Saturday, March 23, 2013
Kirstin is the March, Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob and her YA book, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is highly entertaining. I decided to ask her some questions about her book, her writing and the awards she is receiving. Read on to find out more about Kirstin and her book.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a pretty basic person—I love reading, writing, music, my family and friends, my students, and most of the rest of the world (I’m pretty easily amazed/amused/impressed). I hate it when people are unkind to each other. My favorite season is spring (hurry up, Minnesota!), and I don’t eat chocolate.
2. What is the inspiration behind your story “Beautiful Music for Ugly Children”?
I wanted to write about music and radio, two things I’ve loved since I was a little girl, so I decided to write about a guy who hid behind a radio show. At the same time I started the book, I was looking for literature for a class at my school, and I ran across some very short autobiographies of trans* men. BOOM—suddenly my protagonist was a trans* man, and it made even more sense that he might hide behind a radio show.
I love the title of your book. Did you get to choose the title, “Beautiful Music for Ugly Children”?
This book has never had a title change (my first book had three). When I moved to Mankato, I found a radio show called Beautiful Music for Ugly Children on our local college radio station, and I loved the title so much I stuck it away in my brain for later. About 15 years after I moved here, I had a use for it.
4. Usually an author puts some of her own life experiences in the book. Did you do that? Do you have anything in common with your characters?
Gabe and I share a music nerd-ness, and we share some apprehension about sharing our true identities with the world. With John, Gabe’s mentor, I share that desire to practice radical acceptance of people I love. With Gabe’s mom, I share the questions of how to help my child feel safe and secure in the world.
5. Why did you decide to become a writer?
The idea for my first novel was given to me by a high school classmate about 12 years after we graduated (she told me she’d been mean to me in high school because she had a crush on me, and I had two immediate thoughts: “that explains everything,” and “wow, that would make a great novel”). But I’ve been a writer since I was a little girl, only I thought “being a writer” meant “being a poet.” My family had a special reverence for poetry, and my grandmother and father wrote it, so that’s what I figured “writing” was. I didn’t even cognitively know that a person could write the books I loved so much. Then, when I figured out that there were writers behind all those books, I thought fiction was WAY out of my league. But finally I gave it a shot, and I’m so glad I did!
6. How do you balance writing with your full time job as a teacher and being a parent?
Sometimes it’s really hard to get everything done. School has to come first, because they pay me way more than my writing pays me (and my students are counting on me), and my family has to come first, too, because I love them enormously. Writing falls down the priority list, which is why it takes me so long to draft & revise a book. On average, it’s five years. If I didn’t work full-time, I could cut that down to two, I am sure of it!
7. Do you like to read? What books or authors influence you?
I love to read—it’s a great joy to have time to sit down with a good book. It would take me all day to give you a list of books & authors that have influenced me. For today, I’ll pick Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Sherman Alexie, and A.S. King.
8. Are you working on a third novel for teens? Can you give us a preview?
My third novel is a book about tourist traps, secrets, and getting on with your life. It’s set in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and right now it’s floating around with editors. My fourth book is an illustrated novel about sibling rivalry, street art, and cross-dressing. It’s set in the Twin Cities and is SO MUCH FUN to work on. I’m just at the beginning of it, and I want to work on it all the time!
9. Music plays a central role in your book. Was it fun creating play lists for Gabe’s radio show and which show or musical artist is your favorite?
In the same way I can’t pick my favorite books, I can’t pick my favorite musical artists—there are just too many. Some major influences are The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Lyle Lovett and Devo (how’s that for broad tastes?). Creating Gabe’s radio shows (from his playlists to his tasks for the Ugly Children Brigade) was probably the most fun I’ve ever had while writing.
10. What was your reaction to having your book listed on the ALA Rainbow 2013 list? Has your book won any other awards?
I was honored and humbled to have BMUC be placed on the Rainbow List, especially as a Top Ten book. It was also placed on the Best Fiction for Young Adults list at the same time, which humbled me even more. It’s hugely important for librarians to like your book, so when they do, I’m grateful to the moon. Right now, it’s up for a Lammy (a Lambda Literary Foundation award) in the children’s/young adult category, and it’s also up for ForeWord’s Best Book of the Year in its young adult category (ForeWord awards are for books from independent presses). Again, I’m totally thrilled and humbled. I’m glad it’s reaching people who like it.
11. Tell us in one sentence why we should read Beautiful Music for Ugly Children?
You’ll learn about Elvis, music, and really cool pranks you can do with your friends.
Thanks for having me, Laura. : )
If you would like to win a copy of Kirstin's book Beautiful Music for Ugly Children enter here: Beautiful Music for Ugly Children Giveaway