Wouldn’t You Like to Know . . . Katelyn Detweiler
Katelyn Detweiler was lucky enough to spend her early years in the kind of setting you would expect to find in all the truly great childhood classics: an old farmhouse, smack dab in the middle of wide-open fields, surrounded by flora and fauna-filled woods, an older brother to get her into (and out of) trouble, and so many potential hidey-holes for long hours spent reading. Graduating from Penn State University with a B.A. in English Literature, emphasis in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies, Detweiler moved to New York City ready to find any job that involved working with her favorite thing in the world—books. After two years with the marketing department of a children’s book publisher, Detweiler became a literary agent for authors writing in all the genres for all the age groups. She lives, writes, works (and occasionally even sleeps!) in Brooklyn.
SH: When I was a teenager, people would describe me as a: (jock, band geek, popular, goth, other, none?)
KD: I would probably say that I was equal parts overachieving nerd and class clown.
SH: The best/worst thing that happened to you in high school?
KD: Best: a school trip to England, Ireland, and Wales with some of my best friends. Worst: honestly, I lived in a pretty big bubble in high school. I feel like none of the genuine hard times happened until college.
SH: Favorite childhood book? Favorite food? Favorite band or album? Favorite television show?
KD: Oh goodness, SO MANY favorite books. Pippi Longstocking and Anne Shirley were standouts. Cheeseburgers, even at fancy restaurants. I listened to my Anne of Green Gables soundtrack until the cassette broke. My mom raised me as an I Love Lucy girl from the cradle.
SH: Is there a story from your childhood that is told most often, either by you *or* about you?
KD: Probably stories about me running off from my parents at the mall and hiding in the middle of clothing racks for fun. So, they put me on a rainbow leash the next time we were out. Once and done. Lesson learned.
SH: Was there any class in high school you regret paying too little, or too much, attention? If you could add one class to high schools across the country, what would be the topic?
KD: To be honest, I think I cared a little bit *too* much about every class. I could have studied less and found a better balance. I’d like to add a Contemporary English class where kids exclusively read current YA. Classics are important, sure, but so is all the brilliant new stuff coming out.
SH: If you could be a character from any book ever written, including your own, who would you want to be? Why?
KD: Hermione Granger. Because she’s everything.
SH: Is there a book, besides your own of course, that you think everyone should be reading?
KD: I’ve told everyone in my life to read Wonder. If every person read that book, our world would be a much kinder, happier place.
SH: Any epic family vacation stories? Current or from the past?
KD: There was one family Long Beach Island trip many (!) years ago, that gets recounted a lot—my friend and I carried out a brutal string of pranks that year, mostly targeting my poor father. A few examples: making fake bird poop out of mayo and blueberry yogurt to plop on unsuspecting beach sleepers; distributing itching powder and pepper gum; faking an explosive bathroom blowout with dog food and beef stew . . . the list goes on. And on. It was a year for the books.
SH: If you had an important secret or story to share, who would be the first person you’d turn to?
KD: (For better or for worse) I’ve always told my mom pretty much everything.
SH: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
KD: People who don’t hold doors. Rude and ignorant people generally.
SH: Throughout all of time, what do you think has been the best -or worst or most useful or least useful- thing ever created?
KD: Whoever turned peanuts into peanut butter is my all-time superhero.
SH: If you could spend a time as a fairy tale character, which character would you want to be and in which fairy tale would we find you? (You can blend a few together if that’s the dream come true.)
KD: I wouldn’t mind dabbling undersea or riding on a magic carpet, but I’m probably mostly a Belle at heart. I could easily spend the rest of my life in that library with a lovely Beast. (Who even cares if he transforms back into a prince?!)
SH: What three words would you use to describe yourself? What three words do you think other people would use to describe you?
KD: I say: loyal, funny, dreamy. They’d say: quirky, creative, loud.
SH: You are sitting down to dinner with five people, living or dead, who you find fascinating. Who is at the table and what are you eating?
KD: J.K. Rowling, Larry David, Lucille Ball, Hillary Clinton, and Sojourner Truth. We could keep it simple, cheeseburgers and veggie burgers and maybe something spiralized on the side? I’m obsessed with my spiralizer and I feel like Lucille and Sojourner should get to try it out.
SH: When asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, what did you say? Were you telling the truth?
KD: Actress, writer, singer, teacher, farmer. It changed a lot. I think I meant all of them at the time, even if I had zero qualifications. I was a dreamer.
SH: If you were given $10 to spend, what would you buy?
KD: Back in the day, probably a new book or an Archie comic. Now? Probably a new book or an Archie comic. Or maybe a glass of wine.
SH: Do you have a phrase or motto that inspires you?
KD: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” (Julian of Norwich, a medieval mystic.) My mom makes me repeat this on not so bright days, and it helps to remind me that most “bad” things tend to be a pretty tiny blip. I’ll make it through.
SH: What one thing makes you feel happiest? What makes you sad? What scares you? What makes you laugh?
KD: Happiest: the people I love. Saddest . . . and Scariest: thinking about anyone I love getting sick or dying. Funniest: my boyfriend, always. (It helps to date a comedian.)
SH: If someone wrote a book about your life: who would you want as the author, what kind of book would it be, and what title would you give it?
