Saturday, March 26, 2011

Author Interview: Katie Kacvinsky

As part of the A Cornucopia of Dystopia event held by Casey from The Bookish Type and Danya from A Tapestry of Words, Katie Kacvinsky, the author of Awaken, is here today to answer some of my questions. 

A bit about Katie (as quoted from Goodreads): Katie Kacvinsky worked in the entertainment industry and as a high school English teacher before deciding to write full time. She currently lives in Corvallis, Oregon. 
As a debut author, how long did it take to write and publish Awaken, and what was the process like?
This could be a really long winded answer, but to summarize it, it only took a couple of months to write a draft of Awaken. It was one of those books that spilled out of me; my characters took over my mind and pretty much wrote it for me. Once I had a solid draft polished, I started looking for agents. I spent almost as much time looking for agents as I did writing the manuscript! When I found representation, we pitched it to publishing houses and it took a few months and we had several rejections. I had interest from one house and even rewrote the first seven chapters and they still stalled. When Houghton Mifflin read it, they jumped on it. I remember my editor called me on a Friday to tell me how much she loved the book and they had a written offer by Monday. I was ecstatic because that’s what I wanted – a publishing house that loved my book and didn’t hesitate on signing it.   

How did you come up with the world and inventions present in Awaken?
I tried to put myself in Maddie’s shoes and see the world through her eyes. I imagined inventions that I think would be cool in the future, like cars that can drive underwater (I’m surprised they aren’t available yet).  I just extrapolated trends I’m seeing around me. 

Given a choice between living in the present or living in your world of 2060, which would you choose?
Well, since my future is a dystopia, I guess I’d prefer the present. Not to be dreadfully cynical, but I think we’re heading for a scary future. We spend more time on the computer every day. President Obama plans to make wireless internet available to 98% of households around the country. That’s great, but it also shows how digitalized we’ve become. If you’re not part of the new digital age, you might as well drop out of our culture. It’s like pushing a drug – I don’t think people realize the internet is a drug and they actually offer rehab for it now.   

Maddie has a bad habit of biting her nails. Tell us about a bad habit that you have.
I have a coffee habit but I’m in hardcore denial that it’s bad. I like to think of it as just a nice morning routine and ignore the fact that I’d probably have a migraine by noon if I didn’t get some caffeine in my system. 

Maddie's mom passes down her favourite books to Maddie. What are some of your favourite books that are worth passing on?
Oh, so many. I have a shelf full of my absolute favorites and some of them are: Cannery Row, Slaughterhouse Five, The World According to Garp, Jellicoe Road, Pride and Prejudice, The Alchemist, Fahrenheit 451, The Unforgiving Minute, Weetzie Bat, Romeo and Juliet, Blue Like Jazz …
Who is your favourite character from Awaken and why?
Justin is my favorite. Even though Maddie is the protagonist, I think the story is just as much Justin’s as it is hers. He has his own feelings to wake up to. He is also the foil against everything technological. More than anything I admire Justin’s perseverance. He won’t back down until he gets what he wants and I think that’s one of the most attractive traits a person can have. 

Do you have any writing projects currently planned for the future?
Yes! Houghton Mifflin Harcourt signed my next book, First Comes Love. This book rocks my world. It's young adult, but it's general teen fiction (instead of sci-fi). I hope to do a sequel for Awaken. Justin and Maddie's story has so many unresolved issues - it definitely needs to continue. Fist Comes Love is angst teen drama and the love story is ... wait for it ... legendary. (Had to steal a line from How I Met Your Mother. Thanks Barney).

A big thanks to Katie for taking the time to answer my question!


  1. Great Q&A! What is kind of scary about Awaken is that even though it's dystopian, the events in the novel really aren't that hard to imagine occurring sometime in our own future. We are definitely becoming more accustomed to a digital life which can be really good... but it also certainly has its downsides as well...

  2. Great interview! I love that Katie is a fan of Jellicoe Road :)

  3. I absolutely LOVE Barney and love to see him quoted. :D

    And I'm totally in denial of my coffee habit too.

    Awesome interview. I worry about the future too when I think about our world's dependency on technology. It's hard to image that things can become more advanced than they are now but I know more is coming.

  4. Oh my gosh I hope there is a sequel to Awaken too, but I'm looking forward to First Comes Love! I'm in denial of every single one of my bad habits, I choose to rationalize their existence instead of trying to change them:) Thanks so much for this interview!

  5. Awesome interview! I've downloaded Awaken from netgalley. I was halfway through it when it expired though. I'm excited to read more about Justin and Maddie. I love Justin a lot too! :)


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