Toucan: What can you tell us about The One? Can you reveal anything?
Kiera: I WANT to tell you everything! I’m so tired of keeping the secrets! But I have to be careful, so for now I can say that there are some teasers for the final book up on my site under the FAQ section, and one question I get a lot is if there will be an epilogue, and I can tell you, yes, there is.
Toucan: Your FAQ section includes things like a playlist, how old the characters are, and which you like best. Does this reflect the kinds of things your fans are most interested in?
Kiera: Absolutely. I make the playlists mostly for myself, but I share them because people asked about what music I listened to when I wrote. And I do a lot of research when I build my worlds, so I like to share what I have. Anything that isn’t a spoiler, I’m happy to share.
Toucan: What role has social media played in your success? Does it allow fans more access to you? Is social media a part of the job of being a writer today or do you genuinely enjoy it?
Kiera: The social media side of things can become a job itself, so I think it’s important to only get involved in the areas you like. I happen to like a lot! Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, YouTube . . . I think that’s everything. And I use them all in different ways.
I think it’s been helpful to be available. I think it does readers good to know I’m more than the name on the spine of my book. But do I think it’s all necessary? Yes and no. Plenty of authors grow their audience these ways. Still, Stephenie Meyer hides away and is hugely successful. J. K. Rowling has a Twitter account but rarely says a word. They’re doing pretty okay. For me, it’s fun, so as long as I keep it in moderation, I won’t be stopping for a long time.
Toucan: Why do you keep an online journal?
Kiera: I actually write less and less, mostly because it’s hard to keep up. But I feel that between the Tweets and Vines, most people can keep up if they want to. If I have a bigger thing to talk about (like that I was recently diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder) then I take the time to make a post.
Toucan: You do a lot of events at schools. Why is that? What do you enjoy about it?
Kiera: I like my teenage readers! Lots of times they can’t come to my events, so I like to come to them when I can. It seems like there are lots of young people out there wanting to write, and it’s hard to learn about that process, so I’m happy to share what I know.
And I’ve had a lot of help from school librarians. They usually only invite me if they have some excited readers, so it’s always worth the trip. Lots of love for the librarians!
Toucan: There’s a lot of Selection fan art on Tumblr. What do you think of that?
Kiera: Tumblr is perfect in that in allows you to share several different types of posts, and I really do love some of the fan art that pops up there. The reason I even made an account was to collect all the things people were making.
I just have to take a minute to stop and applaud my incredibly creative fans. It’s not just art they’re making, but alternative universes, fan fics, playlists, and sometimes just plain old ridiculous text posts about how Maxon would look in glasses. That’s a thing.
Personally, that’s one of my favorite things: when you get so far into a fandom you can poke fun at it. BUT only with other people who love it as much as you do. These are the rules.
Toucan: You also use YouTube. What kinds of videos can people find there?
Kiera: My YouTube Channel is several things. Mostly, you’ll find videos about the process of making books. Going through it myself, I wished there was more out there to explain things like what an editorial letter was or what a royalty statement looked like. I’ve shared as much as I can, hoping to help young writers not feel so intimidated by the process. But there are also videos of me just being silly, and lots of videos of my kids. It all sort of runs together.
Toucan: We understand you were a diehard theater buff, so how did you end up as a writer?
Kiera: Writing was accidental, but theater had been fading out long before that came along. I think the thing I worried about most was that I’d end up traveling a lot or not have time for a family. Theater life always seemed crazy to me. So I moved on to other majors, planning to go on staff with my campus church at Radford, and then getting to be a stay-at-home mom.
The irony is that I started having babies and making books at the same time, so both of my children go to daycare fulltime to I can write and do appearances. There are days I feel really down about that. I’m hoping I’m doing something they’ll be proud of, though, and I genuinely love my work, so, yeah, it’s just funny how things work out sometimes.
But, yes, I still love theater. Always excited to see a good show! I’m not sure I could write that though. I don’t know if I have that kind of skill.
Toucan: On your website you mention that you were never into what was cool. Why did you feel that was important to mention? You seem to have a very personable presence on your site that makes you seem very accessible and open to your fans.
Kiera: I shared it because it seemed to be a big theme when I was growing up. Like I always understood things after it was worth having them make sense. I sometimes wonder if other people feel that way, so it felt worth mentioning.
I hope I come across as accessible! It’s getting harder as the fandom gets bigger, but I want people to feel comfortable on my site, when they tweet at me, or when they meet me at an event. I’m stoked they care, and I basically want to make friendship bracelets with them, and eat nachos.
Toucan: Can you talk about the local tragedy that kind of led to your writing?
Kiera: Yes. Glad I’m typing this because sometimes I get a little teary eyed.
I currently live in Christiansburg, VA, but in 2007, I lived in Blacksburg, VA, just around the corner from Virginia Tech. My husband worked there, and because we went to a campus-based church, almost all my friends were students. On April 17, 2007, a gunman opened fire on the campus, killing 32 people then himself.
To say it changed me is an understatement. Even as someone who simply lived in town and wasn’t a student, I lost people I knew. I crumbled. It’s just one of those things that’s too big to process. I stopped smiling. I couldn’t remember things. And any emotion that deviated from numb, even happiness, would leave me in tears.
Around Christmas time, I saw a therapist, and she was nice and gave me some methods to cope, but I still wasn’t myself. By the time the first anniversary came around, I had the idea of giving my issues to a character and seeing what she did with them. I was always an avid reader, and I loved movies, so looking back that makes sense, but I didn’t know what possessed me at the time.
That exercise gave me so much clarity. The space gave me room to work out things I was feeling, and part of it was just being a fantastic distraction. But I never finished that story. I woke up from a nap with the idea that became The Siren, and once I got into the habit, several people lined up with stories to tell. America was third or fourth on that list.
I’m a spiritual person, and I genuinely think writing was a gift. It pulled me back from the brink, and I’m grateful to God every day for it. Even on the rough days, I’m always aware of how fortunate I am to have this outlet, and what a privilege it is that I get to share my work with other people.
Toucan: We know you love cake. What is your favorite type of cake? Do fans send you cakes? Any interesting cake decorations?
Kiera: Ohhhh! I love a good vanilla with buttercream. Also, red velvet with cream cheese frosting. Chocolate on chocolate is good… And there’s a store in town that does a cinnamon roll cupcake that’s just the best!
One of the funny things is since everyone knows I love cake, almost every event I do has some waiting for me! Or will have cupcakes to take home. I think it’s so sweet that they pay so much attention. I’ve seen a few do the cover art, and those are always really impressive!
See Kiera Cass at WonderCon Anaheim 2014, April 18-20 at the Anaheim Convention Center. Click here to buy badges. Badges are available online only this year; badges will not be sold onsite!