Hey everyone, and welcome to my stop on the 2013 Debut Author Bash! I’m so excited to be hosting Kelly A. Barson, author of 45 Pounds (More of Less), which was an absolutely amazing book!
K.A. Barson graduated from Vermont College of Fine Arts with an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She and her husband live in Jackson, Michigan, surrounded by kids, grandkids, unruly dogs, and too many pairs of shoes.
Today, I have an interview with Kelly and an awesome giveaway that you guys can enter. First, here’s some information on the book:
She is 16.
And a size 17.
Her perfect mother is a size 6.
Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 10 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in 2 1/2 months.
Welcome to the world of infomercial diet plans, wedding dance lessons, embarrassing run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—-and some surprises about her NOT-so-perfect mother.
And there’s one more thing. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin-—no matter how you add it up!
And now, the interview:
Question: Hi, Kelly. Thank you for joining me today! First, I’d like to congratulate you on your amazing debut, 45 Pounds (More or Less).
Answer: Thank you for having me!
Question: This book was realistic and inspiring. For me, this book hit close to home. I found myself nodding along to the majority of Ann’s thoughts, and grimacing when something she dealt with reminded me of a situation I was in. Tell us more about what inspired you to write it.
Answer: I wanted to write a book about a real girl who struggled with weight, but most of all struggled with her perceptions of herself and those around her.
Question: Ann is a very likeable, relatable character. How much of your own experience went into writing Ann?
Answer: More than I care to admit! I have always struggled with my weight, too. I’ve been on so many diets I know them inside and out. It’s not just a matter of eating a certain way or doing certain things. It really does come down to self-worth and what’s going on in your head, first and foremost. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering that, so I could really relate with Ann and her internal struggles.
Question: Were any of the characters (Courtney, Raynee, etc) based on people you knew in real life?
Answer: Gram is kind of a mash-up of my grandma, my mom as a grandma, and me as a grandma. Ann is a mixture of me and a ton of other girls that age. Other than that, no one in particular.
Question: What about Ann’s mother? What went into developing her character?
Answer: The hard part with her was to balance how Ann saw her and the reality of her. The book is in Ann’s point of view, so I had to stay there, but I wanted readers to see her as a real person battling her own issues. She loves her daughter and has good intentions. They just don’t always come across the way she means.
Question: The most heartbreaking part of this book, in my opinion, was the storyline involving Libby. Can you tell us more about her character, and how you came up with her storyline?
Answer:I love Libby! My own experience (as a kid and with my own kids) is that they’re smarter than people think. They pay more attention to what people do than how they’re told to think. Because they parrot words and behavior, what better way to show Ann how she’s been behaving than a little sister that wants to be like her—and her mom?
Question: What’s the one thing you really want readers to take away from 45 Pounds (More or Less)?
Answer: For readers who struggle with weight, I hope they realize that they’re not alone and hope they can see how beautiful and valuable they are. For those who have never had a weight or body image problem, I hope they can look at those around them through a different lens, to realize that we all have issues and that everyone is worth getting to know.
Question: On a lighter note, if you could go into a candy store and buy 45 pounds worth of candy, what would you get?
Answer: Peanut M&Ms, definitely!
Question: What was the writing process, in general, like for you?
Answer: Long. I took almost nine years to write this book. I had to re-vision and re-start the story several times until I found its true focus. I was pretty new when I started, so every time I learned something new about character motivation and plot, I’d start over to incorporate that new lesson.
Question: And the road to finding an agent and getting published?
Answer: Again, that was long. But once I took two years off from submitting to learn and focus on writing, things moved along pretty quickly after that. I graduated with my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults in January 2011. By June of that year, I’d signed with my agent. (I’d simply queried her. She requested my manuscript and offered representation a couple weeks later.) By fall, she’s sold my novel to Sharyn November at Viking. But it was long road from 2005 to 2011.
Question: What are you working on next?
Answer: My next book is a YA contemporary about a high school cosmetology student who thinks she has her whole life planned out and under control—until everything falls apart.
Question: Can we expect another book set in Ann’s world, or one similar to it?
Answer: The next book is in the same city—a fictional version of my own city, Jackson, Michigan. It’s not a spin-off or a sequel, but some of the characters from 45 POUNDS might be making cameos.
And now for the giveaway! Kelly has generously donated a signed hardcover, which one of you lucky people will win! In order to enter to win, please follow the Rafflecopter prompt below. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada and ends Thursday, October 10th.
-Giveaway is US/Canada only
-Winner has 48 hours to respond. If winner does not respond, a new winner will be selected.
-You must be 13 or older to enter OR have your parents’ permission.
-I am not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
-I reserve the right to change any rules as I see fit for each individual giveaway
*The above giveaway rules were borrowed and modified from Jessica @ Just a Book Lover.
With that being said, I wish you luck! May the odds be ever in your favor!