Author Interview: K.L. Going

kingkelnewCheck out the coolness today! K.L. Going, fab author of some of my favourite books ever (Garden of Eve, Saint Iggy, Fat Kid Rules the World) is here, right now, to chat about her new book, King of the Screwups (which also rocks, just to keep the theme going). Let’s get this interview started!

What’s your favourite thing about the writing process?

The idea phase is definitely my favorite part. I love when I get hooked into something and I’m so excited about it. There’s so much raw potential when you’re first thinking up the story. Once you get going you have to accommodate things like structure and page count, but when it’s an idea it’s still pure.

What drives you crazy about the writing process?

For me, it’s the stuff that comes afterwards (which isn’t really part of the writing process, but is definitely part of the publishing process) that drives me crazy. Waiting for reviews. Trying to market yourself and your work. Moving from introvert to extrovert whether you want to or not!

What inspired King of the Screwups? What inspires you in general?

I’m inspired by all sorts of things. Sometimes it’s a song or a book that catches my interest. For King of the Screwups it was a single photograph of Liam Gallagher from the band Oasis. He’d just trashed a hotel room and he was standing in the middle of this HUGE mess, yet he managed to look entirely innocent, as if he had no idea how the mess had happened. I loved the photo and the way it made me wonder about his character. He inspired my main character, who is definitely a loveable screwup, so I named him Liam.

Best writing advice you’ve given / received:

Live a good life. Our most authentic writing comes from our experiences, so go out there and experience as much as you can.

Do you have any writing rituals?

No. I wish I had more structure, but I tend to write as the spirit moves me. Lately, I try to start my day by updating my Twitter site and Facebook, just to get my brain and fingers warmed up, but after that it’s hit or miss. Some days I get a lot done and other days… nothing.

Liam struggles with staying true to his talents and his natural identity. Have you ever felt pressure to change something about yourself because others didn’t understand and judged you?

I think we all experience this to some degree when we’re teenagers (unless we’re incredibly self confident at an early age). I always wanted to fit in and often downplayed some of my more nerdy aspects. For example, I’ve always loved astronomy and had a geeky affinity for UFO stories and the like, but I never admitted these in front of my friends. As I’ve gotten older, I’m much less ashamed to admit my inner geek!

There’s a lot of emphasis in the media about how hard it can be for teen girls to “be themselves.” Do you think that teen guys struggle to the same extent with that issue?

Absolutely. I think this is especially true for guys who grow up in urban environments where there’s pressure to be “gangster” tough. In fact, I wonder if it isn’t harder for them in a lot of ways because the stakes are so high.

Part of your novel focuses on how Liam is trying to figure out what to do with his life. If you weren’t a writer, what would be your dream job?

I’d work for a non-profit organization doing international aid work. I still dream about accomplishing this some day. You never know.

You’ve got cool playlists for some of your books at your website. Do you write with music playing? How does music inspire you?

I wish I could write with music, but unfortunately I need everything absolutely silent or I can’t write. Instead I listen to music at other times of the day and let it fuel my ideas. That’s probably another reason I love the idea stage so much!

I see that you’ve created a contest inspired by King of the Screwups where readers have until June 30th/09 to write you a paragraph about their “most heinous screwups.” So… spill! Share one of your biggest screwups ever.

I’ve listed two of them on my website (, but I’ll share one of those here now…

One day when I was working as a front desk clerk at Mohonk Mountain House, I was busy computing some numbers on the front desk computer. As I was working a man came up and asked for a package. Without looking up I said, “Your name, sir?” He said, “Stephen.” Annoyed at the interruption and because the man hadn’t given me all the information, I sighed very loudly and said with much irritation, “Your LAST name, sir?” To which he answered “King”. I looked up into the eyes of the one and only Stephen King. Oops!

I hope you’ll all enter – it’s fun and easy, and you have a chance to win a $100 gift certificate to the independent bookstore of your choice, Borders, or Barnes & Noble, plus an autographed set of my teen novels. You’ll find all the details, along with other people’s entries on my website, so stop by!

Thanks for being here today at Shelf Elf! Now everyone, go read King of the Screwups and then spill your most embarrassing screwup ever. I’m still trying to choose mine…

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