Hello, everyone! Do I have a spooky read for you today! Katya de Becerra’s What the Woods Keep releases next week and I have a triple-threat feature to share as part of the blog tour organized by Tale Out Loud! Keep on scrolling here for an EXCLUSIVE interview with the author herself, then make sure to enter to win a copy of WTWK!
Not enough for you? CLICK HERE to read my early review of this chilling book perfect for your next haunting read!
All About Katya
You wrote a book! That’s pretty awesome. Why don’t you tell us a bit about what inspired What the Woods Keep?
Thank you! What The Woods Keep was inspired by Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. Also, I’m obsessed with forests, fictional and real, so it’s no surprise that my debut is a tribute to the sylvan fantasy.
Introduce us to your main character!
Meet Hayden: a bit weird, a lot loyal, somewhat pragmatic. She overthinks things; will find a way to explain any mysterious phenomena with science, even if a UFO falls out of the skies and spills out aliens right before her eyes. Stubborn.
Walk us through a day in the life of Katya de Becerra.
I have a full-time day job (I teach at a university), so on most days I get up and go to work and do stuff in the office. My writing happens mostly on weekends, but I do tend to draft on my phone (I send lots of emails to myself!) while commuting to and from work and sometimes I write through my lunch breaks in a café, if it’s quiet enough.
Lots of aspiring authors out there. Any advice for them?
Be persistent. Be pragmatic. Be realistic.
I was “discovered” in an agent’s slush pile, so yes, it is possible to get into publishing and get a book deal that way. But… there are so many different pathways and everyone’s experience is so different. I guess, my advice is to just keep at it: keep writing, keep reading, keep learning, but also be prepared for A LOT of rejection. If you don’t get an agent after querying your first book – don’t despair, just write another and try again with that one. Basically, keep writing books until one becomes your published debut. Oh, and never ever compare yourself to others. Just do your thing. Write the stuff you want to write.
I know asking someone’s all-time favorite book is a loaded question so what’s your current favorite read?
Haha, I don’t mind being asked either of these questions! The Master and Margarita (by Bulgakov) is my all-time favorite book. I lost count how many times I’ve read/re-read it (actually, now I’m thinking I’m overdue for a re-read!) and I can’t recommend it enough – it’s brilliant and hysterically funny and so smart, it’s scary, and… it’s also authentically scary in parts (there are creepy vampires and demons in this book and there’s this scene where an enraged witch takes revenge on a literary critic by trashing his apartment. I’ll say no more!).
As for my current favorite reads… Most recently, I was completely mesmerized by The Hazel Wood (Melissa Albert), stunned by The Language of Thorns (Leigh Bardugo) and wildly entertained by Scream All Night (Derek Milman). And while I’m at it: I’m currently making my way through a bunch of 2018 and 2019 YA debuts (I get to read lots of books before they’re released – one of the perks of being an author!) and I’m really looking forward to The Law of Inertia by S. Gonzales and Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte!
Alright, the ultimate question: why should we read your book?
Come for the mystery, stay for all the weird science fiction references!
Honestly though, I wrote the type of book the teen-me would’ve been seriously into, plus I wrote it primarily to entertain readers, so you should read my book for entertainment and maybe for some creepy scares too!
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Tenacious. Opinionated. Overcaffeinated.
What is your most embarrassing memory?
Back when my English was not so good (I’m not a native speaker), I had to take a phone message at work and I misheard him when the caller introduced himself. Basically, his last name was Cruickshank, but I heard “goose shanks” and wrote that down when I took the message. My colleagues laughed so hard, some fell off their chairs, I think. I don’t work there anymore, but the memory lives on.
What is your Hogwarts house?
I’m a Ravenclaw through and through!
Your characters are sent into the Hunger Games. Who wins?
Probably the book’s primary antagonist will win in the Hunger Games. But I can’t tell more than that because SPOILERS.
A famous movie producer wants to make your books into movies and they want you to cast your characters. Which actors/actresses make the cut?
Taissa Farmiga for Hayden; China Anne McClain for Del; Eivør Pálsdóttir for Ella (Hayden’s Mom), and Rooney Mara for Elspeth. It’s tougher with male characters, for some reason – I’ll leave it to the professional casting director to decide, LOL.
You just won America’s Got Talent. What’s your talent?
Writing? *grins sheepishly*
(I’m also really good at arranging bookshelves in alphabetical order, then by genre, then by height, but I don’t think that counts here?)
Radioactive space rock fell from the sky and turned you into a superhero/villain. Tell us your new name, describe your powers, and what does your costume look like?
I’d totally be an ambiguous superpowered being who’s not a total goody-two-shoes but not an outright villain either. My superpowers would be elemental as well as psychic, because why not. I’d most definitely have a cape and shiny boots. As for my new name, I can’t choose between The Defiant Gloom and Tornadoa, so how about The Defiant Tornadoa?
This morning you woke up with the ability to time travel to only one time period. Where (or more accurately “when”) would you go?
So I’ve got some clarifying questions before I can answer that: can I return from this time period in the past/future back to where I started or is it a one way trip? What time paradoxes should I be aware of when I travel? What happens if I accidentally meet myself in the past? Do I age while I travel? Can I take a change of clothes with me as well as some snacks or is it a Terminator-style time travel?
Coffee or tea?
All the coffee I can drink before 12pm, then only decaf tea after that, unless no sleep for me.
Best ice cream flavor ever?
I’d normally say chocolate (how boring but delicious!), though lately I’ve been seriously into citrus sorbets – so good!
Your theme song/personal anthem?
For a long time it’s been “Drowse” by Queen; though lately I can’t get enough of “What Else Is There?” by Röyksopp – it’s so deliciously dark and strange and mysterious.
“At first she cried for a long time, but then she became wicked…”
― Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita
What is one piece of advice you would tell everyone?
Read more books.
About the Bookby Katya de BecerraPublished on September 18, 2018 by Imprint
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
What the Woods Keep is the stunning debut of Katya de Becerra, who combines mystery, science fiction, and dark fantasy in a twisty story that will keep you mesmerized right up to the final page.
On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.
Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.
As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.
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