We picked up the brand new book, The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker, because of the title; but, we couldn’t stop reading this pageturner because it addresses serious issues told by a teen narrator with a great sense of drama and humor who understands exactly what matters to a teen.? “Fourteen-year-old Kentucky girl Ricki Jo Winstead, who would prefer to be called Ericka, thank you very much, is eager to shed her farmer’s daughter roots and become part of the popular crowd at her small-town high school. Caught between being a country girl and a wannabe country club girl, Ricki Jo begins to forget who she truly is: someone who doesn’t care what people think and who wouldn’t let a good-looking guy walk all over her.” blurb from aleciawhitaker.com
And, Alecia Whitaker is? on tour! She just read in NYC, and now she’s reading from The Queen of Kentucky in… Kentucky. ? We’ll see her 1/13 at 7 at Carmichael’s Bookstore? and are counting down the minutes. Join us, or check her out at these locations.
Our author interview
How would you sum up your book if you were pitching it to a Hollywood agent to make a movie?
Judy Blume meets “Friday Night Lights”.
Growing up, what was your favorite teen book &/or author?
I have to say that I was a sucker for the Sweet Valley Twins series, as well as The Babysitter’s Club. But other books that I read that really stayed with me were Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, and Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt.
Is there any particular passage in the book that your friends will say is “so you”?
I’ve already gotten a little feedback about this actually. My friends see a lot of Ricki Jo’s spunky nature in me and I think the scene at the beginning of Chapter 7 really nails the way I was at her age. Not one to just say, “Can I try out for cheerleading?” Ricki Jo uses her sense of the dramatics to cover all aspects of how this is a good idea and to squelch any possible reluctance her parents may have. And yes, that kind of hilarious propaganda is in my personal repertoire. As my mom just told me on the phone, “We didn’t call you Drama Queen for nothing.”
When you were writing this book, how did you research teen magazines and styles to reference?
Well, I picked up several weeks worth of Seventeen magazine, I watch shows like “Project Runway” and “America’s Next Top Model,” and I follow a hilarious fashion blog gofugyourself.com. And I searched the internet, of course.
When you were a teen, what did you think you would be when you were older? How did you decide to be an author?
I never had grandiose visions of being a silver screen star in Hollywood, but I definitely had the goal to make a living off of the arts and I wanted to be an actress. I have been mildly successful in that area of my life here in New York, but I think that writing is my greatest strength. I was always a good writer and I took that talent for granted. It just seemed too easy. When I finally realized that writing doesn’t come easily to everyone, (that maybe I was actually special), I decided to pursue it as a career and things really took off.
Did you enjoy high school English??
Nerd Alert! I was a straight A student and English always came easiest to me. I didn’t have to work at it or study. I actually enjoyed the reading assignments so English class felt like an elective… that is until Mrs. Andrews came to our school. She taught AP English my junior year and I strongly disliked her for the first 9 weeks of school. Work for my grade? Are you serious? She taught at a college level and insisted that since we were “advanced placement” students, we should act like it. I didn’t like it at first, but she quickly earned my respect and became one of my all-time favorite teachers. That A in English stood out from all the others because I earned it. I was proud of it.
What advice would you give teen girls about trying to fit in or being popular?
I would tell them to celebrate as many parts of themselves as they commiserate. We’re so good at tearing ourselves down, especially in the area of body image, but we don’t always like ourselves like we should. Once you love yourself, you’ll care less about getting other people to love you.
And because we love seeing how our guests respond to our “PopCosmo Questions“:
Age: 32? (wait, what?)
Always has: a new book to read
Proudest of: my son, Knox, who is now walking everywhere and climbing everything.
Is thankful for: indoor plumbing
Wants to: see one of my books turned into a movie one day (SO DO WE!)
Is afraid of: snakes, spiders, and a world without chocolate
Believes everyone should: work as a waiter once in their life
Is embarrassed by: bad manners
My style is: whatever the mannequin’s wearing, then down a notch
Pet peeve: eye boogers (seriously, look in the mirror, get it out)
Alecia, thanks so much for sharing some of your time with us… and come back and visit with us ANYtime!