One of my RBR goals before the end of the year was to get another ATTENTION, ATTENTION post in. I’m so glad I made this a priority because it gave me a chance to 1) read one of the books that Magan really enjoyed last year 2) talk to Amy Spalding, who is one of my absolute favorite YA authors.
INK IS THICKER THAN WATER is about high schooler, Kellie, who is dealing with a ton of changes in her life. Her constant best friend, Kaitlyn, is suddenly someone she doesn’t recognize and it couldn’t have come at a worst time. Her solid older sister is occupied with getting to know her birth parents and isn’t around as much. Kellie’s relationship with her dad isn’t great; she never feels like she can please him plus she wishes her free-spirited mom would parent a bit more than she does. To make Kellie even more confused, Oliver — a boy she has a bit of a past with — comes back in her life and makes her question what she wants even more.
Whew. Sounds like a lot right? Well I am here to tell you that Amy manages to balance each of Kellie’s challenges so well. I loved the big family dynamic, the adorable little brother Finn, the “cool” parents (even if her mom was a bit frustrating at times), and how much Kellie worried about her family life changing. I liked getting to know her friends on the paper, and watching her come out of her shell and embark on her own passions and also reach out to the people she doesn’t want to be detached from. In a short book, Amy jampacks so many great details and real emotions. Spoiler alert: I totally cried.
Amy was nice enough to chat with me about INK IS THICKER THAN WATER and also give us a small peek at her upcoming April book! Check it out:
What’s the last book you read that made you feel like it was the “right time / right place” kind of thing? (I had this feeling with INK, especially when Kellie was going through so many growing pains with her best friend.)
A couple weeks ago I read Leila Sales’ This Song Will Save Your Life, and it brought back so many feelings straight from my own grade school/middle school/high school years. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book that so accurately nailed what it was like to be a misfit in such a similar way that I was (am?). I loved how music was used as something to get you through the worst times and also connect you to others. Music has always been such a vital part of my life, and I’m convinced it’s gotten me through tough things.
There are so many layers to INK. (For RBR readers: Parental conflicts, sex, friendship and sibling drama, etc.) What was the key to keeping the storylines balanced and making sure nothing got lost in the shuffle?
It was important to me that everything was shifting in Kellie’s life, because I feel like that’s often how real life goes. It would be a lot easier if every crisis arrived on its own, but when life changes, often life changes. I’d love to tell you I stayed crazy organized, but really I let Kellie’s emotions guide me. It was important to me that she was affected by all that was going on, and that helped steer the ship, so to speak.
I was a mega fan of The Reese Malcolm List. Do you think in some alternate universe Kellie and Devan would be friends?
Ha! I’ve actually thought about this before myself. I think that Devan would find Kellie super cool, but I think she might be too intimidated to talk to her (even though of course Kellie wouldn’t see herself as cool or intimidating). I’m not sure if Kellie could wrap her head around Devan’s musical theatre/show choir love, so I’m not sure they’re a friendship match!
What song from the High School Musical franchise best describes INK?
“We’re All in This Together”, obviously.
Not enough young adult books truly talk about the fears associated with having sex for the first time. I thought Kellie’s experience of getting wrapped up in attraction and taking a step back was so realistic. I loved all the questions she asked herself, and everything she was worried about. Did you go into INK thinking this would be part of Kellie’s story? Why do you think so many authors shy away from the realism of having sex as a teenager?
I think that in general–not just in YA literature–young women are portrayed as sex’s gatekeepers. I feel like so many books I read growing up featured boys who wanted sex, and girls who had to say no to be “good”, or girls who said yes for either the wrong reasons or because they loved the boys. And yet the stories that I felt resonated the most for me and for girls I knew were also about desire. So I did really want to write about attraction and desire and then also how that plays out in a real world situation.
Also, when I started writing Ink, I’d just read several books where everything was just SO EASY for the girl when the boy really really REALLY liked her. And I kept thinking, what would that REALLY feel like, especially if this was your first real experience? For me I kept thinking how good things can also be scary and overwhelming, and how many things you can want and not want all at once. I also really wanted to write about a guy who wasn’t constantly the one steering that conversation or timeline; I wanted equal power in Kellie’s hands.
Will we ever meet Devan or Kellie again? (Please say yes? Or Maybe?)
I really feel like Kellie’s story is wrapped up, and I feel good where I’ve left her. I have definitely thought more about Devan and gang, so as far as they go…maybe!
Can you give us one EXCLUSIVE amazing fact about your upcoming book: Kissing Ted Callahan (and other guys)?
Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) is about Riley, Reid, Lucy, Nathan; and they are in a band called the Gold Diggers!
Big thanks to Amy for taking the time to answer my questions. The post isn’t over yet.
I’m giving away eBook copies of The Reece Malcolm List and Ink is Thicker Than Water to a lucky winner.
Must be 13 years old to enter and be able to receive Kindle or Nook eBooks. Good luck!