KD: Hmm, maybe Curtis Sittenfeld or Jennifer Weiner? A razor sharp and witty but heartfelt coming-of-age story, following me from small town Pennsylvania to New Yor City, the messy early 20s to the slightly less messy early 30s, the comical and heartbreaking dating woes, the ins and outs of publishing, the rollercoaster of becoming a first (and second) time author. I’m so not good at titles, though. How about Katelyn Detweiler is a Work in Progress as a nice placeholder?
SH: What is one (or more!) of your favorite features about yourself? It can be anything from an impeccable sense of style to your sense of humor to crazy long toes that can pick up a variety of objects.
KD: Sense of humor, because it’s the most essential, always. I couldn’t go a day without it.
SH: A series of choices: Trains, Planes, or Automobiles? Salty or Sweet? Movies, Music, or Books? Comedy, Drama, or Action? Fancy Night Out or Quiet Evening In? Spontaneous or Planned? Cash, Credit Card, or Check? Pen, Pencil, or Marker?
KD: Automobiles (as long as I’m in the passenger seat). Salty. Books. Comedy. Quiet evening in (with an occasional Fancy Night Out). Planned. Cash. Pen.
SH: What’s the most surprising question you’ve been asked–so far?
KD: Actually, the most surprising thing so far is that no one’s called me a heretic or condemned me to hell for trying to put my own twist on a Bible story. I was expecting more of a backlash on that front. I guess it’s a good thing?
SH: Is there any question you wish someone would finally think to ask?
KD: I feel like a lot of people don’t want to talk about the more painful parts of being a writer—the anxiety and the rejection, the constant self-doubt. Is this really what I should be doing? Will I ever be good enough? What’s the point? It’s easier to ignore some of those truths. But they are important.
SH: When you were in high school, if you had heard Mina’s story from a friend what do you think your response would have been? What about if you heard her story as an adult?
KD: I think it all depends on who I heard it from. Then and now, if it came from someone I loved, trusted, respected—I’d like to think I’d at least try to believe. I’d stand by them at least, even with doubts. A stranger, though? That’d be much harder to take seriously. I’d be very curious, though—I’d want to know her (or his!) story.
SH: What’s the most unexpected tip you’ve ever left a waitress? If you’ve ever worked on the front lines of customer service, what’s the most unexpected tip (or item) someone ever gave to you? (I bet it wasn’t a baby!)
KD: I was a waitress at a pizza place much like Frankie’s, and I can’t say anyone ever left anything too shocking. An old woman once told me I was a dead ringer for Julia Roberts. I guess that was something?
SH: Do you think pizza topping preferences give deeper insight into a person? What do you get–or ban–from your pies?
KD: I’m lactose intolerant, actually (ugh)—but that can be fixed with a pill, thank god! So, I eat pizza somewhat sparingly, but when I do, I pick mushrooms and prosciutto every time.
SH: If you were Mina, would you have wanted to make your story public? Why?
KD: It’s a slippery slope. I would have had to tell some people, and they inevitably would have told more people, so it would have been pretty impossible to keep out of the public forever. I wouldn’t intentionally go public, no, but I would never be able to keep something like that a total secret. I’m not good at holding things in.
SH: I *love* Disney World–but it’s always been nice and calm when I’ve been there. What’s your favorite land, your favorite ride, your favorite character, and your favorite thing to eat at WDW?
KD: Honestly—I’ve never been. My parents were never into the idea of taking my brother and I there when we were younger. I was maybe just a tiny bit resentful. (I still want to go down there someday, though mostly for all things Harry Potter.)
SH: What’s the most miraculous thing you’ve ever seen? Were you lucky enough to have been a participant in any way?
KD: I try to embrace the “everything, every day is a miracle” school of thought as much as possible. The little things—every breath, every heartbeat. And the bigger things—my mom beating cancer, my baby nephew being born, finding true love on Tinder.
SH: Did you already have this book, and the connections, in mind when you wrote Immaculate?
KD: I vaguely knew that there would be a second book, that it’d be about Mina’s baby as a teenager, and that it would open with an epic tragedy. After I’d written the whole first draft of Transcendent, I realized that I’d actually referenced Disney World in Immaculate—the night Mina “conceives” Iris, she dreams about colors so bright they’d put Disney World’s displays to shame. That was not a planned link. It gave me chills when I finally made the connection. The brain can be so crazy awesome sometimes.
SH: Do you have the next book, and its connections to both Immaculate and Transcendent, in mind now? (Is it already written?)
KD: I’m working on a third book that has no connection. There’s no planned follow-up to Mina and Iris’s story . . . though I left it intentionally open ended. Just in case.
Books by Katelyn Detweiler
Immaculate. Viking, 2015. 449p. $17.99. 978-0-451-46962-5. VOYA June 2015. 3Q 2P J S
Transcendent. Viking, 2016. 433p. $17.99. 978-0-451-46962-5. VOYA October 2016. 4Q 3P S
Katelyn Detweiler Online
Official Website: http://www.katelyndetweiler.com/
Stacey Hayman is … Wha…? Oh, hey there. Um, could you please not bother me right now? I’m reading -Thanks!