Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—most named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty-two years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her YA stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people, their relationships, and relevant issues in the lives of teens. When Mia was a teen, she filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, CoolDudes and YoungDudes Publishing, and CreateSpace for providing her with alternate places to stash her stories.
Mia is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights, especially marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.
EXTRA CREDIT INTERVIEW WITH MIA KERICK:
Joining LitPick today for an Extra Credit Author Interview is Mia Kerick, author of many YA books. Her newest book, My Crunchy Life, will be releasing on June 26. Check out the reviews by our student book reviews (https://litpick.com/books/my-crunchy-life).
***Do you have a solid outline before writing, or do you usually get ideas as you go along?
I wish I could say I had a solid outline at the start of each book, but that’s not how it is for me. I have an idea for plot, a visual image of the characters that I get from online searches, as well as a notion of how they behave, and I start writing. When I get closer to the end of the book, maybe two-thirds of the way through, I make an outline that includes each scene I need to complete. So, the end of the book is structured, and the beginning is free-flowing. But I think this is for the best, as being unstructured in the early part of the novel allows for more creativity. Things happen that even I never expected!
***Has someone you’ve known ever appeared as a character in a book (consciously or subconsciously)?
My first book, Beggars and Choosers, included all of the members of Queen. They were my main character’s (who was based on me, not a band member) father, employers, and boyfriend. The bad guy was a member of an eighties rock band too. But I’ll never tell who.
***What do you do when you get writer’s block?
I really don’t get writer’s block. I get story-selection-confusion. In other words, I start three stories and then have to choose which one I’m going to run with.
***If you could live in a book’s world, which would you choose?
Good question. Hmmm. If you mean my books’ worlds, they are pretty much all the same—contemporary and set mainly in small towns in the United States. But I like The Red Sheet’s world because there’s a little bit of magic in it. Maybe I should write another book with a hint of magic.
***What is your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?
I like Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman. Absorbing in both versions.
***If you could have lunch with one other person (dead or alive), who would it be?
I think I would like to dine with Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen. His voice is unsurpassed by any other vocalist (IMHO) and his creativity is legendary. He died too young.
***Is there anything else you’d like to share?
The Weekend Bucket List is my first, maybe only ever—not sure yet—story without a real romance, but with a strong focus on another kind of love: friendship. It was hard for me to see many of my regular readers react with distaste, as if, without romance it wasn’t really able to achieve the status of a great read. I wonder how LitPick readers feel about romance in novels? How important is it to a reader’s satisfaction, even if there is only a touch of romance in a story?
Thanks for reading my interview and my books!!
Mia, thank you for taking time to share with us. We are excited about the release of your newest book, and we are curious about the answers to the questions you asked about romance in books. We’d love to hear the thoughts from our readers.
SIX MINUTES WITH MIA KERICK:
Today Mia Kerick joins LitPick for Six Minutes with an Author! Mia is the author of both Young Adult and Adult fiction books. Some of her YA books are Intervention, Not Broken, Just Bent, Us Three, Come to My Window, and the just released Love Spell. Mia’s four children are named after saints, her five cats are named after Boston Red Sox players, and she has been married over twenty-two years. Mia’s major regret in life is that she never took typing or computer class in school, and is therefore a two-fingered typist. The American Library Association (ALA) has designated June 2015 as GLBT Book Month™, which makes this the perfect time for Mia’s interview.
How did you get started writing?
I have always been a dreamer, easily absorbed by all things make pretend. As a grade school kid, I could express my creativity and whimsy through play-acting. For example, my sister, her best friend, and I were members of an indigenous society when we played outside by the stream in our woodsy backyard. We made tiny pots out of the claylike sand we found on the banks of the stream, and we created complex shelters out of sticks that would put contestants on Naked and Afraid to shame. I also frequently played with dolls—large (baby dolls) and small (Barbie Dolls). Sometimes I was a young mother on the run (can’t remember what exactly I was running from) living in a dingy motel room (my bedroom) with a cranky newborn baby (Mattel’s Baby Tender Love) to care for. Other times my Barbie and Skipper were Olympic gymnasts who specialized in floor exercises (my summer Olympics obsession). If worse came to worse and no dolls were available, I could create a soap opera saga for a leaf family—the Maples adopt an Oak baby when a harsh and hazardous autumn breeze blows away Oak baby’s parents. I even played with rocks—and I’m not talking about those cute painted ones with little faces that look like frogs. I’m referring to your basic sidewalk stone, dirt-covered and lacking all traces of glamour. Inducing some of my less imaginative neighbors to play rock family was, at times, tricky.
