Kiera Cass Interview
What did it take to publish your first book?
Do you mean self publish? The Siren was originally just me. Back in the day, me and my best friend made Youtube videos. I was writing this book, and I was off in Maine. Liz mentioned in a video that I wasn’t there that day because I was writing my book. A whole bunch of people started asking about this book and how they could get it. So I decided I would give it a shot and get it out there. It didn’t work with the traditional publishing route, so I decided to do it myself. So that took money and a whole lot of guts, but now I have people to help me on the road, and an editor. So it was a lot of work. But it was totally worth it and a huge learning experience.
Did you write a lot as a kid/teenager?
Yes I did. So growing up I wanted to be on Broadway. I wanted to write music, be a musician. So i wrote shockingly shameful poetry. Actually, at YALLfest, they do this thing called juvenalia, where authors read the things they wrote as teenagers. They asked me if I would do it. I went back and looked at my stuff, and I said “ you know what I think I’ll pass.” So mostly poetry and I did well in english, but I didn’t realize I loved storytelling until much much later.
If you could hang out with one of your characters for a day, who would it be and why?
I always say if I had to get stuck in an elevator with someone it would probably be May, just because we are both super nerdy, so we would have a lot to talk about. Austin might be a good one as well. He doesn’t get a lot of screen time but he is so funny. But I would prefer May.
So far, which book has been the most difficult to write?
I think the Elite was difficult because we had to gut that book twice.We pulled out the entire middle. That was hard because in my brain, I go by the method of America tells me something and I’m putting it on paper. But the way I wrote it originally, you couldn’t see everything you needed to see. So as far as everyone knows, that didn’t happen, which was hard for me to process.
The Siren was also very difficult because once a book is published I don’t go back and read it. So to come back to it 8 years after I wrote it, and try to make it better was very difficult. My brain didn’t know what to do with that. But I’m happy with the way it turned out.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors who are trying to get published in the YA genre?
If you’re at the point where you’re really pushing, go ahead and start working on having a really thick skin. It says on the cover of the book, number one bestselling author, but people are tweeting me about how much they don’t like The Siren, or how upset they are about the Heir. It doesn’t matter how good you do, you’re still going to get people who hate you. You have to find a way to deal with it, I also always tell people to daydream often, because you can’t properly create if you don’t pause.
If you could have a movie based on your books, who would be your dream cast?
I have never had a dreamcast. Sometimes people’s details will shift in my head. I can picture America but I can’t tell you someone who looks like her. So we have sold the movie writes, they are working on that right now. Authors don’t usually have a say in the cast, which I think is for the best. I’m fine with it. The only thing is I’m hoping for unknowns. I would love to have new faces.
What books have influenced your life the most?
I would say the books I read in high school. The big ones being Total prince, which was required reading for quire, which was about the impact you have on people. Also the Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. The Rapture of Canaan had a 17 year old protagonist but she didnt read as a teenager. So while ths was a girl close to my age, I didn’t understand her as much as I had to this dude who tripping on acid, and doing things I had no experince with, but related to because of the tone. But those books stayed with me and are probably the reason I love YA so much.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I do have an office, it all mine. It has all my books and there’s a couch. Along with my desk and a mini zen garden. I have a wall where I put things for my books. Right now it’s a mess with all my new books coming out. I also work at Panera, for a while it was my office. They know me, they know my seat. They will save it for me. I love them and they love me. They send you like 25 copies of your book, so when I got them I piled up a bunch and gave them to the Panera staff.
How do deadlines affect your writing?
They make it happen. Seriously it is really hard because sometimes it’s hard to let go. Right now it’s difficult because we have two books coming out in a year which is crazy. So they overlap a lot and have been really short deadlines, because you have to get these books out on time. There good especially in the beginning because they give you something to look forward to. There a part of the job. if you want to be a writer you have to accept the deadline.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
It doesn’t seem like that ever happens. My husband is very concerned because I don’t have any hobbies anymore. When he asks what I do for fun, i say, “ I don’t remember.” I work really quickly right now and I have children. I do like going to the movies and I like to read, although I haven’t had time to do that lately. I read my book several times and I don’t get to read anyone else’s. Which is a shame with all the good stuff coming out. I use to be co-captain of my church dance team. I don’t dance much anymore. I would love to learn to make my own clothes. Especially as a curvy girl I can’t find cool clothes, it’s hard. But right now I need to write books and raise my tiny humans.
What is your opinion of the description hunger games meets bachelor for your book?
Even when I go down tonight I will probably tell people The Selection is like The Hunger Games meets Bachelor. That’s the easiest thing to give you a quick picture of what it is about. I just don’t know what to say about it. I’m fine with that because I think it gives you a good image. As far as comparing it to The Hunger Games, I think Suzanne Collins is much darker and asks much more challenging questions. I admit my books are a pretty light read. Every once in awhile I think I hit on something a little deeper and darker, but nothing close to the stuff she is trying to tackle there.
Can you tell us anything about the project you are working on?
My post Selection stuff? I love it. I mean I can’t give anything away, because for one, just because I write it doesn’t mean it’s going to get published. But this girl has been in my head for as long as America has. If I write it the way I want to it’s going to be the most gorgeous thing ever. It’s very challenging and I think it would read very beautifully. That’s all I can really say.
If you had to describe each one of your books in one word what would it be?
The Selection- consuming. For The Elite, it’s more than one word but pain in my tuces. The One- simple. I wrote it starting at the end and working my way to the beginning. The Heir- scary, because I didn’t know if you guys would like it. And The Siren I would say a blessing. If you have read the acknowledgments page you know I feel about it. Because you guys gave me the chance to do it again. It’s a special book. Kahlen was the first person to pop into my head. I don’t think I have ever loved a character as much as her. So a very special book.
Have you ever thought of writing a male protagonist?
I don’t know if I could. I wrote The Guard and The Prince but those were very challenging books, just because I’m not sure if I get the male voice correct. I have a husband, I have a son, I have a dad and a brother. Boys are all around me, but to an extent. And they’re boys, they’re weird. At the same time I would want a male writer to write a female protagonist and understand her well, it would be nice if I could write a male protagonist and understand him well. But I’m not sure I’m there and I think I like the female voice more.