I had the huge honor of interviewing Kerry Winfrey, author of the upcoming contemporary Love and Other Alien Experiences. Spoiler alert: I loved it. I’m so unbelievably happy I got the chance to chat with her!
Q1: Hi, Kerry! Before we get into the questions, could you introduce yourself and Love and Other Alien Experiences?
Hi there! I’m Kerry, and I live in Ohio with my husband, our son, and a very large dog named Merlin. I write funny books about girls dealing with tough stuff (at least, I hope they’re funny!). Love and Other Alien Experiences is about Mallory, a girl who can’t leave the house without having a panic attack. She attends school via webcam and mostly interacts with people on an online forum about aliens. But then she’s nominated for homecoming queen, and she starts to think that maybe she can win. Oh, and also there’s kissing.
Q2: The protagonist Mallory has anxiety disorder as well as agoraphobic tendencies. Seeing as good mental health representation is critical, could you describe your research process?
Although I don’t have agoraphobia, I’m pretty familiar with anxiety, so a lot of the physical symptoms were easy to write about. I asked friends to describe their panic attacks (I’m a fun friend to have!), and I spent a lot of time on Reddit anxiety/agoraphobia forums to get an idea for how real people are affected by these conditions. I also read a lot of medical sites.
I knew people who have anxiety and agoraphobia would be reading LAOAE, so it was extremely important to me not to write anything inaccurate that could be hurtful. But my editor reminded me that I was writing about a person, not a diagnosis, so I tried to remember that Mallory’s symptoms didn’t have to sum up every single person who has anxiety or agoraphobia.
Q3: I understand that you, like Mallory, have a brother. How important was it for you to include strong familial relationships and friendships in Mallory’s story?
I have two younger brothers, and they’re some of my favorite people in the entire world. I think of my brothers as my friends, but I’m also VERY protective over them (even though they don’t need me to be!), and I wanted to portray that in Mallory and Lincoln’s relationship.
There are a lot of YA books about sister relationships, or about brothers and sisters who have antagonistic relationships. I just wanted to show a brother and sister who are actually friends, and who have real conversations and enjoy spending time together.
Q4: This book has a very unique premise. How did you get the inspiration to write Love and Other Alien Experiences?
Several years ago, there was a story in the news about a girl who was nominated for homecoming queen as a joke. I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would be like to be that girl, and what would happen if she decided to show everyone up by winning. Since then, the story’s changed A LOT, but that’s where it all started!
Q5: Are you a believer in aliens like Mallory, or think we are alone in this universe?
Much like the poster Mulder has hanging in his office in The X-Files, I want to believe. It seems kind of self-centered to think that we’re all alone in the universe, you know? But also I’m terrified of alien invasion movies, so I sincerely hope any potential aliens are chill and friendly.
Q6: Mallory loves The X-Files and her online forums – are you a fan of these, too?
I’m not so into online forums these days, but YES, I’m definitely an X-Files fan. My Tumblr is, like, 90% reblogs of Mulder/Scully gifs. I find the show incredibly terrifying but also strangely comforting. It was originally on when I was a little kid and my parents would never let me stay up on Sunday nights to watch it, but now I’m an adult and I can watch it whenever I want! Well, not really, because it’s not streaming on Netflix anymore. When will Netflix hear my cries and bring it back??
Q7: Lastly, if there was one piece of advice you could give aspiring writers, what would it be?
READ! I know that’s the advice that everyone gives, but it’s true. Whether a book is good or bad, you can still learn from it. Think about why you liked it or why you hated it. Oh, and read Stephen King’s On Writing. I’m no expert, but he is.
Also, remember that you don’t have to listen to anyone’s advice. As long as you’re getting writing done, that’s all that matters.
Huge thank you to Kerry for taking the time to answer my questions! Love and Other Alien Experiences releases on July 11th, 2017.
I’ll be posting my review for this lovely book in the next few days, and I’ll put it right here when it’s posted!
Kerry Winfrey grew up in Bellville, Ohio where she spent most of her time reading inappropriate books at the library. Not much has changed. Kerry blogs at welcometoladyville.com. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband, their son, and their dog, Merlin.
Do you plan on reading Love and Other Alien Experiences? Did I get you excited? Tell me in the comments! 🙂