Little Willow (slayground) wrote,
Little Willow

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Interview: Kristen Tracy

Kristen Tracy never fails to crack me up. She's funny even when she's just writing a brief email asking me to update her website.

She also makes me smile. Recently, she earned many points in my book when she included me in hers. Her newest book, A Field Guide for Heartbreakers, has her trademark tongue-in-cheek wit and plenty of hijinks. It also has an unseen character who bears my name. You should have seen (or heard) me when I discovered this. Thanks, Kristen, for the happy-making surprise.

Now it's time for our most recent interview, which contains metaphors, omnivores, ice cream, and a contest. If you love free stuff, make sure to enter the giveaway by following Kristen's Twitterific instructions at the end of this post.

Let's just clarify this for everyone reading this at home: Your newest YA novel, A Field Guide for Heartbreakers, is a work of fiction about two girls - best friends - who spend a summer in Prague at a writing workshop. The book is not an actual guide to breaking hearts. However, the title begs the question: Are you, Kristen Tracy, a heartbreaker?

I definitely am not a heartbreaker. I know the rules of the heart and so I treat a heart the way you're supposed to treat a heart. Like it's an ornate swan made out of blown and pulled sugar that has the most feathery and delicate wings imaginable. Let's go deeper with this glass-candy-heart metaphor. I'm saying that even if you boil your heart to the hard crack stage, it doesn't make it any less delicate.

That's poetic. How many titles did you go through before you arrived at the final selection?

Bunches. My editor, Emily Schultz, was great. I finally sent her two pages of titles and we built A Field Guide for Heartbreakers out of those.

Did you have a say in the cover?

My editor found the picture in the early stages of revision and she really liked it. I showed my sister the picture and she really liked it. I was sleep deprived and unsure. But it certainly grew on me. And I think the book looks adorable. And tasty. It's the first time during the pub process that I want to eat my own book.

Do you think that's Dessy picture there, eating ice cream?

I think it's Veronica. Because Dessy has blond hair.

Do you like ice cream with or without sprinkles? Do you call them sprinkles, jimmies, hundreds and thousands, or ants? (I refuse to call them ants. Why would someone want ants on their ice cream, or in any meal?)

I have never heard them called ants. I call them sprinkles and I rarely get my ice cream with sprinkles. I think they look better than they taste. They taste waxy to me, sort of like crayon shavings. Also, they don't pack much flavor. And aren't they 100% sugar? I'd rather take my sugar in a non-waxy and flavorful vehicle. Like maybe more ice cream? (Yes. I realize that by comparing the texture of sprinkles to crayon shavings that I'm implying that I've actually tasted crayon shavings. For the record, I am guessing at what crayon shavings taste like. Guessing.)

Back to the book: Which of the main characters are you more like, Dessy or Veronica? (Or Betty?)

Who is Betty? I have a Betty in my next tween novel, The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter. She suffers from mallet-toe and has the nickname mallet-toe Betty. I am nothing like mallet-toe Betty. I guess I think I'm more like Dessy. But I also really, really like Veronica. I've gotten a lot of hate mail about Veronica, but I don't totally understand it. I think she's funny. As I wrote the book I always knew that she loved Dessy even though she acts like a terror sometimes. I made Veronica Knox so I am the final authority on this. She's a good girl. Really. Just a little loud and obnoxious and confused. But you should totally invite her to your slumber party.

You recently took part in the unREQUIRED READING Book Tour along with Brent Crawford, Stacey Kade, Daniel Waters, Elizabeth Rudnick, Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin. You all have the same publisher, Hyperion, and write for teens - but what other commonalities have you discovered while signing elbow to elbow?

I had the time of my life on this tour. For the majority of it, I was teamed up with Brent Crawford and Stacey Kade. They are two of the funniest and most delightful people I have ever met. And they're very talented storytellers! The rest of the cast was amazing too, Liz, Emily, Brendan and Dan. So much fun. They could all find a second profession in improv comedy. I watched Dan perform a routine in Kansas with a Glenn Beck book that was priceless. (Tragically, I think it led the the eventual sale of the Glenn Beck book.)

Have you traveled to any cities yet that you hadn't visited before? What were your impressions of these new and uncharted lands?

I'd been to every city except for Wichita and St. Louis. I really liked both of them. I'd been to Kansas before and going to Wichita felt exactly like that: flat, humid, meat-centered menus, and really nice people. St. Louis was flooding a little bit and so I walked down to the edge of the rising Mississippi with Brent and Stacey and we filmed ourselves standing outside a part-way submerged parking garage. I'm not used to seeing floods. Then we walked back to the Four Seasons and nobody brought up the flood again.

Tell us about The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter, your next novel for kids (read: elementary and middle schoolers).

The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter is the story of a sixth-grader who wants to find her place in middle school, but has no idea how to do that. She bungles a lot of things. Ends up alienating her best friend. Attracting psycho-bullies. Things get pretty bad for her. Also, she tampers with her grandma's online dating account and that complicates everybody's life. It's a fun book. It keeps up with my 'bear' theme. Original title was: Bessica Lefter Sweats Her Pants Off. But we ran into a problem with the cover art. I never saw the original artwork, but my editor wrote me and said, 'It looks like a diet book for tweens . . . or worse."

Anything else you want to discuss, add, consider, or ponder?

After many sleepless nights, and countless emails from readers asking me about my nonexistent blog (not every author has a blog! some of us are socially awkward people who would like to remain socially awkward in private) I decided to join Twitter. I don't know how long I will remain on Twitter. It sort of freaks me out a little bit. But if you want to follow me, you can do that.

Keep in mind I have no idea what I am supposed to say on Twitter. Also, I sort of pretend like nobody is reading it. This strategy helps me Twitter a great deal.

Contest! Contest! Contest!

Kristen has decided to run a contest in honor of National Farriers Week because she's a big fan of hoof-care professionals and today's the last day of that wonderful week. Kristen is giving away all the unRequired Reading Souvenirs that she and Stacey Kade and Brent Crawford picked up on their tour. This includes:

* Two awesome and mysterious and durable San Francisco objects
* Three consumable Chicago objects
* One consumable New York object
* One practical DC object
* One addictive Kansas object
* One spreadable St. Louis object

All nine objects will be mailed to the winner and the winner will be selected tomorrow, Tuesday, July 13th. To be eligible you need to be following @StaceyKade @brentcraw @kristen_tracy If you follow all three of them you triple your chances.

More Links
Bildungsroman Book Review: Lost It
Bildungsroman Author Interview: Kristen Tracy (2007)
Visit Kristen Tracy's official website at
Visit the website for Kristen's second novel at
Tags: books, contests, interviews

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