Welcome to the first Young Adult Education of 2014! Please imagine some celebratory music, a cymbal crash and some confetti falling from the ceiling that will be stuck in your carpet for weeks. Yay! I can’t think of a better book to kick off the year than Kathleen Hale’s No One Else Can Have You. It features all of my favorite things: a small town, a weird girl and a horrific murder. Set in Friendship, Wisconsin, No One Else Can Have You is the story of Kippy Bushman. When her best friend Ruth is brutally murdered, Kippy decides to find the killer herself. But it turns out Friendship has way more secrets than Kippy originally thought.
The best thing about No One Else Can Have You is that it’s really funny. I know “horrific murder” and “totally hilarious!” don’t necessarily seem like they go together, but in this book, they do. I mean, any book that starts with the lines, “My name is Kippy Bushman, and I am bereaved. Right now I’m bereaved on the toilet.” is probably going to be a book that I like. I loved reading about Friendship’s totally weird, goofy residents, and I sort of didn’t want to leave them when I finished the book. It’s the same way I feel when I watch Gilmore Girls…you know, if Gilmore Girls was about a murder investigation instead of the bond between a fast-talking mother and daughter. Did I just give you an idea for some fantastic fan fiction? You’re welcome!
Also, did you guys see that gorgeous cover? Although I see a lot of wonderful covers in my duties as the resident HelloGiggles YA book reviewer, rarely do I see one that so perfectly fits the book. It’s just the right amount of warm, weird and creepy.
Although the book’s been described as a cross between Pretty Little Liars and Fargo, it reminded me of Twin Peaks, one of my favorite shows ever. They both center around a grisly murder. They both take place in small towns. They both have a slightly dark but still very charming humor. They both feature tons of strange, quirky characters. And they both legitimately frightened me. The only thing No One Else Can Have You is missing is a super fine federal agent played by Kyle MacLachlan, but I won’t hold that against it.
No One Else Can Have You is funny, weird and so scary in parts that I was legitimately frightened. Basically, it’s a perfect book and I’d recommend it to everyone. In fact, I loved it so much that I bugged Kathleen Hale to answer some of my questions. Because she’s a gem, she agreed.
Q: Since a lot of HelloGiggles readers are still in high school, can you tell us what you were like back then?
A: I was lonely but hopeful. Boys and good grades were equally important to me, and I pursued each with astonishing fervor (I actually wrote to my teenage self about that, here). I blurted out inappropriate things at inopportune times. I was stressed out a lot, but also laughed hard every day.
In general, I was outgoing. I had friends. But I was also sort of a heavy-handed nerd. And not very self-aware.
For instance, I was prefect, which is this student council thing. So I served on something called The Common Trust Committee, where I brainstormed punishments for my peers. Pretty terrible, right? Looking back, I cringe at the thought of myself standing up and loudly debating why this or that hockey player deserved to feel “the full force of our condemnation!” or whatever. But at the time I got really into it. I was constantly pushing for the headmaster to allow us to wear full robes.
Q: I really adored your main character, Kippy. She was such an endearing weirdo. Was she inspired or informed by any characters or people? And do any of the other characters in your book have real-life connections?
A: Thank you! Kippy came into being because I was tired of “awkward” being so synonymous with “manic pixie dream girl.” I had a lot of social problems growing up and I wanted to write an imperfect character that I could relate to.
As the other characters, yes — tons of them were inspired by outside forces. When I was writing Miss Rosa, I was picturing Edna from The Incredibles. Some of Libby Quinn’s mannerisms are based on Jessica Simpson in Newlyweds. I loved her on that show.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your “journey” to publication? Was this the first book you wrote/finished?
A: I’ve written a couple of other novels that were really terrible — I mean, truly unreadable pieces of s***. Luckily I had no concept of blogging back then, otherwise there would be a record of them somewhere.
I started writing NO ONE ELSE CAN HAVE YOU because I was at an MFA program, and I was really unhappy. I’d gone there hoping to learn writing tricks — I thought they’d give us some insight into constructing better sex scenes, or whatever. But all the classes seemed geared toward making our work less commercial, or making us better critics of each other. My whole thing is that I want people to understand what I’m saying when I’m writing — I’m totally against the idea that something is smart simply by virtue of being esoteric. So I started writing this very purposefully commercial book in between teaching and taking classes (I wrote a lot of it in my car, actually). My hope was that if I learned to write books that weren’t boring, I could hopefully make money at it someday.
Q: When you picture your ideal reader, who do you see?
A: My mom. Is that weird? Probably.
Q: What advice do you have for HelloGiggles readers who want to be writers?
A: Write every day (even if it’s just emails to your friends), find a few good readers (it’s usually better if they’re not writers) and don’t be afraid to throw your writing away. Sometimes you have to write absolute crap from start to finish and spend a lot of time on something bad before you can come up with something better.
Q: What can we look forward to seeing from you next?
A: I just finished the sequel to NO ONE ELSE CAN HAVE YOU. It comes out in 2015.
Q: And the most important question: if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: French fries.
Thanks to Kathleen for answering my questions! No One Else Can Have You comes out on January 7th, and you’ll buy a copy if you know what’s good for you. Sorry if that sounded like I was threatening you. I would never do that to you. You can check out the book’s website at nooneelsecanhaveyou.com to find out more about it.
What about you guys? Are you going to check out No One Else Can Have You? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, let me know if there are any books you’d like to see featured in Young Adult Education! What are you looking forward to in 2014? Leave a comment, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter @KerryAnn.