AUTHOR TAKEOVER #008: Katelyn Detweiler, author of: ‘IMMACULATE’ + Giveaway!!
Author Takeover is a new feature here in HBT where we let our current favorite authors took over the blog. Expect Guest Posts, Interviews, LOTS of Playlists, giveaways and of course, a bunch load of FUN!
You guys, I’m so so excited to have Katelyn on the blog today. I just started IMMACULATE a week ago, and let me tell you.. it’s precious! You know those books that you give one glance and a thought just immediately formed inside your head that says, ‘Yeah, this book will be a favorite’ THAT IS IMMACULATE!
Published May 26th 2015 by Viking Children’s
YA > Contemporary | Magical Realism
About the book..
Mina is seventeen. A virgin. And pregnant.
Mina is top of her class, girlfriend to the most ambitious guy in school, able to reason and study her way through anything. But when she suddenly finds herself pregnant—despite having never had sex—her orderly world collapses. Almost nobody believes Mina’s claims of virginity. Her father assumes that her boyfriend is responsible; her boyfriend believes she must have cheated on him. As news of Mina’s story spreads, there are those who brand her a liar. There are those who brand her a heretic. And there are those who believe that miracles are possible—and that Mina’s unborn child could be the greatest miracle of all.
Katelyn Detweiler was born and raised in Pennsylvania—in a small town much like Mina’s—living in a centuries-old farmhouse surrounded by fields and woods. After graduating from Penn State University, she made the move to New York City, where she is a literary agent representing books for all ages and across all genres. Katelyn currently lives, agents, and writes in Brooklyn.
1. Hi Katelyn!! Thanks for stopping by on the blog!! We’re so excited! To start off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 🙂
I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania, living in a lovely old farmhouse surrounded by fields and woods. I see so much of my childhood in my writing—especially in IMMACULATE, in Mina’s world, the friends and family, the town, the scenic backdrop.Pennsylvania will always feel like my home. I’ve been in New York City for the last 7 years—I live and work in Brooklyn now, which is magical because I can actuallywalk to work. (No subway!!) I’m a literary agent representing books for all ages—it’s my dream job, really, aside from being an author. Lots of reading, writing, words all the time, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
2. Your debut novel, Immaculate has one of the most intriguing and unique synopsis we have ever read, we’re really curios on how did this idea came to you. Can you share how did the whole concept of the book materialized in your head? 🙂
This idea—without me realizing it—had been soaking in my brain for a long, long time. When I was about Mina’s age, I had asked my mom if she would believe me if I told her that I was a pregnant virgin. (I asked a lot of obnoxious hypothetical questions back then. Scratch that. Still do. ;)) My mom said yes. YES. It took a few years and some growing up to realize exactly how huge that was, and it took a few more years after that to wonder: how is this a story that hasn’t been told?!
3. How would you introduce your main character, Mina, to us? Did you have a particular muse for her?
Oh, Mina. Mina is a bit rigid and by the book, a perfectionist—very focused on grades, college, her future. She has a plan for everything, with very little room for deviation. But she’s also warm and loving and loyal; she’s an amazing girlfriend, best friend, daughter, and sister. She cares very deeply for the people in her life. I poured a lot of 17-year-old me into Mina, because I was so fascinated by the idea of how my family and friends would have reacted to me making this kind of claim. I was also a hyper-motivated student—so I get what makes Mina tick—and I was interested in thinking about how this kind of person would respond when something so completely momentous drops into her life and throws all the grand plans off track.
4. Is this the genre you originally want to write? What other genre would you like to try in the future?
For now at least, I am entirely smitten with YA. I read a lot of YA for work, I read a lot of YA for fun; my head is totally in the YA space right now. I love all of the exciting, totally original ideas coming out of it—it all just feels so fresh, so from the heart. I can’t entirely rule out different genres, but for now, this is my writing home.
5. The title and the cover of the book is really eye catching, how did you decide it? And will you change anything if you could?
