September 7, 2012

Casual Friday: Author Interview with Alecia Whitaker

You guys know Alecia Whitaker, right?
She grew up in Kentucky, which automatically makes her cooler than most of the people you know. It also means, according to her web site, that she knows more about cows, tobacco, frog gigging, and carpentry than the average girl. She resides in New York City now, but her southern upbringing definitely played a role in writing her debut novel, The Queen of Kentucky, which is about ME. 

Ok, it's not really about me.

I met Alecia several months ago at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest, and she's basically one of the friendliest, most charming people I've ever met. She was even nice enough to hang out with me later, catching a movie and a ridiculously late dinner while I picked her brain about writing. She's fabulous. You should love her like I do.

If you haven't read her book yet, you need to think more carefully about your life choices. Would you like to know more about it? OF COURSE YOU DO! And if you HAVE read it, just take a moment to stare at that amazing cover again. *sigh*

Fourteen-year-old Kentucky girl Ricki Jo Winstead, who would prefer to be called Ericka, thank you very much, is eager to shed her farmer's daughter roots and become part of the popular crowd at her small-town high school. She trades her Bible for Seventeen magazine, buys new "sophisticated" clothes, and somehow manages to secure a tenuous spot at the cool kids' table. She's on top of the world, even though her best friend and the boy next door, Luke, says he misses "plain old Ricki Jo."

Caught between being a country girl and a wannabe country club girl, Ricki Jo begins to forget who she truly is: someone who doesn't care what people think and who wouldn't let a good-looking guy walk all over her. It takes a serious incident on Luke's farm for Ricki Jo to realize that being a true friend is more important than being popular.

Since I have the very first Casual Friday post, and I get to do whatever I want, obviously, I turned to Alecia for a quick author interview! 

1. Who's your favorite character in The Queen of Kentucky, and why? (Psst. Mine's Ricki Jo. Totally. She's one of my favorite characters of ANY book.)

I think my favorite character is Ricki Jo as well. She makes me laugh out loud sometimes, which is always a fun trait in a person. She struggles, but perseveres. She falls on her face, but gets back up. And she just has one of those unique takes on life that really makes me laugh. I want to be her friend.

2. Tell us about what you're writing now. (I remember you mentioned that your editor was hoping you would work on "rural fiction." Is that still the case?)

I'm working on a book set in Kentucky again, but don't want to give too many details away since it hasn't been picked up yet. But yes, still rural commercial fiction. I love writing about the mid-south, so it's a treat to explore characters from that area of our country.

3. Do you come up with story ideas fairly easily, or do you have to go looking for them? Is there anything that particularly inspires you (i.e., songs, movies, life experiences, other books)?

I admire people who are "idea factories." I don't know how they do it. A lot of times, I have a good grasp on characters and then find myself thinking, "But what are they gonna do?" My writing is often times character driven, so I always need to outline before I start writing so that I can piece together the action and make sure that the story's really moving forward.

4. Is there a certain theme or idea you'd love to work with? 

I think it'd be fun to write a series one day. I fell so in love with the characters in The Queen of Kentucky that it was a bummer to say goodbye to them.

5. What's the last YA book you read?

I'm reading Ender's Game right now. My sister has raved about it for years, so I finally caved. So far, so good, even though I'm not usually a sci-fi person at all. And the last contemporary YA novel I read was The Fault in our Stars, which I loved.

6. Are there any upcoming YA releases you're really looking forward to?

I'm about to download Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker to my Nook eReader. It just came out recently. As far as books that haven't come out just yet, I'm looking forward to Adele Griffin's All You Never Wanted.

7. Tell us something people may not know about you.

When I run into celebrities, I always act like they aren't celebrities. Of course, inevitably, they are indeed famous and no matter how nonchalant I try to play it, I end up blurting out something embarrassingly stupid. Like, I'll try hard not to take their picture or speak to them or make eye contact, but at that crucial moment where our paths are about to diverge again, something comes over my body and I'll shout at them, for example, something like, "Your jacket feels nice!" (that one was to Kevin Bacon)

8. Who's your FAVORITE REDHEADED FAN? (I'm kidding.) (No, really.)

Anyone who will go to Fazoli's with me and scarf down Real Italian, Real Fast. Oh, wait, Megan. Didn't you once do that? We crushed some breadsticks and to this day, I am not ashamed.


Deana said...

Of course I have to stop and read anything having to do with KY! Alecia your book sounds so good. And what's better is how you live in fast paced NY, yet write books set in the good ole' Bluegrass State.
Great interview Megan!

Marieke said...

Love it! Haven't read QUEEN yet, but it sounds amazing! Can't wait to get my hands on it :)

Samantha said...

I loved the voice in The Queen of Kentucky. It was a bit younger than I usually read, but so addictive and full of heart. Looking forward to reading Alecia's next 'rural commercial fiction' piece.
Really fun interview, Alecia and Megan! Thanks for sharing.

Dahlia Adler said...

Such a great interview! I can't wait to read the actual book!

Gina said...

Both that cover, and this interview, are ADORABLE. And is it just me or does Alecia have the prettiest color eyes ever?

erica m. chapman said...

AWESOME interview ;o) OH, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS totally wrecked me!! Love the cover and the story sounds great!!!

Great job, ladies ;o)

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