News Flash: ASK THE PASSENGERS won the 2012 L.A. Times Book Prize!
A.S. King is best known for her award-winning young adult novels, though she writes novel-length and short fiction for adults as well. She has been a rare poultry breeder, photographer, master printer, contractor, summer camp counselor, pizza delivery driver and after more than a decade in Ireland dividing herself between self-sufficiency, restoring her farm, teaching adult literacy, and writing novels, she returned to the US in 2004.
Amy's newest YA novel, Ask the Passengers (Little, Brown October 2012) is a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winner, a Junior Library Guild selection, a Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly & School Library Journal Best Book of 2012, an Indie Next List pick and has been called "Another thoughtful, and often breathtaking achievement" by Booklist in one of six starred trade reviews for the book. Everybody Sees the Ants (Little, Brown October 2011) was an Andre Norton Award finalist, a Cybils finalist, and a 2012 YALSA Top Ten book for young adults. Her 2010 YA novel, Please Ignore Vera Dietz was a 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor Book, an Edgar Award Nominee, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book for Teens 2010, a Junior Library Guild selection and a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults pick. Her first YA novel, The Dust of 100 Dogs, was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an Indie Next pick and a Cybil award finalist. Her short fiction for adults has been widely published and was nominated for Best New American Voices 2010. Her short fiction collection, Monica Never Shuts Up is available in paperback and all ebook formats. Amy now lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and children and is a huge fan of Kurt Vonnegut, corn on the cob, libraries, and roller skating.
Next up: Reality Boy due in Fall 2013 as well as two anthologies.
Visit her full website here.
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See her Hachette Speakers Bureau page here.
Author Facts for Your Book Report
Where and when were you born? I was born in Reading, Berks County, PA in March 1970. I am a Pisces. And yes, I believe in that stuff.
What does the A.S. stand for? A is for Amy. S is for Sarig. Those are my first and middle names. If you see me walking along a street, please call me Amy. But I'd prefer if you called me A.S. King if you're writing about me, because it's easier for a bunch of reasons. (Biggest reason: there are other Amy Kings. And a few of them write. See? It can get confusing.)
Do you have siblings? Are your parents like any of the parents in your books? I have two awesome older sisters. And no, my parents are nothing like the parents in my books. You can see a little about them in the Printz Honor speech I made at ALA NOLA 2011. It is here.
What influenced you to become a writer? I always wanted to be a writer, but what got me to sit in front of a [Swedish] typewriter and actually write was a half year of reading one book a day. The book that physically moved me into the writing chair was Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses.
Did you go to college for writing? No. I have a degree in [traditional] photography from the Art Institute of Philadelphia. I do think photography influences my
writing, though. A lot. I think everything I've done *outside* of writing influences my writing. This is why I urge aspiring writers to do other stuff and not just writing.
Did another author inspire you? Yes. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. among hundreds of others. But Kurt Vonnegut the most. God Bless You Mr. Rosewater is my favorite book of all time, though in close second are Breakfast of Champions and Slaughterhouse-Five. I like reading a lot of different kinds of books. My favorites lately seem to be Scandnavian translations.
What influenced your book ideas? A mix of everything--real life, history, news articles, things I hear when I'm on the bus. You name it, I'm inspired by it. Oftentimes, I just hear a character in my head and I start to write and then, a few months pass and I have a book.
Is there a specific genre you like to write and why? I like weird adult literary fiction and I love writing for young adults because their minds are endless. Adult minds are often not so endless.
Did you enjoy reading and writing when you were young? Yes. I was a crazy avid reader. Used to read in my closet until the wee hours of the night. Writing--always.
How long have you been a writer? I wrote my first novel in 1994.
Was it hard to start your writing career? It took me 15 years and over seven novels to get published. So, I'd say, yes. :)
FAQs and Other Random Information
Will there be a sequel to Ask the Passengers, The Dust of 100 Dogs, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, or Everybody Sees the Ants?
Not that I can see, though I'd love to see Vera at age 27. So you can't count that out. I pretty much only write realistic-ish stand-alones. If I could think of a million-dollar series idea, believe me, I'd try one.
