Q&A with Kasie West

Posted by Goodreads on July 10, 2017
Boy meets girl—and then falls in love with her? Too easy. Readers of Kasie West's sweet YA contemporary romances know to expect some fun bumps in the road, untangling everything from vexing almost-boyfriends (By Your Side) to charming fake boyfriends (The Fill-In Boyfriend).

In West's new book, Lucky in Love, one pesky little thing is complicating Maddie's life and her love life: She just won the lottery. So long, stressing about college scholarships! Hello, stressing about "friends" pressuring her for loans. As Maddie gets closer to Seth Nguyen, her maybe-soon-to-be boyfriend and coworker at the local zoo, she wonders whether he's really into her or her money.

West answers your questions about hypothetically spending millions of dollars, using ice cream to handle rejection, and taking Charles Dickens on a dinner date (a weird dimension outside of space and time is involved…and Dr Pepper).

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Kayla: Hey, Kasie! What challenges come with writing YA in a tech-savvy world where teens can communicate via multiple mediums literally 24/7? Has it changed the way you write a budding romance?

Kasie West: Hi, Kayla! Great question! I actually find that all the technology makes things a little easier. Now we have multiple ways to let the love interests talk. With texting, they can "talk" when they're supposed to be quiet in a school classroom. They can find each other without needing to call with social media location updates and apps that let you locate your friends. Plus, there's good "old-fashioned" emailing.

And then when the technology is impeding conflict, I can make things go wrong with it…and it's totally believable. I mean, all of our phones have run out of batteries. We've all been places where there isn't service. We've all had our phones freeze or malfunction or fall in the toilet. (OK, maybe we all haven't had that last one happen, but it happens!) It is really the best of both worlds.

Sioux: I can't wait for Lucky in Love! I'm a huge fan of yours and have been known to stay up literally all night binge-reading your books (#noregrets). I love them all, but I think my favorite is By Your Side. Or possibly Pivot Point. Oh! Or On the Fence! OK, I love them all. I recently read another author's debut book—Beth Ellyn Summer's At First Blush—and noticed your name listed in the acknowledgements. What's your experience been like in befriending and mentoring other writers?

KW: Thank you for all your nice words about my books! That makes me happy. I'm glad you enjoy them. I'm like you—I've stayed up all night reading, too. Although I have regretted it many times when I was dead to the world the next day. But does that ever keep me from doing it again? No. Apparently I don't learn lessons. Or I'm addicted to reading. Or both.

But on to your question! First of all, that's so sweet of Beth to give me a shout-out. (Thanks, Beth.) I really enjoy giving back. I feel like so many people helped me get to where I am today that I want to pay it forward. Whether that's with a few words of encouragement and answering questions (like in Beth's case) or helping promote or get the word out about new authors and books. This YA community is so tight-knit. We all genuinely like each other and like to hang out. We all love reading YA. And we all love the readers. It's a fun place to be.

Tuba: Hi, Kasie! I love your books. If you could choose one of your stories to get a big-screen adaptation, which one would you pick and why?

KW: You're asking me to play favorites with my stories?! Tuba, how could you? Just kidding, that's a fun question.

I'm sure all writers have dreamed about the possibility of having one of their books become a movie. It's a rare thing, but that doesn't stop dreamers from dreaming, right? So, yes, I have pondered this question. I think the book of mine that would translate best into movie form would be Pivot Point. The alternate-reality aspect of it would be so cool to see played out on the big screen. But really, beggars can't be choosers. I would be thrilled, elated, and overjoyed to see any of my books become a movie.

Bas: Oh my gosh, you're one of my favorite authors!!! I love you! When did you first begin writing?

KW: Bas, thank you!! What a nice thing to hear. I, unlike many writers I know, had no idea I wanted to write until I was much older. I didn't start writing until ten years ago, when I was 30. Yes, I just revealed my age. Do what you will with it.

I've always loved to read. I never dreaded writing essays or short stories for class assignments. But it never occurred to me that I could make a career out of writing until I thought of a fun idea for a story and decided to try my hand at writing it. Even though that first book I wrote will never see the light of day (thankfully), I discovered that I loved the process of writing so much that I decided to keep trying.

