Kami Kinard started 2012 in style. The young adult author's first book, "The Boy Project" was published on January 1. The story follows one Kara McAllister, a seventh-grader who goes about getting a boyfriend in the same way one might complete a science assignment. But, Kara soons finds that her endeavor will prove a bit more complicated than her biology homework.
Kinard, a Camden native, has been touring since the book was published, and she'll be appearing at tomorrow morning and then she'll be at Fiction Addiction on Woodruff Road from 3:30-5:30 p.m. "The Boy Project" has been reviewed in Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus, among other publications.
Kinard spent some time talking with Mauldin Patch about her book and what inspired it.
MP: How did you arrive at the theme and plot elements for "The Boy Project?"
KK: I arrived at the theme by reading my old diaries. It was kind of hard to miss the I wish I had a boyfriend theme when I said it on every page! But the plot was harder. Novels require action, not just characters pining for something. So I had to think of a framework for Kara to work within. Because science fairs are almost universal to middle schools, this seemed like a good framework for the plot.
MP: What prompted you to save your old diaries?
KK: I saved my old diaries because I have the unfortunate tendency to never throw anything away!
MP: How cringe-worthy was it to read those diaries so many years later?
KK: It was actually pretty funny to read them later. You'll notice my book is catagorized as humor. They were full of poems, drawings, lists, and extreme exaggerations. So I kind of laughed my way through them.
MP: What was the hardest part of writing the book?
KK: The hardest part was doing a revision where I changed the book’s format. Originally every page was set up as a boy-observation page, but I changed this to a more diary-like format and inserted notecards. Redoing the whole book took about six months. The easiest? The easiest part was the first draft! Once I got the idea, the words just poured out.
MP: How did you research the book?
KK: I just gave a talk about this! Here are some of the ways I researched:
- Reading my old diaries
- Listening to what kids said in my car while carpooling
- Talking to middle school students
- Reading teen magaziness like Tiger Beat
- Using the internet to learn more about track meets
MP: What writers and authors influenced you?
KK: Honestly, I think every good author I’ve ever read has influenced me, because they all made me want to write, and to write well. For humor writing I love Carl Hiaasen. Now that’s a writer who knows how to think outside of the box! I also love Jeff Kinney. I think he influenced me because he brought attention to the fact that we need to learn to laugh at those difficult middle school years.
MP: What do you hope readers will take away from the book?
KK: I hope that the readers will be able to identify with Kara, who finds confidence in herself, and I hope they will find that confidence too.