Friday, February 11, 2011

Interview with Amber Kizer & CONTEST!!

Amber Kizer writes two very different young adult series for Delacorte Press/Random House. The Gert Garibaldi series is contemporary, frank and funny following an American high school student through the perils of growing up. Her debut novel ONE BUTT CHEEK AT A TIME was included in the prestigious NYPL Best Books for the Teen Age 2008 list. The next book in the series 7 KINDS OF ORDINARY CATASTROPHES will be released April 2011.

The Fenestra series is paranormal, dark and follows a girl who shepherds dying souls to the afterlife. MERIDIAN has been translated in German, Spanish, Turkish and will be available in Australia, Malaysia, and New Zealand within the next year. The next book in the series, WILDCAT FIREFLIES, will be published in August 2011.

In addition to these series titles, the spring of 2012 will see the release of a stand alone dystopian, young adult novel also from Delacorte Press/Random House.

Amber has toured nationally, speaking at writers’ conferences, on television and radio, to educators, and to teenage readers. Recently, she was selected to present one of a few breakout sessions at the NCTE Assembly on Adolescent Literature at the Philadelphia 2009 Conference.

Her official website is and more about MERIDIAN can be found at  Gert can be found at She enjoys hearing from readers and can be reached at

Interview with Amber Kizer

      1. The idea of a Fenestra is so unique in YA lit. How did you do the research for the novel?

This book is very close to my heart--the idea came from sitting vigil as my grandparents died (about 18 months apart). They both had very different dying experiences, though in both cases, as a family, we chose to work with a wonderful hospice organization (St. Vincent’s Inpatient Hospice Care, in Indianapolis, IN).

With everything in life, I like to know as much as possible so I read and did a bunch of research on dying, the physical process itself, the psychological process, and people's near-dying experiences. 
For this story, I wanted to explore the idea that the "light" people talk about as they die is an actual person and what that might mean.

What if everyday of a person's life was that of being a window to beyond? I wanted to give a face to death that wasn't the Reaper's, wasn't something out of nightmares. And saying "God" is there in death doesn't say much--what does that mean really? How does that look?

And from a science aspect we’re all energy. Where does that energy go? And isn't a soul of any animal or plant worthy energy? How does that look? How does that fit with the major religions and cultural norms? And I also wanted to explore some organized religion as fear based--the idea that people hide behind religion because they're afraid or upset or angry. How does that twist what can be profound and comforting in faith? The mob mentality is so easy to manipulate if you're good at it--I wanted a character (Perimo) who was good at it and used it.

So the research was cultural, anthropological, history and religions of the world, science and myth. And because this is a series and death is something we all share, there is no end to the research I’m doing. It’s fascinating and I love learning.

      2. If you could pick a actor/actress/other famous person, who do you see in your mind’s eye for Meridian and Tens?

Honestly Meridian and Tens in my head are “real” people—I know exactly how they look, but I love hearing from readers and letting them fill in the blanks on who they’d cast to play them in the movie. I will say that I usually laugh when people say who’d they would cast—readers pick up on different details and focus on different things so there’s a huge variance and that’s exactly how I like it. That’s the best part about books—is that readers get to fill in the holes however they see fit.

    3. How many books are you anticipating for the Meridian series?

I know where this series ends, but how many adventures are between here and there? That’s not something I’m willing to divulge! I will tell you that I am currently working on #3 and 4 in the series. WILDCAT FIREFLIES #2 will be out in July 2011. SPEED OF LIGHT will be out summer/fall 2012 and will continue the series where FIREFLIES leaves off. COUNTING TENS is Tens’ book and chronicles his story from childhood to when he meets Meridian at Auntie’s and I’m thrilled to be able to bring that one to readers!

     4. What made you decide to write for YA?

Gert Garibaldi is the star of ONE BUTT CHEEK AT A TIME and the upcoming April 5th release of 7 KINDS OF ORDINARY CATASTROPHES. I was working on an adult romance project and this voice kept making editorial comments in my head (this is fairly common with writes and not indicative of mental illness!). I opened a fresh document and just decided to let the voice take over for awhile. I assumed I’d write five to ten pages and be done. She just took off and I fell in love with her voice and world view. She’s funny and smart and sarcastic. She also tackles taboos about what makes girls good versus bad and things that teenagers wonder about (like masturbation) but that girl books are usually afraid to touch. No pun intended! So I felt like there was a need and a niche for her. Luckily for me agents and editors agreed! There wasn’t a choice to write YA, it picked me! The genre is so wide open and has such wonderful content these days that it’s a pleasure to write the books that intrigue and inspire me. Plus I love teenagers—they are trying to figure out themselves and their place in the world and they are still open and exploring. It’s a great age group.

