Chills & Spills: An interview with Katie AlenderOctober 26, 2009
Alexis has a lot on her mind. Her family is dysfunctional, her doll-obsessed sister is acting stranger by the day, and she’s crushing on a boy whose preppy-perfect exterior hides a wit and personality that might just be a match for her rebellious reputation. When her creepy heritage house develops a mind of its own and her sister starts playing host to a hundred plus year-old angry spirit, Alexis’s world goes from dysfunctional to dangerous.
Bad Girl’s Don’t Die is the debut novel of Katie Alender. Katie was kind enough to answer a few of Kathleen’s questions about her book and how she’s getting word out about it.
Katie, thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed. Part of the appeal of Bad Girls Don’t Die was the strength of Alexis’s personality; she didn’t need the cute boy to save the day—in fact, she tried to keep the cute boy out of things for his own good. Did you think about whether or not Alexis would be a role model to teens when writing?
Yes and no–I don’t believe that anything should come before story and character, so I never set out to make Alexis a role model. But yes, because I purposefully developed her to be the kind of girl she is–strong, independent, and not a damsel in distress. Mostly, I wanted her to be true to herself. I don’t think it’s in me as a writer to give readers an irredeemably helpless female character. That’s not what I care to put out in the world.
Bad Girls Don’t Die seemed to be open and shut but there are two more books in the works. Did you originally conceive of it as the first in a series or was that something which evolved during the editing and publication process?
I didn’t imagine the book as the first of a series, which is why the ending is so conclusive. I’m glad I had a real ending, because I prefer those in books (rather than cliffhangers that direct you to a sequel), but it definitely presented challenges when I was conceiving of Book 2. What’s interesting to me, as a writer, is that as I write Book 2, I find that Bad Girls Don’t Die did actually leave me some avenues to explore. In some ways the themes I’m dealing with now are more subtle, which is fitting, because Alexis is older.
The trailer for your book is fantastic! How much did your film and production background help and did you always intend to use YouTube as a way of promoting the book?
It helped quite a bit, as did the fact that production is our family business. Since the time that I became aware of book trailers, I wanted to do a good one for Bad Girls Don’t Die. I think trailers are most effective when they give readers a sense of the mood and tone of a book, rather than just rehashing the plot summary with a bunch of still photographs. So that’s what we set out to do. Having a film school background and a lot of friends willing to do us favors was a definite advantage in that regard!
That being said, you don’t need a film degree and a bunch of industry friends to make an effective trailer. You just need to think about what you want the trailer to convey. The way I see it, I can go to a website and read the summary of the book faster than I can watch a trailer, so a trailer has to offer something more. Setting the summary to music and fading it in and out very slowly isn’t more–it’s just different.
I didn’t plan specifically for Youtube; I just knew we’d want to get the trailer out and about. I do believe that it drives book sales.
Fanvids are massively popular with followers of TV shows and movies and we’re starting to see fanvids emerge for popular YA titles. Do you think this trend that will continue to grow and how do you, as an author, feel about it? (Not sure what fanvids are? Check out gianina17′s fantastic fanvid for Thirteen Reasons Why. After you’ve done that, why not check out OPWFT member Jamie Blair’s interview with author Jay Asher.)
I think it will definitely grow, as video editing software continues to be available. As an author, I like them–who wouldn’t be flattered that someone dedicated so much time and attention to your book?
I would just be on the lookout for a few things–(1) does it promote the book without spoilers? In other words, if someone watches your fanvid and thinks, “Well, now I don’t have to read the book!”, it’s kind of defeating the purpose. And (2), are you giving credit for the creative content you used? Music/photos/video you’ve included?
I’ve had videos pulled from Youtube for the music content, and then I’ve been contacted by people who said, “I’d never heard of the song you used, but I went out and bought it after watching your video.” So I think pulling something off the internet “because it’s MINE!” is pretty dumb, provided the use doesn’t preclude people from actually buying something. But artists have a right to be credited for their work–AND the right to ask that it not be used, if that’s what they prefer.
There’s a huge difference, in my opinion, in making a book trailer and, say, scanning a book and putting the whole thing online so people can download and read it for free.
I love the approach you took with the review section of your website. Not only did you include review snips from the blogosphere but you also posted a response to each snip and linked back to the original blog. Did you always intend to engage bloggers and how big of a role has the blogosphere played in promoting Bad Girls Don’t Die?
I’ve been making friends and connecting with people online for about ten years. Being part of the blogosphere is a natural extension of that. I never set out to engage bloggers as part of a scheme, but as they began to mention my book, the magic of Google Alerts allowed me to find them and say thank you or answer questions or react to reviews, etc. I feel very comfortable meeting and interacting with people that way, so it just kind of happened. It helps that most book bloggers are bright, funny, literate young women, and I have a tremendous appreciation for people like that.
I believe that the sort of grass-roots online push for BGDD played a very big part in its success. I’m quite grateful to the book bloggers for their enthusiastic response.
Katie, thank you for taking the time to talk with us.
Bad Girls Don’t Die is available from Disney-Hyperion. For the latest news about Katie Alender as well as fun downloads and extras (including wallpapers and author commentary) visit her website at www.katiealender.com.