Adrienne Kress visits the blog today to talk about her novel, Outcast, available now from Diversion Books.
Goodreads Synopsis: After six years of “angels” coming out of the sky and taking people from her town, 16-year-old Riley Carver has just about had it living with the constant fear. When one decides to terrorize her in her own backyard, it’s the final straw. She takes her mother’s shotgun and shoots the thing. So it’s dead. Or … not? In place of the creature she shot, is a guy. A really hot guy. A really hot alive and breathing guy. Oh, and he’s totally naked.
Not sure what to do, she drags his unconscious body to the tool shed and ties him up. After all, he’s an angel and they have tricks. When he regains consciousness she’s all set to interrogate him about why the angels come to her town, and how to get back her best friend (and almost boyfriend) Chris, who was taken the year before. But it turns out the naked guy in her shed is just as confused about everything as she is.
He thinks it’s 1956.
Set in the deep south, OUTCAST is a story of love, trust, and coming of age. It’s also a story about the supernatural, a girl with a strange sense of humor who’s got wicked aim, a greaser from the 50’s, and an army of misfits coming together for one purpose: To kick some serious angel ass.
Now, let’s meet Adrienne.
Adrienne Kress is a Toronto born actor and author who loves to play make-believe. She also loves hot chocolate. And cheese. Not necessarily together.
She is the author of two children’s novels: Alex and the Ironic Gentleman and Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate (Scholastic) and is a theatre graduate of the Univeristy of Toronto and London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in the UK. Published around the world, Alex was featured in the New York Post as a “Post Potter Pick,” as well as on the CBS early show. It won the Heart of Hawick Children’s Book Award in the UK and was nominated for the Red Cedar. The sequel, Timothy, was nominated for the Audie, Red Cedar and Manitoba Young Readers Choice Awards, and was recently optioned for film. She’s also contributed to two anthologies in 2011: Corsets & Clockwork (YA Steampunk Romance short story anthology, Running Press Kids), and The Girl Who Was On Fire (an essay anthology analysing the Hunger Games series – Smart Pop).
Her debut YA, The Friday Society (Penguin), was released in the fall of 2012 to a starred review from Quill and Quire. And her quirky romantic YA, Outcast (Diversion Books), comes out this June.
Q. The title of the book could apply equally to either Gabe or Riley, for very different reasons. Did you have a particular character in mind as the source of the title?
Both Riley and Gabe were who I had in mind when I came up with the title. I think the first assumption would be that the title refers only to Gabe, considering not only was he an outcast in his own time, he’s now even more of one, being from 1956 and all. But Riley considers herself an outsider in her own community, and while that makes her an excellent observer and able to more clearly see what’s going on in her town, it is also something she realizes holds her back sometimes from getting to really know others.
My hope with the book was to on the one hand say “Just be as weird and wonderful as you want to, it doesn’t matter if that makes you a bit of an outsider”, but to also warn on the other hand, “However don’t isolate yourself too much and prevent yourself from growing and experiencing other important parts of life.”
Gabe, in his time, isolated himself so much he dropped out of school and gave up on his future. Riley isolates herself from her peers, and as such doesn’t always get to just be a teen and have fun. They each help the other overcome their particular brand of isolation and grow as people.
Q. Gabe epitomizes what I think the “cool guy” would look like in 1956. Why did you select this era?
That’s a really good question. It isn’t that I am particularly fond of the 1950s over other historical periods (though I do rather enjoy it, especially the music). I think maybe it had to do with my playing with the “bad boy” trope. I wanted to play with expectations and I think the idea of the heartthrob teen bad boy really started in the 1950s. The teenager in general was pretty much invented in the 50s, so that would have been the first time you’d have really come across this trope. I guess it just felt natural then to make Gabe be from that time.
Q. If you could wake up in another time period, past or future, which would it be, and what would you do?
I think I’d really love to meet Shakespeare and finally find out the truth behind all the stories. Did he write his plays, how were they truly performed and rehearsed etc? So I guess the answer would be Elizabethan England. My only problem with that is that I know the smell would drive me crazy. I’m not sure how I would be able to handle it.
Q. If you had a guardian angel, what would his/her greatest challenge be in keeping you out of trouble?
I think my guardian angel’s greatest challenge would be trying to help me get into trouble, not out of it. It would have to get me to stop overanalyzing everything. Other guardian angels would have to help their humans from taking stupid risks, my angel would have to try to find a way to make me take them more often 🙂 .
Q. Which is more enjoyable to write: the bad boy or the nice guy?
The thing is, ultimately, Gabe is a nice guy, just with a bad boy veneer. Which I guess means I prefer writing the nice guy because I like nice. And I think a nice guy can still have fun sexy banter and rebel if the situation calls for it.
I do, though, very much enjoy writing villains (not at all the same thing as the bad boy).
Q. What are some of your favorite angel stories from books or film?
I really enjoy the German film WINGS OF DESIRE. It’s an unusually structured movie, there’s a massive introductory sequence where you watch all the guardian angels and see life on Earth from their perspective. But then the story finally begins and it’s wonderful. I love how the angels don’t look magical. They look like average men just doing their jobs. I especially love that Peter Falk (who plays himself) is evidently also an angel.
I also really enjoy Harry Dean Stanton’s angel in ONE MAGIC CHRISTMAS (a not very well know Christmas movie that is just so marvelous, and has one of the best Santas ever in it). Again, he doesn’t have wings, and he doesn’t seem magical. But he’s got a great hat and coat.
I think from these two examples it’s clear that I like the angel as some loner idea. As someone who appears to be just an average guy who is world weary. Not beautiful, not young, but with the weight of the world (and I suppose the heavens as well) clearly written on his face. And I think you can see that influence when it comes to my fallen angel in OUTCAST.
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