Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Author Interview: Gwendolyn Heasley

Dropping in today is Gwendolyn Heasley to talk about her sophomore novel, A Long Way From You. For those of you who've read Gwendolyn's first book, Where I Belong, you'll definitely recognize the main character this time around: Kitsy! So let's get right to it.

While Where I Belong is about a city girl in Broken Spoke, A Long Way From You is dropping a Broken Spoke girl in the city. What was the most interesting part of switching it around for this book?

In 2008, I moved from Columbia, Missouri where I was a student at Missouri University (Mizzou) to Manhattan. In some ways, it was easier to write A LONG WAY FROM YOU because I still was new to New York when I was writing about Kitsy being new to New York.

Just like Kitsy, I know what’s like to move to a place that you mostly knew from movies and TV and how it’s a crazy (but exciting) experience to find out it’s a real place.

Was it difficult to shift from Corrinne's mindset to Kitsy's?

Although I’m sure I don’t always succeed at it, I always try to write my minor characters as full as my main character. When I wrote WHERE I BELONG, Kitsy, although a minor character, was very real and alive to me. Although I didn’t write a lot about her in WHERE I BELONG, I always had a good idea of who she was. Her voice was already in my head so it wasn’t too hard to switch.

What's your favorite thing about Kitsy?

Kitsy is brave. I moved to New York City at 26 and it took me a while to adjust, which makes sense for my personality. I adapt but it takes a while.

Kitsy comes to New York at 17. Of course, she has some misadventures, but I love her courage and her desire to get the most out of her experience. As Nicki Minaj puts it “everybody dies but not everybody lives.” Kitsy is very alive and works very hard for her opportunities but she also makes sure to enjoy them.

When you got your cover for A Long Way From You, what was your reaction, and how well do you think it fits for the book?

The cover of the book is Kitsy and Tad in a rowboat in Central Park. (The building in the background is the famous Eldorado, a residential building that’s home to many famous people including Alec Baldwin and Michael J. Fox.)

There’s a scene in the book where Kitsy and Tad do rent a boat in Central park, so I think the cover is very fitting. I also think the cover reflects how New York is surprising, which is a theme in the book. Even in the middle of a concrete jungle, you can still rent a rowboat and enjoy nature.

I love the cover and hope readers will too!

If you could pair Kitsy and the Art Boy with any character from any book, who would you pick for them? That’s is the hardest question I’ve gotten.

I think I would pair Kitsy with Katniss from Hunger Games. They are both driven by the love of their younger sibling.

I think I would pair Art Boy (Tad) with Shadow from Cath Crowley’s Graffti Moon. He communicates best through his art.

What kind of dinosaur would you describe yourself as?

Well, I’m not sure what kind of dinosaur others would describe me as…but my favorite is the archelon, a giant sea turtle. I think it’s amazing that ancestors of the archelon still swim our oceans and I love how turtles are at home in water and land.

Thanks, Gwendoln, for stopping in and congrats on the new release!

A Long Way From You hits shelves today so make sure you check it out!

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