by Lorie Lewis Ham
This week we are interviewing Clovis, California YA author Kasie West about her writing and her new book P.S. I Like You which comes out this month. She lives in Clovis with her husband and four children. Kasie will be having her book launch on July 28 at Clovis Book Barn-details at the end of this post. There are also details on how to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it.
KRL: Are you originally from here? If not, how did you end up here?
Kasie: You know, I’m not originally from here, but I’ve lived here for over 30 years, grew up here, so I definitely consider it my home. It’s the only place I really remember living. My dad was in the Air Force (in fact, I was born in an Air Force base hospital) so that is what brought us here and this is where we stayed.
KRL: When did you first start writing?
Kasie: I didn’t start writing until about 10 years ago.
KRL: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Kasie: I didn’t really know I wanted to be a writer growing up or in college. I went to school (Fresno State) to be a teacher. I always excelled at essay writing and things, but didn’t really put two and two together. I’ve always loved to read. I’ve been an avid reader since the time I was little. But one day I had an idea for a book and I decided to try my hand at it. I loved the process of writing it so much that I decided to keep going. I haven’t looked back since.
KRL: When did your first book come out? Please tell us about it.
Kasie: My first book came out in 2013 with Harper Teen. The book is titled Pivot Point. It’s about a girl who, when faced with a choice, has the ability to see two futures play out. So of course, in the book, she needs to make a decision and she decides to see which outcome will turn out better for her. At the end of the book, she has to decide which future she is actually going to live. This book also has a sequel called Split Second.
KRL: I see you have written both contemporary YA novels and fantasy. Do you enjoy one more than the other? Is one harder than the other?
Kasie: I enjoy writing in both genres equally, but contemporary is a bit easier for me. Contemporary takes place in our time, in our world, so I don’t have to come up with any new set of rules or new worlds. The rules and world are in place, and I just need to come up with the story that fits into it. This makes it easier for me to write. Generally it takes less research and less brainpower for me.
KRL: Will you be writing more YA fantasy novels?
Kasie: At the moment, no, my publishers want me to keep writing contemporaries, so that is what I’m working on.
Why did you decide to write YA novels?
Kasie: I love reading YA (short for Young Adult) novels. I love the themes of YA: coming of age, first loves, first experiences, etc. It’s a fun time of exploring who you are and what you want from life, and it’s fun to both read and write this.
KRL: Did you find it hard to get published in the beginning?
Kasie: Yes! So hard. It is such a difficult industry to break into. First I had to find an agent, which consisted of sending out a one-page summary of my book to many, many agents. Once I found an agent (after months of trying) that agent had to send out the same kind of query to editors at publishing houses to see if they were interested in reading my book. Then I had to wait on pins and needles (which I had already been doing for months) to see if those editors liked my book enough to try to acquire it. It’s a long process and one full of heartbreak and rejection, but so worth it.
KRL: Please tell us about the new book.
Kasie: My new book is with Scholastic. It’s called PS I Like You. It’s a book about a girl who begins exchanging notes with an anonymous pen pal beneath a shared chemistry desk. Then she has to decide if she wants to find out who the letter writer [is]. It’s also about family and friendship, and accepting oneself.
KRL: Do you have a writing schedule or just write when you can?
Kasie: I have four kids so it’s hard to have a strict schedule. Things come up that I have to take care of. But I write when I can and if I’m in the “writing zone” my husband is really good about taking care of things.
KRL: Favorite time of day to write?
Kasie: Probably late at night. I seem to let my inner editor go to bed and stop being so critical of myself late at night. This helps me write more easily. Plus there’s just something peaceful about a quiet house when everyone is sleeping and no one is trying to get a hold of you or needs anything. It’s a perfect time to get a lot written.
KRL: Is it hard balancing writing and family?
Kasie: It can be. My kids are older now. My oldest is nearly 18 and my baby is nine, so it’s a bit easier now. When they were little it was much harder. Now, it’s about running kids to their various activities or helping with homework or making dinner (my least favorite chore). But my family is number one in my life, and sometimes I have to remind myself of that when I let writing take over a bit too much.
KRL: That sounds familiar lol. Do you outline?
Kasie: I have a basic outline when I write. I know the plot of the story. I know the climax and if there’s a twist. And I know the end. But connecting all those general pieces together is what I don’t outline. I discover those things as I write.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Kasie: It all depends on the book. If I use a real city, I have to research that place. A lot of times I’ll just make up a city, though. When I do that, locations from Fresno/Clovis often end up in my made-up place. I’ve used Woodward Park in a book, Eddie’s Bakery, Fat Jack’s. I’ve even used the basic layout of Clovis High School to describe one of my made-up high schools before. It’s fun to hide little hometown gems in my books. But other than cities, I’ve had to research college applications, cars, baseball, song lyrics, guitars, chemistry, etc., etc. Just anything I don’t know enough about that I decide to put into a book, I make sure I research.
KRL: Future goals for your writing?
Kasie: My main goal is just to be a working writer. To keep getting books published. It’s hard to get into the industry and sometimes it’s hard to stay in the industry, so I feel lucky that I’ve been able to do that so far and that’s really all I want—to keep writing.
KRL: Where can we find you online?
Kasie: Many places. I have a website: kasiewest.com. I’m also on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook (my handle is the same for all of those: Kasie West). I try to interact online as much as I can so sign on and say hi!
KRL: Do you have any local events coming up?
Kasie: My next event is at A Book Barn in Old Town Clovis (near Clovis and Fifth) on July 28 at 7 p.m. I’ll be celebrating the release of my newest book. I’ll have a question and answer session and then a signing. If you like to write or read, come join me! You can learn more on the Book Barn website.
To enter to win a copy of PS I Like You, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “PS,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 30, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
You can also use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link: