Interview: YA Author Kate Larkindale!

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview YA author Kate Larkindale, and talk a little bit about reading, writing and her upcoming book, The Sidewalk’s Regrets:

Seventeen-year-old Sacha McLeod isn’t looking for someone to rock her world. She just needs a new violin string to replace the one she broke while practicing her audition piece. But when she hears the boy in the music store play guitar, the energy, violence and unpredictability of the music thrills her and she falls hard for Dylan and his wild, inventive sound.

As their attraction heats up, Sacha finds herself spending less time with her violin and more time with this exciting guy who makes her feel things she’s never imagined. Her plans for her violin-virtuoso future – and her self-confidence – are shattered when she screws up the audition for a prestigious summer music program. Failure isn’t something she’s had to face before, so when Dylan asks her to spend her vacation with him in the city, she lies to her parents, pretends she won a place in the summer school, and secretly moves in with Dylan. She’s expecting romance, music and passion, but when she finds herself playing second fiddle to Dylan’s newly acquired drug habit, she realizes despite what the songs say, sometimes love isn’t all you need.

Desperate to understand what’s competing with her for Dylan’s affections, she joins his band and does drugs with him — just once. But once become twice, three times, and more. As the band’s popularity grows, so do the pressures and her drug use escalates. If Sacha can’t figure out how to leave the band, and Dylan, she’ll lose herself and her own music forever.

This was my first ever interview with an author, and I was a little nervous. But seriously, Kate is super sweet (and you should definitely read her book).

What was your favorite part of writing The Sidewalk’s Regrets?

KL: It was actually a really hard book to write because it’s very personal and draws on lots of experiences I’ve had and things I’ve seen happen to musicians I know and care about. It’s tragic how often these same stories repeat themselves… But at the same time, that made some parts of it easier because I didn’t need to work to find the emotions I needed. I think my favorite part of writing the book was writing about the music and how Sacha experiences it, both as a listener and as a musician herself.

What makes writing YA important to you?

K: The time of life YA covers is the most exciting period.  It’s when you really discover who you are and what you believe in and what’s important to you.  There are so many things to experience for a first time, and everything just feels bigger and more important than it does once you’re older.  I love to explore these things and the way they shape people and lives forever.

What is the first book that made you cry?

KL: I think it was probably The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.  I remember being quite devastated when Aslan died. Either that or Black Beauty.  That said, I don’t often cry while reading.  Movies…. Well, that’s an entirely different thing!  I dissolve into tears at the drop of a hat in the movies.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

KL: I have a wonderful critique group who really push me to be a better writer.  Interestingly, we all write very different kids of books, but I think that’s why we can help each other out so well – we all have different strengths.  Lexa Cain, Breanna Teintze, Kim Lajevardi, T F Walsh, Juliana Brandt, Nyrae Dawn, Jolene Perry and Allyson Lindt have all been incredibly supportive and helped me to become a better writer.  And I know there are others too. I just can’t think of their names right now…

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

KL: Don’t be so concerned with publishing as a measure of success.  Writing is something I do because I love it and the constant push toward getting an agent or a publishing contract really takes the fun out of it.  As long as you like what you’ve written and you enjoyed writing it, then it’s a win.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

KL: Hmmm….  That’s a tough one.  I think it’s actually money my partner spent rather than me, but it’s a joint account so it probably counts.  He gave me Scrivener, a writing software,  for my birthday a few years back, and that’s really transformed the physical process of writing books for me.  I love it!

What does literary success look like to you?

KL: Like most writers I’d love to be able to make living from just writing books, but that’s not something that looks possible anytime in the near future.  So I’m keeping it small for now and I’ll say that success is knowing my books are being read.  I love it when I go to the library and check the shelves for my books and find that all copies are out on loan.

What was your favorite childhood book?

KL: When I was twelve I read The Outsiders for the first time and it changed my life.  That was the book that made me want to be a writer and sent me on the lifelong journey I’m still traveling through.  So I think I’ll have to say that was my favorite book even though I had many, many others over the years.  I have always read books.  I learned to read when I was three, and haven’t stopped since!

HUGE thanks again to Kate for doing this interview. And just as a note: The Sidewalk’s Regrets is out NOW, so go check it out!