Authors have some kind of power over us. They are not only imaginary world builders, they are also influencers, teachers, and role models. We would like to introduce you to K.M. Walton and her debut novel CRACKED. It is contemporary novel that’s been published by Simon & Schuster this past january.
One of my goals (really dreams) as a published author is for one of my books to either be reviewed or highlighted in Entertainment Weekly magazine. I’ve read that magazine every week since college. Reading it cover-to-cover is one of the highlights of my week. So to see one of my books in the Books section would be a dream come true. Maybe someday….
Why did you decide to write about troubled boys and not girls?
Actually, during the brainstorming stage of this novel, the bully and the victim were girls. But that soon changed because I wanted to try writing in the voice of a teenaged boy (something obviously foreign to me, being a girl and all). I’d also recently read three books that inspired me to write in a boy voice: THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE STORY OF A PART TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie, LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green, and GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray.
Being the oldest of four girls, what challenges did you encounter writing from a male character POV?
In my first draft, my critique partners both said that my boys had similar voices, so I went back to the drawing board and really fleshed the two MCs out. That’s when I discovered that Victor was a math genius and Bull liked to secretly read.
Are Bull and Victor inspired by people you know? Who was easier to write?
No, they were both completely fictional characters and believe it or not, they were easy to write. I somehow channeled these two teenaged boys and got their stories down on paper. It was an honor.
Where were you when the idea for Cracked came to you?
I was at the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City, listening to one of the speakers. He talked about how interesting he found books with multiple perspectives. At this point in my journey towards publication I’d written three middle grade suspense books – all in third person. So the mystery of writing in first person present tense, and in two distinct voices, really intrigued me. I went back up to my hotel room and drew a T-chart on a piece of paper. I stared at it for a while, wondering what two perspectives would be interesting to explore. And it hit me: a bully and the victim. So I wrote “Bully” at the top of one column and “Victim” at the top of the other and started brainstorming character traits.
Was Cracked the first book you’ve ever written? If not, how many stories have you written before Cracked?
Cracked was the fourth novel I wrote. I’d written two from my middle grade sci-fi adventure series (not published yet) and then a standalone middle grade adventure book (not published yet).
Why did you choose to write a young adult novel? What makes the teen years so intriguing to write about?
I think all of the contemporary young adult reading I’d been doing had an enormous influence on me. I was consistently blow away by the level of writing genius, the masterful storytelling and the realness of the characters. I wanted to try my hand at it.
Can you share a sentence or two from your current work with us? (a teaser)
These lines are in the voice of Dell, my main character from EMPTY, which releases from Simon Pulse~Simon & Schuster in the spring of 2013. Dell is an overweight teenaged girl who gets bullied and abused, and her life spirals out of control.
I somehow get myself together and walk off the field as fast as I can. My thighs rub together with each step. By the time I reach the locker room door, my skin stings so badly I swear there should be blood seeping through my stupid, polyester uniform.
What’s the message you would like your readers to learn from Cracked?
See the invisible people in your lives. The kids that no one pays attention to. Smile at them. Say hello. Validate them. Small acts of kindness have the power to save people’s lives and even change the world. Kindness matters.
What final advice would you give our young adult readers before diving into your book?
Words have power, whether spoken or written online. Words can either lift people up or tear them to bits. Ask yourselves, how would you like to be remembered—as the kid who treated everyone with basic human dignity or the jerk who tortured and humiliated? The choice is yours, it’s always yours. And again, Kindness Matters.
K.M. Walton writes contemporary YA, middle grade suspense, picture books and nonfiction. Her debut contemporary YA novel is CRACKED. K.M. had a gazillion dreams when she was a little firl. Her biggest dream was to be a teacher. Teaching became a reality for K.M. and she taught for twelve glorious years. But, it turns out writing is her favorite thing to do. Even the hard parts.