Thursday, August 28, 2014

I HEART YA 2014: Interview: Author Kate Abbott (Disneylanders)


Kate is the writer of the YA novel DISNEYLANDERS, published by Orchard Hill Press. She is a former editor of video game strategy guides and wrote MOSHI MONSTERS MOSHLING ZOO: Prima Official Game Guide. She received an MFA in creative writing from UC Riverside, Palm Desert.

Where to Stalk Kate!


TeamNerd Reviews: What are the top five lessons you’ve learned from writing a book you can pass onto upcoming authors?

Kate Abbott: Ooh, good question! I think if there are some things I would have wanted to know before I wrote this book, they would be:

1) Write about something you have a real passion for. You face so much work and rejection as a writer that you need to have a love of your subject matter to sustain you.

2) Make yourself sit down and work, even when you don't feel like it. If you have to trick yourself into sitting down and doing it, that is totally OK! Whatever makes you able to put your butt into the chair and get to work. I read a tip somewhere that suggested leaving off in the middle of a scene, or even a sentence, to make it easier to pick up again in the next writing session. I totally do that. I also tell myself some days that I only have to write for 15 minutes, if I think that's all I can manage. Almost every single time I say it, I end up writing for longer than that.

3) Your process is OK, no matter what it is, as long as it helps you do the work. Whether you write every day or don't, whether you plan your plot ahead of time or just sit down and see where the story takes you, it's all good as long as it works for you.

4) Read a lot. Read books like you want to write. Great writing will rub off on your writing.
5) Develop a community of writers, whether it is online, by going back to school, by going to local writing meet-ups, by joining a society of the genre you're writing. Writing friends understand you in a way no other friends can.

TeamNerd Reviews: Diversity has become a big issue in Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction. Why do you feel diversity in books within the content and the cover is something that matters?

Kate Abbott: I think it's super important for all readers to find people they can relate to being portrayed in books. It's incredibly validating when you find a character like yourself in a book that you love. I wrote my book for my 12-year-old self, who was always looking for a character like me in books I read.

TeamNerd Reviews: How did you approach balancing the romance between Casey and Bert in Disneylanders with the difficulties they both face with their set of parents? Were there any struggles you faced?

Kate Abbott: I really didn't want to write only about the romance. I think teenagers--and, well, everybody--deal with romantic complications, but also with friendship, family, their own personal obstacles--there's never any one isolated part of life that we deal with that doesn't relate to everything else. I tried to show all of Casey's struggles and how they interconnected with each other--how her new romance impacted how her parents saw her, how her recent failed friendship impacted her romance. It was tricky not to let one element overshadow the others.

TeamNerd Reviews: What’s some good advice you could give to both teens and parents about opening the lines of communication so each side is better heard?

Kate Abbott: I think it's probably important to have enough free time together to be comfortable just talking about anything. Like when you're riding in a car. And to not have only big serious "talks," but to have lots of small conversations throughout life. I'm trying to do this with my own son who's only six years old, but I hope that by taking his concerns seriously now, and talking about them freely, no matter what they are, he'll be more comfortable talking to me about anything when he's older.

TeamNerd Reviews: When you were a teenager, what were some of the books that helped inspire you or had a profound effect on you?

Kate Abbott: I had a hard time finding books that I felt were targeted to me when I was a young teenager. I felt sort of caught between books I loved as a kid and feeling ready to read "grown up" books. I really loved To Kill a Mockingbird, The Bean Trees, The Outsiders, Matilda, Harriet the Spy...books of all kinds. Any book was inspirational to me, really, because from the time I was a little kid, I always thought there was something magical about seeing an author's name on a book's cover.

TeamNerd Reviews: What was one of your biggest fears when you were fourteen entering high school?

Kate Abbott: Oh jeez, what wasn't a fear of mine! I was afraid of not making friends, of getting lost in the big school, of getting made fun of for not having the "right" backpack or clothes, that I would commit a breach of freshman etiquette, like sitting on the seniors' bench.... My most pressing fear was that I had gotten an absolutely terrible haircut the day before high school started and I was afraid people would ridicule me. I cried and cried about it, and of course that only made me look even worse the next day. Nobody ever said anything about it, but I felt self-conscious for weeks.

TeamNerd Reviews: If you could play any Disney Princess for the day and rewrite the fairytale, which princess would you choose and what changes would you make?

Kate Abbott: I would be Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty and I would not dance with or make plans to see a stranger I'd met in the woods. Maybe if I thought he wasn't a creeper, I'd say we could meet in a public place. But I definitely wouldn't invite him to my home that night!

TeamNerd Reviews: Would there ever be a sequel to Disneylanders? A possibility of seeing Casey and Bert together again? *crosses fingers*

Kate Abbott: I wouldn't rule it out completely, but I don't have any immediate plans for a sequel. I kind of like leaving their story up to them.

TeamNerd Reviews: What upcoming book projects are you working on that we can hope to see in the near future?

Kate Abbott: I'm working on very different kinds of books right now. I just completed a memoir of my experience going into and out of postpartum depression, called Walking After Midnight. I'm looking for a publisher for it and hope to find a home for it soon! I just started writing a new adult mainstream novel about a young woman inheriting her family's home by a lake. Like Disneylanders, it involves the mixing of family and romance and growing up.

TeamNerd Reviews: Let’s wrap this up with some fun questions!

Kate Abbott:

Favorite Line from a Disney Movie: It's from "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas, which I LOVED as a teenager:
"You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You'll learn things you never knew you never knew"

Favorite Villain from a Disney Movie: Maleficent. She's just SO MAD about not getting invited to a party!

Favorite TV Shows When You Were a Teen: When I was a young teen: Full House. Older: Seinfeld.

Favorite Hang Out Spot When You Were a Teen: This is gonna sound weird, but the gym. Although I rarely exercised there! I just met my friends and we hung out by the tennis courts and talked until it was dark. Sometimes we played air hockey. Occasionally we actually exercised and played tennis.

Worse Date You Ever Went On: An awkward date I wasn't sure was a date or not. I'm still not sure.

Scariest Ride At Disney For You (whether now or when you were younger): 
Splash Mountain is the scariest for me now. I know that sounds ridiculous! But something about not being connected to the track when your log tips over and goes over the edge really freaks me out. I've had nightmares about the log flipping over, even though I know that's not really possible!

Thank you so much for the really fun and great questions, TeamNerd Reviews!!


In DISNEYLANDERS, 14-year-old Casey Allison, on the brink of starting high school, struggles to find a new identity on her family’s annual summer vacation, but with the help of an outgoing boy she meets while waiting in line, she discovers that Disneyland is the one place where her overprotective parents let her have the freedom to grow up.

Head on over to the I HEART YA 2014 Giveaways page to win a SIGNED copy of Disneylanders!

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