photo credit:Vania Stoyanova
I know I don’t usually show up outside of Wednesday, but I was encouraged to interview author Kami Garcia because she’s part of the RT BOOKLOVERS’ CONVENTION’s new “Teen Mania” track that will offer workshops, socials and a book fair. It’s their 28th annual convention and this five day event arrives in Los Angeles April 6-10, 2011 boasting more than 100 workshops. Find out more here.
Kami Garcia (along with Margaret Stohl) is the bestselling author of Beautiful Creatures and took time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up outside of Washington DC, but it always felt like I had one foot in the South. By the time I was thirteen, my family moved in with my grandmother and great-grandmother, and we had four generations of women living under the same roof – two born and bred in a small town in North Carolina. I grew up drinking sweet tea, eating vegetables cooked with a little bacon grease, and biscuits made from scratch. I mean, didn’t everyone’s great-grandma know how to skin a chicken, tat lace, and make dresses without a pattern?
I wasn’t exactly like either of them. I wore tons of black, a lot of rings, and spent hours writing in my journals. By the time I graduated high school, I had probably filled a hundred of them and gotten my friends more than a few dates with my poetry. That was the beginning of writing for me.
I have an MA in education, and taught in the DC area until I moved to Los Angeles, where I was a teacher & Reading Specialist for twelve years. In addition to teaching, I led fantasy book groups for children and teens. I have learned more from my students than I ever learned in school. I still live in LA, with my husband, son, daughter, and our dog Spike (named after my favorite character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer). I’m very superstitious and have lots of charms. I love disaster movies, and I could easily live on pizza and Diet Coke.
At the RT Convention your workshop is called “Risky Business: Promotion, Marketing and Avoiding the Mouth of Madness.” What are some things attendees can expect to learn in your workshop?
I hope I can share my experiences in marketing and promotion so it will be less daunting and overwhelming. I’m a practical girl, and I want to spend my time writing books for my readers. So I try to find authentic ways to share the novels I write (with co-author Margaret Stohl) in creative ways that are fun for both us and our readers.
This year RT will have a separate “Teen Mania” Track what do you think authors could learn from the growth of the YA genre?
Many of the issues and themes in YA literature are the same ones we still struggle with as adults — like finding a way to be yourself and still fit in, owning your mistakes, or facing your fears. Those problems don’t magically disappear when we reach adulthood, so I think there is a common language that is shared in YA and adult fiction. Young Adult readers also demand that you give them a reading experience that’s real and raw and messy, the way real life tend to be. They don’t want you to paint a pretty picture if there’s nothing behind it. I think it’s a challenge to dig that deep. But at the end of the day, I think a good book is a good book, no matter which shelf it’s sitting on.
How is the RT Convention different from other writing conferences?
RT is committed to the romance genre, which is often overlooked and undervalued in the literary world. Romance is often considered “fluff” or light reading. But I would argue that romance — building relationships, falling in love, heartbreak — is a fundamental part of what defines us as human beings. These are universal feelings and experiences that cross lines of gender, race, culture, religion, and sexual orientation. RT is also unique in that the majority of the writers represented are women, so it packs some serious girl power!
What advice would you give to someone attending the RT Conference for the first time?
This will be my first time attending RT, so I don’t really have any advice. But I can tell you that I plan to attend as many of the panels as I
can, meet the authors I admire, and buy a lot of books.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m incredibly honored to be among the amazing YA authors involved in the Teen Mania Track at RT. I want to thank RT for inviting me to be a panelist, and for creating a special place for Young Adult literature at the convention. I’m so grateful that Melissa Marr agreed to organize this for the YA community, and I can’t wait to meet the readers.