I can take no credit for the cover! This was all the fabulous work of the design team at Penguin. (The designer was phenomenalDanielle Calotta.) I really had no idea what to expect, but when this came in, I immediately fell head over heels in love. The team there so completely nailed the essence of this book. As for the title, I had it down long before I wrote any other words. There was never any other possibility—the word just fit. The reference to Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception, and the idea of Mina being so pure, blameless, perfect as the story opens.
6. What is the hardest thing you ever did while writing Immaculate? Can you share a bit of your experience?
The hardest thing was sending the manuscript to my boss—and now agent!—having no clue what she would really think of the project. I wasn’t sure if what I’d written was total trash, or if it actually had the potential to be something. (Somehow, despite my job as an agent, when it comes to my writing I have zero perspective.) We work with so many amazing, amazing authors, the bar was set quite high!.
7. What will readers expect from the romance aspect in this book?
There’s definitely some romance here, but it’s also not the main focus. This is very much a book about female relationships—best friends, sisters, mothers and daughters—and how much stronger these connections make us. But rest assured, the love interest is pretty great, too : ) Though I might be a bit biased!
8. Did something creepy or funny or even scary thing that happened while writing Immaculate?
I was working on the Christmas Eve scene—a big moment for Mina, given the focus on the biblical story of the Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus—and to set the mood, I turned all my bedroom lights off, started playingSilent Night on my computer, sipped some Christmassy tea. It was lovely and inspiring… for about 30 seconds. And then I somehow managed to drop my steaming hot tea and spill it all over my desk and lap. All serenity lost!
9. Are you working on something new already? Do you have a WIP that you can tell us about? 🙂
I do, yes! I can’t say too much yet, but there will be a follow up coming out next year, a story that takes place 17 years after IMMACULATE ends. Mina’s child is just finding out the truth of his/her past, and all the major consequences that news might have for the present—and the future. I had so much fun writing this book, looking at these characters 17 years later, thinking about where they’d all be, what they’d be doing. I was so excited to watch them grow up.
10. Lastly, what’s your three current YA favorites?
I am majorly behind on my “MUST READ” list, but here are three I’m dying to get to: Saint Anything, by Sarah Dessen; The Walls Around Us, by Nova Ren Suma; Vanishing Girls, by Lauren Oliver.
Thanks again, Katelyn for the Q&A! We’re excited to hear the playlist that you’ll be sharing with us! Scroll down for the tracks. (SPOILER: They’re all awesome)
I’m not someone who can actually listen to music while I write. (I wish I could! Really, I wish.) I need silence, or at least as much silence as I can possibly create. I bought a white noise machine a few years ago when I lived three flights above the constantly noisy Second Avenue, desperate to be alone with my thoughts, minus the rumbling freight trucks, the incessant honking, the never-ending construction, street music, sirens, shouting…!!! Don’t get me wrong. There’s a charm to the sounds of NYC. But when I write, I like to feel like I’m in a bubble, just me, my thoughts, and a bright white Word doc on my computer screen.
But walking around the city, ear buds in, music blaring, is usually when I brainstorm the best solutions to any roadblocks in my writing. It’s when I feel closest to my characters—when I feel the most inside of their story and their emotions.These were the songs that helped me bust through the barricades, and helped IMMACULATE become the actual finished book that it is today.
Taylor Swift – Safe & Sound
Ingrid Michaelson – Soldier
The Civil Wars – Dust to Dust
Imagine Dragons – Radioactive
EmeliSande – Wonder
Florence & the Machine – Never Let Me Go
Florence & The Machine (I had to pick two!) – Cosmic Love
Ellie Golding – The Writer
Tegan and Sara – Walking With A Ghost
Ben Howard –Keep Your Head Up
Tom Odell – Long Way Down
Robyn – Dancing On My Own
Vampire Weekend – Unbelievers
Matt Pond PA – Remains
A Great Big World – Say Something
Priscilla Ahn – Silent Night
What do you guys think of IMMACULATE? Will you be reading it? Am I the only one who think that this has one of the most unique premise EVER?! Share your thoughts!