Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Women Who Rock Wednesday: Tara Kelly

I'm taking a bit of a hiatus from Women Who Rock Wednesday while I get a new YA project going, but I had to invite Tara Kelly back to the blog to celebrate the release of her new book AMPLIFIED! Tara is one of my all-time favorite writers and I've been dying for this book since I finished HARMONIC FEEDBACK. She knows real teen characters just as well as she knows music and the result is incredible contemporary stories that music lovers like me will devour. I can't wait to crack my copy of AMPLIFIED this week and I think once Tara tells you about it, I think you will be running out to buy it, so let's meet her, shall we?

Q: Tell us about AMPLIFIED. What inspired you to write it?

TARA: Amplified is about a girl who is kicked out of her house because she decides to pursue music over college. She lies her way into a band (saying she has experience she doesn't have) and has a modest savings (for Santa Cruz standards) to live off of. Naturally things go wrong.

Funny story: Amplified was originally a paranormal about a ghost-hunting band. Jasmine was psychic and could see ghosts and..well, it didn't really work. I also realized I was far more in love with the story of the band than the 'main' ghost story. So, the Amplified that's out now was born. I've always wanted to write about a band, especially band practice. Some of the most intense/funny/liberating/crazy moments happen while you're stuck in a hot room together trying to coordinate a bunch of personalities into one song. Remember that old movie The Breakfast Club? What would happen if you gave those characters instruments and told them to write a song together? Chaos, fighting, and even some common ground? Probably.

The band in my book (C-Side) brings five very different people together. Sure, they all like industrial rock and music. But...they all have different ideas of what a song should sound like. They all have completely different personalities and ways that they approach writing and performing. And I have to say it's a hell of a lot of fun to write. I also wanted to focus on girls in music, especially girls who do more than sing. Not saying there is anything wrong with singing. I personally love it! But I'd just like to see more stories out there about girl guitarists, girl drummers, girl bassists--girl banjo players? That might be interesting.

For more info, go to my new book website: http://amplifiedthebook.com

Q: If AMPLIFIED had a soundtrack (and knowing you, it probably does!), what are five songs that would be on it and tell us how they relate to the story or characters.

TARA: Ha--actually I just did a post about that very thing here.

Q: I'm an enormous fan of your first book HARMONIC FEEDBACK and I know that AMPLIFIED is music-inspired, but I imagine that you'll be bringing something new to the table with AMPLIFIED because every book is different. Can you talk a bit about those differences and maybe even how your process for writing them differed if it did?

TARA: Well, as I said above Amplified was originally a paranormal, so a big difference right there. But when I decided to make Amplified about a band, I pretty much wrote an entirely new book.

Harmonic Feedback was more like a violin. Slower paced, rich with emotion, dark, intense, with a dash of quirk. Drea's unique view of the world really drove that story forward, making every day things a big deal. Just about every new experience was intense for Drea. Some of the scenes were tough to write because they would draw so much emotion out of me, but so worth it. I felt like that book made me become a better writer..it really tested me in many ways.

Amplified was more like an electric guitar. Faster, louder, and more light-hearted. After writing Harmonic (mind you I was watching a LOT of Gilmore Girls), I wanted to write another music-driven story, but I wanted the main focus to be on the band. And I wanted the story to have a lot of funny moments. This isn't to say Amplified doesn't have its dark or emotional parts--I can't write a book without some grit/emotion. But overall it's a fun book and it was fun to write--something far more likely to make you laugh than cry.

Q: You are a musician in addition to a writer, can you tell us about your music? Do your two creative processes feed each other or are they very separate?

TARA: I AM a musician, although I haven't had as much time for my music as I like. The day jobs and writing have to come first...which often times means I can't write songs as much as I used to (which breaks my heart, to be honest) If I could be a full time writer and musician? Ha...if only all of us could, right? My music tends to be all over the board in genre. I love writing guitar-heavy industrial stuff, trip-hop, synth-pop, and even some acoustic stuff. My main love is electronica, though. I also love to produce since I'm a perfectionist and all. My favorite instrument is most definitely the guitar--it's raw, can be kind of painful sometimes, packed with emotion and sass, and well..it releases me like no other instrument ever has.

My creative processes aren't generally separate. I need music to write and I need to write to make music. I often write songs from my character's POV. My lyrics come from them!

Q: Can you tell us a bit about what is up next for you?

TARA: Right now I'm working a psychological thriller that I'm super excited about. It's much different from my previous books and a little intimidating, but I'm also kind of obsessed with the characters right now and want any excuse to spend time with them. I consider that a good sign :)

Q: I have two standard questions for my Women Who Rock. The first is a two-parter: What was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge.

TARA: Ha...you know I always say the first album I bought was Alice in Chains "Dirt", but I was thinking about this the other day. It might have been Bjork's Debut album. Either way, it was ONE of those :) The first concert I went to on my own (not my parents dragging me) was White Zombie and Babes in Toyland. And even today, that remains one of my favorite concerts of all time.

Q: Please dish about the moment where you felt most like a rock star. Maybe it was a moment of big success in your career, an "I'm Not Worthy!" Wayne's World type moment where you met someone cool, or a time where you just got the rock star treatment.

TARA: Last time I said Poe, but I've had a rockstar moment since then. Earlier this month Harmonic Feedback won the Oregon Spirit Book Award from the English Teacher's council. They invited me to the award ceremony where the organizer presented each book and talked about why it won an award or honor. When she got to mine, she talked about how much one of the character's reminded her of some of the kids she works with. How much it moved her, made her gasp at one point and made her cry. But mostly how true it rang to her. Then she went on to talk about a student who never did any of her work, but she read my book in two days. That's when it really hit me that my book is out there and its reaching the kids I wanted it to reach. Can I ask for a bigger rockstar moment?

No, you couldn't! That is really awesome! And the award was well-deserved.

Today's Contest:

Tara has a very special prize planned that is so appropriate for this book. She's giving away an iMix of her playlist for AMPLIFIED!

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment. However you can gain additional entries:

+1 for tweeting or posting on facebook about this interview
+1 for tweeting or posting about AMPLIFIED
+5 for blogging about AMPLIFIED

Note your additional entries in your comment as well as giving me an email address or some way to contact you if you win.

Since this is a download, it is most definitely open internationally!

Since I'm going on blog hiatus, please be sure to leave an email address or way to contact you. I will be drawing the winner on November 16.

And speaking of contests....

Tara's agent is running a really awesome one. Buy and spread the word about AMPLIFIED and you could win a ton of cool prizes including a basket of books. It runs until November 7th and you should get on it here. Especially since I'm guessing you are already running out to get AMPLIFIED :)


marina said...

This sounds like a book of awesomeness! I've been looking for a new book to read anyways. [=

PKJ said...

this sounds like a great idea. I love girl bands.

Greta is Erikasbuddy said...

YAYS!! Sounds like an awesome book!!

I tweeted about the contest:


Greta is Erikasbuddy said...

Tweeted about Amplified: