Sunday, July 21, 2013

I HEART YA: Author Interview: Kate Abbott (Disneylanders)

Author Kate Abbott drops by to discuss her debut novel Disneylanders, who her celebrity twin would be, what the conversation with her mom was like when she wanted her first bra and some fun Disney-related trivia!

TeamNerd Reviews: Welcome fellow Nerdian! Tell us Ms. Abbott, what qualities do you possess that mark you as a nerd?

Kate Abbott: My nerdiness is probably most devoted to Disneyland-related trivia and collectibles--especially the Enchanted Tiki Room-related anything--but I did just teach my 4-year-old how to play Mario Kart, so I suppose it is spread out over a variety of areas. I am passing on the nerdiness.

TeamNerd Reviews: Disneylanders is your debut novel and steers toward the Middle Grade genre. What inspired the jump into writing novels and why did you decide your first leap would be Middle Grade Fiction?

Kate Abbott: I've always wanted to be a writer, and even though I had an idea for a book for a while, I never got started. A few years ago, I had major trouble with carpal tunnel and tendonitis, and my doctor forbade me from typing or even picking up a pen for a month. Of course, during that month, I was obsessed with wanting to write. As soon as I got the go-ahead to hold a pen, I wrote the book long-hand, and my husband later typed it all up for me.

I wanted to write a book I would have wanted to read when I was 12. I remember that being an awkward reading age when I was growing up--somewhere between kid books and adult books. I wrote it for my tween self.

TeamNerd Reviews: Since Disneylanders begins with a family trip to Disneyland, what is one of your fondest memories of visiting Disneyland when you were growing up?

Kate Abbott: Like Casey, one of my best friends often came with my family on our Disneyland trips. (Fortunately, unlike Casey, she never dumped me.) One of my best memories is the first time we got the OK from my parents to spend the evening at the park running around by ourselves, without them. It was a blast. We were free! I remember riding Big Thunder, and suddenly everyone around us on the train started singing that "Hot, Hot, Hot" song by Buster Poindexter. It was so funny. We started singing too, and holding onto our mouse ears so they wouldn't fall off.

TeamNerd Reviews: There’s a quiz in Disneylanders called, “Who’s Your Celebrity Twin,” that sounded fun! Who would you choose as your celebrity twin and why?

Kate Abbott: Ha! I used to love taking magazine quizzes when I was Casey's age. I have actually been mistaken for Chloe on 24, so I'll say Mary Lynn Rajskub, appearance-wise. Personality-wise, though, I don't know. I'm kind of shy, and I don't think most celebrities are very shy!

TeamNerd Reviews: Casey (main character in Disneylanders) has this embarrassing (amusing) conversation with her mom about getting her first bra for middle school so she would fit in with all the girls. Brought back memories with my mom. What was it like when you had that talk with your own mom? Did your dad find out and how did he react if he did?

Kate Abbott: That scene is totally lifted from my own conversation with my mom! So many people have shared their first bra stories with me after reading that scene, it's been so hilarious to hear them! Apparently it is quite awkward for absolutely everyone. I have no idea how my dad reacted, though. He didn't react at all, if he even knew when it happened. Although I have to say, after finally getting a bra, it was so uncomfortable I instantly regretted wanting to wear one!

TeamNerd Reviews: Casey is fourteen-years-old and going through that awkward transition of self-discovery and early adulthood. If you could go back in time and give your fourteen-year-old self some advice, what would you say?

Kate Abbott: I would say it gets better. It really does. Being a teenager is so hard. I remember I wrote an essay for my ninth-grade English class called "Frustrating 14," about being followed around in a drugstore because the owners thought I was shoplifting just because of my age. (I've never shoplifted anything in my life.) I really felt discriminated against.

TeamNerd Reviews: If you could build your own Disneyland attraction, what type of attraction would it be and which Disney movie would it be based off of?

Kate Abbott: Sometimes I have dreams of a bizarro Disneyland, with rides that aren't really there. One of them was a ride like Splash Mountain, only it was sort of forest themed. Maybe that would go along with the river scene from Pocahontas. I loved that movie as a young teenager.

TeamNerd Reviews: If you could have dinner with Walt Disney himself, what questions would you ask him? What would you want served for dinner and where would you want the dinner to take place?

Kate Abbott: I would ask him how he felt about California Adventure being redesigned so it is sort of devoted to him and his experience coming to California. I'd ask him what he thought of the Disney brand getting so huge, how he thought that affected feeling free to take risks in making parks or movies. I'd ask him what he thought of the internet and how he'd use it to create new things. I would absolutely want to eat at the exclusive Club 33 in Disneyland, and whatever we ate, I'd want a mint julep with it. And with some chocolate for dessert.

TeamNerd Reviews: Casey goes through a few firsts in Disneylanders so I thought it would be fun to turn the tables on the author via inspiration from Casey *wink wink*

Name, Age and Physical Description of First Boyfriend: 

I'm kind of weird because I ended up marrying my first serious boyfriend! He's tall, thin, athletic, with dark brown hair and blue eyes. This combined with my brown eyes for color-changing eyes in our son! 

How old were you when you had your first kiss? When you went on your first date? I kissed my friend from around the corner when I was like seven. I tackled him. He left me a bracelet on the porch one day. I had a first date when I was in high school and we went to the movies. I was so distracted I couldn't even watch the movie. I have no idea what it was about.

Where was the first place you got to go to alone, without your parents chaperoning or hovering close by? 

The movie theater. My friends and I would go to a night show (a big deal, since when I went with my parents, we always went to matinees) and we felt super mature.

What was your first day of high school like?

Oh, it was awful. I had just gotten a really, really bad haircut, the worst haircut I ever had, the day before, and I spent all night crying about it, which made it worse because I was all puffed up the next day. I learned to never get a haircut right before an important event!

TeamNerd Reviews: Time for some fun Disney-related trivia! *wink*

Favorite Disney Princess and why:

I have a special place in my heart for Snow White, since I was infatuated with her when I was little. I wore my Snow White dress every single day, and I would not wear pants, ever, because Snow White didn't wear pants.

Favorite Disney Ride:

Probably the Indiana Jones Adventure. I have a special place in my heart for that one because I was in love with Harrison Ford as a teenager!

Name all the Seven Dwarves: 

Oh, I've got this one: Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Bashful, and Doc. I promise I didn't look it up.

When was the Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World built?

Hmmm...OK, I have no idea. Ha! I am Disney World deficient, really. I've only been there once. But I can tell you, Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland is based on a real castle, Neuschwanstein Castle, in Germany, but in Disneyland, it's facing backward! I love stuff like that. I really am a Disneyland nerd.

Win an ecopy of DISNEYLANDERS on the I HEART YA page under the E-Copies Giveaway Pile!

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