Interview with YA Author Katya de Becerra

When I got in touch with the author of What the Woods Keep, I didn’t expect such a lovely, humble, overall joy of a woman such as Katya de Becerra, but that’s what I got. Not only is she a super lovely person, though, she’s also a fantastic writer, and I absolutely adored her book. I was lucky enough to be given the chance to interview Katya, and I’m thrilled to be able to share it with you today!

  • I read in an interview once about how you’re ‘superstitious’ about bookish things – are you a superstitious person in all aspects of your life, or just in relation to books?

Before I had an agent and a book contract, I was a very secretive person when it came to book related happenings. Maybe I didn’t want to jinx it, or maybe it’s just I thought that if I didn’t get anywhere with my writing, it’d be easier to stomach rejection if no one knew about it. Having said that, I do have this quirk that if I talk about something exciting before it actually happens, it can disappear before it becomes real. I guess, it is a superstition of sorts, though it’s a vague thing and more of a feeling than a rule. In general though, I don’t see myself as a superstitious person and things that are considered “bad omens” across many cultures are actually things I like, like black cats, ravens or the number thirteen.

Apart from the fantastic writing, one thing that blew me away with What The Woods Keep is how you managed to link up the science part to the story part. Did you learn anything completely new that’s stuck with you when you were researching?

Thank you so much, Kate! I’m very glad to hear that the science aspects of the book worked for you! I’ve learned lots of new stuff while researching What The Woods Keep! I’m not a scientist myself, but I grew up surrounded by scientists. I’ve also read a lot of science fiction as a child and teen, so I do have that appreciation for all things science. It was very important to me to get the science right in my debut. In preparation, I had to read up on various principles and theories in physics, like multiverse, particle showers, muons, interdimensional warps, and all sorts of natural phenomena (from weather to aurora borealis). One thing that stuck with me is how spooky quantum mechanics are – the smaller things get, the more bizarre it all becomes, and the laws of reality as we know it could be broken!

Which scene was most difficult to write?

The ending! I don’t know why it was so difficult for me to nail the ending of What The Woods Keep from the first try. Before I arrived at the ending that actually made it to the advanced and final copy, I had two or three alternative endings, all of which made my editors raise their brows high in confusion.

Are there any scenes that didn’t make it into the book? Would you ever release them?

A few of the scientific explanations didn’t make the final cut and I’d love to release those one day as ‘extras’.

Which of your characters do you think you would get along with best in real life?

I’d definitely get along really well with Del! She’s awesome and, I’d say, easy to love.

On the other hand, Hayden is kind of the teen-me on steroids. At least she’s the way I remember myself at that age! I think I’d get along well with her too because I understand her so well.

Do you read negative reviews?

I’ve read a few early on, and then I stopped. I just don’t see the point. In fact, I try not to read any reviews, good or bad, anymore. Maybe, if it’s a reviewer/blogger I really like and follow, I’d read their review and share it on Twitter occasionally. But the point is, once the book is published, it’s out of my hands. It’s natural that there’ll be readers who love it and those who don’t love it, and there’s nothing I can do about that. Not all books are going to appeal to everybody. After all, we’re all different.

Can you tell us about your new book, Oasis?

Yes! I’m very excited about Oasis! It’s a genre-bender, but in a very different way from What The Woods Keep. I had SO MUCH fun writing Oasis. It was a NaNoWriMo novel. Its cast is diverse. Oasis is set in Dubai and Melbourne. There’s lots of archaeology! There’s science (of course!). Oasis is scheduled for a Fall 2019 publication and the cover will be revealed in early November 2018! Readers can add Oasis on Goodreads here.

If What the Woods Keep was made into a film, who would you cast to play the characters and who would direct it?

For the record, my favorite director is David Lynch, so it’d be amazing to see his interpretation of What The Woods Keep. However, I’m all for young/diverse voices, so a female up-and-coming director would be amazing for this! And just for fun, I kind of had this cast in my head when writing my debut: Taissa Farmiga for Hayden; China Anne McClain for Del; Eivør Pálsdóttir for Ella (Hayden’s Mom), and Rooney Mara for Elspeth. As for the male characters – I have no idea, LOL!

I would imagine that it would be difficult not to bring aspects of ‘real life’ people to your characters – is that true?

True! It happens on subconscious level, though. I think as writers we observe the world around us and file it all away, for later. And when we’re writing it all comes back and suddenly this one character starts to resemble a relative of ours or we write a friend’s quirks into our protagonist. It’s unavoidable.

If you were to do a retelling of any classic novel, which would you choose?

The Master and Margarita! It’s my favorite book of all time, and I’d love to do a YA retelling one day if these things were up to me!

• If you were to sort your characters, which Hogwarts House would they be in?

Hayden is a hybrid of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff; Del is Gryffindor; and Shannon is Hufflepuff disguised as Slytherin.

And what would their favourite lesson be at Hogwarts?

Hayden’s fav lesson would be History of Magic and Del would do well in Defence Against the Dark Arts!

Superlatives:

Most likely to survive the Hunger Games?

Shannon. (He’s smart and can find his way in the forest at night!)

Most gullible?

Hayden (when it comes to romance, at least)

Most likely to become a famous YouTuber?

Del!

Most likely to become a famous instagrammer?

Del! She’s a fashion star!

Most likely to win the X Factor?

Elspeth (but I shouldn’t tell what her talent is because SPOILER I guess)

Most likely to break a world record? (And for what?!)

Hayden (for most books read in a lifetime)

Most likely to take a selfie in an inappropriate situation?

Del! (I laughed out loud just now because I immediately imagined all the possible in inappropriate moments Del could’ve taken a selfie in What The Woods Keep)

Most likely to host a daytime talk show?

Del!

What the Woods Keep is the stunning debut of Katya de Becerra, who combines mystery, science fiction, and dark fantasy in a twisty story that will keep you mesmerized right up to the final page.

On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.

Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.

As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.

You can add it to Goodreads here

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