Anyway, I was thrilled to hear that Young Adult author Kelly Parra had written a new book titled GRAFFITI GIRL. I must say I love the title. It is published by MTV Books. How cool is that? It is just the type of thing I would have picked up as a teen, so I was excited to find out I would get to host her as part of my blog co-op, The Girlfriends Cyber Circuit.
Raised by her single mom (who's always dating the wrong kind of man) in a struggling California neighborhood, Angel Rodriguez is a headstrong, independent young woman who channels her hopes and dreams for the future into her painting. But when her entry for a community mural doesn't rate, she's heartbroken. Even with winning artist Nathan Ramos--a senior track star and Angel's secret crush--taking a sudden interest in Angel and her art, she's angry and hurt. She's determined to find her own place in the art world, her own way.
That's when Miguel Badalin--from the notorious graffiti crew Reyes Del Norte--opens her eyes to an underground world of graf tags and turf wars. She's blown away by this bad boy's fantastic work and finds herself drawn to his dangerous charm. Soon she's running with Miguel's crew, pushing her skills to the limit and beginning to emerge as the artist she always dreamed she could be. But Nathan and Miguel are bitter enemies with a shared past, and choosing between them and their wildly different approaches to life and art means that Angel must decide what matters most before the artist inside of her can truly break free.
~ Jenny O'Connell, author of Plan B and The Book of Luke
"Graffiti Girl is a fast-paced story that boldly looks dreams and temptations in the eye. 16 year-old Angel Rodriguez steals your heart as she tries to find her place in the world--artistically, socially, and even inside her own family. Don't miss this one!"
~ Tina Ferraro, author of Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress
"Breaking into the YA market with the edgy debut novel Graffiti Girl, Kelly Parra will surprise readers with her hip yet mature voice."
~ RITA Award-winning author, Dianna Love Snell
"This book blew me away. Kelly Parra writes with the keen eye of an artist. Graffiti Girl is warm, gutsy, and true-to-life -- an unflinching, honest portrayal of young adults. A seamless and impressive debut."
~ Anne Frasier, USA Today bestselling author of Pale Immortal
1. How did you get this idea for this book? Please describe how the book grew from a glimmer of an idea into a whole novel.
KP: Basically my love for art in high school and my friends who were into Graffiti art inspired me to write Graffiti Girl. When I was sixteen, I tried my hand at graffiti designs in what is called a "piecebook" but could never really do justice to the bold style. When I decided to write YA fiction, graffiti was the first idea to pop for me since I was familiar with art. However, I did have to do a lot of research on graffiti. From there it was an uphill battle to find the right voice and tone I wanted to write for teens. Once I was comfortable, I just wrote. I wish there was some formula I followed that I could pass along, but by the time I have finished the book I am in awe that I actually wrote it and that all those words came from my head. I really think it's a gift writers have to tell stories.
2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
KP: My advice is to read. Read the genre you would like to write in, but also outside your genre. Take on-line writing courses or classes whenever you can manage it. There is always room for learning and growing. And when you feel your book is at its best and ready to be read by agents or editors, learn as much as you can about the publishing industry and the dos and don'ts of the submission process.
3. What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting organized?
KP: My typical day is to get up and ready my kids for school and get them out the door. Then when I return home, I refuel, check email and my numerous blogs, and that takes at least an hour. I can then settle into where I left off with my current book. I usually read the prior chapter to get back into the tone and scene, and that goes on with breaks until it's time to pick up the kids. Sadly, I wish I was more organized and just had more space in general to spread out. The only thing I often do, is right down a list of the things I must get finished that day. Otherwise who knows when I'll remember to get it done. :)
4. What's been the most exciting thing about publishing? The most frustrating?
KP: The most exciting part of writing a novel is that after all the hard work you put into a book, you get to finally have the finished product in your hands. There is nothing like holding your own published book, knowing you created these characters from your head, that these are the words you wrote. :) The most frustrating for me is outlining a novel in advance. I'd rather work with the story as I go along. If I write to an outline sometimes that doesn't leave room for much creativity.
5. Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not, what else is in the works?
KP: There are no plans to write a follow-up to Graffiti Girl. My next novel in the works is another YA about a girl who can see psychic images or signs on her peers, and pieces the signs together in order to save them from unfortunate fates. It's going to be a fun project to finish!
6. Who are your favorite authors in the genre you write?
KP: My favorite YA authors are Sarah Dessen, Ann Brashares, and Laurie Halse Anderson. And the list is growing every time I discover a new author!
7. Music while you write or silence?
KP: I read a lot about writers working to music. I just can't. Good music is so distracting. Half the time I want to sing along or dance when I hear a great song. I work best in silence so that I can focus on the character and try to get better into her head.
8. Favorite drink while writing?
KP: It's usually water, unless I have to stay up late writing. If that is the case it's a cup of French Vanilla Cafe to keep me awake. :)
Thank you so much, Kelly! Check out her book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local indy.