     5. Auntie is such a great character. I know I see someone in my own life in her character and really enjoyed being able to relate to the story through her. Was she based on anyone in real life?

Auntie is a conglomeration of many strong women—some I’ve know and some I’ve only read about. I drew from my grandmother for Auntie’s moxy and fight and my grandmother’s best friend for her looks and nurturing.  The scene of Meridian sitting by her side and looking at her hands comes directly from my vigil at my grandmother’s deathbed.

     6. What inspired the name Meridian for your main character?

Character names are very important to me and usually that’s one of the first things I know about a story—who is in it and what are they called? I knew Meridian’s name from the very beginning, but it wasn’t until we got to know each other (sounds strange to non-writers I know!) that I realized her name has all sorts of levels to it. Meridian can mean a midpoint like midday. It can also be the center of an object. It’s used when talking about the longitude of Earth. In Chinese medicine Meridians are the energy pathways used in acupuncture. So it can have many connotations—what the reader should take from that is that our Meridian is caught—she lives—in the middle of life and death.

     7. I see that you collaborated on a packet on your website for Middle School educators. Being a teacher myself I was curious how you got involved with that project?

My mother had taught middle school my entire life. So I’ve grown up in education and around students and teachers. My mother and I collaborated on the Gusty Girls Presentation and packet for the ALAN 2009 conference—combining our expertise makes sense!

8. The paranormal genre is really booming right now in YA lit. Do you see yourself ever writing a vampire/werewolf/shifter book

I wouldn’t say never but it would matter completely on the story itself—I wouldn’t decide to write a vampire or were book and then try to figure it out. It would have to grow organically from an idea, but the market is so flooded that I would want to write something fresh and new.

    9. Some authors have been doing some novellas or considering writing their books from another character’s perspective. Would you ever consider writing Meridian or a part of it from Auntie or Tens point of view?

I always know how a scene plays from all characters’ points of view, but unless it added something to the story it would feel cheesy to me to write the same events again from a different point of view. It feels like cheating to give readers something they know already only slightly tweaked! It’s a conscious decision which character I write from or if I write in third person—I pick the best one in my opinion in the first place!

Fun Facts

1. If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?


     2.  If you could eat anything in the world what would it  be?


     3. What is your favorite book(s) of 2010?

There are too many! I think the book that surprised me this past year was DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS about a girl and her hoarding mother.  I couldn’t put it down! The nonfiction I absolutely adored was called THE SOUND OF A WILD SNAIL EATING. I can’t say enough wonderful things about it!

     4. What is your favorite movie of 2010?

I watch a lot of movies; I think Karate Kid was one of my most favorite of the year.

     5. What is your favorite book turned into a movie?


     6.  If you could sit anywhere in the world and read a book where would it be?

Someplace warm with a fruity drink and room service.

     7.  What is your favorite NFL/College football team?

I’m a big Drew Brees and the Saints fan, but I also cheer on the Colts and the Bears. Not a huge college football fan though…college basketball on the other hand is the best!

********************** Contest*************************

Comment on this blog with your number of entries and what they are for to win a copy of Meridian or One Butt Cheek at a Time by Amber Kizer. The luck winner will be chosen by a random number generator.

+1 – What town is Meridian set in?
+1 – What is the fourth book in the series going to be called? (you will have to search Amber’s site for this information)
+1- Who is the main character in Amber’s other series One Butt Cheek at a Time
+1 – Follow my blog
+1 – Post a link on your blog to this contest
+1 – Post a link on your facebook, twitter, etc. It is 1 point per social networking site.

The lucky winners will be notified by February 21. Be sure to leave your email address. Good luck!


  1. Here's my link to my post about your contest:

    I linked your contest post in my post :)

    Do I get to choose which book I want my entries to go towards? If so, then I definitely want Meridian :)

    Anyway, here are my entries for the contest:

    1. Posted a link to your contest on my blog.
    2. Following you
    3. 4th book in the Meridian series is called Counting Tens.
    4. Main character of One Butt Cheek at a Time -
    Gertrude “Gert” Garibaldi
    5. Town Meridian is set in - Revelation, Colorado

    So, that's 5 entries. Yay! Dunno if I did this correctly, but I'm new to this whole blogging thing, so just be patient with me as you always are.

  2. already a follower
    caitlyn turnbull