Oh, You Know, "Just" Fighting Fatphobia and Zombies--Inside the Kidlit Studio with Kelly deVos
Sometimes you come across a book-related tweet that just sends thrills of anticipation down your spine and makes you happy for the rest of the day. My introduction to Kelly deVos was such a tweet. To understand my joy, you have to understand that 1) I LOVE zombie books and movies. CANNOT get enough. 2) I love all girl-power, butt-kicking, woman warrior content. And 3) I am a fat woman who is actively tackling fatphobia in both myself and the world. So here's the tweet from Kelly: "Want to spend your summer with a butt-kicking fat girl who must fight off a horde of zombies AND take down a dehumanizing fat camp?" UMMM YES PLEASE
This is how Kelly teases us for her upcoming book, EAT YOUR HEART OUT, which is the most anticipated YA novel of MY summer, anyway. I've since read some of her terrific previous writing and suffice it to say I AM STOKED for this new book.
We also share an unfortunate addiction to high-quality mocha lattes and overuse of the word "just," which I'm sure we will both be editing ad nauseum from our WIPs forevermore. I so enjoyed Kelly's answers to the Inside the Kidlit Studio questions, and I bet you will, too.
1. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
In my life, what I am the most proud of is my daughter. She recently graduated at the
top of her high school class and is off to college in the fall. I think she’s such a kind and
caring person and, while a lot of that is down to her own character, I like to hope I
played a role in molding her.
2. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being by the pool with unlimited iced tea and reading time.
3. What is your most treasured possession?
I have a really soft and comfortable beige sweater that I love to wear each winter. I
dread the day when it will get a hole in it or something.
4. When and where were you the happiest?
We took a family road trip to see the Redwoods in Northern California. There is
something about seeing those massive, gorgeous trees that makes you just want to hug
them. We stayed in an old-fashioned lodge and built birdhouses and made s’mores by
the fire and went on long hikes. I really appreciated all the time I got to spend with my
family and all the things we got to see and do together.
5. What is it that you most dislike?
Given a lot the things that are happening in the world right now, that’s a pretty tough
question to answer. If we’re talking about trivial things, it would have to be American
6. What is your greatest extravagance?
Probably coffee. I tend to not pinch pennies in search of the perfect mocha.
7. Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could do something musical. I have been trying to learn to play the guitar and
let’s just say that I have to practice when no one else is around.
8. Where would you like to live?
I would love to be able to split my time between Arizona and someplace that’s cool in
the summer. I love the gloomy beaches of the Pacific Northwest. So maybe I would be in
Seaside, Oregon in the summer and here in my current home in the winter.
9. What do you most value in your friends?
It’s probably a tie between loyalty and humor. If you can find someone who makes you
laugh and sticks with you in good times and bad, to me, that is a valued friend.
10. Who is your favorite hero/heroine of fiction?
My personal fave is Princess Leia from Star Wars. I had all her action figures as a kid. I
think she’s my favorite because Star Wars came out when I was a pretty small child and
it’s the first time that I personally recall feeling like girls and women were heroes.
11. Which living person do you most admire?
I really admire the poet, Rita Dove. I feel really fortunate that I was able to see her read
when she was visiting Arizona State University and I was a student there. I’m really
looking forward to Playlist for the Apocalypse which comes out in a couple of months.
12. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Maybe the idea that one should “never give up?” In general, I think it’s great if people
can achieve their goals in the face of difficulty or adversity, but I do think that there are
times when it can be better for a person’s mental health to give up on a project or a
relationship. I think it we be better to encourage people to honestly evaluate where
situations are truly working.
13. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I wish I could do a better job managing my feelings of stress. Also, I wish I had big mop
of thick, shiny hair.
14. What is your favorite and least favorite word?
My favorite word is wonderstruck but it’s kind of hard to work that into an everyday
sentence. Judging from my writing, my favorite word is probably “just” because I just
have to edit that out all the time. I really hate the word moist. I think we should always
say damp instead.
15. What is your perfect environment for creative work?
My ideal environment includes a nice, comfy chair. A big table that has room for my
computer and all my writing craft books and just the right amount of background
16. What’s the weirdest thing about you that you’re willing to share?
The weirdest thing about me is maybe that I am a super fan of the show, The
Apprentice UK (this is a British show that doesn’t have a connection to the American
version). I have watched all the seasons and have no one to talk to about it since I
haven’t met anyone else in the US who has seen it. But if you have, please tweet at me.
17. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I really enjoy photography, especially using old school film. I’m building up a collection
of instant film cameras (like old and new Polaroid) and practicing shooting books, my
family and my friends.
18. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year? (Doesn’t have to be kidlit.)
I have read SO many amazing fiction books in the past year and it’s impossible to land
on just one. So I’d like to do a shout out for a writing book that’s really helped me with
my character development and that is The Heroine's Journey. The author, Gail Carriger,
does an awesome job of explaining the difference between the hero’s and heroine’s
journey (particularly noting that the two concepts are not tied to biological sex or
gender) using familiar pop culture references. It has helped me a lot!
19. What is the favorite book of your childhood?
I was a huge fan of Trixie Belden growing up and, in particular, I loved The Mysterious
Visitor which is partly about a character who has a mysterious uncle running a ranch in
Arizona where I grew up.
20. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God/Goddess say when you arrive?
We have unlimited books and coffee!
More about Kelly:
Kelly's website: https://www.kellydevos.com/https://www.kellydevos.com/
Another great interview with Kelly: https://www.melaniehoo.com/2020/11/16/getting-to-know-kelly-devos/