Today we're talking to the funny and talented Kristin Billerbeck. Kristin also got right with Jesus and began writing YA last year. YA…it gets the best of us. It was Kristin's Ashley Stockingdale series that I read years back that caused a light bulb to go on, and I thought, “This character could be any of my friends. I would hang out with this person. And not one person spoke in a dialect called King James. Maybe this Christian fiction stuff isn't so bad…” That was life-changing reading for me. Beach reads save lives.
Kristin is graciously giving away a signed copy of her latest YA release, Perfectly Invisible. Details at end of the interview.
Welcome, Kristin! First of all let me say, I love the character of Daisy in your Universally Misunderstood YA series. Tell us about Daisy.
You have teenage boys. How does this figure into your YA writing?
It doesn't, or there would never be romance in the teenage world again.
A theme of the series is that everyone is special and worthy, no matter how we feel inside. Why do you think teens this message? (or 30 or 40 year olds…)
I think we can be told again and again how special we are, that God loves us, but then someone pinches our weak spot, and we question ourselves all over again. Everyone suffers from a lack of belonging at some point in their life. We all need the reminder that God only makes quality. Have you ever had a friend where she thinks she's fat? And you're like, girlfriend, there's not an extra ounce on you! But if she grew up in a household where her father was overly concerned with her weight, it's going to be a lifelong issue. For her. Not for anyone looking at her. I think we all have to look to others for truths about ourselves sometimes. Of course, looking UP is best.
Love that–when someone pinches our weak spot. So true. You know, I love Daisy's parents' eccentricities. How did you come up with the parents?
I melded a couple of characters I know. I think when people are really devout and don't see the view from the world's eyes, it can be really embarrassing for the sort of person who has that awareness. I wanted Daisy to have loving parents who truly want what's best for her, but don't operate from the same place as she does. I think that's how most natural conflicts arise. We simply can't understand the way another person sees things.
I always say writing for teens girls and women isn't all that different. One protagonist just has better skin and a later curfew. What is it like for you writing for both YA and women?
It's actually very difficult for me to write YA over women's fiction. Even though my adult characters can be immature at times, I have a hard time keeping things teen appropriate because my own kids go to public school, and sadly, I know what they see/hear every day. I want to address those things, but I know a lot of parents want to shield their kids from it. Because I am the kind to ask “why” constantly, there was no way I would have been satisfied with pat answers as a child, so I struggle with that aspect.
I totally get that. There's a lot of filtering that goes on when portraying the teen from the Christian writer's pen. I think, collectively, the Christian writing community has had a hard year. There's a lot of creative fatigue and frustration out there–along with the good times and the blessing of the work. What has been the hardest part of writing in 2011 for you?
Anything and everything. My husband works long hours and I am on my own with four kids–at three different school, in different activies.
Tell me about it, sister. I have a cat. I sooo hear you.
Trying to carve writing time out of this life is difficult. Once you have the time, you're so brain-dead, you just want to lay down and watch reality TV, not work.
The best part of the past year?
A Billion Reasons Why making the CBA (Christian Book Assoc) Bestseller List and proving that my love of the 1940s era is truly romantic.
Any era that included Cary Grant has to be romantic. What's a book you wish you had written?
The Thorn Birds. It embodies the most perfect conflict. A man who loves a woman, but he's a priest. Oh, and he's ambitious, so when he can give his love the money that's rightfully hers, he takes it so he can get promoted into the church. The characters are so juicy and ruthless. It's like people at their worst trying to work out their idea of faith, yet being so drawn in by their humanity. I read it every year. McCollough's descriptions make me feel as if I have an IQ of 7.
I so remember that miniseries. Speaking of TV, have any guilty pleasures besides reading books about priests who like the ladies?
Oh, bad reality TV. Real Housewives of this and that, Flipping Out, Millionaire Matchmaker. Pretty much everything on Bravo. I have to pay for the extra tier on cable to get my channel. Drives me nuts! What I love about these shows is that we are all so ignorant of our own shortcomings, and I think these shows offer a peek into our own lives.
Those Bravo folks are crazy. I mean they are their own breed-o-crazy. Makes me feel a little better about myself. Okay, tell us about your ideal day.
Someone brings me Starbucks, then they all leave. I'm home alone with my computer, my reality TV-filled-DVR and no dealine. Then, dinner out with the family and a movie.
Very nice. All right, Lightning Round of Seriously Heavy Intellectual Questions. I'm about to pose some queries worthy of CNN. FOX News. That weird guy on PBS. You ready?
You've come into some money from a forgotten, distance, rich, dead relative. You can either hire a maid, chef, or chauffeur. Which do you choose?
A maid. Without question. I don't care that much about food. If I have my coffee, I'm happy and I like to drive. Gets the aggression out.
I don't care that much about food either. ::steps to the left to avoid lightning:: Okay, favorite 80s flick?
Sixteen Candles and Romancing the Stone.
If you could step into the shoes of anyone else for the day, who would you pick?
Ingrid Bergman's. For someone who's alive, Lady GaGa's, though I probably couldn't walk in her shoes. I think it would be really fun to be that inhibited. Oh, I should say Lady GaGa dressed.
And not on a meat-dress day. Okay, last question of the day. Tell readers where they can find you.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Kristin. We so appreciate it. And one person is going to win a copy of Perfectly Invisible, book two in the Universally Misunderstood series. To get in the running for this, leave a comment by Wednesday, July 13th, answering the following question: What is your guilty pleasure? People mag? Easy crosswords? Scrapbooking? SPAM?
AND don't forget, if you comment on all six MYFASE blog posts (June 27-July 11), you'll be in the running for an ARC of There You'll Find Me AND a $25 dollar Barnes and Noble card, in addition to any other books you win these two weeks of book/author fabulousness.
Be sure and return Friday when we talk coffee, one-year olds, and fun reads with Erynn Mangum. And another book giveaway! (Do the freebies ever stop? No! They do not!)