GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with Kara Taylor, author of PREP SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL

We’re excited to interview Lucky13 author Kara Taylor, whose YA Novel Prep School Confidential is a murder mystery that’s Gossip Girls meets Twin Peaks, and due out TODAY – July 30! Check out the blurb from Goodreads:

Prep School Confidential

Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side—that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne couldn’t care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school. 

When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.

1. Mysteries can sometimes be harder to do in terms of plot and unexpected twists – and Prep School Confidential has loads of twists! Did you plot out every detail beforehand, or are you more of a pantser?

I’m usually a panster, but writing a mystery is like a Jenga tower. One wrong move or twist, and the whole plot can come crumbling down! I started with a vague outline for PREP SCHOOL and filled in all the details as I went to make sure everything fit well. But sometimes a twist would come to me as I was writing the book and I’d have to go back over everything to make sure it made sense!

2. Anne is such a smart, sassy MC who’ll match all comers wit for wit – are there any aspects of Anne that are based on your own experiences? What other things inspired Anne (or Anthony or Brent)?

It’s funny (and slightly embarrassing) because family and friends automatically equated Anne’s voice with mine. I tend to be very irreverent and blunt, like Anne is. But we’re also SO different. Anne is at the top of her school’s social hierarchy, and I was at the lower middle. Anne is gutsy and will walk into a dark alley alone, whereas I’m a total wimp. One thing we do have in common though is being an outsider at a school in Massachusetts. Like Anne, I’m from New York. I spent a year away at college in Boston, and I struggled to fit in because people have assumptions about New Yorkers. Also, we talk kind of funny.

3. Prep School Confidential is set in a boardinghouse where everyone’s got secrets. What made you choose this as a setting?

I love the boarding school setting because you have a bunch of kids with almost NO adult supervision. The potential for shenanigans is very high. Having a classmate murdered is terrifying enough, but at a boarding school, where the killer may live across the hall from you? I’m also fascinated by the boarding school relationship dynamics. In PSC, Anne notices that her core group of friends are more like a family. Everyone tries to avoid dating (you have to see the other person EVERY. DAY) which is a VERY foreign concept to Anne.

4. What was the toughest and the most exciting parts of your journey to publication so far?

The hardest part was letting go of the manuscript that landed me my agent. It was so close to my heart, my agent fell in love with it, but then it didn’t sell. I had a really hard time focusing on another project for a while. PREP SCHOOL was the book that pulled me out of my slump. Now, I’m thankful that the other book didn’t sell. I wrote it while I was 19/20, and I was in a VERY different place. I barely recognize the words on the page, let alone the person who wrote them. The book was a growing experience for me, and most importantly, it got me my agent. Most exciting, I would say, was getting blurbs from other authors. Also, seeing my cover for the first time!

5. What fun facts might readers not know about you?

I’m certified to teach middle/high school English, I played Pee-Wee Hermann in an 11th grade play, I write for television, I can recite all of the Honey Badger video from memory, and my father suspects my book deal is a scam.

6. Since this community is “All for One and OneFour KidLit,” we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid?

EEEP, only two or three? Okay, the obvious one is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I was seven when that book came out, and I still remember the day my grandmother bought it for me because “everyone was talking about it.” Also, I had a ton of colored-pencil Nancy Drew inspired short fiction in my fourth grade desk. I guess it’s not too much of a shock my first book a teen mystery!

Find Prep School Confidential at any of the following stores!

Kara Taylor Author Pic
Kara Taylor wrote PREP SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL in her first semester of graduate school, in between pulling all nighters and listening to her dad say writing isn’t a real job. Now, she lives on Long Island with a kitten named Felix and a Chihuahua named Izzy and writes full time. She is represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary and Media. 
Despite an uncanny resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin has always maintained her sense of hummus. Raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps eight pets: a dog, six birds, and a husband. She’s been a time traveler, a Starfleet captain, and a mutant, because real jobs are overrated. Her YA horror, THE UNNATURAL STATES OF DEAD GIRLS IN WELLS (Sourcebooks), pitched as Dexter meets the Grudge, is due out Fall 2014.
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