Interview: Kiera Cass

As soon as I saw a couple of videos from Kiera Cass, I knew I had to interview her. Looks like I’m not the only one that’s taken an interest: Kiera has over 2,600 YouTube subscribers alone. She and I share something in common, in that we both self-published our first books with iUniverse. Kiera continued to look for an agent even after her first book was published, and as a result her novel The Selection has just been picked up by Harper Teen.

My favorite part of the following interview is Keira’s advice for other writers: Get out there. Tweet, make videos, hang out with your readers. They’re very fun. Don’t fear writer’s block. It’s okay to step away. Eat cake. Enjoy this interview.

I stopped by your blog one day at the recommendation of another author (see how popular you are!) and couldn’t stop reading your posts and viewing the videos. You are a silly, happy girl! Have you always been this way? And when did you begin v-blogging?

If by “silly, happy” you mean “gigantic nerd”, then yeah, I’ve always been this way. I guess, even with the nerdiness, I’m pretty fun to be around. Though I kind of suck on the phone. Don’t call me. Tweet at me or something, I’m funnier in writing.

The vlogging thing started for the sake of entertainment. My friend Liz and I made a few Twilight parodies, and then I made my own channel for my randomness. I try to get at least one video up a week, and they’re pretty fun to make, but difficult with a baby chewing on the edge of a trash can or whatever he’s into today.

You self-published your first book with iUniverse. Why did you choose to go that route and how did that lead to the book contract for your following titles?

I chose to self-publish for a few reasons. First, since so many people were following me on YouTube, and I talk about whatever I want, they knew I was writing and asked about it a lot. I wanted to share my story with the handful of people who I knew wanted it. Second, the whole querying thing didn’t work out the first time around. Either it was timing or my book starting slow or maybe just not being ready, but no one felt like they could sell it, so I just did it on my own. It was a really good learning experience for me, but I’m not sure it helped me land an agent when I decided to query The Selection (which is slated to come out Summer 2012. Mark your calendars. Save your pennies). I think Elana (my agent) appreciated the experience, but wasn’t impressed. I think most agents will feel similarly.

You studied history at Radford University. Which time period did you find the most interesting?

Actually, I’m not sure I really studied any of the time periods I love. I dig American History, and I love Tudor England, but what I ended up studying was Social History. The history of vacations, the history of rock and roll, the history of trash. Did you know that feminine hygiene products and disposable tissues were invented before trash cans? Made for some awkward moments. I’m into those kinds of things, learning how a single idea or invention changed the landscape of popular culture. So neat.

Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?

Well, of course, there’s a lot of editing the first book of The Selection coming up for me. But I’m hard at work at book two in the trilogy, as well as fiddling around with another idea I’ve had for a while. Oh, fun fact! Almost every idea I’ve been working on came out of a three-month idea explosion I had years ago. I just pick up whichever one bugs me for attention the most, then sit it back down when another one wants to play. Except I’m pretty sure I won’t be allowed to just toss The Selection aside anytime soon. Since I’m ridiculously excited about it, I’m cool with that.

What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?

Interesting way to phrase that one. Not my favorite? That’s probably for the best since I can never pick one anyway. Most interesting (and also a book I feel everyone should read) is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Not everyone is a great storyteller, and not everyone is a great writer, but this is one book where great writing and storytelling fused into awesomeness. Stop reading this interview and go get it. [Editor’s note: No wait! Stay here and read the rest, then go get the book. Now back to your regularly scheduled interview…]

Book you’re currently reading?

I just finished Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. I’m still thinking that one over… to the point I’m not sure what to say.

Favorite food item to make and eat?

I make a wicked awesome starlight cake with butter cream frosting, all from scratch. I don’t want to brag, but it’s pretty popular here in Blacksburg. In general, I’m happy with a bowl of cereal.

In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?

Sheesh, I have no idea! Right now, I’m beyond anything I ever hoped for myself, and there’s so much more to come. I think being satisfied with what you’ve written is really the key. You may have only sell two books or you may be the next JK, but I don’t think any of that matters so long as you’re really proud of your work. Comparing things is pointless.

Advice for other writers?

Write everyday (unless you have a baby, then write when the adorable little monster will let you). Get out there. Tweet, make videos, hang out with your readers. They’re very fun. Don’t fear writer’s block. It’s okay to step away. Eat cake.

Where can we learn more about you?

You can check out kieracass.com, and there you’ll find links to twitter, youtube, and facebook where I will happily hang out with you. You could also talk to my mom.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I hate adding. And subtracting. Pretty much any form of math. Fractions are the devil.

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