Swanky Seventeener Kate Watson recently chatted with Anna Michels about her debut YA contemporary, 26 Kisses (Simon Pulse, 5/24/2016).
Getting dumped by her boyfriend is not how Veda planned on starting her summer. When Mark makes it clear that it’s over between them, Veda is heartbroken and humiliated—but, more importantly, she’s inspired. So she sets out on the love quest of a lifetime: use the summer to forget about Mark, to move on, and move up. All she has to do is kiss twenty-six boys with twenty-six different names—one for each letter of the alphabet.
From the top of the Ferris wheel at her hometown carnival to the sandy dunes of Lake Michigan, Veda takes every opportunity she can to add kisses (and boys) to her list, and soon the break-up doesn’t sting quite as much. But just when Veda thinks she has the whole kissing thing figured out, she meets someone who turns her world upside down.
Where to order 26 KISSES:
Anna Michels worked as a Norwegian language tutor, historical interpreter, farmhand, and waitress before building a career in books. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband. You can find her at annamichels.com and on Goodreads and Twitter.
Time to talk 26K:
Kate: Where do you get your ideas? What was your inspiration in writing 26 KISSES, specifically?
Anna: The basic idea for 26 KISSES came from the experiences of a friend of mine, not my own life 😉 There are things in 26K, though, that definitely came from my life experience–Veda’s tricky relationship with her dad, the jealousy she feels when her best friends get together romantically, Killian’s affinity for George Bernard Shaw.
I adored Killian, and I felt like his habit of writing down music lyrics was such a fun, yet real quirk. How important are little idiosyncrasies like that in characters for you?
I think they’re super important! All of the characters I’ve fallen in love with in books have had those little personality quirks–I think it’s what makes them really stand out. I don’t know where Killian’s habit of writing lyrics on his dashboard came from (I couldn’t even find pictures online of anyone else who has done it), but I wish I had the guts to do it myself!
You have a super cool, very eclectic background. How did you go from Norwegian language tutor to writer (with the odd job in between)?
Hey, thanks! I ended up taking Norwegian in college after a very grumpy-making misunderstanding about the gen ed language requirement, and I just totally and unexpectedly fell in love with it, so that was my college job. During the summers, I worked as the pioneer cabin lady at a living history village and driving a very large tractor on a commercial farm in central Illinois. And now I’m living my dream writing and working as an editor!
How long have you been writing? When did you know 26 KISSES was THE ONE?
I’ve been writing semi-seriously for about 5 years, ever since I attended the Writers In Paradise conference in St. Petersburg, FL (highly recommended to anyone seriously hoping to improve their writing craft!). I wrote two novels before 26K, one of which my agent tried to sell. What grabbed me most about 26K was the idea–it’s so easy to explain, so fun!
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” –George Bernard Shaw
Favorite dance-like-no one’s-watching song:
You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC. I frequently dance to this while people ARE watching, mostly at weddings.
Character from a book/movie/TV show you most identify with:
Liz Lemon from 30 Rock. “Working on my Night Cheese!”
Music you most like to write to:
I can’t really write to music! I wish I could.
THIS. IS. SO. HARD. If I have to pick one, The Secret History by Donna Tartt.
Worst job ever:
This is so weird, but the job I disliked the most was working in my hometown’s public library. It was my first job, I was sixteen, and I just found it incredibly boring. I had envisioned getting to read all day, and that was not what happened!
Like every little girl, Kate Watson dreamed of studying philosophy in college and being a director at a private university one day. Then she grew up, became a wife and mother, and realized she should do the responsible thing and write for a living. She grew up in a village in Alberta, Canada, and currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her adorable husband and two children. Her novel, SEEKING MANSFIELD, debuts in Spring 2017 with JFP.