Riley: What was the scariest part about publishing a book?
Kate Williams: Um, I think the fact that people were going to read it. I was telling someone yesterday that, you know, up until like my book came out and even recently you know, friends would text me or send me emails and be like “I just bought your book!” and I was always so tempted to be like “thank you so much! Don’t feel pressured- you don’t have to read it. You can just put it on the shelf and forget about it,”. So I think that that just the scariest thing, that other people were going to read it.
RR: Did you read a book for school that really resonated with you?
KM: I’m trying to think about school… I don’t know. Off the top of my head, I can’t remember one that I read for school. But I remember that I read this young adult novel called Witch Baby. It was written by this woman, Francesca Lia Block, and I think it was published in like 1994, 1995, um, and I read it shortly after it came out. And I still identify that particular book as my single biggest creative influence, because prior to that I hadn’t read a book that was about the writing. I’d always read books that were about the plot or the characters and then this book just really kind of like, you know, opened my eyes to how beautiful writing can be and like, she would describe her characters’ outfits and like the way they decorated their bedrooms, and it just, all of those little things have stuck with me for the past 25 years and I still think that book influences me, like you know, the way I decorate my house, and the clothes that I buy, and even the way that I go shopping. All those little things.
RR: This being your first novel, what is something that’s happened that you weren’t
KM: Well, people read it. And I was just surprised that people liked it and that they were able to call out things that I had put a lot of thought into. Someone posted on Instagram a week or so ago and she was like “these are my favorite books that have good dads.” I put a lot of thought and effort into my main character’s dad because I have a great dad, we have a really great relationship. So, I wanted to portray that in the book, and it was just cool that someone noticed that and picked up on that.
RR: Trends are constantly resurfacing. What is a trend that’s coming back from a
previous decade that you love?
KM: I’m a huge ‘90’s fan, but, I mean I was a teenager in the ’90s, but I definitely have some mixed feelings from all these things in the ’90s being rebooted, like I’m like just watch the original. You don’t have to remake it. I definitely think that fashion these days is getting a little crazier, and I really like to see that. I think that 90’s and early 2000’s you would see people go to the VMAs in these outfits that were just like, nuts. They didn’t necessarily look good, but you remember them and I think that you’re seeing a lot of that now with people like Cardi B and Kacey Musgraves who like are putting a lot of thought into dressing as these characters and caricatures of themselves which I appreciate.
RR: Do you feel like your work with celebrities and brands has changed the way you’d write a novel?
KW: I don’t know. I feel like it’s definitely changed the way that I approach publishing. Like I can say pretty honestly that I don’t want to be famous, and that I’d like people to read my books and I would like for people to buy those books because I want to continue to be able to write books and I would like to be able to do it as a career that paid me enough so that I can take care of my family, but being a celebrity is not something that I would ever want to be.
RR: Is it strange to have the roles reversed and be the one being interviewed?
KW: It is! I’m definitely getting used to it, and I still get really nervous before I go to interview celebrities or anybody because I’m like “what if they hate me? What if they hate my questions?” What I used to think about, and still do, is what if I have food poisoning but I don’t know it yet and it hits me right in the middle of an interview? And so I was always wondering if I was being interviewed, would I be as nervous? And I definitely am nervous.
RR: As 2020 is approaching, what is something you’ll take away from this decade?
KW: Oh man. I think, definitely, the harmful power of social media, and the rapid internetization of our lives, where you go to the internet for everything. I hope for myself and for everyone that we can take a step back from that, going into the next decade. If you need food, you’re not just going to go on an app and order it. If you need toilet paper you’re not just going to order it from Amazon, you’re going to go to the store. Because I think, and you know with social media, I hope that people will kind of get away from seeing talking on social media as an actual form of communication because it’s really not, it’s very one-sided. So I’d like to see people get more into
just having face to face interaction. I have a one-year-old, and when we go to the playground I try to not have my phone out. But I’ll see other people who are just sitting there scrolling on their phones the whole time and it’s like, we could be friends, but we don’t know because you’re not making conversation even though we’re both sitting right here, a foot away from each other. So yeah, that’s kind of what I hope to see and I think your generation, you guys have always had phones. My generation still thinks phones are really awesome. We’re like “oh my god, my phone can do this”, while you guys have always had your phones, so you guys can handle it a little better. For you guys, it’s an object while for us it’s still like this…
KW: Yeah it’s still a novelty and you see adults become babies over their phones. They’re like “I can’t talk to you right now, I have to play this game.” You see people at concerts and they’re just posting pictures of it and checking to see how many likes it got. It’s like you’re not watching the concert.
RR: How did your high school or babysitter experience influence your book?
KW: I mean, I actually this a lot, which is kind of funny. You know, clothes are really important to one of my characters. I’ve always really liked clothes but I remember when I was in high school, I grew up in Kansas, and we really didn’t have access to a lot of stores. Kind of stuff at the mall. I just remember having this kind of disconnect between the person I thought I was and how that person looked. I felt like hey, I’m a cool, interesting, creative person, but then I felt like I dressed like really boring because I didn’t know how to thrift and I didn’t know how to do all that stuff, and I think that that is one thing, you know, that my character, they know how to put together really cool outfits and that’s a big part of them expressing themselves. So I think that I
gave that to them because that wasn’t something that I was necessarily able to do. And the thing that I think about clothes is that it’s this kind of signifier. And I think when you’re able to dress how you feel, you are more likely to find other people who feel the same way as you. Like, I read a lot of music bios, and in a lot of them, there’s always this part where someone forms their first band because they sit down in class and they’re wearing a t-shirt and they look over and someone else is wearing the same band t-shirt and then they become friends. I think about that; that that’s why clothes are so important to my character because that’s how they found each other and that’s how they set themselves off from the rest of the world.
RR: What was your favorite movie with teens released before 2010?
KW: Before 2010? That’s so many. I really liked Heathers, which, Heathers, doesn’t really seem like it’s about teens, because they definitely seem very old. I loved the Lydia Deetz character in Beetlejuice. I loved Mean Girls. Like pretty much all those ‘90’s teenage movies, 10 Things I Hate About You, Can’t Hardly Wait. I loved Superbad, which you know is more recent. I’m just a huge teen movie fan, because I love the dialogue, and I love how, you know, a lot of times teenage characters, they’re just so snappy and it’s like the dialogues just going back and forth and everyone has razor-sharp wit. They make fun of each other and it’s kind of like this verbal sparring that I think is always really fun to watch and get into.
RR: What can we look for in the future from you?
KM: I just finished my second revision of The Babysitters Coven Book 2, so that will come out in a year, and then I’m getting ready to work on an adult project that I haven’t sold yet. And that kind of combines the same themes I had with the Babysitters Coven which is pop culture, but like I said I read a lot of music bios, so I want to read a fake music bio that’s about a band that didn’t exist but write it as it’s documenting their career. There’s been a couple of books like that that have come out recently, but I still want to write my own.