Six Questions with Author Kirsten Hubbard
I first met Kirsten Hubbard at the launch party for her first novel, Like Mandarin. I loved that book and its thoughtful exploration of the intensity of teen friendship. When I heard that we were publishing a new novel by Kirsten, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the manuscript, and Wanderlove didn’t disappoint. I can’t say that I loved it more than Like Mandarin, but only because they were both so beautifully written and captivating, and it would be impossible to choose a favorite! Kirsten has a true gift for both character and setting. When I read Mandarin, I felt as if I was in the Wyoming Badlands, surrounded by dust and wind and desolation. Wanderlove dropped me into Central America, in the midst of backpackers and wanderers, like Rowan and Starling, two siblings with whom the book’s main character Bria becomes entangled. It’s a gift to get to share talented young authors like Kirsten Hubbard with readers, and I’m thrilled to welcome her here to our blog (and don’t miss the sketches from Wanderlove she sent us, at the bottom of the post.) You will have to wait until March to get your hands on Wanderlove, but it is well worth the anticipation!
Q. What is one thing about you that would surprise your readers?
That contemporary came as a surprise to me! Almost everything I wrote before Like Mandarin was genre, mostly dark, especially my short stories. In the third book I’ve been working on, all that darkness came out of the shadows, so to speak.
Also, that I love to draw — and WANDERLOVE is illustrated by me :)
Q. As an author, how do you feel about the role social media plays in your writing life?
We YA authors are very, very fortunate to have such a vocal and supportive community. It’s the greatest. It’s my lifesaver. I’ve tried to write without it — I mean, back then I had Facebook for IRL friends and so forth — but it wasn’t until I joined Absolute Write, met tons of awesome aspiring writers, and helped launch YA Highway that both my career and my happiness as a writer truly took off.
Q. What inspired you to write about backpacking in Central America?
I first backpacked through Central America at age 20. My now-husband and I spent six weeks there, traveling all over the isthmus. Since then, I’ve returned many times, occasionally on press trips for my Central America Travel site, but mostly as a backpacker. There’s a big difference between travel and a vacation, I’ve found. I’m not sure I’ve ever taken the latter; abroad, at least. Once I’m elsewhere, I’m just so struck by all the things to see and do, I want to go go go. It’s like a beautiful mania. Plus, I love having everything I need strapped to my back, like a bohemian tortoise. I knew I needed to share both the travel serendipity I’ve experienced and the backpacker lifestyle in a YA novel.
Q. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Oh, totally, the kissing scene.
Honestly, this book’s just packed with joy in so many parts. It’s all about Bria learning to jump in and participate, to embrace the moment, and every time she does — riding a boat through a thunderstorm, playing soccer in the mud with a bunch of local kids, even just climbing into a hammock with Rowan and talking travel philosophy — the scenes were thrilling to write.
Q. Which character speaks the loudest, to you? Do any of them clamor to be heard over the others?
Besides Bria, the protagonist of WANDERLOVE’s, it’s Rowan’s sister Starling who really speaks to me. She’s eccentric, a total in-your-face spitfire, but with a great heart. I’d love to write her story someday.
Q. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Travel! Experience the world yourself. It can be so much cheaper and easier than you think, and it opens your eyes like nothing else. If WANDERLOVE inspires a few teens off the beaten path, I’ve done my job.
Please visit Kirsten’s website for more on her and her writing.