Saturday, June 26, 2010

Interview with Kody Keplinger!!

I am incredibly stoked for this interview. (Shut up. I'm sixteen. I'm allowed to say stoked.) Anyway, I got to talk with Kody Keplinger, author of The Duff. Let me just tell you how much I want that book. Seriously, it's insane. The Duff stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend. As someone who has a couple of really flamboyant friends and a couple of aggravatingly pretty friends, I've definitely felt that way before. You can order The Duff, or read more about it, here
And guess what else? When Kody signed with her agent, she was STILL IN HIGH SCHOOL.
She's pretty much amazing. She's also way more fun to listen to than I am, so without further ado . . .

The Duff stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Have you ever personally felt like that? Do you have anything to say to girls who do feel that way?
I have felt like the DUFF many, many times.  When I first heard the word, in high school, I was sure I was the DUFF of my group of friends.  But when I voiced this fear, my friends were all shocked.  I thought they were beautiful, but they all felt like DUFFs, too.  I think most girls do at some point or another.  And really, I guess my advice is just to know that every girl feels that way at some point, and that everyone is beautiful in some way.

Okay, so you published YOUNG. (You’re basically my hero, just so you know.) Do people treat you differently because of that?
Not really.  Occassionally I get comments about being so young, but essentailly, I've had the same journey as most writers.  I've been writing since I was very young.  But I'm very glad I was lucky enough to get my break at my age.  Most people, once they get to know me, realize that I'm just a normal teenager.  I just happen to have a book coming out.  I prefer NOT to be treated differently, though, because I'm really, really not that different.
What’s your writing/editing process like?
It varies for every book.  With THE DUFF I just wrote, wrote, wrote and never planned at all.  But with the project I just finished the first draft of, it was very carefully outlined way before I began to write.  Every story is different for me, so I never really know how the process will go.  It's always a fun surprsie! 

You have an amazing agent. (I agent stalk. I’m sorry. I can’t help it.) Can you tell us about her?
I am represented by Joanna Volpe (she'll love that you think she's amazing!).  She is really the best fit I could have asked for. She's so enthusiastic and smart, and this sounds cliche, but she justgets  my style.  I am so blessed to have found her.  She's my hero, to be honest.  When I grow up - assuming I get to be an agent as I hope - I want to be just like her.  She's so savvy and - and I really could never say enough.

 What’s the scariest thing about the whole publishing process? What’s the most fantabulous, awesome part?
Scariest - knowing that people are going to actaully be reading this book that I spent so much time with.  Knowing that my words, my story, my characters are open to judgment and criticism. Knowing people could really hate it and that I can't do anything about that.
The most awesome - knowing that people are going to actually be reading this book that I spent so much time with.  Knowing that my words, my story, and my characters could really impact another person the way so many books have touched me.  Knowing that some people may loe my book. Knowing that maybe, hopefully, I'll touch even just one person the way authors like Judy Blume and Elizabeth Scott an Carolyn Mackler have touched me.

So, pretty much solidifying your position as Super Woman, you’re attending college at the same time you write. Is it hard to juggle that? (And, ahem, as a 16 year old . . . Is college as fun/horrifyingly terrifying as it seems?)

I LOVE college.  I love the independance. I love the choices I have in classes.  I love the oppertunities and adventures it provides me that high school couldn't.
What I do not love? The homework.  I always managed to finish homework quickly in high school, which is how I was able to write so much.  But college has a lot more homework - the homework is more fun than it ever was in high school, but it is a lot.  I dont' write as much as I did in high school, but I still manage to write. I'd go crazy if I didn't!  I will say, Mt. Dew helps a lot.  Lots of late nights.

This is a shallow, almost dumb question. But highschool can be scary sometimes. When people heard about getting you getting a publishing deal, what were their reactions like?

They didn't really have reactions.  I signed with my agent in the last week of my senior year, and the only people who knew I signed were my AP English classmates, who didn't really know what "getting an agent" meant.  Everyone knew I wanted to get published, or that I was trying, but they didn't udnerstand the processs, and I didn't want to explain it and then have them get their hopes up for me.
But the book actually sold during the summer.  I know the news has spread in my hometown - its' a small town - but I haven't really been home a lot since last summer because of school.  So I'm not 100% sure what my peers reactions were.

