April 5, 2016 by J.C. Lillis
Do you know Wes Kennedy yet?
If you don’t, you’re about to. Not only is her debut queer sci-fi novel, TO TERMINATOR, WITH LOVE, coming out this month, but she also has four other awesome YA and NA projects in her creative pipeline. She’s got some of the most exciting and original book ideas I’ve seen in a while—and as a bonus, she is a person of comprehensive niftiness, as you’ll see in today’s interview.
Just weeks before the funny, suspenseful, and nerdily romantic TERMINATOR is unleashed upon the world, I asked Wes some Serious Authorly Questions and some weirdo questions designed to ascertain whether she is, in fact, someone I want to get a beer with and/or thrift-shop with (spoiler alert: she totally is). After the interview, stick around for the TERMINATOR blurb and a book giveaway you DEFINITELY want to enter!
SUPER SERIOUS (not really) AUTHORLY QUESTIONS
Q. What’s your relationship with music when you write? Do you listen when you draft/edit, or do you need quiet?
A. I’m one of those people who get super into music when I’m listening, so working with music can be a little distracting. I usually make playlists for my projects and listen to them when I go for a walk, or when I’m on the bus, etc. They get me inspired to write things.
Q. Same here—I’m a TOTAL playlist geek. So when drafting this book, did you make any “wrong turns” in the process that you learned from?
A. Oh, boy, did I. I went stumbling headfirst into this book and continued to stagger around for the first 25k words or so. At first it was just a fun way to blow off some steam about my own school woes, but as I started to take it seriously as a submission prospect, the more nervous I got. The more nervous I got, the more I started to freak myself out with questions.
I would constantly be thinking: Is that funny? I think that’s funny. Will they find that funny? Scratch that, is awful. Should I add more penises? There should be more penises, right? Why are there so many parentheses? Who needs this many parentheses?
I wrote and re-wrote and re-re-wrote so many things until I got into my groove (with a little cheerleading from Sam [Schooler]) and just started doing what feels right. My editors and publisher helped me with all the technical stuff, which was a big help.
Q. Which types of scenes are the hardest for you to write, and which are the easiest?
A. The banter between Andre and Dexter (and, boy, is there a lot of it) came the easiest for me. I like being funny—or trying to be funny anyway—so I always enjoy writing scenes like that. My favorite relationship dynamic are between characters who can roast each other while still being totally moon-eyed.
Q. I also adore that dynamic, and you pull it off so well in TERMINATOR; the humor in the Dexter/Andre relationship is what made me really root for them. Let me ask: When you do get really stuck on a scene, what do you do to work through the roadblock and get back on track?
A. I usually pop in my earbuds and go for a walk and play out what I have so far in my head. Then, pieces just start coming together. Oh, what if instead of doing that, this character did this? If they did this, then that could totally happen! Stuff like that.
Curling into a ball while crying into my ice cream has, statistically speaking, not worked well for me in the past. However, I think that it still has a place in the writing process.
Q. Since this is your debut, how do you envision your career trajectory from here? Will you be telling similar types of stories, or do you see yourself as a genre-hopper?
A. I really hope to continue in indie publishing! There are a couple of publishers I have on my Bucket List that would be a dream to get published by.
I also want to get more involved with the author community. I’ve made so many great friends in the community, but I still feel a little like a tadpole in a big pond. Hopefully the more I write, the more engaged I become, the more comfortable I’ll feel calling myself an ‘author.’
Right now, I have a few manuscripts I’m working on. TERMINATOR is fluffy and funny, and funny has always been my go to style even with fanfiction, but most of my WIPs at the moment are more drama-heavy. Honestly, that surprised even me! I get ideas in my head for a book and I jot them down on my phone (because I have lost the ability to use paper, apparently) and just go with it. Somehow that’s brought me to a more sober/serious side of things, but I’m eager to explore them, too.
TERMINATOR is New Adult, but two of my four projects are Young Adult. Which works well for mel, since my New Adult works are basically Teen Angst for Grown-Ups™.