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Makena: What are common traps for aspiring writers? Any suggestions for overcoming them?

KW: I can't speak for every writer. I've discovered that everyone writes differently and that what may be bad for one could work perfectly for another. Actually, maybe that's my first "trap" that you should avoid—comparison. It truly is a hindrance to progress to compare yourself to other writers.

Another thing I hear that I disagree with is that you have to write every day. I don't write every day. But on the flip side is the advice that you should only write when you feel inspired. I disagree with that, too. Sometimes you're going to have to write when you don't feel like it because it has to get done. But do what works for you, and don't let anyone tell you that if you do X, Y, and Z that you must not be a real writer.

Anna: If you could grab dinner with any author ever, who would you choose? And where would you eat?

KW: Good question! And hard. There are so many! How do I narrow it down? I often say that Charles Dickens is my "dead author boyfriend." So I'd probably love to have dinner with him (although I wouldn't cry if Jane Austen were there, too—or Sarah Dessen, for that matter).

Where would we eat? I guess it depends on if I traveled back in time or he traveled forward. Or maybe we would meet in a weird dimension where time doesn't exist. Either way there would be lots of bread and pasta and Dr Pepper. I wonder if good old Charlie (he lets me call him Charlie in our weird dimension) would like Dr Pepper.

Marjoleine: What's one of your favorite underappreciated novels?

KW: One of my favorite underappreciated authors (I can't narrow it down to just one of her novels) is Jessi Kirby. I love, love, love her books. She's fun and funny and witty—is that the same as funny?—and I adore her characters and plots.

Thesebookishthings: What did your friends and family say when you told them you wanted to become an author? Did you hear any of the common arguments—like it's not a "stable job" or that it's rare to become a success?

KW: I am the luckiest girl in the world. My friends and family have been nothing but supportive of this dream. As I stated earlier, though, I didn't know I wanted to do this until later in life. So I wasn't throwing my fist in the air and screaming "write or die" in college. I was studying a sensible field.

I'd like to think that either way my family and friends would've supported me. My parents were both avid readers when I was growing up. We had so many books in our house. My parents both read more than they watched television. They both had stacks of books they'd either just finished or were reading or were about to read piled on their nightstands. My father passed before he even knew I wanted to write, but I know he'd be so proud of me.

Johanna: I think your writing is beautiful, and your characters are so real. How hard was it for you to find a publisher for the first time, and how did you handle any criticism or rejection from agents, publishers, etc.? Thank you for your books! Whenever I feel alone, they always cheer me up.

KW: Thank you, Johanna. That's so nice. I like to laugh and love to cheer people up, so that means the world to me.

I'm not going to lie: Finding someone who wanted to publish my book was really hard. I had to write lots of letters to find an agent, and I got lots and lots of rejection letters. I cried and ate lots of ice cream. Sometimes I thought about giving up. But then I knew I couldn't. I'm a little bit rebellious, so when people tell me I can't do something, that's all I want to do. Plus, I loved writing. So much. And so I kept writing new stories, better stories. And then when the right story came along and the right agent loved the story, it happened for me.

GR: If you won the lottery, what big thing would you buy first?

KW: Who wouldn't want to win the lottery, right? That's a great question! I dream of buying a beach house. I love the ocean. I want to look out my back door and see the ocean and walk off my deck right onto the sand. I want to fall asleep to the sound of waves. So, yes, this would be the big thing I would buy if I won the lottery. It's a really selfish thing, and I hope that after (or before) I was done being selfish, I would also be very generous with the money. Because I do have dreams about that, too—starting a scholarship or a foundation or something that would help others reach their dreams.

Read more of our exclusive author interviews on our Voice page.

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Elyse (new)

Elyse Love her books!

message 2: by Rossana (new)

Rossana Snee I am reading P. S. I Like You right now. This is my 3rd Kasie West book. I really enjoy them!

message 3: by Serah (new)

Serah Kasie West adores Sarah D. That's so sweet <3

message 4: by Shapri (new)

Shapri Singleton I read every one of kasie west' books and it is amazing.

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