I am very excited to host the very talented AS King today. She is the author of The Dust Of 100 Dogs and the upcoming Please Ignore Vera Dietz.
I am excited to hear you have an upcoming Young Adult release. Please tell us about Please Ignore Vera Dietz.
ASK: Thank you so much for having me, Elie! I’m really excited about my next book, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, which comes out October 12, 2010.
The book is about Vera Dietz, a high school senior who has recently lost her best friend Charlie. The thing is, she knows a lot more about what led to his death than anyone, but she’s not telling. Four months before Charlie died, he completely screwed her over and started hanging out with the wrong crowd. But the secrecy started years before that—when they were just eleven years old. Threaded between the mystery of Charlie’s death is the story of Vera’s present day life—a mix of full-time job, a father who is too-Zen about everything, and a long-gone mother who has a colorful past. Oh. And there’s a talking pagoda.
2. In The Dust of 100 Dogs, Emer was an incredibly strong heroine. How does Vera compare? Does she have the same ferocity?
ASK: I think Vera is a strong heroine. She’s faced with a lot of things and confronts her responsibilities. That said, Emer was a character borne from a huge pile of 17th century adversity that Vera would never see in her lifetime. Really, it’s hard to compare any heroine to Emer. She’s in a world all her own, and ferocity is easy to attain when you’re living the life of a pirate. Please Ignore Vera Dietz takes place in modern day. Where Emer fought hard because she knew true love was out there somewhere, Vera already knows true love is dead. But where Emer lived lies when it was called for, Vera finds it hard to ignore the truth.
3. You lived in Ireland for nearly a decade. How did this experience influence or spur your writing?
ASK: Well, technically, it was moving to Ireland that started me writing novels. When I first got there, I couldn’t work unless I acquired papers that would have been very difficult to get. Add to that the fact that I really didn’t like what I was qualified to do (I was a master printer in darkrooms, and digital photography was being birthed right about then, too.) So, I started writing. When we made the decision to move to a more rural area, we thought for a long time about what direction we wanted to take. I knew I wanted to continue writing, so we chose to try self-sufficiency so I could continue to write full-time.
As for the actual books, The Dust of 100 Dogs had Irish history in it, but that is the only book that reflects my time in Ireland. The rest of my books are still really influenced by general life-stuff and my upbringing in rural Pennsylvania.
4. I heard you were a fan, so in the words of Kurt Vonnegut "I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'" When you started writing, did you expect this success and how do you feel about it now?
ASK: I have to admit: I have no idea that I am successful. I measure it by the ruler of the work, not the physical books. I don’t do this to get published books on shelves. I do this because I love making interesting books to read. While yes, it feels great to see a book on a shelf or to receive a royalty statement or a check in the mail, it’s still a far larger feeling of joy to make a story work. I am happiest when I am writing. I am happiest when I am challenged by my writing.
To answer your question more specifically, though, I’d have to say no. No, I did not expect to ever get published. By the time I’d written my seventh novel and saw no traditional publishing success from it, I’d been writing for about twelve years. It certainly does make me feel good that I have an outlet for my work now, and readers enjoy the stories I write. But I haven’t really caught up with that news yet or something.
5. You have held a variety of jobs in the past including rare poultry breeder, photographer, contractor, and juggler. If not writing, what career choice would you be currently enjoying?
ASK: I would probably be doing something I’ve never done before. Though I liked those past jobs, I got bored with them. (With exception of literacy teacher in Kilkenny City. I’d do that again in the morning.) So, in no specific order, if I had another 500 years on Earth, I’d be a mathematician, a special ed teacher, an architect, a librarian, a psychologist, a spy, an astronaut or a independent bookseller. I’d most likely own my own business, whatever I’d do. (Yes—a self-employed astronaut. I’d find a way to do that.)
6. Are you currently working on any new projects you can share with us?
ASK: I’m currently working hard to perfect my next novel, Everybody Sees the Ants which is slated to come out in fall 2011 from Little, Brown. The basic gist goes like this: While Lucky Linderman struggles to cope with a relentless bully, he mysteriously communicates with his long-lost POW grandfather still missing in action in Vietnam.
Once I finish work on this book and it goes to production, I will finish the book I started this spring, which is top secret, but involves airplanes. And if I wasn’t backed-up enough, an experience I had last week while volunteering for my community swimming pool has spurred the novel that will come after that. Now, all I need is some time, or clones or maybe some telepathic typing monkeys.
7. What 5 items would you bury in a time capsule for future generations?
ASK: I like toasters. So I’d put one of those in there. Probably a red one.
A CD of Axis Bold as Love by Jimi Hendrix.
A Big Mac and fries meal (I bet the fries would stay intact, too.)
A copy of Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
A note that reads: Hi. Life was cool in the 20th/21st century. Sorry about the mess.
8. Lastly, what do you do in your spare time? Any guilty pleasures?
ASK: In the summer, I swim. Outside of that, with two small kids and a business to run, I don’t really have any spare time. If I did have free time I think I’d probably spend it writing. Which proves that you can make a career out of your guilty pleasure.
Thank you A.S. I am sure Please Ignore Vera Dietz is going to be a huge hit just likeThe Dust Of 100 Dogs.