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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Author Interview: Kat Zhang (What's Left of Me)

Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Harper
Series: The Hybrid Chronicles #1
Young Adult
Pages: 356
Genre: Science Fiction

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t…
For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable–hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet…for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.
*Interview with the author*

* * *
"Gorgeous cover for What's Left of Me, what was your initial reaction when it was revealed?"
KZ: I adore the cover! I actually first saw it while on the road for a long, long drive to a writers' retreat with some friends. We all freaked out when we saw it on a phone, and then, later, freaked out again when we were able to pull up to a coffee shop with wifi and  see it enlarged on a computer screen!

"If you were a Hyrbid, what would your second soul's name be and describe the thing you and your second soul would talk about."
KZ: Hmm, I dunno what her name would be, but we'd probably talk about the things I usually think about, haha. I think it would be good for my storytelling--I'd always have someone to bounce ideas off of :)

"While writing, what happened to be your toughest experience so far?"
KZ: Writing every story always has its tough moments. I don't know if I can name any one experience as being particularly tough, but there were definitely some snags to work out in revision!

"I am a music buff, and a band geek physically and at heart, so I have to ask this question: Do you listen to music while your write? And if you do, could you list some songs that helped inspire you to write or contribute to the making of What's Left of Me?"
KZ: I actually don't listen to music when I write :) I'm easily distracted, so I like for it to be very quiet. Since finished WHAT'S LEFT OF ME, though, I've come to like Florence and the Machine's "Blinding" as a sort of "theme song" :)

"One thing that you could not live without?"
KZ: Stories! I know, I know, cliche. But so true :)

"Favorite quote? Favorite Quote from your novel?"
KZ: I really like the Mark Twain quote: "The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning." I don't really have a favorite quote from WHAT'S LEFT OF ME, but I do like the quote they're putting on the back of the dust cover: "By then, Addie and I had been through two therapists and four types of medication, all trying to do what nature should have already done: Get rid of the recessive soul. Get rid of me."

"Advice for the aspiring authors out there?"
KZ: Write as much as you can. Stress as little as you can :) Focus your energies on what you can do, and not on things outside of your control.

"Can you describe What's Left of Me in ten words or less?"
KZ: Two souls in one body. One fights to survive.

"Being a writer myself, I tend to just hit the ground running when ideas spring inside my head. What is your writing process like?"
KZ: I tend to start with a story "nugget," which could be a piece of dialogue, a single scene, a vague idea, etc. I'll start expanding from there, free-writing whatever story comes to mind until I have enough to work with to start forming actual things like character arcs and plot. Oftentimes, the process works better if I'm working on the story as a sort of beta-wip so I can just work on it when inspired and let it "bake" in the back of my head when I'm not :)

"Biggest pet peeve in writing?"
KZ: In other people's writing or my own? In my own, I'm always annoyed when I can see a scene perfectly in my head but can't find the right words to pin it down.

"How did you feel when your wrote your last words to book one of the Hybrid Chronicles?"
KZ: I've written many "last words" to WHAT'S LEFT OF ME, since I've edited the ending quite a few times ;) If you mean writing the current last words, though, I was super excited, because they felt so right and ended the story on the note I wanted it to end on!
KZ: Thanks again for having me, Courtney!

* * *
Kat Zhang spent most of her childhood traipsing through a world weaved from her favorite stories and games. When she and her best friend weren’t riding magic horses or talking to trees, they were writing adaptations of plays for their stuffed animals (what would The Wizard of Oz have been like if the Cowardly Lion were replaced by a Loquacious Lamb?). This may or may not explain many of Kat’s quirks today.
     By the age of eleven, the stories crowding her mind took up far too much room to remain unwritten. They swarmed out onto notebook after notebook—terrible, scrambling stories pieced together from bits of stolen plots. But she improved, and after several false starts, completed her first novel at the age of 17.
     That novel will never see the light of day until she takes a chainsaw to it.
     Kat is represented by Emmanuelle Morgen of Stonesong. Her book WHAT'S LEFT OF ME--about a girl with two souls--sold to HarperTeen as book one in the Hybrid Trilogy and will be published 9/18/2012. She also performs as a Spoken Word poet and contributes to Pub(lishing) Crawl, a site for readers and aspiring writers to talk books, storytelling craft, and the publishing industry.