Monday, August 29, 2011

Author Interview - KODY KEPLINGER (2nd visit)

Hello, everyone. Kody Keplinger is back on The Blog today! Last time, she was interviewed for her debut book THE DUFF. (She was published at age eighteen--wow!) She is once again published by Poppy for her new book SHUT OUT. It will be out September 5th--that's next week!

For the featured illustration, I drew the main character of SHUT OUT. Her name is Lissa and Kody says, "she's a bit of a control freak - well, okay, more than a bit. She's quite neurotic, actually, and worries all the time. But she can also be fun and goofy when she's with people she trusts."

1) What is SHUT OUT about?

SHUT OUT is a modern re-imagining of the Greek comedy "Lysistrata," a play by Aristophanes. The play is about a group of women who go on a sex strike to end a pointless war. So in SHUT OUT a group of high school girls, led by Lissa Daniels, are sick of a rivalry between the football and soccer team. The girls decide to go on a strike - withholding all physical relations - from their boyfriends - until the rivlary ends. As the strike goes on, the girls grow closer and begin to discuss their views on sexuality, boys, and relationships. Ultimately, its a lot of fun with a little bit of romance.

2) What inspired you to write the story?

My freshman year of college I had to read "Lysistrata" for a class. I LOVED it so much! I couldn't help imagining what it would be like with modern, teenage girls. Obviously, some liberties had to be taken, but I tried to stay true to the themes.

3) What a cool idea! Are you a fan of any sports? Or did you have to learn about football and soccer?

I'm so not a sports girl. I try so hard to get into them, but its just never been my thing. So when I started writing this novel, I had to have some help. I understand enough about football to write the parts I had to, but not soccer. I've always thought soccer was cool, but I never really got it. Lucky for me, a friend of mine (as well as a fellow writer), Shelby Bach, took the time to explain soccer to me. Not sure how much of the explanation stuck, but enough to work in a few soccer details!

4) What makes the football and soccer team hate each other?

When I was coming up with the idea of a rivalry that these girls would have to end, I knew it needed to be a very pointless rivalry - one that just wasn't worth fighting. And I knew that it would need to be within one school so that these girls could logically team up. The idea behind the football and soccer teams fighting was basically that they share a season - both play in the Fall. Because the soccer team was only started ten years ago, the football team back then (when Lissa's brother was in school) lost some of their funding and started having to share the weight room and locker rooms. This started some tension that morphed into an all out battle, one that never died and heats up every fall, even ten years later. So its pointless, old, stupid, and utterly annoying to all the girlfriends of these boys.

5) How are the two boys, Randy and Cash, different from each other? How does Lissa feel about each boy?

Randy and Cash are polar opposites. While Randy is the kind of guy who acts now and thinks later, Cash is a little more careful about things. Randy can be sweet, for sure, but he can also be a little abrasive - he makes his feelings on things clear. Cash, on the other hand, is more sensitive to how people feel and keeps his thoughts to himself, to a fault at times because people can misunderstand him. The boys do share one thing in common - they are both gorgeous! As for Lissa, at the start of the book she is completely in love with Randy, just not completely comfortable around him (she's a bit of a control freak and its hard for her to relax around anyone). And while she is drawn to Cash and feels at ease around him, she also has an old grudge against him because of how he hurt her in the past. So she's conflicted, to say the least.

Thanks for telling us about your latest book, Kody! Sounds like you wrote another fun, upbeat teen story with plenty of romance and comedy! Readers, go check it out here.



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

News Week - 08/22/11

First news... I interviewed YA author Kody Keplinger for her upcoming book, SHUT OUT. The interview will be up next Monday, so stay tuned!

Also, I just got done with my book revisions and am sending it to my agent today. Hurray!

Japanese Lantern Festival

In memory of the victims of Hiroshima and all others victims of violence and war, every year, hundreds of people float lanterns across Green Lake in Seattle.

There was a musician playing a wooden flute as the lanterns floated. It was a peaceful event and good to see so many different people coming together for the festival. People wrote kanji words representing peace and friendship on the lanterns before floating 'em off.

Olympic Peninsula and Forks

Joey's fifteen year old niece, Madison, was visiting and she likes Twilight, so we decided to take her to the peninsula. I've lived in Washington for over ten years but never been, so I was excited about our summer trip. We took the ferry to Bainbridge Island and drove over to Forks. I was hoping it'd at least be a creepy town... but it was really small and bland. There wasn't much to see except for a ton of Twilight advertisement plastered all over town. We went to a diner for lunch and the place was decorated with game animal heads. Outside, there were a lot of logger trucks.

We went to the rainforest. It was full of my favorite kind of trees--ones draping with moss, like curtains.

(Hah! The frown on Joe's face.)

Seattle Library

I've also never been to the Seattle Library (famous for it's eccentric architecture), so we took Madison there. There's one floor that's just blood red from floor to ceiling so we took some pictures there.

We look like someone in a horror flick:

Up Monday: Kody's interview!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

News Week - 08/01/11

It's the last month of summer. Seattle hasn't had the sunniest summer and my vacation is over--I am back at work! I enjoy having a routine again and working on art full-time. It seems like I have more art projects than ever and I am really looking forward to seeing my book go on submission this fall.

Before I tell you about the events I've been to so far, I want to geek out for a second and tell you that I tweeted astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson a question about when the northern lights peak, and he actually answered! 2012/2013--mark your calendars. Astrophysicists are rock stars to me. They figure out the universe!

Final Fantasy Symphony

I was lucky to go to this. I got the tickets as a gift. The symphony was all the way in Vancouver, so it was a three hour drive. My boyfriend Joey does not play games and does not know anything about games, but he drove anyway. What a nice guy!

Joey and I got there early so that we could enjoy dinner. We went to a piano bar where I had delicious oyster stew and the waiter pronounced trout as "troot."

The Final Fantasy Symphony was at the Orpheum Theater. It was beautiful inside with chandeliers and gold.

Nobuo Uematsu himself was there, wearing his awesome bandana and being cheerful. I grew up playing Final Fantasy and I couldn't be more satisfied with the concert. They played videos of the game and cut scenes as they played the music. They played battle songs, chocobo theme, Celes' opera song, and all the other important theme songs. It made me very nostalgic. At the end, I was a bit sad because they didn't play One-Winged Angel...but they actually played it last as a surprise! It's the best villain symphony ever.

Yes, the symphony was well worth the road trip! You can hear some of the music on my previous sure to listen to One-Winged Angel.

Carmina Burana

This song plays in every movie and was cool to see it played in real life! If you don't know the song, listen to it on youtube and you'll instantly know it.


This is such a great movie. The scenes and dialogues are very deliberate. I wish movies were still like this. I saw it on the big screen while a real orchestra played the soundtrack.

Humphrey Bogart is so very, very cool.

Into Eternity

A well-shot documentary about an underground nuclear waste storage facility in Finland. Machines in tunnels...sterile, layered passages...and more shiny, creepy machines! It's all visually and conceptually interesting. Some neat ideas about how to convey to the future civilization about dangers underground via signages and other visual languages. I recommend it!

The Builders and The Butchers

Saw them at Tractor Tavern. I enjoyed the rustic music and thorny lyrics.

More updates soon! Few author interviews are pending. There's going to be many books out this fall!