Monday, December 02, 2013

Interview with the Amazing Amy Spalding: INK IS THICKER THAN WATER

And the winner is...Krista Van Dolzer! Congratulations, Krista!

Today, I am SO excited to be hosting the Amazing Amy Spalding. (yes, that should be her title, if it isn't officially) Her second book, INK IS THICKER THAN WATER, comes out tomorrow!! YOU have a chance to win a *signed* copy for free. Details at the bottom...but first, a somewhat wacky interview with Amy.

INK IS THICKER THAN WATER is a contemporary YA, already getting major praise for its real-life portrayal of family and relationships. From Goodreads:
For Kellie Brooks, family has always been a tough word to define. Combine her hippie mom and tattooist stepdad, her adopted overachieving sister, her younger half brother, and her tough-love dad, and average Kellie’s the one stuck in the middle, overlooked and impermanent. When Kellie’s sister finally meets her birth mother and her best friend starts hanging with a cooler crowd, the feeling only grows stronger.
But then she reconnects with Oliver, the sweet and sensitive college guy she had a near hookup with last year. Oliver is intense and attractive, and she’s sure he’s totally out of her league. But as she discovers that maybe intensity isn’t always a good thing, it’s yet another relationship she feels is spiraling out of her control.
It’ll take a new role on the school newspaper and a new job at her mom’s tattoo shop for Kellie to realize that defining herself both outside and within her family is what can finally allow her to feel permanent, just like a tattoo.

Everything I've seen about INK talks about how authentic the teen voice is, how it truly feels like it was written by a 16-year-old girl. How do you go back to that place to write a teen so authentically? Are you secretly a teenager? *eyebrow*
I always have conflicted feelings about hearing how authentic my teen voice is. Obviously compliments are wonderful, but also that's just sort of the voice that comes out of me when I write? I never think of going back; it just sort of...happens. Hopefully this means my subconscious is just really gifted and not that I'm emotionally stunted.
 Once when I was telling my life story to an editor, she thought it funny how with my messed-up childhood I choose to write positive, supportive (if complex) families. That seems like exactly the type of family you're writing about here…and *cough* if some tweets are true, your history may not have been all peaches and cream either. Why do YOU choose to write a functional, if unusual, family instead of the dysfunctional ones more typically seen in YA?
Because, honestly, my family was more functional than not, or at least it felt that way. And it seemed to me pretty common among my friends as well. Sure, we fought with our parents, and sure, some people had divorced parents or other drama, but in general it felt like most of us were loved and supported, even if things weren't always easy-breezy.
I also knew I wanted to explore the dynamic of Kellie watching her sister Sara reconnect with Sara's biological mother (Sara was adopted as a baby), and to me that would be more interesting if Kellie's family maybe once looked like The Perfect Family, and now looked like something completely different. After all, families can look like a lot of different things and still be filled with so much love and respect and support.
 In the book I just wrote, my character has a best friend named Kaitlyn who is drifting away due to differing interests. Your book has that too. DID YOU STEAL THAT FROM MY BRAIN? (more seriously, tell me about Kaitlyn and Kellie, and how their friendship changes)
I have been accused before of stealing things from people's brains, and, trust me, if I had that ability, I would get A LOT more done!
As for Kellie and Kaitlyn, I think a lot of us at MULTIPLE points in life go through periods where all of our relationships seem to be shifting. I know in high school there were a couple times where it felt like my friendships were out of my control and people were pulling away from me. Of course in retrospect, a lot of that was just that we all had to figure ourselves out and couldn't always worry so much about each other, but at the time it feels like the greatest betrayal.
When I was Kellie's age, I definitely felt like my best friend was way too cool for me, which is hilarious in retrospect because we were both dorks, just in different ways.
 Let's talk about Oliver. He turns out to be not quite what Kellie thought he was, right? Kelly on Stacked even referred to him as "clingy". Is it true—and if so, are you messing around with gender stereotypes there?
I actually wrote Oliver kind of as a reaction to a lot of the YA I was reading back in 2008 when I wrote INK's first draft. There were so many romances where very quickly a boy would fall for a girl, and it would be intense and world-shattering...and the girls would always be soooo into it. And all I kept thinking was, "Whoa. This would REALLY stress me out!"
So my goal was really to write about a consuming romance kind of in a "real world" setting, and how that would actually go, and maybe what that would stem from. But, also, absolutely to gender stereotypes! Girls are often written as the ones who go overboard with romance, but from my personal experience, I saw just as many if not MORE guys fall for someone in that all-encompassing way. I know guys and girls sometimes act pretty differently, but I think deep down they're more alike than not.
 I understand Kellie writes humor columns for her school newspaper. Can you give us an example of the type of things she writes? 
Here's a little preview of Kellie's first column:
The grounds of Ticknor Day School boast native Missouri plant life immaculately maintained by a hardworking grounds crew. Surrounding our students in such an environment is just one way we at Ticknor strive to not only provide a quality education, but the best setting possible for academic growth. 
So begins the “Campus Grounds” section in the Ticknor Day School promotional brochure, a paragraph those who spend each weekday at T.D.S. might find difficult to take seriously. After all, is the word “immaculate” synonymous with “poop-smelling”? Is “the best setting possible an area that smells like the elephant pen at the zoo?

Amy Spalding grew up outside of St. Louis. She now lives in Los Angeles with two cats and a dog. She works in marketing and does a lot of improv. She has more tattoos than she can count.

Amy would love for you to visit her online at or on Twitter @theames.

NOW, how do you enter to win a SIGNED copy??

Because it's the holidays and we all have a lot to do, I'm going to make it REAL easy for you. Enter by commenting to this post! If you want an extra entry, tweet about the contest and @ me (@susan_adrian). That's it!! The contest will close at 5 pm MST tomorrow, December 3rd, which is Launch Day for INK!

Thanks so much, Amy!


Kate Linnea Welsh said...

Oooh! Can't wait to read this!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thanks for the interview, Amy and Susan. Count me in! (And CONGRATULATIONS, Amy, on your second 2013 release!)

tammy216 said...

Great interview! I can't wait to read this book, it sounds awesome. I loved The Reece Malcolm List and I can't wait to read more from Amy :)

Elizabeth Briggs said...

I read this through Netgalley and it was GREAT! I'd love a signed copy!

Robin said...

Oh, I want to read this one so bad. I crave good YA contemporary. Thanks for the interview and congrats on your release, Amy!