It's no secret that I love Amy dearly. Her writing is fantastic and she's an awesome person. There are almost no words to describe her awesomeness.
If you're a fan of John Green, I'd recommend A.S. King.
So without further ado, here is Dual Perspectives' interview with A.S. King!
Tell us a little bit about your new novel, Ask the Passengers.
Ask the Passengers is a book about love, gossip and Socrates. Astrid Jones doesn’t want to be put into a box and she doesn’t want her love defined by the townspeople who don’t understand it. So she sends it to the passengers in the airplanes flying overhead. I won’t tell you what Socrates has to do with it. You’ll have to read it to find that out.
In Ask the Passengers, Astrid struggles with her sexuality. What made you write from her perspective and what she was going through?
I don’t think she struggles with her sexuality as much as she struggles with the masses of people who want to define her sexuality for her. I think I wrote it from that perspective because I don’t believe anything can be pinned down and defined rigidly, so Astrid’s struggle is a parallel to how I feel about a lot of things, really.
Do you listen to music when writing? What music influences you?
I can’t usually listen to it while I’m writing a first draft or else I’ll stop and rock out and sing and stuff. But I do listen through revisions. And I will often play the same song/s over and over as I revise—everywhere. In the car, at my desk, while I make dinner. Usually each book has a certain set of songs. The Ask the Passengers soundtrack revolves around The Ting Tings album We Started Nothing. It also has a bunch of dance tracks on it from back in the early 90s when I lived in Dublin. Josh Wink’s/Size 9’s “I’m Ready” and a little bit of Tricky and Massive Attack and Jamiroquai. Here’s a link to that Size 9 track, which is insane and almost 10 minutes long. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp27vbHyzEk I listened to this a lot while revising. But I would have to stop to dance, which can take time from writing.
What scares you?
Wow. Great question. Everything and nothing scares me. But on an everyday level, car accidents scare me. People who text while driving. People who drive after they’ve been drinking or doing drugs. Those people scare me because they are being recklessly selfish—putting their need to read a text/get somewhere after they’ve had too much to drink, above the lives of innocent people who are just driving home to see their families, etc. Selfish people scare me. People who can’t open their minds to see a thing another way. People who know that they are right. Those people scare me. Really.
How has being published changed your life?
Well, I can’t overlook the fact that I have achieved a dream. And it took me a long long time. I started writing novels when I was 24. I was 39 when my first novel landed on a shelf. I wrote 8 novels over 15 years before that happened.
Big achievement, publishing is. I did not try. I did. ß Yoda.
But on a more day-to-day level, publishing has changed my life completely. I mean, completely. I have a career now. It’s a job that never ends, really. From writing the books to promoting them to touring to school and library visits to conferences and festivals, I’m pretty much living and breathing my dream every minute of the day. I am far busier than with any other job, even as a former self-sufficient person. I work all day every day.
Weird things about being a published author: People will say stuff like, “At least you don’t have to work.” Um. And they ask me about how much money I make. It’s weird. I’ve never asked anyone how much money they make, but people seem to think this is an appropriate question for authors. Or, on the flip side, people just assume I make a lot of money and then, when they see my old car they say things like, “You must do other things with your money.” Um. Yes. I feed my family and pay bills.
How do you know if a story is worth pursuing?
A story is worth pursuing if I wake up thinking about it and go to bed thinking about it and I rush through the project on deck so I can get to the new, exciting project. Usually, the character comes to me first and says something to me. A page. Maybe two. And that’s all it takes to make me wonder what is going to happen next.
What, in your opinion, is the hardest part of the writing process?
Hm. The writing process is hard in all areas. Sometimes parts of a first draft are like lighting myself on fire. Sometimes revision is the same—impossible. Sometimes copy editing is killer, but I haven’t experienced that in years. But we all have at least one bad copy editing story. I think for me, because I write by the seat of my pants, the most difficult part is when I hit the 30-40k word wall. I may write myself into a corner or may be scared of how the middle is flat and I have no idea where the story is going. That’s usually when I have to take a day or two to talk it out and cry a little in panic…then it all comes to me.
What makes you pick up a book and read the back?
I am a visual artist first. My degree is in visual art, so covers are a big deal to me. I also like a snazzy title. If it sounds smart and I’m already wondering what the title means, then I’m inclined to pick up a book. But since so many covers and titles are geared toward getting a book on that chain book store’s shelf and are seeming more and more alike these days, I often rely on the expertise of my local independent bookseller. It’s so easy. They know me and my taste. I say, “What should I read?” They hand me a book. I read the back. Done!
Why do you write for teens?
I write for human beings. My goal is to get adults and teens reading the same books…and all going well to talk about the subject matter within. That said, I love—LOVE—visiting high schools and libraries and talking with teenagers. I think teens are more prone to open mindedness and change. And they are so darn smart. I envy the fact that they are in that part of life where they are in the thick of education—learning. Most adults are not in that part of life and many have morphed into those scary people I mentioned before who think they might know a lot more than they really know. Also, I love writing about teens because of these same reasons. They are in that time of life where they are changing, making choices, growing and becoming themselves. I wish many adults realized that these same things are possible no matter what age we reach.
Do you think it was harder to get published, or harder to be published?
Publishing has its challenges, but I’ve been fairly lucky insofar as being able to keep writing and publishing separated in my brain. And coincidentally I think that’s because it took me so long to get published. After so many years and so many rejections, I stopped caring about getting published. I just loved writing. I still function that way. It’s a huge help. So, getting published was harder, I guess.
What can we expect from you next?
Reality Boy is coming in October 2013. It’s about an infamous former child reality TV “star” who is forced out his angry shell by a girl who actually likes him. (Something he never thought possible.)
Max Black will come in 2014 I think. I can’t tell you what that one is about yet. There’s a bat. (Wings, not baseballs.)
Do you think that you would ever write a series? Or a sequel to one of your books? (*cough* Vera at 27 *cough*)
J I don’t seem to be wired to write series. All going well though, I may have a companion book for my 2014 book, Max Black. As for Vera Dietz at 27, yes. One day. I am presently working on a new adult novel and if there is a viable way to publish adult novels, then that might be one of them. Don’t know.
Coke or Pepsi?
I don’t do caffeine and I don’t really like soda. Though I do an occasional ginger ale on airplanes.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write a lot. Read a lot. Don’t give up and don’t settle for anything less than you dreamed of. Don’t do it to get published. It will show. Do it because you love writing—because you can’t go a day without pounding out a few [thousand] words. Do it because you have something to say, not because you want people to listen to you. Don’t aim for trends. Aim to write the books that you would want to read. And never hurry. Publishing is the slowest business ever. Don’t worry. You can’t miss that bus.
Thank you guys! I loved coming around. Best of luck on your awesome book blogging project. Book bloggers are one of the reasons I am able to feed my kids. Thank you!
And thank you, Amy! Keep being awesome and writing fantastic books!
Amy's Bio: A.S. King is the author of the highly acclaimed ASK THE PASSENGERS, 2012 ALA Top Ten Book for Young Adults, EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS, and 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor Book PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ. She is also the author of the ALA Best Books for Young Adults DUST OF 100 DOGS and the upcoming REALITY BOY. After a decade living self-sufficiently and teaching literacy to adults in Ireland, she now lives deep in the Pennsylvania woods with her husband and children. Find more at www.as-king.com.