An Interview With: Katy Birchall
The IT Girl is a new YA contemporary with aspects that all teenagers can identify with. The book focuses on a young girl dealing with her dad's new relationship - with a movie star, and the new step-sister - a complete party-girl that she must learn to understand whilst struggling with friendships, growing up and learning to not be embarrassed to be who she is. I got the opportunity to ask the author, Katy Birchall, some questions about The It Girl, a possible sequel and her own book recommendations for YA Love readers.
Hi Katy! Thank you so much for doing an interview for YA Love Magazine!
Q - Your debut YA novel came out in May 2015 – The It-Girl, and I personally, loved it. If I were to sum up the book in 4 words, I’d say it’s about “friendship, popularity, family and reputation.” What 4 other words would you use to describe this book?
A – An ideal review would describe The It Girl in four words as “fun, heart-warming, entertaining and geek-chic”. More likely to be: “this author is weird”.
Q – One of the main themes in The It-Girl is the main character Anna’s relationship with her dog. Where did you get this idea from – are you a big dog-lover? Did you want this to definitely be an important relationship within the novel?
A – Do you know what this question reminds me of? That really embarrassing time when I was sixteen-years-old and—apparently being out of my mind at the time—got a hoodie with “DOG-LOVER” printed on the back. No, really. I got it SPECIALLY MADE. I was SIXTEEN. By the time they hit sixteen, most teenage girls are hanging out with boys and wearing make-up. I was sitting in the library on my own wearing a bespoke “DOG-LOVER” hoodie. It’s a miracle I had/have any friends.
Disturbing memories aside, I am 100% a dog-lover. My family has four beautiful Labradors and they, along with my old springer spaniel, being the loves of my life have of course provided the inspiration for Dog and Anna’s relationship.
Dogs are kind, loyal, they never judge you and they simply love you back. We can learn a lot from them.
Q – Anna’s character often felt as though she was embarrassing herself and her friends, which is something I think a lot of teenagers can relate to. Was this something you experienced as a child/teen and in particular, why did you decide to make this an important theme/lesson in The It-Girl?
A – See “DOG-LOVER” hoodie story above.
It is a big theme in the series because I think it’s important that you don’t take yourself too seriously. Learning to laugh at myself has been a really good life-lesson. I think a lot of women go through life thinking “oh goodness, why can’t I be more elegant/more sophisticated/less clumsy/less embarrassing?!” but those moments make you who you are and, as a plus, they usually make the best stories with the biggest laughs! In my opinion, every girl is an It Girl in her own unique, genius way.
Q – The It-Girl contains a unique type of parental relationship that isn’t often seen in YA fiction. To put it simply: Anna’s two parents aren’t in a relationship, they’re friends over all. Do you feel parental relationships are an important topic in YA literature? And why in particular did you want to write about this kind of relationship/friendship rather than the ‘traditional’ cliché mother-father in love type of relationship.
A – It’s very important that no one should feel ashamed and made to feel “different” or against the norm, especially when it comes to family. EVERY family is different and not all align to “traditional” notions but that doesn’t make them any less of one. I didn’t really set out to offer a new or refreshing type of literary parental relationship but I’ve been thrilled with the positive reaction to Anna’s “non-traditional” family.
Q – The It-Girl is part of a series, which will be continuing next year. Have you already planned out what these will be about and/or have you started writing them yet?*
A – It’s all very exciting! Two more sequels will be hitting the shelves next year…I’ve already written the second one and I’m currently working on edits, and then I’ll be starting the third one once that’s all done. I don’t want to give too much away, but I can tell you that Anna has plenty more ridiculous and hilarious adventures to come!
At least I think they’re hilarious. But then again I wore “DOG-LOVER” hoodies into my late teens. It’s clearly always been a personal hardship to know when people are laughing at me or with me.
Q – Finally, we like to ask authors what their number one recommendation for YA readers would be. What would be your number one, and what would be a close second?
A – Very tricky question! My runner-up recommendation for YA readers would be The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It’s just such a fantastic book; I’ve read it so many times. My number one recommendation would be Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A.Milne, specifically the chapter In Which Pooh and Piglet Go Hunting and Nearly Catch a Woozle. Milne’s writing has everything: brilliant storytelling, wonderful characters and quotes that will stay with you your whole life: “the things that make me different are the things that make me me”.
Thank you so much for taking part in our interview Katy!
If you want to find more information about Katy, you can visit her website katybirchallauthor.com or follow her on Twitter @KatyBirchall or if you'd like to add the book to your Goodreads, or read if for yourself, the links are below.