Welcome Kami Kinard back to the Mixed-up Files!
Kami was last here in 2012 to discuss her debut, The Boy Project, which follows Kara McAllister’s quest to find a boyfriend following scientific principles. Kara is successful *spoiler alert* but finding a boyfriend isn’t necessarily the end of the story – for that, you have to find the right boyfriend.
Enter The Boy Problem. New this spring, Kami’s latest MG novel puts Kara’s bff, Tabitha Reddy, in the staring role as she looks for true love using symbols, predictions, math equations, and… cupcakes!
Thanks for joining us, Kami. First of all, why did you choose to write the second book from Tabby’s perspective instead of Kara’s?
It’s great to be here, thanks!
I just felt like Kara’s story had come full circle. I didn’t think it’d be very believable for her to start another wacky project to find a boyfriend. Somehow, it seemed like that would take away from her credibility in book one. But it was important to my editor and I that Kara still have a big role in the second book.
Which was easier to write – The Boy Project or The Boy Problem?
It was much easier to write my first book, The Boy Project because I didn’t have any pre-set limits. Usually a writer can create characters and settings that will help their plots move forward, but a lot of the characters and settings for The Boy Problem were already established! Puzzling in pieces of a new story with an old one can get pretty complicated.
In addition to some new boys, The Boy Project introduced a strong new secondary character, Priyanka, who successfully befriends both Kara and Tabby without creating a problematic triangle. Pri is interesting, well-developed, and likeable. Any chance she’ll be narrating the next book?
When I wrote my first novel, I thought it would be a stand-alone novel, so I didn’t really set things up for a second novel. I didn’t want to make that same mistake again. In Priyanka, I tried to create a unique character we’d want to spend more time with given the chance. So yes, I hope we get that chance to hear her narrate her own story!
Me too! Any advice or suggestions for authors considering giving a secondary character in one of their books a starring role in the follow-up?
Yes! I have given this a lot of thought. Plan for the future, even if you don’t think you need to! You may not anticipate your book being part of a series, but are you really going to turn your publisher down if offered a contract for another book? Of course not! Here are some ways for you to leave room for a second book.
1. Think about the calendar. When will your story take place? I regretted setting The Boy Project at the end of the school year. This forced the next book to fall in the next year, so teachers changed, when it would have been nice to keep those established characters. (You might notice that The Boy Problem starts on the first day of school. I’m trainable!)
2. Think about the calendar. Yes, I know I just said this, but I want you to think about it in a new way. How many days, weeks, or months will it take for the action to take place in your book? Some middle grade novels have fast moving plots that cover only a few days or weeks. These leave plenty of room for other books to follow with the same characters in the same school year. Smart.
3. Think about the calendar. Is this getting old? Hopefully not, because, you have to do a lot of thinking about this or you will write yourself into a corner in a hurry. What are your characters’ birthdays? How old will they be at the end of the story? What grade are they in? You don’t want your beloved characters to age out of the action too soon. I had intended for Kara, the main character of my first novel to be in eighth grade. But my publisher asked me to move her down to seventh. Thank goodness.
4. Develop story-worthy secondary characters. (I regretted not giving Kara a younger sister or brother in The Boy Project.) Because I needed to use a character my readers were familiar with for the second book, so I really only left myself one choice. I love the way Tabbi evolved into a main character for The Boy Problem, but if I had planned ahead, I would have set her up for this better.
Great advice, Kami! Thanks for returning to the Mixed-Up Files. Good luck with The Boy Problem!
Thanks so much for interviewing me. It’s exciting to have another book on the shelves and I appreciate your being part of the celebration!
To find out more visit Kami’s website and cool blog, Nerdy Chicks Rule. You can also enter to win a hard cover edition of The Boy Project by following the Rafflecopter widget below. The winner will be announced on Thursday!
Yolanda Ridge is the author of Trouble in the Trees (Orca Book Publishers, 2011) and Road Block (Orca Book Publishers, 2012), Both stories follow irrepressible, rule bending Brianna Bridges – but her neighbour’s been begging for a book of his own!