I’m also in the process of adopting a new pen name, Brooklyn Wallace. My next work, a YA, will be the first title under it if I’m lucky enough to get published again. I recently made a blog post with descriptions of my WIPs and the reason for the name change over at my blog if you’d like to check it out! [Yes---highly recommend reading this post for interesting background on the name change and a teaser of what's to come from Wes/Brooklyn.]
Q. Tell me about a book that made you laugh and a book that made you cry. (It can be the same book. If it is, I want to read it.)
A. A friend recently turned me on to T.J. Klune who she swore up and down was the funniest author she’d ever read—my weakness!—so I grabbed THE LIGHTNING-STRUCK HEART and, oh, I loved it. It made me laugh and cry and cry with laughter and somehow laugh with sadness? I don’t know, I’m a mixed up person, but the book is really good. I highly recommend it.
Adding it to my TBR as we speak! And now…
JUST FOR FUN LIGHTNING ROUND
Q. What song would play over the closing credits of the film version of TTWL?
A. Oh, that’s easy: She Blinded Me with Science by Thomas Dolby
Q. What’s your favorite piece of robot-themed entertainment (book, film, TV show, song, whatever)?
A. Despite being a book that centers around a potentially, possibly, just maybe murderous robot, there aren’t many references to robot-themed entertainment in TERMINATOR besides the obvious. Yes, I do love the “Terminator” franchise in all its 80s action movie glory. I also made sure to reference I, Robot because 1) I love Asimov, and 2) I love Will Smith. The first draft had a reference to Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, but I had to kill that darling. Anyway, those are my two favorites!
Q. If you could create a robot to do anything for you, what would you have it do?
A. Write for me. Also go to grad school for me. Also make me food on command.
If I had to chose only one thing, though, it would probably to paint my right hand once I’m doing putting nail polish on the left. I’d say roughly 76% of my problems would be solved that way.
Q. You have ten minutes to spend twenty dollars in a giant thrift store. Which section do you head to first, and what do you hope you’ll find?
A. It’s cliche, but books! Then the DVDs, because thrift stores always have those old straight-to-DVD trainwrecks I love so much.
Q. If you had to enter a themed dollhouse contest, what theme would you choose for your house?
A. “The Real Housewives of Dollywood”. A reality TV centered around the lives of drama-filled lives of the women living in the infamous city known as the Corner by the Window in My Apartment (aka Dollywood). Lots of swearing and wine glass throwing and falling out of the third story balcony, because dolls don’t have the best center of gravity.
Q. If you could spend one day inside the mind of someone else, who would you pick?
A. Jaden Smith. His tweets have influenced so many decisions in my life. Those decisions have turned out horribly, mind, but I think there’s something there.
Huge thanks to Wes for being here today, bringing the funny, and giving us a peek into her process. I’m just finishing up TERMINATOR and it’s just as delightful as she is, so without further ado I bring you…
TO TERMINATOR, WITH LOVE BLURB & GIVEAWAY
Dexter Wu’s life is hectic, but he’s managing—mostly. He’s on the verge of finishing grad school, and that means putting the final touches on his number one project: HAL, a social robot and children’s storytelling companion. But his best friend is leaving the country for good, his birthday’s coming up, he’s swamped with studying for finals, and he hasn’t slept in days.
He’s also going to destroy the world.
At least, his robot is, according to the possibly untrustworthy Agency, an organization whose mission is to protect the world at all costs. After his birthday party turns into a fight for his life, Dexter’s simple life of fast food and Netflix binges is replaced by a glitchy oracle, the world’s douchiest secret agents, and an ever-increasing chain of conspiracies.
With the help of Andre, a mysterious and disenchanted young agent turned rogue, Dexter sets out to plead his case to the Director in an effort to get his life back to what counts as normal—but he should know by now nothing is ever so easy.
DUDE YOU WANT THIS BOOK SO ENTER TO WIN IT
Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for your chance to win a copy of TO TERMINATOR, WITH LOVE! Tweet about the giveaway, add the book to your GR shelf, or comment below and tell us your favorite robot-themed book, song, or film.
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