Author Takeover #11: Kate McGovern, author of: Rules for 50/50 Chances
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!
Probably one of the most anticipated YA Contemporary that will come out this year, that’s why I was so ecstatic when Kate let me interview her about the book and even herself. She even gave me an e-arc because she’s amazing like that. Thanks Kate!! Read below the interview and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!! 🙂
Expected publication: November 24th 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
YA > Contemporary | Romance
About the book..
A heartrending but ultimately uplifting debut novel about learning to accept life’s uncertainties; a perfect fit for the current trend in contemporary realistic novels that confront issues about life, death, and love.
Seventeen-year-old Rose Levenson has a decision to make: Does she want to know how she’s going to die? Because when Rose turns eighteen, she can take the test that will tell her if she carries the genetic mutation for Huntington’s disease, the degenerative condition that is slowly killing her mother. With a fifty-fifty shot at inheriting her family’s genetic curse, Rose is skeptical about pursuing anything that presumes she’ll live to be a healthy adult—including going to ballet school and the possibility of falling in love. But when she meets a boy from a similarly flawed genetic pool, and gets an audition for a dance scholarship in California, Rose begins to question her carefully-laid rules.
Kate McGovern has taught theatre and language arts to middle schoolers in Boston, New York, and London. A graduate of Yale and Oxford, she currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was born and raised. This is her first novel.
Hi Kate!! Thanks for stopping by on the blog!! We’re so excited. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 🙂
Thanks so much for inviting me to chat with you! Let’s see…By day, I work in education. I started my career working in schools as a reading specialist and theatre educator, and now I’m the publications director for a national organization that helps school districts make sure all students have access to great teachers and schools. I LOVE my job. Some random facts about me—after almost a decade living in New York City, London and a tiny village in the English countryside, I now live back in my hometown of Cambridge, MA. I’m a proud aunt of four and a huge fan of long train rides, thunderstorms, ocean views and bright nail polish.
Rf50/50C is your debut novel. I was wondering if this is the genre that you really wanted to write? What other genres do you think you’ll also try?
I love contemporary YA, and I think I’ll stick with it for a while. But as a reader, I also love mysteries and thrillers, so I’d like to try my hand at that at some point. I love middle grade fiction too, so we’ll see.
Was the book inspired by an event in your life? A person? Or something? 🙂 Can you share to us how did the whole idea of the book came to you?
The book isn’t inspired by personal experience, but it is inspired by a true story. Several years ago, I read an article about a young woman who was in a similar situation to Rose. Her story really stuck with me. I’ve always been interested in medicine and genetics, and I started reading more about Huntington’s. At one point, I was considering a career change to become a genetic counselor, but instead, I started writing RULES. I think it’s fascinating that we have access to so much more information about our genes—and what they mean for our futures—now than we ever have before. I’m drawn to questions about what we do with that information. When is it helpful to us and when might it do more harm than good?
Your book cover is really gorgeous and so is the very unique title, but will you change it if you could? How did you decide all of this?
Thank you! I wouldn’t change anything about the title or the cover. The cover gives me “the shivers” (as Owen Meany, one of my favorite fictional characters, might say). I didn’t have any control over the cover art—that was all the talented designer and folks at my publishing house. I think they did an amazing job. The title took me a while to land on, but once it came to me, I knew it was right. I never considered changing it.
Who is your favorite character to write? and the not-so-favorite one? Can you share us why?
I had so much fun writing Lena. She’s a true mix of several of my close friends, two of my college roommates in particular. They’re very different in real life, so it was really fun to bring pieces of them together in one character. Lena has some pieces of my high school best friend in her, too. I have a lot of really important female friendships in my life, so I wanted Rose to have a truly enriching, sustaining friendship with another girl.
Is there something weird, funny or even a scary thing that happened while you were writing?
RULES used to have a whole, elaborate subplot, with a really important character. I spent a LOT of time figuring it out, and then both my agent and my editor advised cutting the whole thing. Sitting down to start that revision was probably the scariest moment in the writing process. But the book is definitely better without that subplot. (This is one of the many benefits of working with an agent and an editor who are as wise as mine. They’re always right.)
What will readers expect from the romance aspect in this book?
I don’t think RULES has a very conventional romance. Rose is reluctant to give too much of herself to Caleb at first. Some readers might find that frustrating, and I can understand that. (My boyfriend would say I didn’t have to fictionalize too much of that, by the way!) I wanted to portray a relationship where the girl doesn’t rush in with her whole heart right away. Rose is more guarded, for some good and some not so good reasons, but that’s human. Falling in love can be scary.
The other thing about the romance is RULES is that it is interracial—Rose is white and Caleb is black—and that was an important choice. I think we don’t see enough mixed race relationships in YA yet, although we’re starting to see more of them. I wanted their relationship to portray the ways in which race is both present in their lives—it affects them and they talk about it, in sometimes uncomfortable conversations—but it also isn’t the central feature of their relationship. I think this is realistic for many of us. My boyfriend is Indian-American. We talk about race and culture and the ways we were raised differently. Those things are part of our relationship, but they also don’t define our relationship. I wanted to write an interracial love story that both acknowledged race and didn’t make race the primary “issue” of the book.
Are you working on something new already? Do you have a WIP that you can tell us about? 🙂
I am working on something, yes. It’s also YA contemporary. It’s a love story that emerges from a single, devastating event. That’s about all I’ll say for now 🙂
If there’s something you want your readers to remember about your main character, Rose, what do you think should that be?
Rose does her best in unspeakably difficult circumstances. She is both lovable and frustrating, like most of us are at times. I hope readers remember how hard she’s trying, and how much she’s shouldering. I dealt with a health crisis in my own family this year, which was MUCH less dramatic than what Rose is dealing with, and it gave me a new level of respect and admiration for Rose. Seeing a loved one, especially a parent, struggle with their health is very scary and complicated.
If you’re in Rose’s position, would YOU want to know how you’re going to die?
I think I would want to know. But I also believe it’s really hard to say conclusively unless you’re in that situation. I’m absolutely grateful not to have to make a decision like that, and I have a huge amount of respect for those people who are faced with that choice, regardless of what they decide. To know or to not know are both incredibly brave, difficult choices.
Lastly, what’s your three current YA favorites? 🙂
Oh, this is a fun one! Let’s see. I just read Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer and couldn’t put it down. I got it from the library but it’s one I’ll have to buy, too. I know I’ll re-read it.
Two other new favorites are both debut novels: Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos, and Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. Material Girls is a smart, thought-provoking critique of consumer culture, all wrapped up in a page-turning dystopia. Everything, Everything will make you laugh/cry/swoon on every other page. Both are must-reads.
Thanks again, Kate for the Q&A! I REALLY cannot wait to get my hands on a physical copy of your book! You’re so awesome 🙂
What do you guys think of Rules for 50/50 Chances? Will you be reading it? Share your thoughts!