Kami Garcia is the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES & DANGEROUS CREATURES novels & the author of the instant New York Times bestseller and Bram Stoker Award nominated novel UNBREAKABLE, and the sequel UNMARKED, in the Legion Series. BEAUTIFUL CREATURES has been published in 50 countries and translated in 39 languages. The film adaptation of BEAUTIFUL CREATURES released in theaters in 2013, from Warner Brothers.
Kami is fascinated by the paranormal, and she’s very superstitious. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found watching disaster movies or Supernatural, listening to Soundgarden, or drinking Diet Coke. She lives in Maryland with her family, and their dogs Spike and Oz (named after characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
For what age audience do you write?
Both the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES novels I co-author, and the Legion series I write solo, are categorized as Young Adult, but my novels are equally popular with adults. YA is just a shelf in the bookstore. As far as I’m concerned, a good story is a good story, whether it’s categorized as Middle Grade, YA, or Adult. My novels also cross genres. The Beautiful Creatures and Dangerous Creatures series are paranormal romance/urban fantasy, and the Legion Series has been categorized as everything from horror to urban fantasy and paranormal romance. The only thing I’ve ever written specifically for adult readers is a short story called “Soul Collector” in the anthology RAGS & BONES, edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt.
Tell us about your latest book.
UNMARKED is the second book in the Legion series, so it’s difficult to talk about the plot without spoilers. UNBREAKABLE, the first book in the series is a YA dark urban fantasy/horror novel about a girl who discovers that she is destined to be part of a secret society after her mother dies mysteriously. That secret society—the Legion of the Black Dove—is responsible for protecting humanity from a vengeful demon. Even though the story is told from Kennedy’s POV, the Legion also includes four other teens. Each teen has a specific skill that has been handed down for generations (for example, Priest, the youngest member of the Legion, designs and fabricates the weapons the team uses). When readers ask what the Legion is about, my short answer is always the same: secret societies, demons, romance, real and fictional haunted places, voodoo, the Illuminati, Freemasons, and a serial killer.
Henry: Secret societies, demons, romance, real and fictional haunted places… So, it’s about Washington, D.C. politics?
What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?
I hate writing the first few chapters of a new novel. Even though I know what’s going to happen, I have trouble finding the sweet spot between jumping into the story too quickly and throwing in too much backstory. Without fail, I end up rewriting the beginning after I finish writing the novel.
Henry: I’ve heard it said that revisions are the difference between writing as a hobby and writing as a professional.
What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?
Before I became a writer accidentally, I was a teacher for seventeen years and a serious book-pusher, so seeing BEAUTIFUL CREATURES in print and holding the physical book in my hands was an unforgettable experience. In 2014, my solo novel UNBREAKABLE was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award, which was also completely surreal.
Henry: You didn’t mention appearing on a fantasy literature panel with me at San Diego Comic-Con. That must have come in a close third…
Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?
I write in my office, which some people think is a pretty strange place. One wall is covered with photos, lyrics, quotes, and ephemera, and serves as an inspiration board. I have an extensive collection of replica weapons from the Legion series and TV shows like Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Oh, and of course, what every office needs—a replica of Magneto’s helmet that fits me perfectly, so no one can hack my thoughts. Aside from my weird office, my routine is pretty straightforward; I need a laptop, my noise-cancelling headphones, Diet Coke, and junk food.
Henry: Special bonus: See a tour of Kami’s office here.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
My favorite superhero is Magneto from the X-Men because I like the helmet, and being able to control metal would be useful. Invisibility is a close second, because I could make myself invisible whenever I don’t want to socialize.
Henry: Being a superhero (or villain) is, above all else, a fashion statement. The ability to control metal would also help you avoid undesired social situations – can you say “flying forks”?
What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?
If we’re talking strictly mythological, that rules out demons and the Loch Ness Monster (I’m still holding out for proof of Nessie’s existence). It’s a tie between fairies (the dark variety) and dragons (the angry, fire-breathing type, as long as they aren’t breathing fire on me).
Henry: I checked with our panel of judges, and both demons and the Loch Ness Monster are both acceptable responses.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Aside from spending time with my family, I love to read. I also watch an insane amount of television, and I don’t discriminate between new shows and old ones. From Orphan Black, The Following, and The Blacklist to Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns, and Arrow to Penny Dreadful, American Horror Story, and Hannibal—I’m a multi-genre viewer. I also love to cook, bake, shop online, and add to my boards on Pinterest.
This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.