Kristen and I have talked before. A lot. I've been reading Kristen's novels for 4 years now and working for her almost as long. (I designed her website - http://www.kristentracy.com - which I continue to maintain.) Sometime between writing and prepping for her next WriteTeen class with Nina LaCour, we had this conversation:
Hey, Kristen, what's scarier, sharks or boys?
Because I'm afraid of feeding frenzies.
Makes sense to me. What inspired you to make all of the Sharks & Boys main characters sets of twins? How much research did you do about twins before writing this novel?
I always pick things that interest me so that the research will feel like a fun exploration of my own curiosities. This usually works for one week. And then the reality sets in that research is work. So I did a lot. But I probably did more research on nautical disasters and sharks than twins.
Do you like twinsets, aka sweater sets? I do. Yay for preppies.
I do not wear those, Little Willow. I can't afford cashmere and acrylics make me itch.
Go to Target and get the inexpensive cotton version. Speaking of preppies and boys, what did you think of Zack Morris on Saved by the Bell? Bad boy, dreamer, schemer.
All boys are dreamers and schemers, though they might not realize it. It's a dude brain thing. I'm certain. As for bad boys, they are super overrated. Trust me. I've toured San Quentin. I know. And Zack Morris is/was/always will be cute.
I think Mark-Paul Gosselaar is a fantastic actor. Congrats to the cast & crew of Franklin & Bash being renewed for a second season. Speaking of ampersands, was it your choice to put an ampersand in the title of Sharks & Boys, or was that the doing of the cover art designer?
I chose the ampersand. From the earliest draft of the book I was using it. I use ampersands a lot in my poetry. It's a charged mark for me. And if you want me to talk more about charged marks I will. But it will require an essay.
We can save that for next time, if you want. Did you plan on writing a survival story, or did it truly start out as a simple story about a girl and a boy? Though I suppose getting over heartbreak is a survival story. Hmmm...
I always knew my characters would wind up in a life raft and get attacked by sharks. I really wanted to write that story. Exploring what happens to a group of teenagers in such a desperate situation seemed like a great situation to explore. And I wanted the situation to get worse and worse and worse. I hoped to write something dire. But I also hoped it would be funny. I know. I know. Tall order.
Do you like being on boats? Are you a fan of large bodies of water?
I don't know how to swim. I ride a ferry about once a week to go to Alcatraz and I know where all the life rafts are stored. I enjoy looking at oceans and lakes. And I prefer being on top of the water, not underneath it or inside it.
Have you ever encountered sharks?
Only in aquariums and nightmares and television sets.
How does this story differ from your previous novels? Besides the shark thing, that is.
It's got a mostly dude cast. Seven guys. One girl. And mostly it takes place in a raft. **SPOILER ALERT** Also, it's the first book I ever wrote when I described a character urinating.
Lovely. What are you working on now?
Copyedits for the second Bessica Lefter book, BESSICA LEFTER BITES BACK due out from Delacorte Books for Young Readers in March 2012. And final revisions for DEATH OF A KLEPTOMANIAC due out from Disney-Hyperion in fall 2012. The first explores the misadventures of an overly enthusiastic, middle-grade, grizzly bear mascot. The latter explores the mindset of a death-marked teenage kleptomaniac.
I can't wait to read them. Is there anything else you want to cover that we haven't yet?
Two months ago, I saved a falcon from certain death. True story.
Falcons are to Kristen Tracy as eagles are to Stephen Colbert, people. Learn it. Live it. Love it.
To learn more about Kristen Tracy, visit http://www.kristentracy.com
Read my previous interviews with Kristen here and here.