Saturday, June 16, 2012

Interview with Kendall Kulper

Biography: Kendall blogs at Blogging for YA, which features book reviews, thoughts on YA writing and publishing, and a weekly wrap-up of the best YA posts from the blog-o-sphere. You can find her at or on Twitter at @Kendall_Kulper.

Deirdra: What are your favorite kind of books to read and why?
Kendall: Primarily I read YA books, and I try to stick to books that have been published in the past year. I also really enjoy reading classic, Norton-Anthology, TIME’s Top 100-style books.

Deirdra: How many books on average would you say you read a year?
Kendall: I reread a lot of books, but I try to read at least one new book a week. For new books, I probably read about 50-70, and for all books, maybe around 80?

Deirdra: What is the most recent book you read? Can you tell us a little about it?
Kendall: I just finished Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore, and I really enjoyed it. Her previous two novels, Fire and Graceling were wonderful, and Bitterblue definitely didn’t disappoint! She kept a lot of the elements I loved from the first two books—magic, romance, an amazingly-imagined world—but there was so much more complexity in this novel, and it was great to see her writing mature so wonderfully. I posted a full review (with a lot more thoughts) at my blog here:

Deirdra: What is the most disappointing thing authors do?
Kendall: I would say that, on the whole, I am absolutely delighted with the authors that I read. I know that it’s really difficult, demanding work, and the vast majority pull it off in a way that consistently amazes me. That said, I have noticed a trend in YA novels that worries me a little: poorly-thought-out trilogies. Trilogies have gotten so popular lately, but I feel like very few writers go in with a fully-conceived plan and the result is a bunch of novels that don’t really have endings, where characters don’t stay consistent from book to book, and where the final book—stylistically and story-wise—doesn’t bear much resemblance to the first. As a reader, I’m starting to get tired of nearing the end of the book, only to discover that there are so many loose ends and it’s the start of a trilogy. I wouldn’t say every trilogy out there has these pitfalls, but I do think they are much harder to pull off than people think.

Deirdra: Who are your top five favorite authors?
Kendall: Carson McCullers, for her beautifully- and sensitively-imagined characters (and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter should be required reading for all of humanity)
East of Eden is my favorite book, and although I don’t love everything of John Steinbeck’s, he’s right up there as one of my favorites
Gabriel Garcia Marquez just can’t be beat. He writes with so much lushness and emotion, but he does it so effortlessly
Vladmir Nabokov is absolutely wonderful. I know Lolita gets the most play, but he wrote a lot of essays and short stories that are also amazing. Every time I read something by his, I see a new layer of depth and complexity and so it’s always a pleasure to pick up his writing.
And last but not least, Cormac McCarthy is such an astounding, powerful writer. He manages to capture so much feeling and atmosphere in his books.

Deirdra: How do you feel about e-books?
Kendall: I really love them. I travel quite a bit, and my Nook is essential (and beloved). Most books I read I virtually check out from the library, although if I really enjoy a book I’ll buy it in hardcover. A lot of authors are talking about pushing e-books and making “enhanced” books, with music, video, links, and I think that’s really exciting.

Deirdra: If you could give a message to authors what would it be?
Kendall: Thank you.

Deirdra: Have you ever thought about writing a book?
Kendall: Yes, I’ve always written stories, ever since I was very young, and now I write full time.

Deirdra: What other talents and hobbies to you have?
Kendall: I really enjoy cooking. Writing is a really nebulous activity, with no right answers, but with cooking, you know that if you have good ingredients and good tools and follow the recipe, you’ll have something great at the end, and I find that really soothing. I also draw a lot and have done some freelance illustration work, and I’m trying to get back into ballet.

Deirdra: Where is your favorite place to read?
Kendall: In bed, usually.

Deirdra: Do you have a favorite reading snack?
Kendall: Since I read in bed, no. I don’t think my husband would appreciate that…

Deirdra: What books have made you cry?
Kendall: Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanha Lai. She did a wonderful job of capturing the complicated feelings of being young and scared.

Deirdra: What books have made you laugh?
Kendall: The first book that comes to mind is Tina Fey’s Bossypants. I just love it! I think I’ve read it three or four times, but every time I pick it up I can’t stop laughing.

Deirdra: What kind of books are you looking to read next? What is on your reading list?
Kendall: I’m always looking for more YA books. The next books I plan to read are Anna Dressed in Blood and Insurgent, and I’m also hoping that the summer will give me some time to catch up on my adult fiction. For that list, I’d like to read V.S. Naipaul’s A Bend in the River.

Deirdra: Is there any other message you would like to give the literary community?
Kendall: Nothing I can think of!


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