Thursday, January 12, 2012

Author Interview with KM Walton

KM Walton is the author of Cracked, a YA novel that tackels very serious issues. Published by Simon Pulse, it hit shelves on Jan. 3rd. I had the lucky chance to interview Kate about her book and writing habits. If you'd like more info about her, I've listed the weblinks below.

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"Sometimes there's no easy way out.

Victor hates his life. He has no friends, gets beaten up at school, and his parents are always criticizing him. Tired of feeling miserable, Victor takes a bottle of his mother's sleeping pills—only to wake up in the hospital.

Bull is angry, and takes all of his rage out on Victor. That makes him feel better, at least a little. But it doesn't stop Bull's grandfather from getting drunk and hitting him. So Bull tries to defend himself with a loaded gun.

When Victor and Bull end up as roommates in the same psych ward, there's no way to escape each other or their problems.

Which means things are going to get worse—much worse—before they get better…." from Goodreads.


1. Cracked takes on some very serious subjects, such as abuse and bullying. What inspired you to delve into these subjects?

I think the short answer to this question is: life. I wrote CRACKED after ten years of teaching and working closely with adolescents. Watching them label each other and make assumptions based on appearances or rumors was something I battled against every day I was in the classroom.

Also, after I read Sherman Alexie’s THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE STORY OF A PART TIME INDIAN, Libba Bray’s GOING BOVINE and John Green’s LOOKING FOR ALASKA I was inspired to try my hand at a contemporary YA. I didn’t know I was “allowed” to be that real in a young adult book. The books I read growing up were all fine, well and good, but they were filtered through the lens of the adult writer. The main characters in Alexie, Bray, and Green’s books weren’t filtered by anything. They were real. They were authentic. I never once heard the adult author’s voice creeping into those characters.

I wanted to try and write a book like that.

2. Did you do research into teen abuse? Was it hard emotionally to learn about?

I think my twelve years teaching, predominantly middle school, served as my research. While those years in my classroom were glorious in every way, I’d still say it was emotionally fueling—as a future writer—to work with my students who were bullies, in addition to the victims.

3. How long did it take you to go from 1st draft to publication?

I queried three different novels for a total of 2.4 years. Once I landed my literary agent—the wonderful Sarah LaPolla from Curtis Brown Ltd—she was able to sell Cracked, to the brilliant Annette Pollert at Simon Pulse, in two months.

4. Are you having any sort of book launch or book blog tour? How do you plan to promote your book?

This past Saturday night was my book launch event at Chester County Book and Music Company—my favorite local indie—and 300 people were in attendance. It was the largest YA book launch in the history of the store! I am still floating around my house in the “happy bubble”. Each time I remember a detail or moment from the night, I smile. I’m grinning a lot.

I wrote a two part blog post titled THE ANATOMY OF A BOOK LAUNCH, in which I give every detail of my promotion plan.

Part 1:

Part 2:

5. What was your favorite book growing up and why? As an adult, what's one of your favorite teen books?

Growing up: Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Patterson was a book I read a few times. I am a fan of human stories based in reality, especially those that rip your heart out and make you feel things so deeply. That book remains one of my favorites.

As an adult: I can’t sing the praises enough for A. S. King’s Please Ignore Vera Dietz. Her writing is incredible and so is her ability to tell a brilliant story. If you’ve read this book then you know of which I speak. If you haven’t, well, I’d remedy that right quick. You won’t be sorry. That book wins, wins, wins.

6. Any advice for struggling writers out there?

I used to give the advice of “never stop writing” but I’ve revised my advice to “write to become a better writer.” I believe there is a huge difference. If all you do is write the same way in which you’ve always written, you’re not growing as a writer. How does one hone their craft (and I do mean craft – writing is an art form, one that must be studied)? Take classes, research the craft, read a lot in the genre in which you write, spend the money to attend writing conferences and get quality critique feedback.

Push yourself every single time you sit down to create something new.

A big thank you to Kate for taking the time to answer my questions. Pick up her book now at amazon.

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