Sunday, July 20, 2014

Interview with Kimberly G. Giarratano

Hello, everyone! Today we have with us Kimberly G. Giarratano, author of Grunge Gods & Graveyards, a YA paranormal about a girl investigating the death of the ghost she's in love with. In 1996!

So, I had about half of Grunge Gods & Graveyards left, so I decided to read a bit before I went to bed. And after a chapter or two, I realized I had to know what happened and stay up and read the rest of it. Which led to much tiredness the next day at work. Do you, as the author, have the appropriate amount of shame about this?

Shame, no. As the mother of three young kids, one of whom is a newborn, it is only fair that everyone be as sleep-deprived as me. Truthfully, I am flattered. Having someone tell me they read my book instead of sleep is the ultimate compliment. Because in my house, sleep is like a depleted resource.

You chose to set Grunge Gods in 1996. As someone who went to high school in the 90s, I found this interesting, because it felt like a strange mix of the past and too close to my life to really be the past. Were there any unique challenges you faced writing about a time 15-20 years in the past? How many times did you say to yourself, “Well, she can just call someone… Crap, no cell phones”?

I actually embraced the no-cellphone rule. Having cell phones can interfere with plot points. For example, the main character received a text message that could’ve helped her avoid the killer – that sort of thing. It’s easier for me if no one can contact anyone. Busy signals. Answering machines. I can work with that. More conflict that way.

The tricky part about writing a story set in the 90s was thinking I could rely on my own memory for historical accuracy. I’d mention a song but then I’d have to go online to make sure the song was released before September 1996 (when the novel takes place). Also, because it’s historical fiction, kind of, sort of, I had to check events and dates constantly. For example, Tupac was shot and killed in 1996. I had to incorporate his death into the story even though he doesn’t have anything to do with the plot. But I remember Tupac’s death and I remember talking about it with my friends in high school. It would affect Lainey and her friends who loved his music. If I was talking about such an even in 1996, so was Lainey.
The other challenge of writing about the 90s is that it made me feel old. I’m 35, but I might as well be 95 when I’m writing about VCRs and cassette tapes.

As I understand it, you were also a high-school-child of the 90s. Did you base any of Lainey’s experiences, or those of her friends or non-friend classmates, on your own personal high school memories?

Lainey and I are the same age, but we’re not much alike. I was not such a bad girl. I didn’t drink or sneak out to riverside parties (I also didn’t live near a river) and I was a much better student than Lainey. For one thing, my Spanish grades were excelente. However, Lainey and I have similar tastes in music and TV. She watches the same TV shows I did as a teen. Like Lainey, I taped 120 Minutes on a Sunday night (on VHS – the show was on late) so I could watch it the next day. My best friend and I would watch X-Files together over the phone. I did steal something else from real life. There is one scene where Danny is flipping through Lainey’s music collection and he says, “I’m totally going to judge you by your taste in music.” I stole that line from a classmate when I was studying abroad in Spain. I heard him say it to another student as he was flipping through his CD binder. I thought if I ever write a book, I’m putting that line in there. Fifteen years later and voila.

Tell us something you know about one of your characters that never made it into the book.

I guess it’s implied, since I don’t come out and say it, but Aunt Marilyn knows a thing about ghosts. Just sayin’.

So what’s next on your writing agenda? Will we get more stories about Lainey? I know there’s at least one ghost in Grunge Gods whose mystery I’m still dying to solve!

I have an idea for the spin-off to Grunge Gods, featuring the mysterious Lady in Blue, but I haven’t outlined it yet. I’m currently working on another YA ghost story/mystery but it’s set in present-day Key West. I’ll give you the story sentence: Two seventeen-year-olds must solve a sixty-year-old murder before a malevolent ghost destroys a family-owned bed and breakfast. Told in dual POV, the story has mystery, romance, a sexually frustrated ghost and roaming roosters. Ya gotta love Key West.

You’re a bit of an expert on the young adult genre. What direction do you think the genre is headed?
I guess my first job as YA Expert is to clarify that young adult isn’t a genre. It’s an audience level. No one calls adult fiction a genre, but there are plenty of genres that make up adult fiction. Same for YA. As for where it’s headed…I don’t know. I think the trajectory it’s on is pretty awesome. Once upon a time, writing for teens was considered beneath an author. Like, “why wouldn’t you want to write for adults?” Now you have big-name authors like James Patterson and Harlan Coben writing YA. Currently, my biggest gripe is media outlets writing opinion pieces on YA without having any idea of what they are talking about. If you want to understand YA, talk to a librarian or a YA author or a reader. Don’t ask a columnist.

Okay, random question time. You’re in a YA novel, and your One True Love is a member of a supernatural race. What do you want him to be and why?

Awesome question. A witch or warlock, I guess. Someone with magical powers who can conjure up a spell to clean my house in a matter of minutes. Or fold the endless piles of laundry. Or cook dinner. I hate chores.

What’s one question you wish someone had asked you on your blog tour but no one did? Question and answer, please.

Q: Can I babysit your kids for free?
A: Sure! How about now?!


  1. This was my favorite interview. EC knows how to ask 'em. Thanks for having me.

  2. "Told in dual POV, the story has mystery, romance, a sexually frustrated ghost and roaming roosters."

    Hard to get more appealing than that. :) Roaming roosters!

    And seconding your comment that YA isn't a genre, although as you know, I think it isn't so much of an audience category either - I think of it as more of a lens, a perspective, a way of seeing. (Perspective and audience aren't quite the same thing because adults read YA, and teens read adult fiction, so who the "audience" is for YA is a bit of a mismatch.)

    "If you want to understand YA, talk to a librarian or a YA author or a reader. Don’t ask a columnist."

    Hear hear! You could also ask an academic specializing in YA lit. Hmm, I wonder where you could find one of those.

    I think this was my favorite of your interviews too, Kim.

    p.s. and hi to Elizabeth too! I bought a copy of Raising Chaos a while ago but I still haven't read it...too much in the TBR pile...

    1. Hi, also, Jill. I hope you like Chaos when you get to it.