Interview with Award-Winning Author K.L. Going

fat-kid-coverGet to know K.L….

K.L. Going is the award-winning author of numerous books for children and teens. Her first novel, Fat Kid Rules the World was named a Michael Printz Honor Book by the American Library Association, and was included on YALSA’s Best Books for Young Adults list and their list of Best Books for the Past Decade. Her books have been Book Sense picks, Scholastic Book Club choices, Junior Library Guild selections,  NY Public Library Best Books for the Teenage, and winners of state book awards. They’ve been featured by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Children’s Book Council as Best Books of the year. Her work has also been published inKorea,Italy,Japan,Germany, and theUK, and her novel Fat Kid Rules the World is soon to be an independent film! 

K.L. began her career working at one of the oldest literary agencies in New York City. She used this inner knowledge of publishing to write Writing and Selling the Young Adult Novel – a how-to book for aspiring writers, published by Writer’s Digest. She has also written short stories for several anthologies and currently has multiple picture books under contract. She lives in Glen Spey, NY where she both writes and runs a business critiquing manuscripts. She’s also a mom to the world’s cutest little boy. Her first novel, Fat Kid Rules the World, is being made into a movie. To learn more, visit her website

Let the conversation begin!

When you were in grade school, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a full-time volunteer. Yes, that’s right. I wanted to work for no money. Ha. I’d read the book Christy by Catherine Marshall where the main character goes to Appalachia to become a teacher, and I just knew that I wanted to do something similar. I stuck with that idea all through school and ended up doing several years of volunteer service after
college.

Easier to write before or after you were published?

Before. I had so much more time back then. Now, my writing competes with my first priority – my two year old son. Guess what? My writing time usually loses. Plus, I miss the freedom of writing for no one else but me.

Do you write with music?

Unfortunately, I need silence to write. I wish this weren’t so because I love music and find it inspiring in many other ways. Sometimes I’ll listen to music before I write, just to get in a certain mood.

If you could only write one more book, what would it be about?

Death. This is the biggest issue that every single one of us will face. And it’s unknown territory.

What book was the easiest to write? Hardest?

Fat Kid Rules the World was the easiest book to write because I had no other considerations in my mind other than entertaining myself. The Garden of Eve was probably the hardest book to write because we ended up making changes late in the editorial process and that was stressful.

KLDo you let anyone read your work-in-progress? 

Generally no one gets to read my work until it’s finished, but I’ve
recently made an exception and let my writer’s group read the first fifty pages of a new project. In some ways it was encouraging, but in other ways it’s made me more self-conscious about writing. Usually, I keep everything a big ‘ol secret because I’m a bit superstitious.

What do you consider the most valuable thing you own?

We have a small fireproof safe but there’s nothing of traditional value in there. No jewelry, no money… I have it because I keep journals for my son, and this is where I store them to keep them safe. To me, these memories are priceless. 

Are you an outliner or a seat-of-the-pants writer?

Definitely a seat-of-the-pants writer. I wish I could be more organized and efficient, but instead I make it all up as I go along. I think this makes the writing process more difficult, but it also makes it more fun.

When are you the most productive?

Morning. Unfortunately, I don’t get to write then. I work around my son’s schedule, so I usually write in the afternoons and occasionally at night.

What element would you add to your writing space if money wasn’t an issue?

A full-time assistant sitting at a desk beside me. It would be this
gorgeous young man’s job to do all of my marketing and bring me chocolate.

If this was your last day on Earth, what would you do?

Spend every second with my family, and hug my son again and again. I’d stay home and enjoy my house, BBQ, soak in the glories of the every day world.

Do you begin with character or plot?

Character. This is what draws me into a story – whether I’m the one writing it or reading it.

Are your characters completely fictional?

I don’t base any of my characters directly off of real people, but I’m often inspired by particularly interesting celebrities. Generally musicians.

Who inspires you and how are you a bit like them?

Jimmy Carter. He’s done such great things in the world. I’d never compare myself to him, but I strive to do good in small ways.

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About Brittney Breakey

I love reading children’s fiction, coffee dates with my husband, trips to the library, thrift store bargains, chips and salsa, music of all kinds, lazy summer days, competitive games of Pictionary, and celebrating a long day of writing with ice cream and peppermint tea. I’m a two-time graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature, and I’m currently working on a humorous mystery for middle graders. I launched Author Turf in January 2011, and it has been an absolute honor to work with so many inspiring authors, promote their work, and learn about their writing processes. I hope you enjoy each and every interview.
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