Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
Kate Pentecost: Elysium Girls was inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, and got its Weird West flavor because I’d been lamenting the scarcity of Weird Westerns in YA for a while and eventually just thought, “Why don’t I write one?” Then the rest, the walled city, the witches, the daemon, the apocalyptic game, all came at once a bit later.
What character in this novel do you most relate to and why?
I relate the most to Sal, as I was also a bit of an outcast in my hometown, but still felt that it was (and is) a part of me. Self confidence and finding my own value as a person has been a bit of a struggle throughout my life as well. I wanted to have Sal find her people more quickly than I found mine.
Why do you feel novels with powerful and unique characters are so popular and have such a voice right now?
I think our society is finally at a point where the younger generations are naturally embracing individuality and all that it entails for people with less judgment, but also recognizing our society for the global entity that it is, if that makes sense. They are a generation that was born into a world that seems hopeless. It makes sense that they’d gravitate toward stories with people like them who solve problems beyond the normal scope of a teenager’s power and affect change. They want and need that change for themselves.
Please describe the content of your latest read and what can readers expect from it.
My last read was If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio. It’s an adult book rather than YA, but I loved the atmosphere and the tightly woven plot. It’s what the youngins are calling Dark Academia these days, and I love it. It’s very much in the vein of The Secret History, which I also love.
What’s next for you in the book world?
It depends, I suppose! My editor is reading a book I’d previously written right now in order to determine whether she’d like that one to be the other one in my deal (Elysium Girls is the first book in a two-book deal.) It’s a dark fantasy/slowburn romance and I like it a lot. But if not that one, I have a time travel/classic rock/murder mystery.
Who is your current favorite writer? Why?
I love Donna Tartt. My GIRL! I think she has such a beautiful way with description and atmosphere. All her prologues in particular are flawless. I love her.
Any writing advice for aspiring writers?
The best books are the ones where you can tell that the author was having so much fun writing the book. Write what is fun for you. Don’t feel any pressure to write anything other than what is completely you. Once you stop having fun and start writing to impress someone–anyone, even an imaginary audience of editors or agents–your work loses something.