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Publishers’ Preview: Debut Authors: Five Questions for Adrienne Kisner

Publishers' Previews: Special advertising supplement in The Horn Book Magazine

This interview originally appeared in the July/August 2018 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Debut Authors, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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Brynn’s English assignment is to write to “a celebrity hero;” thus, Dear Rachel Maddow. And between Brynn’s old girlfriend, a potential new one, and the political shenanigans of student-council rival Adam, Rachel and readers get an earful.

Photo: Leise Jones Photography.

1. Are you sending a copy to Rachel?

An ARC made its circuitous way to her via a friend’s former editor to her literary agent…but I also have a plan to send one of my author copies to her office at Rockefeller Center, if only to reiterate that I wrote it out of love. She knows the book exists; she sent me flowers after it won the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award in 2016. I might have saved all the petals, unless that’s weird. Then I totally didn’t.

2. Pretty salty language here. Is your editor nervous?

I don’t think so, but I can tell you that my mother is less than pleased.

3. Everyone in the book seems blessedly relaxed about sexual orientation. Wishful thinking, or has high school changed since I was a gayling?

I’d say somewhat, though not as much as I would have hoped since my own time in high school. Particularly in Western Pennsylvania where the book takes place. I tend to set my stories in what I call “mythic Pennsylvania.” It’s a mash-up of what I remember of growing up there, what it’s like now, and what I wish it would be. The book mostly reflects the last. Why rewrite the world if you can’t make it a little better?

4. Is there an Adam in your past?

Oh yes. He ruthlessly and uncreatively bullied me for years. Thanks for that, Adam — you surely made me funnier. I looked him up on Facebook recently. He voted for Trump and posts hateful memes about pretty much everyone. Call me unsurprised.

5. And who was your high-school hero, your Rachel Maddow?

Ann M. Martin — and she still is. I wrote letters to her in my journal for ages. Thank goodness they were offline.

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