You’re also part of the WONDERFUL YA Highway blog. How did that get started?

I wasn't there from the start, but I knew Kirsten Hubbard from Absolute Write.  We actually signed with agents the same week, and then our books (hers is LIKE MANDARIN) sold literally ONE DAY after mine.  We started really getting to know each other then, and she invited me to join the group.  I"m forever glad she did.  I can honestly say my closest writing friends are the YA Highway girls.  I don't know what I'd do without them.

I know that you had a relatively short time querying, but did you ever feel like giving up immediately/crawling into the Emo Corner? How did you deal with that, if you did?
I honestly never felt that way.  Mostly because I never in a million years thought I'd get an agent.  I queried one book before THE DUFF (very breifly and badly) and I thought THE DUFF would go down the same way.  I never EVER though I'd get an agent at 17, but I knew I'd regret it if I didn't at least try.  So it was more of a pleasant surprise than a relief when it happened.
I’m kind of obsessed with critique groups lately. Did you have people helping you shape your story before you submitted it?

I had 3 beta readers who read THE DUFF.  They read it, gave me notes, and all of them encouraged me to query.  They were amazing, and I encourage everyone to have a critique partner or group.

What advice you have to give to teenagers who want to get published someday?

My main advice is DON'T RUSH YOURSELF.  Seriously, getting published before graduation isn't necessary.  I wrote for years and years before THE DUFF happened.  Focus first on honing your craft and becoming the best writer you can be and THEN on publishing.  Trust me, you'll be happy you did.
My second advice is don't be scared of rejection.  It's going to happen. It happens to EVERYONE.  Don't let fear of rejection scare you away from trying for your dreams.

Okay, I’m done cyber harassing you. Almost. Is there anything else you would like to say?

Thanks for interviewing me, Sam!

Isn't she cool? You should go check out her blog, and then you should pre order her book. (Ahem.)

More later!


Joanna said...

Hey, I say "stoked" too (ask Kody, it's true).

Great interview!

Maggie said...


I love her answers, they all seem very real. I would be screaming and announcing to the world that I got an agent, if I were to get one when I was in high school (well, I am in hs, but whatever). Even if it was the last week.

I'm pretty much in love with her. I'm just sayin'. I can't wait for her book! And my comment would be better, but I'm at the library and therefore have a frazzled brain. I don't know how that means anything, but it does. Ahem.

Great interview both of you! I can't wait for The Duff.

Aspen said...


Kody Keplinger said...

It's true - Joanna does say stoked. It's a great word. :-)

Thanks for the interview, Sam! I had a great time answering the questions!

Lisa and Laura said...

Kody is freaking amazing--seriously, we're in awe. And she's fascinating to read about--counting down the days until The Duff!!! Thanks for the great interview!

cipherqueen said...

-grins- It is possible. And her situation is very similar to mine (I told my english teachers about my first partial. They had no clue what I was going off about).

Now I am also "stoked".

Cass said...

Hahahaha. Nice interview. :) Thanks for visiting my blog. I love your icon-- it's so pretty! Good luck with becoming a published author one day! Listen to Kody-- don't rush yourself (and remember to enjoy yourself).

I'm really looking forward to The DUFF. I think it'll be one of those books I'll unconditionally buy in hardcover. :) I've been super "stoked" to read this. Seriously, this book is (from memory) #3 in my To-Read.

Lastly, you're amazing, Kody! You answered with such depth and charmingly authentic. :)

Sam said...

Joanna: -stares-
-realizes I look freakish staring-
Thank you! And good, I'm not the only one. :P My English teacher mocked me horrendously when she overheard me using that word.
Maggie: I KNOW!! On all fronts. :P
I would be nervous telling people, actually. I can't WAIT. Sarah said she's getting a review copy!
Aspen: I agree. :P
Kody: Thank you so much. It was really great.
Lisa and Laura: I completely agree. I'm busy staring unflatteringly. -shakes head in awe-
Cipherqueen: That's okay. One of mine informed me that I wouldn't make it because I was so young. -grins-
Cass: Thanks! I'm pretty good about enjoying myself. :P But hey, this is a great way to pass time.
Me too on the list thing. -grins-
It just seems so REAL. I can't wait.