*This interview may contain a few small spoilers! Read at your own risk.
Kara McDowell’s debut novel “Just for Clicks” will be released by Amberjack Publishing on Tuesday, February 19th! I had the opportunity to interview her about her book.
But first, let’s learn a bit about Kara!
Born in the mountains and raised in the desert, Kara McDowell spent her childhood swimming, boating, and making up stories in her head. As the middle of five children, Kara entertained her family on long road trips by reading short mystery stories out loud and forcing everyone to guess the conclusion. After graduating from Arizona State University with a BA in English Literature, Kara worked as a freelance writer. Now she writes young adult novels from her home in Arizona, where she lives with her husband and three young sons.
JUST FOR CLICKS is Kara’s debut novel.
Read the synopsis before you read the interview!
Mommy blogs are great . . . unless the blog happens to belong
to your mom.
Twin sisters Claire & Poppy are accidental social media stars thanks
to Mom going viral when they were babies. Now, as teens, they’re expected to contribute by building their own brand. Attending a NY fashion week and receiving fan mail is a blast. Fending off internet trolls and would-be kidnappers? Not so much. Poppy embraces it. Claire hates it. Will anybody accept her as “just Claire”? And what should Claire do about Mom’s old journals? The handwritten entries definitely don’t sound like Mom’s perfect blog persona. Worse, one of them divulges a secret that leaves Claire wondering what else in her life might be nothing but a sham . . .
* * INTERVIEW * *
COURTNEY: How long did it take you to write the first draft?
KARA: 44 days! I got the idea one Sunday morning while I was curling my hair and I immediately sat down to jot notes. On Monday, I started drafting. It’s the fastest I’ve ever drafted anything in my life, and it definitely showed. It took me about 2 years to revise and edit it!
COURTNEY: As your website states, you used to work as a lifestyle/mommy blogger, which is what inspired “Just for Clicks.” What inspired you to write about twins, as well as the secret that Claire uncovers in her mom’s journal?
KARA: The idea of writing about twins, (as well as the secret in the journal) are actually both plot points that I carried over from my first novel. It was a terrible dystopian that I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2013, and I was enamored with the idea of hidden family secrets.
Although I’ve never been a twin, I did grow up with four siblings, and I love exploring sibling dynamics. Claire says, “that’s the thing about sisters, best friends, roommates, and especially someone who is all of the above. They know which words will hurt the worst.” That juxtaposition is what I was trying to portray with Poppy and Claire’s relationship.
COURTNEY: Which character, if any, changed the most from the first draft to the finished copy?
KARA: Definitely Rafael. Even after my book sold, my editor wanted me to add more depth to his character. In the first draft, he was a nice guy who liked Claire. It took me quite a few drafts to figure out his backstory and his motivations. But I love where he ended up and I think he’s the perfect guy for Claire. She can prickly and reserved (for good reason), and he’s open and friendly (also for good reason). I love the two of them together.
COURTNEY: Was there a scene that you absolutely loved that you had to end up cutting from the final draft? If so, can you tell me anything about it?
KARA: I was lucky enough to keep all my favorite scenes! The final draft is ten thousand words longer than the first draft, so I added a lot more than I cut. Although there was a scene with Claire talking to Lena, the reporter from Fashion Week, that included a tower of sugar packets and a metaphor about card houses that I hated cutting because it felt so clever. Looking back, it wasn’t actually that clever.
COURTNEY: What was your favorite scene to write?
KARA: Anything with Claire and Rafael! But especially the night they meet at the park, where he almost kisses her and she gets flustered and ruined the moment. Those tension-filled near kisses are my absolute favorite to read and write. Plus, I think it’s realistic that a teenager with no experience would be awkward during that moment, even if she really wanted the kiss!
COURTNEY: Is there anything you can tell me about your next novel? Is there any chance that we’ll get to see a Poppy-centric novel in the future?
KARA: I’m working on a few different things, but I don’t have news to share yet. I will say that I’ve definitely thought about writing a novel from Poppy’s POV, picking up shortly after Just for Clicks ends. I love Poppy; she’s smart and determined and knows what she wants, but the end of Just for Clicks leaves her in a tough spot. She has a lot to figure out, and that journey would be fun to write. Plus, I want to give her a happily ever after! (With someone you might not expect.)
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You can read my review of “Just For Clicks” now, and stay tuned for the playlist being posted tomorrow!! There is a giveaway for this book being held until February 22, 2019–read about it at the bottom of this post.
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