s about a girl who was raised as a genetic experiment hiding from her creators under the guise of being a “normal” sixteen-year-old, and the boy who tempts her to break the rules that confine her existence and keep her safe.
Question: If a movie were adapted from the book, which actors/actresses would you like to see play the primary characters?
Stacey: The models on the cover are pretty much exactly how I pictured Will and Alona, so I’d love for that to be the case with a movie as well. Readers have suggested actors for Will (Landon Liboiron from Terra Nova or Jeremy Sumpter from Friday Night Lights), but I haven’t heard any suggestions for Alona yet.
SECRET REVEALED: Here’s a little behind-the-scenes trivia: Alona is named for the wonderful actress Alona Tal, after I saw her in (the TV series) Veronica Mars as Meg.
Queen of the Dead
Question: When is your next book coming out and will it be a continuation of the first two books?
Stacey: The third and final book (to be called Body & Soul) in the trilogy will be out in May of 2012, and it’s definitely a continuation of the first two books.
Question: Do you have a favorite story arch or favorite character?
Stacey: You know, Liesel and Eric (secondary characters in the first two books) were so much fun to write especially in the scenes where Liesel and Alona argue. Actually, thinking about it, I really loved writing all of the ghosts. It was fun coming up with their individual backgrounds and deaths.
Question: Were any of the characters modeled after you or anyone you know?
Stacey: Every character, I think, always has a piece of the writer in him or her. But, no, the characters aren’t based on anyone in real life.
Question: Are there any story arcs that you ended up not using in the book?
Stacey: I toyed with the idea of Will’s father’s death being murder, but it added an unnecessary layer of complication and I felt it didn’t resonate with the rest of the story as well.
Question: Do you have any advice for new writers?
Stacey: Don’t give up. It’s really easy to begin doubting yourself, but believe in the story and your passion for telling it.
Question: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
Stacey: Assuming my non-existent training wasn’t an issue? I’ve always been interested in archeology; however, the dirt and sleeping in tents aspect does not appeal to me.
Question: What book(s) are you currently reading?
Stacey: Right at this very second, I’m reading The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton; but when I’m not deep in writing mode, I often go through two or three books a week.
Question: Who is your personal favorite writer?
Stacey: Oh, that’s a tough one. I have so many! My mentor and critique partner is SF/F author Linnea Sinclair. I’ve learned so much from her. I also greatly admire Meg Cabot, Jennifer Echols, and Suzanne Collins. Jane Austen is my all-time favorite.
Question: If anyone would like to get in touch with you both, where should they write, email, tweet and do you have a website dedicated to the book (or any of your other work)?
Stacey: I’m on Twitter (waaaay too much) and you can find me there as @staceykade. I’m also on Facebook (facebook.com/staceykade), and I have a personal website with an email/contact form here.
Stacey Kade lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Greg, and their three retired racing greyhounds, Joezooka (Joe), Tall Walker (Walker) and SheWearsThePants (Pansy). When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll likely find her parked in front of the television with her Roswell DVDs, staring rapturously at Jason Behr. [EDITOR’S NOTE: A woman with good taste!]
Make sure to check out Stacey Kade’s books the next time you are at your local bookstore, visiting Amazon or whatever book outlet you prefer; and make sure to pick up the third book in her trilogy (Body & Soul) when it is released on May 29, 2012 and be on the look-out for new trilogy The Rules in 2013.
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