Interview with Dawn Kurtagich

IMG_9264Dawn Kurtagich is a writer of creepy, spooky and psychologically sinister YA fiction, where girls may descend into madness, boys may see monsters in men, and grown-ups may have something to hide. Her debut YA novel, The Dead House, is forthcoming from Orion/Indigo (UK) and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (US) in 2015.

By the time she was eighteen, she had been to fifteen schools across two continents. The daughter of a British globe-trotter and single mother, she grew up all over the place, but her formative years were spent in Africa—on a mission, in the bush, in the city and in the desert.

She has been lucky enough to see an elephant stampede at close range, a giraffe tongue at very close range, and she once witnessed the stealing of her (and her friends’) underwear by very large, angry baboons. (This will most definitely end up in a book . . . ) While she has quite a few tales to tell about the jumping African baboon spider, she tends to save these for Halloween!

When she was sixteen, she thought she’d be an astronomer and writer at the same time, and did a month-long internship at Cambridge’s prestigious Cavendish Laboratories.

She writes over at the YA Scream Queens, a young adult blog for all things horror and thriller, and she is a member of the YA League.

Her life reads like a YA novel.

Twitter @dawnkurtagich

Why did you want to write The Dead House?
For myself. This book was really an emotional catharsis to me after a very difficult time in my life. But more generally, I love certain themes and enjoy exploring them. For The Dead House it was the idea of duality, of mirror images, and loss of control. I wanted to explore those things together, because they interact, and I used a format that was also about lack of control. There is a lot to explore in the book. I wonder how much people will find!

How did you celebrate your book deal?
After yelping, then squeaking, then crying? I blinked at nothing a lot, randomly shook my head, grinned at nothing and looking (from the outside) pretty crazy. I think I then bought some more books and took a nap. #Wild

What’s the most surreal moment on your publishing journey (so far)?
Having people refer to me as an author, something I imagined since I was very young. It’s an absolute honour.

And because I’m mean, you have two gorgeous book covers.
Is there a favourite?

Honestly, I love them both desperately. I’m thinking of ordering wallpaper of them….. The US cover captures the pure, eerie creepiness of the story as well as Kaitlyn’s darkness (not to mention the house!). So beautiful, so intense. The UK cover captures the darkness, yes, but it brings in a bit of the light, too, a bit of the romance and, of course, the diary, which is so vital. Each of the covers are perfect and I am very, very blessed to have such amazing teams championing the book. The interiors, too, are absolutely stunning.

What do you think are the differences between UK and US YA?
I think that UK YA is a little grittier. The UK tends to like and enjoy the darker side of the spectrum, and not really shy away from it. The US YA scene is so wonderfully diverse—they love fantasy, beauty and there is a real sense of polish to the books. I love the fact that we get both sides of that as YA lovers and consumers. The polished and the raw/truthfully gritty.

Best thing about being a writer?
Being allowed to do all the things I was told off for doing in school. And for it to be allowed. #GrownUpWin

And the worst?
Sometimes schedules become very full because of the timing in publishing in general. So it could be very quiet for a while, and then suddenly you might have 6 deadlines on different things overnight. “Time management” becomes a mantra.

YALC 2015 – spill! What are you planning?
All I can say about YALC is this . . . . my fellow panelists and I have heard the words “human sacrifice” “seance” and “zombie and/or vampire takeover”. So, naturally, we’re very happy. You should come.

Luna: Make sure to come and see Dawn, I’ll be there for sure. 🙂

Friday 17th July @ YALC
Thrills and chills: Writing Horror (2.30-3.15pm)
Get YALC 2015 off to a spooky and spine-chilling start with this panel event. Feel the fear as our fantastic panel of authors Will Hill, Dawn Kurtagich, Lou Morgan, Darren Shan and Matt Whyman discuss the resurgence of horror and psychological thrillers, and the ongoing appeal of scary tales.

I’m giving you a free platform to talk about anything – GO:
Did you know that happy bananas can make your day better? I know, because I have a happy banana. And he makes me smile. Get a happy banana. And be an organ donor. That too.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 18.51.21

What happens next?
Next comes another book, which I am so excited to share with you guys!! But for right now? An ice-cream, because it is SO HOT. See you all at YALC!

Quickfire Round

Tea or coffee?
Both. At once.

When no one is watching do you dance?
Heck yes!

Ghosts, real or not?

What word describes you best?

One of your YouTube videos that we definitely need to watch:
How to be happy!

If you could have one magic power, what would you like?
to have the happy banana magic energy inside me ALL THE TIME.

Where can I get my own Viking?
You mould him out of clay and then perform a spell—but careful, there are always consequences, like a 12 day limit at which point you become a clay doll yourself… this doesn’t sound like the correct way to get a Viking…

Luna: No 😦

Do you ever re-arrange bookshop displays?
I put books back when people leave them out. And I straighten covers that people have bent (WHAT?!) when putting them in carelessly. Poor books!

What’s the perfect cure to a bad day?
a happy banana.

And finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
Not this one, because it’s difficult. I wish they’d ask me to air band with them. Then I would (but not forever).

Over two decades have passed since the fire at Elmbridge High, an inferno that took the lives of three teenagers. Not much was known about the events leading up to the tragedy – only that one student, Carly Johnson, vanished without a trace…

…until a diary is found hidden in the ruins.

But the diary, badly scorched, does not belong to Carly Johnson. It belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, a girl who shouldn’t exist Who was Kaitlyn? Why did she come out only at night? What is her connection to Carly?

The case has been reopened. Police records are being reexamined: psychiatric reports, video footage, text messages, e-mails. And the diary.

The diary that paints a much more sinister version of events than was ever made publicly known.

Expected publication:
August 6th 2015 by Orion Children’s Books

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