When a person goes to a book release party, he/she can expect to run into like-minded individuals. Folks who love to read, folks who love to write, and folks who love to support artists and their work. I think it's fair to say that you can expect to meet an author you admire and even get their John Hancock scrawled around the inside cover of their latest book. You can also stumble upon light refreshments and I'll just come right out and say that there has been many an event where the cupcakes alone have made my day. But to meet an author with a debut you recognize, from the same publisher as you, who also happens to be from your Ol' Kentucky Home?! Swoon-fest!
That's what happened when I first met Kody Keplinger. We instantly bonded over Poppy (our publisher) and Kentucky (our home state). We talked The Derby, we talked College Basketball, but moreover, we talked books and writing and how where we're from shaped who we are as authors.
So when The Contemps added me as a contributor this year, I was super stoked to spotlight Kody's second novel Shut Out. Here's a little bit about it from the inside book cover:
Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.
Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: she and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming. In this hilarious and romantic reimagining of Aristophanes' Lysistrata, the battle of boys against girls is on.
And here is the super cute trailer she just released:
And if this spotlight isn't already bright enough, we have Kody herself stopping by The Contemps to answer a few questions about Shut Out. Hurrah!
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Kody, when deciding to write your second novel, what gave you the idea for Shut Out? I know you got your inspiration from the Greek play Lysistrata. Are Greek plays something you read a lot of? For pleasure or maybe for homework in the past?
I actually haven't read a ton of Greek plays, but I do enjoy them. I read Lysistrata for a class assignment and was just so enthralled by it. It was so funny and unique and I knew instantly that it would make a wonderful teen comedy - so I was determined to make that happen. I hope I did it justice!
Oh well I read it in college and think you most certainly did. And having read your super popular debut novel The DUFF, I noticed some similar themes, mainly the importance of sex within your stories and the way your characters view it (i.e. as an escape, for power, as an obligation, etc.). By writing about sex, are you hoping to get high schoolers discussing it amongst themselves?
Oh definitely. I feel like sex positivity is something I'm very passionate about, and it's a huge concern of mine how teens see sex and the "rules" of sexuality. I so hope that the themes in my stories, whether teens agree with them or not, will get them talking and thinking and analyzing things they haven't before.
Yeah, I totally see that and that's probably why the slumber party dialogue about sex at Lissa's house was one of my favorite scenes. I also notice that both The DUFF and Shut Out explore a strong father/daughter relationship and both main characters tend to have anxiety/control issues. Bianca from The DUFF is always folding clothes at the end of her bed while Lissa from Shut Out is constantly counting in her head and straightening things. Did you borrow from your own family relationships and do you have any quirks like these?
Definitely not. I love my dad, but I was a Mama's Girl growing up. Somehow, my characters just seemed to be closer with their fathers. As for their quirks, I think everyone has them to some degree. B and Lissa are both neurotic, but in hugely different ways. (Lissa wouldn't be able to STAND a pile of laundry at the end of her bed!) I will say I tend to be anxious about some things, and I think maybe that trickles into my main characters every once in a while.
In Shut Out, you manage to juggle a lot of strong characters and help the reader keep them straight. From football jocks to soccer guys, from family members to slumber party girls, nobody got lost. With a large cast such as this, how did you keep them straight and what are some tricks you used as a writer to write them so vividly?
I tried to make sure each character had a unique feel. Lissa, Chloe, Randy, and Cash - at the head of the game - were easy. The others were a little more challenging. I decided that I'd give each a specific sytle or personality. Susan was a jock, Kelsey was a snob, Mary was quiet - then, after that, I tried to add layers. I was lucky in that all of the characters really felt solid in my head, which made conveying them on paper a little easier.
Yay! Thanks for stopping by Kody. It's such a treat to pick an author's brain. Hey readers, want another treat? Go pick up your copy of Shut Out and you'll surely have one.