Please welcome Kimberly G. Giarratano, author of Grunge Gods and Graveyards.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
My perfect day would start off with brunch in Key West. If it’s going to be perfect, then I’m going to be on vacation. There would be some type of spa treatment involved and I’d have hours to myself to write in a café overlooking the water. Oh, and it would be childless. I love my kids with all my being, but if we’re going to be honest, then my kids are going to be hanging out with their grandparents so Mama can be by herself. That’s a perfect day. Oh, my husband can come too if he wants.
Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
When people think of me, they think of guacamole. It’s the best thing I make and it’s to die for. The secret is garlic. And perfectly ripe avocados.
Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Writers inspire me so I’m going to say….Holly Black, J.K. Rowling, and Ernest Hemingway.
Do you listen to music when you write?
No. I require monastery-like silence to work. Which is why I struggle so much to write with three small children in the house.
If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
Lindt’s chili dark chocolate because Grunge Gods and Graveyards is a spicy YA romance with a dark, suspenseful mystery.
What made you interested in writing this particular story?
I wanted to write a YA version of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. I find a relationship between a girl and ghost so romantic because it can’t end happily…or can it? I had set the novel in the 90s because that’s when I was a teenager and I wanted 90s alternative music to figure prominently in the story. I guess I was just nostalgic for my youth.
What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
Identity is a constant theme in my work. Grunge Gods talks a lot about identity and trying to fit into various groups. Characters struggle with being Jewish, being Latino, being a teenager, being popular, being an outsider, being gay. I find myself fascinated with how my characters try to be all these things and still be true to themselves. Especially because my characters are teens. Adolescence is so much about figuring out who you are and who you want to become.
Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
Lainey Bloom had a very normal childhood. She was a kid in the 1980s. She played outside all the time. Tag, manhunt, and hopscotch were a part of her daily routine. She and her best friend would run through the cemetery and tell ghost stories. She had sleepovers and plenty of friends. Then when she was a teenager, during the most insecure and unsure time in her life, her mother died of cancer. Lainey’s sister emotionally checked out and her father became a workaholic. Lainey withdrew and isolated herself among her peers.
The prologue is one of the most emotional scenes in the book because Lainey’s friend, Danny, is killed in a hit-and-run. When she starts school in September, everyone blames her for his death and she can’t avoid the intense guilt and shame she feels over her part in the tragedy. So, in the beginning of the novel, Lainey is really depressed and lonely and heartbroken. It’s a lot for anyone to overcome, let alone a teenager. But somehow Lainey rallies. She’s damaged and scarred, but she’s doesn’t give up easily.
Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Lainey is one part Courtney Love (angsty rock chick), one part Veronica Mars, (sharp sleuth) and one part Jane Eyre (neglected soul).
If you could host an author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Neil deGrasse Tyson
What’s next for you?
I’m working on another YA ghost story/mystery, but this one is set in Key West, Florida. It’s told in dual POV and has a dynamic cast of characters. I’m also working on a short story mystery for a YA Sci-Fi anthology and I have a YA historical mystery in the outlining stage.
Kimberly G. Giarratano lives in the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and small children. Before staying home with her children, Kimberly was an ESL teacher and a YA librarian. One day Kimberly hopes to move to Key West, Florida where she can write in a small studio, just like Hemingway. Grunge Gods and Graveyards is her first novel.