Hey everyone. I am so thrilled to have Kody on my blog for the blog tour. I fell in love with her books after reading A Midsummer’s Nightmare and The Duff. I read Run and really loved it as well, unsurprisingly. If you’re unfamiliar with Run, here is some information about it:
Run by Kody Keplinger
Published By: Scholastic Press (June 28th, 2016)
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporry, LGBT
Themes: Friendship, Family, Coming-of-Age, Disability
Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who’s not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn’t care what anyone thinks.
Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents’ overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally blind daughter — protect her from what, Agnes isn’t quite sure.
Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it’s the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything else.
So when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn’t hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo’s dad, staying ahead of the authorities, and — worst of all — confronting some ugly secrets.
At the end, you can enter a giveaway for one of three finished copies. This giveaway is U.S. Only. 🙂 There will also be information about Kody and social media links to follow her with.
I adored The Duff and A Midsummer’s Nightmare, why did you decide to move away from the Hamilton High series of sorts? Do you think you’re done with the setting or may you go back to it?
I had been writing about the Hamilton High setting – mostly romantic comedies – since I was seventeen. I love those books and those characters, but I knew eventually I’d want to move on to something new. So when I wrote Lying Out Loud, I intended to sort of close up that series there by showing all the characters from previous books to see where they are now. Then, with Run, I wanted to start fresh. I wanted to write about a very different story in a very different place. I don’t know if I’ll go back to Hamilton. There are no plans to at the moment. But for now, I want to focus on a few things that are a little different from the books I wrote in my late teens and early twenties. And I hope other readers will like these new stories just as much!
Run is such a departure from your previous books, it seems much grittier and darker with the setting and police, were any of these grittier aspects based on your life?
They weren’t based on my life, but they were based on the realities of places like the one where I grew up. I grew up poor in a small town in Kentucky, where there was definitely a drug problem (one I only became aware of as an teenager) and where poverty was the norm. It wasn’t a huge deal to me as a teenager – it was just part of my reality, of my hometown. So I wanted to write a story for kids like me, who never see their own not-so-pristine hometowns in fiction. I wanted to show both the good and the bad of places like where I lived without sensationalizing it. So while the things that happen to Bo and Agnes are not autobiographical, I do think they are somewhat relatable and realistic to teens growing up in these tiny rural towns.
In Run, one of the main characters, Agnes has a condition called Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis, which you also have. Did you see parts of yourself in Agnes?
I see parts of myself in all of my characters. It’s how I am able to dig into them and really put them on the page. I find the parts of them that are like me and use that as an anchor. While Agnes and I both have LCA (and are thus both legally blind) I actually relate more to Bo, the other MC. Like Bo, I grew up poor, and while my home life was not nearly as troubled, I felt more of a kindred spirit with her. Bo is bisexual, and I identify as queer (as did most of my friends in high school). So there are definitely parts of me in both characters.
Agnes’ parents are very over protective because she has Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis and restrict her from things. In addition, Agnes’ best friend treats her as something to take care of. Were your parents or friends the same way as you were growing up? How did this affect your daily life?
Like I said, I actually relate more to Bo than to Agnes. My parents weren’t remotely restrictive or overprotective. I don’t think I ever even had a curfew. My mom was very liberal and flexible and raised me to be as independent as possible. As for my friends, sure, some did treat me like a burden. I actually think that’s something most disabled people can relate to. I’m an adult and still get treated that way by friends who don’t realize what they’re doing sometimes. Even wonderful, good people can sometimes be insensitive. So while elements of Agnes’s experience are pulled from my own, she lives a very, very different life from me in many ways.
Run is told in both Agnes and Bo’s perspectives and told during different periods of time. I really enjoy seeing who Agnes is through in the beginning and then discovering who she becomes in Bo’s perspective in “current” time. Why did you decide to do the two perspectives this way?
I love stories that are non-linear. I love when a writer makes me think. And when the idea for Run first came to me, I immediately knew how I wanted to structure the story. I wanted the reader to see the girls running away even as their trying to piece together why they’re running away. I wanted to show Bo and Agnes both as they are and as they were. Something about it just made sense to me, even though it wasn’t something I’d tried before. It was tricky at times, but I just knew that Agnes and Bo would just tell different parts of this story.
Is there anything you really loved that you had to cut from Run that you can share?
So, I actually very rarely cut full scenes from my books. Typically, it’s the opposite. My drafts are often very short. Like, twenty thousand words less than where they end up. I write sort of the bare bones version of the book first, and then I add in later drafts. So usually I don’t have to cut full scenes – just sentences and small sections – but I have to add lots and lots to flesh the book out and make it all make sense. With Run, I added quite a bit. Whole chapters and scenes. For example, there is a scene at a street fair that was not in the first drafts of the book.
I’ve discovered Disability In Kid Lit this past year, I love that you co-founded it! What moved you to create this resource? What has been your favorite part in being a part of Disability In Lit?
Disability in Kidlit came out of the diversity movement. I was so thrilled to see so many authors pushing for more diversity, but I rarely saw disability discussed. So I reached out to Corinne Duyvis, an author and friend of mine who often discussed disability with me, and we decided to do a short series about disability on a blog. That series turned into a long term resource now nearing its third anniversary. Corinne and Kayla Whaley, another amazing writer, are really the ones running the show over there. My official title is “Fairy Godmother” because I help out when I can and try to spread the word about the site. And I’m so proud of how many people the site has reached and the resource it has become. I hope that it’s helpful both for disabled readers and the teachers and librarians that work with them. If you’re looking for reviews and resources about books featuring characters with disabilities, it’s a great place to check out.
If you’re currently writing anything, can you tell us anything about your current work in progress?
This is the part where I admit that I’m a little superstitious. I am always nervous to talk about projects too early. So what I will say is that I have a next project in mind, and I’m really excited about it! Hopefully, once it’s done and I think it’s safe to talk about it, you guys will be, too!!!
ABOUT KODY KEPLINGER:
Kody Keplinger was born and raised in small town western Kentucky, where she began her writing career after penning the New York Times and USA Today bestseller, The DUFF, at age seventeen.The DUFF, now a major motion picture, was chosen as an YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers and a Romantic Times Top Pick. Kody has since written other books for both young adult and middle grade readers. When she isn’t writing, Kody is posting about fashion and body positivity on her Instagram, chatting about her favorite TV shows on Twitter, or making videos for her YouTube account. Kody is also the co-founder of Disability in KidLit and a teacher at the Gotham Writers Workshops in NYC.