[Note From Frolic: Our resident YA expert Aurora Dominguez got the opportunity to interview author Kiley Roache and ask her five(ish) questions. Kiley’s novel The Dating Game is out March 26th!]
Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
Kiley: I was interested in the way we think about love and dating. Ostensibly, we want to find someone we connect with deeply. To fall in love. So technically, only one person needs to like us back. But that’s not how so many of us react to dating– we get offended and hurt when people don’t like us, as if it’s an evaluation of us as people, and not just that some people aren’t the right fit for us. So I was interested in that and wanted to take it to the extreme– what if there was a dating app that gave users a score based on how many times people “liked” them? And what elements of human nature would that draw out?
What character do you most relate to and why?
I think I most relate to Sara. In high school I was very driven, but struggled socially. I honestly didn’t have a group of friends until half way through high school, and even then struggled romantically. For me, so much of college was learning how to live when I wasn’t spending 18 hours a day studying or doing a bunch of extracurriculars. And part of that was making new friends and falling in love and experiencing heartbreak and a bunch of messiness I hadn’t experienced before. Not to spoil, but Sara experiences a lot of the same.
Why do you feel young adult books are so popular and have such a voice right now? What’s your favorite young adult author?
Hmmm…good question. I think the teenage years—and particularly the year after graduating high school, when my first two books have focused—are such a time of change. You leave home and have so much freedom but also so many new problems—and in this time you find out who you are. I think books that explore this era are popular because even when we grow up, we never really feel like we’ve figured it out. I’m 22 now and I often say “I should ask an adult how to do xyz” and then I pause and remember I am an adult. I think we never stop feeling a little lost and never stop feeling like we’re trying to figure out life, so no matter what age we are, we can relate to teenage years—when those feelings were so intense. I think that’s why YA is popular. As for favorites—it’s so hard to choose. But some of my favorite authors I’ve read recently are Elizabeth Acevedo, Julie Murphy, Jenny Han, Christa Desir, and Tomi Adeyemi.
Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.
My latest book is called The Dating Game. It tells the story of three college freshman who develop the next “it” app for dating, which assigns users to groups based on their “desirability” score. They start the app for a class project, all coming to it from different perspectives: Sara is Type A and lives by her color coordinated post it notes, rich boy Braden wants out from under his billionaire father’s thumb, and scholarship student Roberto can’t afford for his grades to drop. The app earns the first ever A + in the class history, and they begin to receive interest from investors, and hundreds of new users. But as their careers take off, they start to question the ethics of what they’re doing, while dealing with their own interpersonal drama as well. Readers can expect the sort of technological speculative fiction of Black Mirror episodes like “Nosedive” or “Hang the DJ,” mixed together with the satire of Silicon Valley, plus a dash of complicated romance a la To All The Boys I Loved Before.
What’s next for you in the book world?
Right now I am preparing for the paperback launch of Frat Girl, and of course the launch of The Dating Game on March 26. Besides that I am working on some nonfiction articles and some more fiction, although I can’t talk about those yet!
What’s your favorite writing method that you follow for inspiration?
This is a good question. I guess it kind of depends on the day. Sometimes I like to free write or “Pants” as some people call it—where I just let the story take over and follow it. But other times, it is important for me to plot out the story so I know where I am going. Most of the time I write on my computer, but sometimes when I’m stuck, I’ll write by hand to engage a different part of my brain. One constant is that I almost always have music playing when I’m writing; I typically make multiple playlists for each project I work on.