If you liked one of my books, though, and are dying for a sequel, I would recommend reading another one of my books. This is how I found my favorite author, Paul Zindel, when I was in school. I'd also recommend books by Andrew Smith, Ellen Hopkins, John Green, Matt de la Peña, Beth Kephart, John Corey Whaley, Lauren Myracle, Francisco X. Stork, and the list goes on. Ask your librarian! They will totally know where to steer you next.
Do you have any other books than the one I read?
Check the books link here on that page. I have several books and am part of several anthologies.
What age group are your books for?
Most of my books are for age 14/15 and up. While many readers read at higher levels at younger ages, I stand by my publishers and the age recommendations they give my books because much of the content in the books is meant for people ages 14 and older. About half my fans are adults. If you are an adult and discover that you enjoy my books, you can feel entirely okay about it. I write them so that they will be interesting to everyone. That's the point.
Why can't I find some of your books in my local bookstore? It makes me mad!
Bookstores are filled with whatever their buyers decide to put there. What you see at any bookstore is certainly not the full range of published books. As authors, we have no control over what stores carry us or don't carry us. But as READERS you have all the control in the world over what you can buy because you can do many things if you can't find a book on a bookshelf. You can order it. From the chain where you shop, or, if you were me, you'd order it from a local Independent bookstore.
Can I have a free copy or Advance Copy of your book? What about for review?
I don't have free copies to give away outside of my random writing contests on my blog. Look for those. I also don't have a plethora of advance copies. If you want to review, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy, but we can't promise you anything!
Can I have a free book or two for an auction/giveaway/charity event that I'm hosting?
I really am glad that you're trying to raise money for your cause. (Really. I do that too, inside my own community and I know how hard it is.) But I have to buy the books I give away. So. . .if I gave away all the books I'm asked to give away in a week some weeks, I'd spend the bones of $150 a week on books to give to people. I'm really sorry I can't do this. I wish I had an attic full of free books, but I don't.
Can I have some swag for my blog or a guest blog?
Sadly, I have no swag outside of a few special items that I purchase for my own blog contests.
What's your advice for aspiring authors?
Read and write. A lot. Don't settle and don't rush. And then write more. And more.
How do I write a book?
You sit down and write a book. Outside of that, I have no idea. But magical writing pants help.
How long will it take?
Ditto, above. (Magical writing pants help.)
Can you read my manuscript/query and tell me what you think?
This is something I cannot do. Not only am I short on time, but it's against my agency contract. As much as I'd love to help all aspiring writers, I can't. Allow me to steer you to Backspace or Absolute Write for feedback and business information.
Will you come to my city to talk?
I would love to. The best way to get me to your city is to find a local school or library that is willing to fund my visit.
Can you come to my school or libray to talk?
I especially love talking to high schools and in libraries. Interested in having A.S. King speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau at 866.376.6591 or email@example.com
Will there ever be a movie of your books?
I hope so. That would be cool.
In the meantime, if you feel like having some fun casting potential movies, Storycasting is where you do it.
The Dust of 100 Dogs
Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Everybody Sees the Ants
I heard that you ran off with a circus once. Is that true?
I heard you got bullied in school. Is that true?
Read my piece "The Boy Who Won't Leave Me Alone" in the Dear Bully anthology.
Why don't you ever send newsletters?
Because I'm not a lover of newsletters. So I send one once a year around the time my books come out. To get on my mailing list, sign up on the home page.
Can I get your book in my country?
English versions of my books are available for sale worldwide. But translations are hit or miss.
THE DUST OF 100 DOGS (Flux, Feb 2009) (Translation: Italian)
PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ (Knopf, Fall 2010) (Translation: German, Spanish language Mex/LA, Turkish)
Why do you dislike when people download your books for free?
While I'm sure people who steal my books can give my ten good excuses about why they're doing it, I need them to understand that they are stealing my childrens' food. I think this might be overlooked because those downloaders think all writers are rich. I assure you--we are not even close. To those who think pirating is great, I can offer nothing but a shrug. I know this, though. If someone was stealing your paychecks, you'd be really pissed off about it. If this is a matter of money please rediscover your local library. The place is packed with free and legal books and it needs your support--trust me.