The amount of time I spent making pretend with the neighborhood kids diminished as we entered the teen years, and although I will confess to breaking out my Barbie dolls sporadically until the age of seventeen, I shifted my expressive outlet mainly to writing. An interesting fact: at about age fifteen I wrote the basis of the story that at age forty-five became my first published novel, Beggars and Choosers. All of my characters resembled 1980’s rock and roll singers (think REALLY BIG hair), and I was one of the romantic leads.
So, in short, which this answer was not, I have a powerful imagination, which maturing did nothing to lessen. And so my play-acting shifted from acting things out with my body, to acting them out with toys and dolls and yes, sometimes leaves, to acting them out in my head through my writing.
Who influenced you?
My primary influence has long been my older sister, the one I’d been trying to keep up with ever since we belonged to the same indigenous family in my backyard as children. After experiencing a mutual admiration—no, not obsession, we just liked him a lot—for the Edward Cullen character from Twilight, my sister was moved to write. And yes, her little sister was hot on her heels. Part of our relationship is now “book talk”, where we discuss what we are working on, ask questions of each other, and offer honest opinions.
Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
I will again own up to my strong appreciation of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. And in particular, I adore the character of Edward Cullen. I will also admit that I when I first read Twilight, I wasn’t quite certain why Edward affected me so much. I asked myself, “Why on earth do you spend so much time wondering ‘what would Edward do’ in this situation?” Could it be that I was merely influenced by the multitudes of beautiful images in the media of the actor, Robert Pattinson, who played Edward? Was I so shallow that a near-perfect physical representative of a character in a book could influence me to such a degree?
With relief, though, I realized that I had some real reasons for buying into this character. First, you must know that I am a romance reader and writer.
I believe in love…
I believe that love is love…
I believe that love can save…
To sum it up, love is, in my opinion, a many splendid thing.
And what I love about Edward is the way he loves Bella. Not only is his love for her all-consuming, and completely self-sacrificial, in nature, but it is also dangerous. He is dangerous. He is the very bad good guy, or maybe the very good bad guy, that so many of us can’t get enough of in our romance reading.
Prior to reading Twilight, I almost strictly read historical romance. So, for setting and time period, it had never been contemporary backdrops for me. In fact, another character I favor (all-consuming and self-sacrificial and dangerous love: check, check, and check) is Mr. Rochester of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. I enjoy reading about the propriety of life in historical fiction.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
My most successful YA novels have been the ones in which I totally cut loose and broke the rules, writing what was in my heart, such as The Red Sheet. There are a lot of rules, you know, for a piece of fiction to be acceptable to publishers. Don’t be too wordy, never use a passive voice, avoid clichés like the plague, don’t refer to popular culture too specifically or it will date your book, by all means don’t be cute as readers might feel left out of an inside joke, and always avoid alliteration (hehehe). And there are plenty more rules where these came from. But my advice cannot be found in a list. My words of wisdom for new authors: Be true to yourself. Readers can spot a fake a mile away.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I have four (wonderful, in case they read this) children who, over the past years, I have carted around to all kinds of extracurricular activities. So, I have often written in my black Volvo wagon, parked outside a dance studio, or a gymnasium, or an SAT class. I can get the job done, pretty much anywhere. But my favorite place to write is in THE RED SOX ROOM, on my big comfy couch, surrounded by my baseball heroes.
What else would you like to tell us?
*I am a connoisseur of fine cats. Right now we have five.
*I adore a mocha latte with extra espresso. But I’ve lately been getting into a nice hot cup of tea. (Not literally getting into the cup of tea… I just like to drink it.)
*Sometimes chocolate is an absolute necessity to maintaining my sanity. My preference is for Lindt hollow chocolate Easter bunnies, which unfortunately become scarce in online shops by late summer.
*I have a standard go-to outfit, which I know I will feel confident in: white oxford shirt (worn untucked), button-down collar mandatory, ripped button fly light blue jeans, brown Frye harness boots, and pearl earrings. This is my go-to outfit—I reach for it when I have to run out to my daughter’s tennis match, the grocery store, an AAU basketball game, college tours… well, you name it. You will find me dressed like a slightly preppy ranch hand.
I guess I told you enough about me.
I’d like to introduce my assistant Kari Higa’s who created the promo images. As a mother of three wonderful children, Kari splits her time between taxiing her kids around town and doing what she loves. Music and art are her passion and reading is her escape. She loves to listen to Chopin but wants to play Bach. From art journals to visual note taking, Kari loves to try different art media that express her thoughts and emotions. As a former educator, she loves spending time with kids, whether she is volunteering for a youth program or at her kids' schools.
Mia, thank you so much for spending six minutes with LitPick! This has been a very fun interview!