Karri Thompson grew up in San Diego County and attended San Diego State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in education, and her teaching credentials. She is a high-school English teacher in the East County of San Diego where she also lives with her husband, John, their son, and two dogs. Her bucket list includes earning a Ph.D. in English and teaching at college level. Karri is the author of the Van Winkle Project series; the newest installment in the series, Ascendancy, was published in November 2015 from Entangled Publishing.
To learn more about Karri, please visit her website at http://www.karrithompson.com/.
Iulian: Hi Karri, thank you for being with us today. Tell us a little about yourself: How/where did you grow up, what was your upbringing and what were the most influential factors that made you who you are today?
Karri: Hi, Iulian. You are welcome. Thank you, too. I am a native San Diegan. I love San Diego. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. I have an older sister who taught me to read and write before I even started kindergarten, so I’ve been reading and writing for as long as I can remember. My mom and dad are also both avid readers. Seeing them read for pleasure greatly influenced how my sister and I viewed books and reading. Growing up, books were always on my Christmas list, and every time my teachers passed out the Scholastic order form, I’d circle the books I wanted and beg my mom to buy them for me. Reading and writing are definitely my thing. My parents’ strong emphasis on education and going to college also made me the person I am today.
How did you get involved with writing? Give us a brief history of your path.
I always loved creative writing, but it wasn’t assigned very much at school, so I’d write on my own—short stories in a spiral notebook. I’m not sure what happened to that notebook. I wish I still had it. Anyway, I majored in psychology at SDSU. During my first semester in a general education English class, the professor came up to me after class one day, and said, “Do you know what an amazing writer you are?” I was stunned. I told her “no,” and then she asked me what my major was. I told her psychology and she said, “That’s a shame. It should be English.” I switched my major to English the following semester and took a “writing of fiction” class. That gave me my start and helped develop my passion for writing even more.
You call yourself a music freak and that’s something you and I have in common. You also list one of my favorite bands, Avenged Sevenfold, among your favorites. How much of a role does music play in your writing? What were the latest and the most all-time memorable concerts you’ve seen?
Yup, I’m a total music freak. Music has played a role in my writing because I’ve based characters on hot, lead singers. Travel’s appearance is actually based on Michael Hutchence from INXS, and my first book, AMATEUR ANGEL, is about a girl who was the guardian angel of a rock star who she used to have a crush on when she was alive. Growing up, my celebrity crushes were always on musicians and singers rather than actors. The last concert I went to was on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I saw Unwritten Law. They are from San Diego. I love their song “Seeing Red.” I’ve seen Pearl Jam about ten times. They are absolutely amazing. Aerosmith also puts on a great show and hearing “Dream On” live and ten feet from the stage will be something I will never forget. Seether and Korn also rock it. I haven’t seen Avenged Sevenfold in concert yet, but I plan to the next time they come to San Diego. I’m dying to see them.
Could you name some of your favorite contemporary writers and their works? What’s the one thing you read that you’d read again, and again, and again… (for me it’s The Hobbit!)
Wow! That’s another thing we have in common because I’d have to say The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I get lost in that series. I start reading it, and I can’t put it down. Those books are the only books I’ve ever read more than once—other than the books I teach. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read The Lord of the Flies, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Power of One, and many more that are part of the high school curriculum.
If you had the chance to resurrect any author and have dinner with them, who would that be and what questions would you ask them?
It would have to be William Shakespeare. First of all, I’d immediately see if he really looks like that picture of him that we’ve all grown up with. I’d also ask him if he is truly the author of all of the plays that are attributed to him. That would end that debate. After that, I think I’d be sitting there so mesmerized that I wouldn’t know what else to ask. But I’m sure I’d come up with something.
Your most recent novel came out in November from Entangled Publishing. What is the overall idea behind the Van Winkle Project and how did this come to you?
The Van Winkle Project is a government-driven program designed to save humanity. Cassie, the main character, is the key to the survival of the human species. Something about her makes her different from anyone else on the planet. Without giving away any of the plot, I can say that the idea behind the project came to me because there are so many people I wish I could have met, but I couldn’t because they died before I was even born.
Why Dystopian YA? What attracts you to the genre?
I’m a high school English teacher, so when I decided to write my first novel, writing for teens seemed like the logical thing to do. Turns out it was a perfect fit. I also love reading sci-fi and fantasy novels as well as watching sci-fi and fantasy movies and television series, so I mainly write in the genre that I love. My dad first exposed me to fantasy when I was seven or eight. He read The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks to me every night before I went to bed. After that, I was hooked on that genre.
Who were the most fun characters to write, and who were the hardest? Do you have a specific method for developing characters? Can you describe Cassie for us?
I really enjoyed writing my character Magnum. I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say this—he holds a special place in my heart. If you’ve read the first book in the series, MIRROR X, you’d know why. Magnum is beyond cool and a total rebel. Michael was probably the hardest character to write because he evolved so much from book 1 to book 2. From the very beginning, Cassie didn’t let herself get pushed around. Unlike Michael, who needed to grow a set, Cassie doesn’t take any crap. Cassie is incredibly mature and independent for her age, something that doesn’t go over so well in 3025 A.D.
Will this series continue and if so, what are your plans for it?
I am actually contracted for three books, so I’m currently working on RELEGATION, which will be the third and final book in the series. I’m only at about 10,000 words, and so far, I’m loving how it’s turning out. At the same time, it’s kind of sad that it will be ending. I love all of my characters so much!
Even though the Van Winkle Project is your latest work, you also published the Amateur Angel series. Can you tell our readers a quick overview of this series?
AMATEUR ANGEL is about a girl named Ashley who dies in a car accident. Upon arriving in heaven, she is accidentally sent back to earth as a replacement guardian angel for a famous rock star, Cannon Michaels. It’s not long before she discovers that Cannon is not they guy she thought he was. He’s hot-headed and irrational, conceited and selfish. Perhaps Ashley can change that.
Where can we find you online and in real life? Will you visit any conventions in 2016?
You can find me on Facebook at: Author Karri Thompson and follow me on Twitter @KarriThompson and on Instagram: authorkarrithompson. I have two books signings, February 20 and 21, at the Barnes and Noble in Santee from 1 to 3 p.m. each day, and I’ll be at Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in April. I’ll also be attending the Romance Writers of America Conference in San Diego in July.
Is there anything you’d like to add or plug?
I’d just like to thank you again for this opportunity. I also love hearing from readers. I can be contacted through my website: www.karrithompson.com.
Karri, thank you very much for participating in this interview!
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